It probably didn’t seem like that much of a big deal given all the other news-worthy trades that had been enacted by NHL teams at the trade deadline, but here’s me saying that I believe the Edmonton Oilers did well by trading for and bringing home Tyler Ennis at the deadline.
Tyler Ennis’ Recent Career
I have been watching Ennis’ career for the past couple of years since his contract was bought out by the Minnesota Wild at the end of the 2017-18 season. He signed for a league-minimum contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018-19 and, while he was with that team, he filled in capably wherever he was asked to play – from the first line to the fourth line.
Given the Maple Leafs’ salary-cap woes, I was also a bit surprised that general manager Kyle Dubas didn’t sign Ennis again for the 2019-20 season. Probably fortunately for Ennis, as it turned out, he went instead to an Ottawa Senators team that was in the midst of a huge rebuilding season. And, he signed there for just over NHL league minimum $800,000.
Better yet, Ennis got to play – lots. Instead of a bottom-six winger who was expected to score perhaps 20 points, he became a trade deadline bargaining chip for the Senators after he scored 14 goals and 33 points. And, with Ottawa out of the playoffs at the NHL trade deadline as everyone expected, Ennis was traded to his hometown club the Edmonton Oilers on February 24, 2020, for a fifth-round 2021 NHL Entry Draft pick.
Related: Evaluating the Edmonton Oilers’ Trade Deadline Deals
Then the Fun Started with the Oilers
That’s when the fun started. And, although it’s been only two games, Ennis is already contributing. Go figure: it’s quite an unexpected opportunity to be paired with none other than the Oilers Connor McDavid and get top-line minutes. Ask Alex Chiasson, who happily was able to resurrect his career with the Oilers last season when he scored 22 goals playing alongside McDavid. It obviously helps to have arguably the world’s best player as your line partner. These second-chance stories tweak my interest time-after-time.
Ennis has shown up and his early play has contributed to the overall team play. In two games, Ennis has scored two points (a goal in his first game) and has skated lots of ice time – about 16 minutes per fame. Given his success with McDavid, what reason is there for playing Ennis anywhere else? Not that he can’t contribute in other areas, however.
Ennis Is Flexible and Can Contribute Anywhere
As I noted, Ennis is flexible. He can skate and score and he’s happy enough to contribute wherever he’s placed in the lineup. With Zack Kassian coming back, obviously head coach Dave Tippett has some line juggling to do, but if Ennis can continue to contribute to the Oilers’ playoff run he’s in for a raise from this season’s paltry standards – given NHL’s salary schedules.
Will the Oilers Sign Ennis Next Season?
I’m hoping that success can be with the Oilers and that he will come back next season. Obviously, it’s too early to tell. However, when a team can pick up value-added players for basically a song, that’s good for both the team and for the player. I also have to admit that I love these stories of quality NHL players whose careers get a second chance – or even a third chance – and end up contributing and staying.
By the way, I’m a huge Tyler Ennis fan. Whenever I think of Ennis – and his best friend Jared Spurgeon, who also grew up playing in Edmonton and is now playing with the Wild – I can’t help but think of my own grandson who’s playing in Sherwood Park. Some of these kids, whose parents carted them everywhere game after game, actually go on to play in the NHL. I can only think Ennis’ parents love it that he’s come home.
I hope he stays.
Related: Oilers Failed to Land Patrick Marleau Twice, Athanasiou Injury Update
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