The Edmonton Oilers are closing out 2018 by shoring up their defence. The club made a pair of trades Sunday, each designed to address a depleted blueline.
The first swap sent defenceman Chris Wideman and a third-round draft pick to the Florida Panthers for defenceman Alex Petrovic.
The second sent forward Drake Caggiula and defenceman Jason Garrison to Chicago for Brandon Manning and prospect Robin Norell.
The second deal is more interesting for a few reasons.
First, get Norell out of the way. He’s not expected to make much of an impact in the NHL, sorry to say, and dishing him out was a matter of ditching a contract for the Blackhawks. No big deal there. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and has spent parts of three seasons in the AHL.
It’s Manning that has sent tongues wagging.
The bruising blueliner is best known to Oilers fans as being the guy who busted Connor McDavid’s clavicle in 2016. The story goes that Manning even bragged about it to McDavid’s face, a move that did not exactly ingratiate him to the city.
At the time, McDavid said it was one of the “most classless things” he’d ever seen on the ice.
And now? Teammates.
Word around the campfire is that general manager Peter Chiarelli did in fact get McDavid’s blessing before closing the deal, but you have to imagine that there’s still going to be a little tension in the room – at least at first. Manning is the sort of defenceman who can bring that edge, but is it worth it?
In Caggiula, the Oilers’ loss is Chicago’s gain. The forward was showing promise in Edmonton, but there were glaring defensive errors in his game and that probably didn’t help him as far as Ken Hitchcock goes.
Manning draws in as another left-hander, so conventional wisdom suggests this is an upgrade from Garrison. The real question will be whether or not he performs better than Kevin Gravel, which could make Manning and his contract a touch on the perilous side.
After all, Kris Russell will be back and that’ll shift things down the depth chart for the newcomer.
Petrovic, meanwhile, has an assist in 26 games this season and was scratched a few times by the Panthers. The Edmonton native will be a UFA this summer.