Edmonton is apparently not a place where a lot of NHL players want to play. Things have gone awry for the Oilers this season. The team is 30th in the entire league and has only won five games through the first 16 games of the season.
GM Ken Holland has reportedly been scouring the trade market to find ways to turn the ship around but has not been successful yet.
The problem in finding a trade could be a matter of price. Teams understand Edmonton is desperate, but the problem could also lay in the fact that players with no-trade clauses simply don’t want to play for the Oilers.
This is backed up by recent reporting from Elliotte Friedman on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast.
“I have been told again, just as a reminder, there is one person who always says it to me… there are no-trade clauses here, and Edmonton isn’t winning right now,” said Friedman. “That makes [Edmonton’s] job much, much more difficult, much more difficult.”
Friedman mentions that players have NTC these days, and Edmonton is not a desirable place for many players which makes it that much harder. Oilers were really hoping Campbell would go down to the AHL and rediscover his game, that’s not happening right now.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) November 20, 2023
This isn’t necessarily a new narrative for the Oilers. The city has long been seen as a place that players would like to avoid playing in if possible, especially if the team is losing. A combination of brutal winters, along with a lack of the perks of other bigger cities near the coast like Vancouver and LA, makes Edmonton look like a worse living situation than others.
The surprising part of this is that players still seem hesitant to waive their no-trade clauses despite the team employing two of the NHL’s best players, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It’s also a bit unnerving, considering the team has gone on two long playoff runs over the previous two seasons.
Ever since McDavid entered the league, the thought was that players would clamour at the opportunity to play with him in Edmonton. While that has worked at times with big-name free agents like Milan Lucic and Zach Hyman, it doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
If this reporting is true, it will hamstring the Oilers into either seeking out players without trade protection or finding internal solutions to their problems.