Kevin Allen of HockeyBuzz, who also happens to be the lead hockey writer for Detroit Hockey and used to work for USA Today wrote in a recent column entitled: “15 NHL moves that should be made this season offseason”, that the Edmonton Oilers will be a busy team. Among the things he said they should do: “Oilers should re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson and then call the Rangers about Anthony DeAngelo.”
The first two have been a topic of conversation for a couple of months now in Oilers Nation. Speculation is that the Oilers are close on Larsson, but talk is that things have gone a bit off the rails when it comes to Nugent-Hopkins. Where the third piece, the one about DeAngelo comes from, is intriguing.
This was just a suggestion tossed out by Allen that seemed to pick up a little steam and was mentioned on TSN radio Thursday afternoon. Let’s hope it goes no farther than that.
There have been no talks around the team (that we know of) suggesting the Oilers are eyeing DeAngelo. While there might be a reason to consider it based on what DeAngelo used to bring the New York Rangers in terms of offense, it’s a stretch to think this is a priority for Ken Holland. A lot of things would need to happen, including a trade that was pennies on the dollar with a ton of retained salary and a change of plans for a couple of the Oilers current defensemen.
DeAngelo Is Just a Bad Idea
For one, DeAngelo is nothing if not a lightning rod for controversy. He’s no longer welcome with the Rangers organization after multiple on and off-ice incidences and it’s not clear how many teams would be interested in working with him as a reclamation project, despite his level of talent.
Second, this might not be what the Oilers need, even if they are looking at some big personnel changes.
Yes, the Oilers signing Tyson Barrie last summer does suggest Holland has a history of looking at these types of players on short-term deals. And, in this situation, there’s actually a connection between DeAngelo and a current Oilers player in Darnell Nurse — the two played as teammates for half a season in major junior hockey. Still, that’s not enough of a reason.
DeAngelo has is a gifted passer, he’s a right-shot like Barrie was and he’s got a record of point production — he put up 53 points in 68 games for the Rangers in 2019-20. The offense could make him a player teams look at if the price is right and the fit is there. For the Oilers, the fit seems off.
Another Season of Shoving Evan Bouchard to the Background?
If the Oilers went this route, it means another season where defenseman Evan Bouchard takes a back seat. He’s ready to play and there’s a ton of talk that he’ll get full-time duty next season. It’s not clear how that would happen if the Oilers pursued DeAngelo.
And, if other teams do come calling for the troubled former Rangers d-man, it requires the Oilers getting into a bidding war. If that’s the case, the Oilers might as well just bring back Barrie. You’re better off to go with the player you know and one who didn’t have any trouble meshing with the core of this team. Barrie is going to test free agency, but he’s not ruled out a return to the Oilers if they have an interest in him and a longer-term deal is available.
In the end, don’t put any stock into chatter that the Oilers and DeAngelo might be a thing to watch. The player doesn’t feel like a fit, the Oilers have better options available and they certainly have bigger priorities. I can’t see it happening.