Agree to Disagree

ryan-nugent-hopkinsAs I write this, Gladiator is on.  It came out in 2000, so it would have been made in 98 or 99, right when wrestling was at it’s peak.  Is it POSSIBLE that it was inspired by the WWF at the time?  Because I’m watching, and I can’t help but think Commodus SURE feels like Vince McMahon, and Maximus SURE feels like Stone Cold, especially when Commodus rigs the one fight with the tigers.  That’s like Stone Cold having to fight the entire Corporation, not just the Rock.

 

So I was interested to listen to Oilers Now yesterday.  I used to work with Bob Stauffer back in 2004.  Well…I used to be an intern at what was then TEAM 1260, and worked on Bob’s show.  But anyway, Bob treated me real good while I was there.  Even before I got to work with him I was a big fan of his show (Total Sports at the time).  I listen to Oilers Now most days, but yesterday was intriguing because the Nashville/Columbus trade went down and I knew it would be heavily discussed.  I very rarely disagree with anything Bob has to say.  But yesterday, I’ve never disagreed with him more.

 

So there was a lot of talk on the show about the trade and it turned into whether or not the Oilers should have been in on Jones, and at one point Bob even suggested that Peter Chiarelli was offered Jones for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and that he was also offered Shea Weber for RNH.

 

What I disagreed with was Bob’s take that basically the Oilers shouldn’t deal RNH for anything short of Drew Doughty.  Not his words exactly, but when you say “if a 25 year old who was a stone cold mortal lock number 1 defencemen were offered for him, then I would listen”, that is essentially what you mean.

 

I should say before I really get rolling, nobody is a bigger proponent of strength and depth down the middle than me.  If you have read my stuff before then you know, I believe it is the most vital thing for a hockey team to have.  Having a legit number 1 centre is more vital than having a legit number 1 defenceman.  And I have been all in on RNH since day 1.  Love his makeup, love his skill set, I still believe he can become a number 1 centre in the league.  Hell, even in what is considered a down season he is still playing good 2 way hockey and has put up 28 points in 40 games.  He has a LITTLE bit better 2nd half and he is a 60 point guy.  Pretty solid centre!  And his offensive game still has room to grow, he can get to another level.

 

Now that I’ve said all that, let me bash the shit out of him…

 

Not really.  But I will absolutely make the case for why Bob should open up to the idea of moving him.  Mark Spector has tried to convince him of this on the show, and thus far he’s had no luck.

 

I’ll start off with the obvious which is the Oilers insane depth down the middle.  A lot of things that Bob brought up to counter this, one being that Oiler fans for years have bitched and moaned about having nothing down the middle.  This is very true, I was one of said fans, but things have dramatically changed.  On April 18th, 2015 around 6:15 PM, it changed.  The Oilers now have a generational talent, coupled with a 6’2, 215 pound point per game guy down the middle.  It’s gone from terrible during the 2014 season to incredible.  Maybe now incredible at the moment, but incredible moving forward.

 

This means that despite RNH being a great talent to have, he is very likely the number 3 guy moving forward.  6 million a year going to a guy centring your 3rd line just isn’t smart.  And I’m dumb…but I’m not dumb enough to think the 3rd line centre spot isn’t a crucial position to have filled.  But you can fill that spot with a quality guy without taking up 6 mil of cap space and without trading away high end assets.

 

Something else that Bob brought up was fans and some media giving up on RNH.  That’s just not true.  Just because you would trade a player to better your team doesn’t mean you’ve given up on that player.  The Predators didn’t give up on Seth Jones, they moved him for a player who betters their team.  The Oilers would be doing the same thing if they move RNH.  I guarantee you, no Oiler fan has given up on RNH.  Justin Schultz?  Many have given up on.  RNH?  Nobody has given up on, he’s just the asset with the highest value who is expendable if it is for the right player.

 

People love to bring up how Pittsburgh won a Cup with their 3some down the middle, and they haven’t been the same since Jordan Staal was traded.  Very true.  But I’ll argue that Pens team should have won more than 1 Cup, and the fact they didn’t use one of Staal or Malkin to round out the team better is very likely the reason for that.  Ray Shero waited far too long to make a move, and only did at the 2012 draft when he had no other choice, and didn’t get near the return he could have got in 2007 or 2008 when Staal would have brought back vital pieces which could have turned the Pens into what the Hawks have been.

 

I do worry that the Oilers will make a similar mistake.  They might be able to win a Cup someday with this extremely talented trio leading the way.  But if in Connor McDavid’s tenure with the Oilers, if he only wins 1 Cup that’s a massive disappointment.  Just like the Pens only winning 1 during Crosby’s tenure is a massive disappointment.

 

Bob brought up something else that I thought was frankly ridiculous.  So Roman Josi has passed Weber as Nashville’s number 1 D-man there for the Oilers need to get their number 1 guy.  I have screamed at people for no reason before…no, that’s not what I meant to say.  I have screamed at people who believe that you need to get a teams best anything to do a deal.  Why do you need to get Josi if Weber gives you everything you need?  That makes no sense.  It’s like if the Oilers were to inquire with a team who needed a winger and had a defencemen to move that they liked.  If they say “give us Hall”, even though Eberle would give that team a better return than what they get anywhere else, are you going to give them Hall?  I just find that to be such an absurd line of rationale.  I believe it’s called greed.

 

It is so unlikely that the Oilers will ever have a chance to trade RNH (if that’s who they choose to move) for the perfect player.  A guy will have some warts like Seth Jones does (yet to reach his potential) or Shea Weber does (wrong side of 30, bloated back end of his contract).  But if you’re trading for RNH, you’re looking at his warts too.  His offensive game hasn’t progressed since entering the league, he doesn’t have good size, and for that size he doesn’t have great speed.

 

So would I have done Nugent-Hopkins for Jones or Shea Weber as Bob suggested was on the table for Peter Chiarelli?  Yep.  I would have preferred Weber because he would transform this franchise, and the Oilers have been DESPERATE for a guy like that since 2006.  The pain which would be the back end of his contract would be more than worth how much better Weber would make the team.  There is a lot of time between now and then to figure out how to solve the problem.  But Jones upside combined with the fit in our top 4 would have been enough for me to make the deal.

 

HOWEVER…for me personally, I would have had to have another deal in place to pull the trigger.  I would have needed a centre coming back somehow.  Not just a guy either.  A veteran guy who could handle 2nd line duties for the rest of this season and perhaps next season.  Maybe Brayden Schenn?  Tyler Bozak?

 

I should point out that Bob brought something up on yesterday’s show that I couldn’t have agreed with more and that was the idea from some that trading Oscar Klefbom for Travis Hamonic is a smart idea.  I’ve brought this up before, Darren Dreger suggested the Oilers need to do this about a month ago while hosting Leafs Lunch on TSN radio.  So…just so we’re clear here…the Oilers should better their blueline by moving a guy who is almost as good as Hamonic, while playing in the West, for Hamonic, who is better by a bit today and probably not better than him for too much longer?  That’s how their blueline will be FIXED?  Congratulations, your blueline just went from awful to slightly better than awful, PROBLEM SOLVED!!!

 

Most Oilers fans, media, and I’m sure even management are on the same page.  Nobody is going to want to move anyone for the wrong deal.  All Oiler fans and media are well aware that there is a chance that they may be able to get other pieces they need without moving 1 of the big 3 down the middle.  Maybe they go get Dustin Byfuglien as a UFA this summer.  He would be a perfect fit for the Oilers and their needs.

 

But while I don’t want to envision trading Taylor Hall for example, if Dean Lombardi calls Peter Chiarelli and says “we want Hall for Doughty”, he’s doing it.  Everyone is doing that trade.  Only Connor McDavid is the only true “untouchable” on this club.

 

All fans and media have to understand though that if the Oilers are going to speed this process up a bit, they’re going to have to do a trade that they’ll likely lose on value.  As I said yesterday though, if you make your team better, how is that losing a trade?

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

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