That was the key word in the Oilers' long term plans going into the trade deadline. Now that it has been a little while since the trades were completed, it may be appropriate to gauge how successful this year's deadline was.
The Oilers' season has long been over, and Edmontonians have long bought into the idea of being patient.
Another key word: vision.
Right now it's hard to appreciate what the Oilers' vision is, as they are playing many of their cards close to their chest (as they should, in terms of asset management). But the Oilers' moves during the deadline and indications given in recent interviews with Kevin Lowe and others have given us a preview of the team they plan to build.
Rumours of seeing Jaromir Jagr, Roman Cervenka, and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson put aside, it really does appear that the Oilers have committed to a full rebuild.
They are reluctant to rush Jordan Eberle into the NHL, though he is past-ripe and dominating the WHL. With the end of the season approaching, everyone is now expected to pull their weight on whatever line they play in auditions for roster spots next year. With the exception of Penner, Gagner, and a couple others, few performances have justified any notion of certain players being moved up the depth chart.
Merit has also been established as a key factor in building the team.
What of the deals of Cody Wild, Denis Grebeshkov, Steve Staios, and Lubomir Visnovsky?
Notice that these are all defensemen.
Team USA defenseman Ryan Whitney, acquired in the Visnovsky trade, has a very efficient outlet pass. He has many recurring injury problems, but he's a player that "gets it." He wants to be a leader in Edmonton, and he has started trying to assert his physical play since arriving here.
As for the second round pick, many are critical of this choice.
I believe, however, that acquiring a pick for a player from a position (defense) for which the team has decent organizational depth is not too bad at all. This clears cap space for a player the team didn't plan to resign as an RFA and also gives a semi-valuable asset in the second round pick.
Remember that second round picks need not be used in the draft and can be tradeable assets as well.
Picks are assets with no cap hit, and if the Oilers are going to rebuild in a salary cap era, these picks are golden.
As for the Aaron Johnson move, this was a well thought out maneuver. In fact, his acquisition may trump the acquisitions of Matt Marquardt, Ryan Whitney, and Ryan Jones. The Oilers received a player in the mold of Steve Staios, who has a low cap hit and plenty of career ahead of him yet. A great depth acquisition for a reliable guy who can play on just about any pairing on any night.
These are only the initial steps, but the outcome was good for the most part.
The Oilers received assets, but now the fans must be as patient with the team as this will be the key factor in the rebuilding.
The team as it looks now is not going to be the team that the Oilers ice in September.
When it comes down to asset management, the Oilers are taking some positive steps in a season in which there wasn't much to be positive about.
Drafting Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, or whoever else will not be the only important move in the rebuilding of this team.
The acquisition of players like Johnson shows a commitment to filling roles while minding cap space.
And when it comes to asset management, getting the third round pick doesn't hurt either.
All in all, I find no reason to be upset with this year's deadline. Rather, opportunities abound. The Oilers may have lost their best defenseman, but they have put themselves in a position to pull the trigger on deals that may improve the team.
For now, we wait on the results of those trades.
Trades that have happened; trades that may not have happened; trades that will happen.
All equally important.
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