The Edmonton Oilers held their annual Fan and Locker Room Day Sale on Saturday. It’s been two years since they were able to hold the event thanks to a pandemic and after the long hiatus, fans came out in droves. You can buy sticks, jerseys and equipment used for the game, among other items closely related to the team and the players. After shopping was complete, fans could watch the Oilers’ open practice.
The most memorable item I saw was a $15,000 certified and ported Connor McDavid jersey (no, I didn’t buy it). But another fan found something perhaps even more fascinating. The team was selling jerseys to players who had never played in Edmonton, but were rumored to be in the Oilers’ lot around the trade deadline last season.
Twitter account Oil in the goal shared an image of four players who were supposed to be on the verge of becoming Oilers because the franchise had jerseys made for them. These four players were Carson Soucy, Justin Braun, Jacob Middleton and one of the Staal brothers.
Soucy was tied to Edmonton around last year’s trade deadline. The Oilers ended up acquiring Brett Kulak from the Montreal Canadiens, but Soucy was widely rumored as a potential Seattle trade piece and there were more than a few insiders trying to link the Oilers to the player. Kulak had a low blow, which might explain why the Oilers went this way.
Soucy was considered a possible depth addition for the left side of the Oilers’ blue line. In the end, he wasn’t traded at all and remained with the Kraken. He has one last season on his current contract at $2.75 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the campaign.
In July, the Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jacob Middleton to a three-year contract. It happened after the 26-year-old was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Wild before the trade deadline in March. If Edmonton was on him, that’s interesting news.
The Wild traded Kaapo Kakkonen and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks to land Middleton and it makes sense that Edmonton may have fallen out of the running for the player considering the return. The Oilers were only forced to move a second-round pick for Kulak and giving up a player/prospect in the range of what Kakkonen meant to Minnesota could have scared off Oilers general manager Ken Holland. Keep in mind that Middleton’s trade to the Wild came right after Minnesota traded for Marc-Andre Fleury. The deal between the Sharks and Wild was likely made with the salary cap implications in mind.
Another veteran defenseman with a ton of playoff experience to his name, Justin Braun was reportedly on the Oilers’ radar before last season’s trade deadline. The Flyers traded Braun to the New York Rangers and bought futures, around the same time the organization traded Derrick Brassard to the Oilers. It would make sense that Holland had conversations with Philadelphia about the two players and things didn’t quite pan out.
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Keep in mind the Oilers didn’t draft in the third round last summer, so that could have been a factor in a failed deal. They would have had to acquire one first to make the exchange.
Which Staal were the Oilers watching?
There were talks about the Oilers who might have been interested in Marc Staal or Eric Staal. The shirt photo obviously doesn’t offer much indication of who the Holland brother might have been aiming for. Eric joined the Florida Panthers on a PTO this summer. Marc Staal has signed a deal to join the same team.
Eric would have been an interesting depth addition for the Oilers at center. It probably would have been a trade that was done instead of the Oilers acquiring Armband and potentially something that was done as part of the Kulak trade to Montreal. Meanwhile, Marc would have been an addition to Detroit’s deep blue line. The Red Wings were selling bits as they had one of their worst seasons in franchise history last year. Strangely, Detroit didn’t end up trading Marc and he left for free agency. Was it because Edmonton was unwilling to pay the price Detroit was asking?
Of course, these images don’t prove anything. That said, it’s hard to imagine the Oilers making jerseys with the names on the back for fun. They must have sensed that things were close. Perhaps even more interesting is why the Oilers would sell them. Are they really collectibles at this point? And, why would the Oilers want that information/speculation there? Selling these shirts had to get people talking.
Jim Parsons is a THW senior freelance writer, part-time journalist, and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes NHL news and gossip, while reporting on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for more than five years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date on the latest NHL rumors and trade talks. Jim is a daily staple for readers who want to be “in the know”.
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