by Lisa McRitchie on 03/05/13 at 01:00 AM ET
The Edmonton Oilers aren’t exactly hard to play against, and that certainly isn’t anything you haven’t heard before.
While the Oilers have tried to improve team toughness through the trade for Mark Fistric from the Dallas Stars, the team needs a power forward more. The addition of Mike Brown, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for a conditional 2014 draft pick is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the solution.
Any trade involving just draft picks, especially 3rd or 4th round picks and even more so when they are for borderline and 4th line players cannot be seen as anything other than a minor or cosmetic trade.
A fourth round pick, even with the Oilers’ track record of draft picks in later rounds, is not something that would help the Oilers in the short term, unless of course it was used in another trade. Otherwise, it would be years before the player picked in the 2014 draft pick even had a chance at cracking the Oilers’ lineup.
The draft pick wasn’t something the Oilers couldn’t afford to gamble.
But when it comes to Brown, whether or not the Oilers get their money’s worth will depend upon what they expect to get from Brown.
Looking at Brown’s past two seasons, both played with the Leafs we see that he played 50 games per season. We also see that he was on the IR this January with a strained shoulder, and only reactivated February 13th. Shoulder injuries will raise an eyebrow for Oilers fans, especially when the player in question is supposed to be a physical bruiser.
The ideal power forward the Oilers’ so desperately want will not be cheap, but will be easier to obtain than Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or even Nail Yakupov was. But that’s not to say that the Oilers will have an easy time making it happen.
Because every GM in the league knows that the Oilers are in need of a hard hitting top six player, the price just went up. Add to that that the Oilers have a surplus of wingers, and need solid, big centremen, the Oilers might have something they can work with, once they find a trading partner.
There will be those that rant and rave about this trade making the Oilers’ worse, but did it really?
The move will force movement in the Oilers’ lineup. It will force Margnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen back down to the AHL, but that is where those two players will best learn the ropes of being a power forward, of using their bodies in the most effective manner. For Paajarvi, physical play will likely continue to be a struggle, regardless of time spent in the AHL. Paajarvi and Brown are not the same player, and Paajarvi's movement through the lineup is a result of his developement curve.
It was hoped that Ryan Smyth could work with Paajarvi is a mentorship role, and that will prove more difficult when they are not in the same locker room for long stretches of games. But to think that Paajarvi might one day play the same role that the Oilers hope Brown will play, would be foolish.
Brown will be brought in to hit. Brown will be brought in to eat minutes without being a liability on the ice. At best he will be able to open up space, or take the man off of the puck allowing a more prolific scorer access to the puck. But Brown was not brought in to singlehandedly address the Oilers' scoring concerns.
Now we just wait to see if he truly fits into coach Ralph Keuger's system, and how much he will play.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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