It’s easy to lose little bits of information in the lockout-centric focus of the NHL media nowadays. But Ryan Lambert picked up one fine tidbit that will sure get the rumor mills started. This one involves Kevin Lowe and the Edmonton Oilers, where in a statement that really shouldn’t shock anyone, the Oilers may look to deal from their strength to address roster holes:
You’re going into a game with lots of trump cards. That’s the only way you can make deals is if you have assets that are attractive to other teams. When you have assets then you can make deals.
So, absolutely, we’re at some point, whenever that is, we’re probably not too far down the road, we’re going to have to make some tough choices and maybe move some players, or a player, draft picks, to get a piece or two that finishes off the formation of what you feel is a championship team.
As Lambert points out in his article, this means that Lowe will –at some point– have to deal from his large stockpile of young offensive forwards with tons of offensive potential. The prize he will be looking for will be some top defensive help (top-two) and/or a top goaltender.
Naturally, Lambert throws the Rangers in as a potential suitor, and uses Michael Del Zotto as a potential target. So, are the Rangers and Oilers solid trading partners?
One look at the Oilers and you know what they need: defense and goaltending. This is why Lambert immediately looks towards the Rangers, who have one of the best defensive units in the game, and have the best goalie in the world.
Henrik Lundqvist isn’t going anywhere. It’s safe to assume that any combination of Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, or Ryan McDonagh aren’t going anywhere either. With Tim Erixon already shipped off to Columbus for Rick Nash, that leaves Dylan McIlrath as the lone professional who would seem to be a target. McIlrath isn’t even at the NHL level yet, so it’s unlikely that he would really be a target for the Oilers.
The above is true, of course, if this is a one-for-one swap. Say, Sam Gagner for Del Zotto. This won’t happen, because the Rangers can’t replace Del Zotto in the lineup with who they currently have under contract. But what if Edmonton were to add a defenseman, with the Rangers adding a piece or two? That’s an interesting situation.
Someone like Ladislav Smid, who played as the Oilers top shutdown defenseman last season (led the team in QoC) and finished the year with a 6.1 DGVT, is someone who might be intriguing. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Smid past the numbers, but the expansion of the deal to include a reliable defenseman could swing this into a deal the Rangers might make. That said, there would have to be a lot of moving parts for the Rangers to make a move.
It would be amazing to see someone like Jordan Eberle suit up for the Rangers until 2019, but the Oilers and Rangers just don’t appear to be a good match for trading partners. The Oilers want that #1 defenseman that the Rangers are not willing to give up at the moment. Trades are as much about timing as they are about the players, and the timing doesn’t seem to be right.