Outside of Free Agency’s first days, the Trade Deadline is the day that sees the most action in terms of player movement in the NHL. Certainly it is the only day in season where one can expect a hefty amount of movement. But the West is so ultra competitive right now that many teams might not be willing to label themselves sellers. Enter the Oilers.
Ok, now that isnt really fair. I dont think the Oilers will be “Sellers” at the trade deadline, but they do have pieces that could be moved. Jason Gregor makes a case to keep Ryan Whitney today at Oilersnation. Whichever side of the argument you fall on (I would trade Whitney 8 days a week) the fact remains that if Gregor is thinking it then surely somebody in the Oiler organization must be contemplating it as well. That’s good news for the Oilers.
But why would that be good news for the Oilers?
Because the crux of the Keep Whitney argument is that the Oilers are in a Playoff Race (yay) so keeping Whitney should help them in their quest to make the Playoffs (debatable).
“And?” You may find yourself asking the computer right now.
And the Oilers arent the only ones in a dog-fight for the Playoffs. The entire Western Conference is capable of making the playoffs right now if bounces go their way. I think we can extrapolate Jason Gregor’s argument to most of the Western Conference.
The point is that if many Western teams are taking themselves out of the “Seller” club because they have a shot at the playoffs then the price for players should rise. Eastern teams wont want to help each other out so they naturally look West for trade partners. A team seeing few options but desperate to keep up with Pittsburgh, Montreal, or Boston ought be at the Mercy of what’s available.
For the Oilers that could mean an opportunity to get Maximum value out of Whitney. He is an offensive defenseman with size who is playing relatively well right now, and he’s an expiring contract. He would make a great pickup as a rental with a possibility to re-sign. The Oilers are also unlikely to re-sign him themselves after all that has gone on this season.
They cant let him walk for nothing and conditions are such in the West that there simply arent going to be many teams willing to deal away players with Whitney’s skill set and pedigree.
I think the Oilers, even if all they do is trade Whitney, could really be in a position to benefit from this tightly packed Western Conference.