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Edmonton Oilers

Why Would the Edmonton Oilers Make Big Trade Deadline Moves?

The Edmonton Oilers have turned their season around. With the trade deadline approaching, why would the team be smart to not make moves?

The Edmonton Oilers started the season in a huge funk. They didn’t seem to be able to win, and their good players didn’t play very well – at all. As well, their goalies couldn’t stop pucks. Their whole game seemed to be falling apart. It looked like a certainty the team would have to make a big move at the NHL Trade Deadline.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way, at least not out of necessity. The team was seen, as perhaps, the one of best teams in the NHL. They were a favorite of many hockey analysts who predicted that they would go far into the postseason. The Stanley Cup was in sight. It was “Cup or bust” according to the players.

The Coaching Change Seemed to Make the Biggest Difference

The turnaround for the Oilers this season has been nothing short of remarkable, and it all began with a coaching change. The impact of the new coach extended beyond individual player performance, affecting both offensive and defensive aspects of the team’s game.

Related: Oilers Reveal When They’ll Talk to Leon Draisaitl About Extension

Traditionally known for their offensive prowess with superstars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers had struggled defensively in previous seasons. Former coach Jay Woodcroft tried to implement a zone defense he wasn’t overly comfortable and lacked experience teaching. It didn’t work. The coaching change — to a bench boss who had taught a zone defense for years — shifted the focus for the players and everyone started to buy into a more cohesive team approach. Players began working together to strengthen their defensive play, resulting in a more well-rounded team. With the defensive play stellar in front of the goalie, their goalie performance improved radically as well. No surprise really, when you think about it.

Kris Knoblauch Edmonton Oilers

Notably, the Oilers transformed from a team relying solely on high-scoring games to one that could effectively keep opponents from putting the puck into the Oilers’ net. This ability marked a significant departure from their previous season, showing a newfound commitment to both offensive and defensive excellence.

The impact of the coaching change has been so profound that the Oilers are currently experiencing an unprecedented winning streak, setting records in both the franchise and the NHL’s history. The team’s success serves as a testament to the importance of the merging of coaching strategies, fostering teamwork, and taking a more balanced approach to the game.

The Team Finds Itself on a Huge 16-Game Winning Steak

After that tough start, the Oilers now find themselves in a favorable situation. Firmly in a playoff position, the team is being led by the solid performances of both its star players and its depth. Last season, the team excelled on the power play but perhaps relied on it too much. This season, the Oilers have also shown proficiency on both special teams, but it isn’t a crutch. Instead, the symbiotic relationship between the defense and the goaltender has been a driving force behind their success, making it challenging for opponents to score.

Considering the Oilers’ outstanding season and the newfound success in both defensive and offensive aspects of the game, here’s my thinking — don’t ruin things by being ignorant of the players who got the team there. In other words, it’s time for the Oilers to avoid big moves at the trade deadline. Trust who you have.

Oilers’ depth players doing their job. No need for a big trade deadline move to replace them.

Why disrupt a winning formula with a big move? Why ignore the established chemistry among players who have brought the team to this place? Is there a risk to the team’s cohesion by moving some players out and new players in?

Could the Oilers Ruin this Huge Improvement By Trying a Big Trade?

Introducing new players, even if individually talented, could potentially disrupt the established system that has contributed to this team’s success. The process of learning a new system, understanding teammates’ playing styles, and adapting to existing strategies takes time and might impact the team’s performance in the short term. Even worse, it doesn’t reward the hard effort extended by the “grunts” – those players who have worked hard at their depth positions to make this team currently so great. They matter, too. Don’t forget them.

While there are situations where trade deadline acquisitions can be beneficial, especially in addressing specific team weaknesses or injuries, the Oilers’ current roster suggests they are a well-rounded and highly successful team. Making changes that disrupt this chemistry could also be costly in terms of prospects and draft capital and does not guarantee immediate improvement. Stand fast, the team has earned the respect of their general manager.

Time for the Oilers to Let This Team Go for It

In essence, the action of making trade deadline decisions must consider the risk of disrupting a well-functioning team. The Oilers’ lineup is winning now. It is successful and seems to have the right balance.

While it’s OK to address real needs and cover injuries, it is also wise to preserve the chemistry and team identity that have propelled the Oilers to the top of their game.

Related: Oilers’ Hyman: From Humble Grinder to Productive 50-Goal Scorer


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