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NHL Trade Reaction: Oilers Start Shakeup

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NHL Trade Rumors

Keith Gretzky has undertaken the difficult task of fixing Peter Chiarelli’s countless mistakes in Edmonton, and over the weekend he got things started with a pair of interesting trades. The first saw Cam Talbot head to Philadelphia in exchange for G Anthony Stolarz, while the second saw the Oilers bring Sam Gagner home while shipping Ryan Spooner to Vancouver.

The Oil later recalled D Andrej Sekera from AHL Bakersfield, and on Monday they activated him from the LTIR. The club placed veteran D Brandon Manning on waivers Monday as well, while placing F’s Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira on IR.Oh, and F Josh Currie was recalled from the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors late on Monday afternoon.

Yeah, the Oilers have been very busy as of late and I don’t think they are close to done. The playoffs are slipping away faster than anyone in Edmonton thought they could, but there is work for interim GM Keith Gretzky as he tries to set the club up for a big summer and tries to earn the GM’s job.

Talbot To Flyers:

The Cam Talbot trade chatter has been ongoing for weeks. After extending Mikko Koskinen, the writing was on the wall for Talbot. Outside of a sensational 2016-17 season, Talbot had largely been a disappointment for the Oilers, struggling in each of the last two seasons.

That said, Talbot was always first-class in the community and he and his family made Edmonton home. His play in 2016-17 will live with Oiler fans for a long time, and it’s hard to not wish him the best of luck in what is a better situation in Philadelphia.

Selling Talbot made far too much sense all things considered. His cap hit was far too high, and he wasn’t helping the team win hockey games. Moving him, even for a likely afterthought in Stolarz, cleared the cap space needed for Edmonton to activate Sekera, which they did yesterday.

Stolarz will get a chance, after dealing with multiple injuries early in his career, to establish himself as an NHL backup. Who knows, maybe he impresses enough to earn a contract in Edmonton and a job behind Koskinen for next season.

Stolarz struggled early this season for the Flyers, but he’s been much better as of late and I think has some potential. Perhaps he turns out to be nothing, he’s played just 19 NHL games and has a .911 SV%, but Stolarz isn’t a bad risk when you combine his potential along with his cheap and expiring contract.

From the Flyers’ point of view, they get a veteran goaltender with a decent track record and a strong relationship with their current starter. If nothing else, Talbot can be a strong veteran presence for Carter Hart and provide him with steady backup play. In a best case scenario, you re-sign Talbot and have a very strong duo with him and Hart next season.

Overall, I think both teams got what they wanted. Edmonton opened up cap space and got an asset for a player they weren’t bringing back, while the Flyers get a strong backup netminder that can help Hart. Neither side gets a big win, but I think they are both happy with this trade.

Gagner Comes Home:

For Oiler fans like myself, Sam Gagner coming home is quite nostalgic. Gagner was the beacon of hope for Edmonton after dealing Ryan Smyth at the 2007 trade deadline, and was the focal point of the first rebuilding effort in Alberta’s capital. He returns after being traded in the summer of 2014 for Teddy Purcell, this time coming from Vancouver for Ryan Spooner.

I’m not sure if Gagner makes an impact in Edmonton. He was terrific in a bottom-six and powerplay role with Columbus in 2016-17, but disappointed a season ago with the Canucks. The mandate to play younger forwards in Vancouver forced Gagner out this fall, and he ended up clearing waivers and heading to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on loan.

Gagner played in 43 AHL games with Toronto’s affiliate and was an impact offensive player, posting 12-25-37. He appeared in seven NHL games with the Canucks, registering 1-2-3 prior to being sent back to Toronto.

In his lone full season with the Canucks, 2017-18, Gagner posted 10-21-31 in 74 contests. It’s not great, but those numbers would be an upgrade on a lot of players in Edmonton right now.

Spooner, meanwhile, was a complete and utter disaster for the Oil after coming over in November from the Rangers. He never fit with Edmonton, and the coaching staff never seemed willing to try him with skill. The Canucks placed him on their top-line Monday at practice, and he’ll skate with Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson when he gets into game action.

Much like the Stolarz/Talbot deal, I think both sides get what they want here. The cap hits are essentially a wash, and both players badly needed a change of scenery. Gagner has a little more skill and is a fan favorite in Edmonton, while Spooner will get an honest chance in Vancouver with Jim Benning running Hockey Operations.

Final Thoughts:

The Oilers are not done. I like the Gagner/Spooner swap for them, and understand the Stolarz/Talbot swap. That being said, there is still work to be done by Gretzky. I think the club will trade pending UFA winger Alex Chiasson before the deadline, and I firmly believe they’d like to move the contracts of Kyle Brodziak and Zack Kassian.

Regardless, Gretzky is off and running as he auditions for the Oilers’ GM job. His first two moves, three if we count waiving Manning, were to undo the work of Peter Chiarelli. Trust me, that will earn him some points in Edmonton.

Photo Credit: IQRemix/Flickr C.C 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/iqremix/34311884396

Alex is a 2016 graduate of Springfield College who is currently a writer with Boston Hockey Now and The Oilers Rig. Outside of writing, you can find Alex in rinks around New England as the Play-by-Play voice of the USPHL’s Boston Junior Bruins. In addition, he does broadcasting work for Northeastern University, Holy Cross And UMass-Lowell. Reach him on Twitter: @Alex_Thomas14

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