Should Craig Mactavish pull the Trigger Now?

Photo courtesy Edmonton Oilers


The Edmonton Oilers have started this season at 1-5-1.  After 7 years of missing the playoffs, fans are upset and most of them want Mactavish to make that bold move he promised.  While the angst among fans is understandable, is a trade now really going to turn the Oilers fortunes?

It has been difficult to make trades since the cap was negotiated as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Early in the season teams are close to the real cap or the teams internal cap – so adding salaries can be almost impossible.  Teams that are doing well do not see a need to change their roster and are reluctant to give up assets that they may need later. Teams that are struggling want to get rid of their problems, and unless that problem matches a real need in another organization, a trade is not likely to happen.

Any team that is accepting Craig Mactavish’s phone call is most likely going to want to help him by trading expensive, aging “help” for a less expensive younger player.   Cue the Yakupov for {insert name here} rumours.  Most of the rumours out there do not provide the Oilers with any long-term benefits and many of them are even questionable in the short term.

One example is Ryan Miller for Nail Yakupov.  Miller is 33 and an unrestricted free agent at the end of year.  33 is closer to the downside of his career than the beginning and there is no guarantee that the Oilers would be able to sign him at the end of the season.   Can he take the Oilers to the playoffs? Even if the answer is yes, that is a trade you make if you are Stanley Cup Contender, not a team hoping to get to the playoffs.

Imagine if Miller doesn’t lead the Oilers to the playoffs. He leaves at the end of the year and Yakupov goes on to lead the Sabres in scoring for years to come…

Rental players like Miller do not warrant a giving up a recent number one pick that lead the Oilers in scoring last year.  It matters little if that player was in the press box for two games. That is too high price for a rental player, but it does demonstrate the kind of trades that would be out there at this time.

This does not mean Mactavish should not be on the phone and looking for a solution.  He may have no choice but to take a chance if the Oilers continue on this path of futility, but he needs to find a hockey trade that will benefit the Oilers now and in the future. Finding a hockey trade is a long shot at best right now. He can’t afford to be trading a future star for fool’s gold. He cannot make a deal out of desperation that will have the fans wanting his head on a silver platter.

Hopefully the Oilers can string a few wins together.  This would then have Mactavish dealing from a position of strength and make it easier to make a good trade not a desperate one.

The rest of the teams are sharpening their knifes and will make offers that may or may not help the Oilers in the short term.  Mactavish is best served by being patient and making sure any move he makes, helps the team now and in the future!