It was a tense couple of weeks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline as fans of the Edmonton Oilers were left waiting to see if GM Ken Holland would make any moves. In a season where the Oilers are in the mix of a competitive division with some well-noted holes in the lineup, making a trade of some kind seemed like a no-brainer. And the team was rumoured to be interested in many of the players available on the market.
Ultimately, the Oilers left the deadline much improved on defense with the acquisition of Mattias Ekholm and a bit deeper at forward by bringing in Nick Bjugstad.
How did the Oilers fare? We left it up to the fans on Twitter to grade the team’s performance in this week’s Sunday Census!
Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @oilrigEDM. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!
Some fans are incredibly happy with the deadline
Capturing 16% of the total vote, good for second place in the poll, is grading the trade deadline performance as outstanding. These fans see the moves that were made and the price of the assets acquired and think that the Oilers made out fantastic.
They are not at all wrong. One of the biggest and most obvious needs the Oilers had was a defender, specifically one with some talent in transition and breakouts. Ekholm may be one of, if not the, best options on the market in addressing this. And, despite the very strong performance this season from Tyson Barrie this season, losing him, along with a now former top prospect in the organization in Reid Schaefer, and a draft pick was well worth the value of what was acquired.
Although Bjugstad likely won’t be a major impact player, getting some veteran forward and scoring depth is worth the third round pick. He is a player who, in the past, has a few 30 and 40 point seasons. And this year, with the Arizona Coyotes, had 23 points in 59 games. A small price to pay for a player of his calibre.
Most fans are happy, but not too happy about the moves made
Ekholm may not have been the flashiest or most well-known option on the market. After all, the Oilers were kicking tires on a potential Norris-trophy winner in Erik Karlsson, for example. This could be one reason why the vast majority of voters, upwards of 77%, grade Edmonton’s trade deadline performance as above average. Not amazing, but definitely noteworthy and likely to impact performance.
Another factor that might be causing reservations in the performance grade is giving up a player like Barrie, who was part of a historically dominant power play and someone who was well-liked in the locker room. But unfortunately, he got caught as a cap casualty and roster redundancy, and someone who needed to move in order to accommodate the new acquisition. They may be happy with the trade but feel it is unfortunate that he was someone who had to go the other way.
For some, the needle didn’t even move
Finishing third in fan voting at 5.5% is a feeling of neutrality. Some fans have no strong feelings either way toward the moves that were made. The talent or value coming in is approximately equal to what left. Even though the defence may have improved with Ekholm, giving up Barrie and Jesse Puljujarvi to make the cap situation work could be a lateral move in the minds of some fans.
Maybe fans in this category are not particularly high on Ekholm or do not think he properly addresses the team’s needs. One type of defender the Oilers were frequently rumoured to be interested in was a defensive defender such as Vladislav Gavrikov.
Ekholm, while no slouch defensively, is classed as more of a two-way defender. So if these fans were looking for a different type of defender, they might not feel like he does much to move the needle or impact the Oilers’ competitiveness.
A few fans were looking for a different kind of move
The results of the poll show it is quite clear that the vast majority of fans are pleased with the deadline performance. But a very small subsection of the voters, just 1.2%, grade the performance as poor.
These could be the biggest Puljujarvi fans, who are sad that the winger was traded for a relatively unknown prospect after being one of the team’s best defensive forwards through the season.
Or, they could just be extremely unhappy the team did not make a huge splash for a player of Karlsson’s skillset or even Patrick Kane. Two players who would definitely move the needle in a visible way, likely more than a couple of under-the-radar players like Ekholm and Bjugstad.
There is also the chance that some fans were hoping the team would not make any move at all, or if they did, just a smaller trade. They would have rather seen the team keep the core intact as they were mostly performing just fine in the lead up to the trade deadline. It also helps them keep their best prospects and top picks to sustain the competitive window long past this season.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this week’s poll! Follow The Oil Rig on Twitter and stay tuned for next week’s question!
In the meantime, drop a comment down below and let us know how you would grade the Oilers’ trade deadline performance.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire