Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Sunday Census: Has your opinion of the Edmonton Oilers trade deadline changed?

It has been just over three weeks since the Edmonton Oilers acquired Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad at the NHL trade deadline. Fans were calling for GM Ken Holland to make a big splash to help improve the team’s playoff chances, and he did just that.

Now that there has been some time to evaluate performances, it gives us a chance to revisit a question that was posed shortly after the deadline, with a bit of a different angle. Reflecting back on how it was originally graded shortly after the trades, has your opinion on the Oilers’ trade deadline changed 10 games in?

We took to Twitter to ask the fans 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!

Ekholm and Bjugstad are blowing expectations out of the water

The response this week very clearly leans in a specific direction. Fans were mostly hyped before, and it looks like even that hype has been surpassed. 59.7% of fans voted that their opinion on the trade deadline has changed, but it is now better than before.

So far, early indications are overwhelmingly positive for both players.

Ekholm has endeared himself to fans with his stable play and contributions all over the ice, notably creating a formidable pair with Evan Bouchard. The former Nashville Predator has nine points in 11 games including an important two-goal game against the San Jose Sharks last week.

And for Bjugstad, the deal was not meant to move any needles but he has come in and carved himself a place in the lineup. Four points in his nine games is what the team needs from a depth forward, but what is most important out of his game is his reliability in the faceoff circle. He is currently winning 57% of his faceoffs as an Oiler, which is well above his career average but Edmonton will take what they can get while he is hot.

Lots of fans are perfectly whelmed with the deadline performance

Placing second in the poll is 37.7% of fans voting that no, their opinion of the deadline has not changed. But they already thought it was good. Fair enough, there is nothing wrong with having expectations met.

And let’s be realistic for a second here. It is still early, only being about 10 games into Ekholm and Bjugstad’s tenures as Oilers. It is not unheard of for players to have a hot streak for a bit or to start strong off the bat with a new team.

Is Ekholm going to be nearly a point per game player all the time? Most likely not. Will he always hover around an expected goals for percentage of 60 in all situations? How about 62.5% xGF, as per Natural Stat Trick, on a pairing with Bouchard? It’s possible, but in all reality, those numbers will drop a bit over time.

And for Bjugstad, as previously mentioned, his faceoff percentage is already well above his career average. And with three goals in nine games, the approximately 26-goal pace he is on will not hold. He has only ever had one 20-goal season, with 24 back in 2014–15.

The fans voting here may be excited, or they may be perfectly whelmed. But it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of shiny new players performing well, and keeping expectations and evaluations in check is a reasonable response.

Someone is not enjoying the post-deadline performance

With just a single vote, tied for third place in the poll is the option that the opinion of the deadline has changed, but they feel it was even worse than before.

Maybe this fan was hoping for a flashy, standout player to elevate the team’s game in a visible way. They could have held out hope that these two would surprise and become noticeable game changers, but are disappointed that they haven’t.

Or maybe this fan is seeing things in their performance that they do not feel it was worth the price of the acquisition. It is always hard to part with futures and fan favourites, or Tyson Barrie, who by some metrics was the team’s best defender up until that point.

Regardless, this fan is nothing short of disappointed with how the deadline went and how Ekholm and Bjugstad have performed since.

Someone is perfectly whelmed; on the other side of the spectrum

Also tied for third place with a single vote is the option that their opinion on the deadline has not changed, but they already thought it was bad.

This could be a fan who was hoping for a huge move, along the lines of an Erik Karlsson or Patrick Kane. Two players who would visibly move the needle in the Oilers’ direction and turn them into a force to be reckoned with. Ekholm and Bjugstad, while valuable performers in their roles, are not flashy superstars.

Maybe they held out hope that the two of them would make a significant, noticeable impact but are not exactly disappointed when they simply play to expectation, however low that may be.

There could always have been another move the Oilers could have made, and this fan likely wishes that is what the team had found a way to do.

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 if your opinion on the Oilers’ trade deadline performance has changed!

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".

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