The Edmonton Oilers were expected to be one of the busier teams on draft day at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Wait, let’s try that again. Craig MacTavish, the new Oilers’ GM had promised to be busy on draft day when he addressed the media leading up to the annual event that was held in New Jersey this go round. But it turns out MacTavish and the Oilers were shut out on a pair of trades that two of their biggest rivals pulled off. In the end it’s ok that they didn’t get either player in Cory Schneider or Cal Clutterbuck.
The first that you are likely still trying to get over is Cory Schneider going from the Vancouver Canucks to the New Jersey Devils for only their first round pick (9th overall). That was all that Lou Lamoriello had to part ways with in order to obtain Schneider who has proven his worth as a number one netminder in the NHL. Although he’ll once again serve as a backup to Martin Brodeur.
The Oilers were in on Schneider right up until they selected Darnell Nurse seventh overall, refusing to meet the hefty ransom that Mike Gillis was apparently asking for the goaltender. It was no secret that Gillis wanted the Oilers 1st round and 2nd round pick in this year’s draft along with a top prospect, making MacTavish leery on pulling the trigger.
Gillis asked for more from the Oilers knowing full well he was not going to trade Schneider to a divisional opponent, especially one that has so much history against his club. You can’t blame him either. Dealing a player that could potentially be the difference maker in a playoff series that sees the Canucks elminated and the Oilers advancing could be career suicide for any GM in this league, let alone one in Vancouver where the pressure is mounting to win a Stanley Cup (presuming the Oilers make the playoffs in the near future).
So it wasn’t surprising to learn that Gillis moved Schneider to New Jersey for a fraction of the price that he demanded from MacTavish and the Oilers. Giving up a young and promising prospect along with a player of Nurse’s caliber would have been deemed ridiculously steep, not to mention the second round pick thrown in.
The Oilers still have a question mark in goal and with free-agency looming, that could be the route to help solve their dilemma in the crease. By not acquiring Cory Schneider at the draft it will merely force Craig MacTavish to open up the Oilers wallet and pull in a free-agent netminder, barring a trade for a back up.
That brings us to the Cal Clutterbuck trade that saw the hard nosed, pest traded to the New York Islanders for former first round draft pick and disgruntled forward Nino Niederreiter.
Just last week we learnt that the Oilers were discussing a deal with the Wild that would send Clutterbuck to Edmonton and Minnesota would receive local native Tyler Pitlick; a move that would help relieve the Wild’s salary cap pressure.
So to learn that the Oilers offered Pitlick and one of their second round picks (37 or 57) for Clutterbuck, only to have Minnesota agree to a deal with the Islanders could lead to a feeling of being shafted. But hold the phones.
Here again lies the perfect opportunity for the Wild to trade a player to the other conference where they’ll only see him twice a year versus the three or four times had Edmonton acquired him. Realistically speaking it’s a smart move on that front and when you compare the return that the Wild got versus what the Oilers were offering, the deal with New York makes perfect sense.
Niederreiter is said to have a high talent ceiling and has wanted out of the long Island for most of the year. A former 5th overall pick, he’s head and shoulders above Pitlick and likely whoever the Oilers would have drafted at number 37 had they not traded it away. Providing of course he can find his game and prove he’s able to stick in the NHL.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal mentions that if the Oilers had offered up Magnus Paajarvi straight up for Clutterbuck that the Wild likely would’ve made the trade. While that’s a whole different argument best saved for another day, the Oilers can fill the role that Clutterbuck would’ve brought by adding some grit through free-agency. Should Paajarvi not live up to the hype this year, then maybe MacTavish can package him at the trade deadline to help fill another hole. For now, he’s too valuable.
In the end the Oilers made a couple of trades but it only involved swapping draft positions. No bold move was made, no size or impact players were added via the trade market, leaving some to wonder if the Oilers got the shaft on two of the deals they were in on. When you sit back and look at it, not anteing up for either player was the smart move by MacTavish, even if he did promise to make a splash on draft day.
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