Should the Oilers inquire about Zdeno Chara? Could they pursue Mike Richards? Check out the latest collection of Oilers speculation
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples commented on TSN analyst Craig Button’s suggestion that it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to start moving out players who’ve been “instrumental in helping them be one of the worst teams in the league for the last half-dozen years.” While Button didn’t name specific players, Staples believes he’s referring to Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Anton Lander, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz. Staples analyzes their respective strengths and weaknesses, but believes management must remain patient.
Staples also noted Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently claiming the Los Angeles Kings attempted to shop Mike Richards to the Oilers or Calgary Flames last season by packaging him with two or three prospects. Staples doubts the Oilers will pursue Richards now that he’s a free agent, citing the improvement of Anton Lander and the offseason signing of Mark Letestu.
Regarding the recent Zdeno Chara rumors and Friedman’s recent musing over whether Oilers general manager (and former Boston Bruins GM) Peter Chiarelli might have interest, Staples suggests it might be worthwhile for Chiarelli to investigate the possibility. He feels the market for Chara, a once-great but now-aging defenseman who’s on the decline and carrying a big contract, could be smaller than the Bruins might wish.
TSN (VIA TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Pierre LeBrun doesn’t believe Chiarelli will making any knee-jerk reactions to improve the Oilers, though he feels the blueline could be an area of concern throughout this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Oilers were a legitimate playoff contender seeking experienced depth to push them into Stanley Cup contention this season, then I could see the sense of them pursuing Chara and/or Richards. But they’re very obviously not a playoff contender, so going after either of those guys makes no sense.
Richards’ performance was in obvious decline before the Kings terminated his contract. Whether it’s the physical demands of his two-way style, possible substance-abuse issues or both taking a toll on his performance, Richards is not a player who can help the Oilers now.
If Chara is willing to waive his movement clause to join the Oilers, they’ll be taking on an expensive, steadily declining asset who won’t help them over the long term. While I don’t doubt Chiarelli loves Chara, I don’t see him making a pitch for the big Bruins captain.
I also don’t believe Chiarelli will panic and start shipping out some of those younger core players. He’ll want to evaluate this club over the course of the season before deciding on bigger moves. If he does ship out a young player or two this season, I expect it’ll be Schultz or Yakupov. He won’t touch the core guys like Eberle, Hall or Nugent-Hopkins.