Friedman on Oilers’ hockey and business sides

Many eyes around the league will be on what the Oilers do between now and the trade deadline.

Elliotte Friedman had a Monday afternoon radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, and at one point was asked for his view on the beleaguered hockey team.

“Thoughts on what’s unfolding in Edmonton,” began show co-host Ryan Pinder. “Clearly this is a GM that either is or appears to be - or both - GMing for his career, and that sometimes can lead to shortsighted moves rather than long-term ones, and I think the shoring up of the blueline for the short-term might fall into that category. It puts them in a little more cap pain next year with Manning’s deal.

“But what do you see Chiarelli and the Oilers doing here. They’re not out of it, but their probability of making it, according to those in that business, is still less than a 1-in-3 chance. That’s not real good.

“I don’t know who’s making decisions when you get to the deadline in a situation like this.”

“The problem is - I was looking at this - they’re two points out of the playoffs,” noted Friedman. “You look at your division, okay. You have you guys and San Jose and Vegas, who have begun to separate themselves. And you guys look good, and San Jose is starting to look good, and Vegas is starting to look good.

“And then after that, in both divisions - yours and the Central - the bottom has just fallen out of everybody chasing those playoff berths. Who scares you there?”

Pinder pointed out that “Minnesota and Dallas haven’t been what we expected, I suppose, have they.”

“... You look at all of those teams there, I’ve got to think Dallas is going to figure out a way,” indicated Friedman. “But Minnesota doesn’t scare you. Vancouver doesn’t scare you. Arizona doesn’t scare you. Anaheim - Anaheim should scare you, but the way they’re going right now certainly isn’t. And Gibson has been carrying them all year.

“The smarter thing is for Edmonton to look toward the future, obviously. But they missed the playoffs last year, they’ve got a whole bunch of suites that come up this year, they’ve got Connor McDavid - they don’t want to waste time with him.

“I don’t always agree with it, but I understand why these decisions get made. Sometimes we look at it purely from the hockey side - sometimes you’ve also got to look at it from the business side.

“The smart hockey decision in Edmonton was not to make those two trades necessarily. The Petrovic one I think is different, but I wouldn’t have given up the draft pick. But from a hockey point of view, it didn’t make a lot of sense. But from a business point of view, I see it.

“And there’s no question in my mind by the way the Oilers are doing things, that owner wants them in the playoffs. And if the owner wants them in the playoffs, then you’re going that way. And that, quite simply to me, is the logical explanation for what’s going on.”

Headed into Monday evening’s NHL slate, the 20-19-3 Oilers sat sixth in the Pacific Division with 43 point and were, as Friedman noted, two points out of a Wild Card position.