The Edmonton Oilers were busy on trade deadline day, bolstering their roster in an attempt to make a run at the Stanley Cup. General manager Ken Holland started Sunday night by acquiring defenceman Mike Green, then added forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis on Monday.
Athanasiou is being lauded for his speed – and rightly so. He was snagged along with Ryan Kuffner from the Detroit Red Wings for Sam Gagner, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.
Holland knows Athanasiou from his tenure as Detroit GM. The winger is a pending restricted free agent with a $3 million cap hit. His two-year contract is up at the end of the season and he’s yet to have a long-term deal in the National Hockey League, so Holland could have a chance to land him to a more significant term.
The Oilers will test Athanasiou in a number of situations, but expectations have him with captain Connor McDavid. Both players are puck carriers, but Athanasiou could adjust his game to make the punch more potent.
There’s a downside and that’s in the plus-minus category. Athanasiou is a career minus-75, including an abysmal minus-45 this year, and that’s a problem. He has 24 points in 46 games, including 10 goals, but expectations are higher now. Playing on a better team will give him a better look.
The Oilers retained 10 percent of Gagner’s salary.
Ennis was a grab most Edmonton fans were expecting. The Oilers sent a 2021 fifth-round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 30-year-old. The Bonnyville native can suit up at all three forward positions and brings a solid level of production and experience.
Ennis posted 33 points in 61 games with the Sens this season, with a shooting percentage of 10 percent alongside linemates Chris Tierney and Colin White. On the Oilers, he could find himself on the third line and see similar production digits. On special teams, Ennis is a steal – especially at the price. Giving up a late pick and paying a cap hit of $800,000 is mighty fine.
Ennis signed a one-year deal with the Senators for that price in July of 2019, so he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Finally, Green. Few people thought the defenceman was on Edmonton’s radar. The Oilers sent Brodziak and a conditional pick for 2020 or 2021 as part of the deal. The pick will be a fourth-round pick in 2020, but it switches to a third-rounder in 2021 if the Oilers make the conference final and if Green appears in at least half of the games.
Detroit is retaining half of Green’s salary.
That pretty much establishes Green’s role with the Oilers. He’s not a fixture, but his veteran presence will make an impact. The deal was made due to the injuries to Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom, putting the blueline in an untenable position with a heavy reliance on prospects in the pipeline.
Green can quarterback a second unit power play and he’s got one of the crispest outlet passes from his position in the game, so there’s a decent upside. And chipping off Brodziak sweetens the pot.
Holland’s deadline moves addressed clear needs and patched up some lineup holes and that’s about all you can ask. “I think our team has played real hard all year,” he said. “I felt if our management team could do a move or two, we’d like to help our players.”
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