Edmonton - June 30, 2014 - On Sunday evening, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish finally pulled the trigger on a deal fans had been expecting to happen for some time.
Sam Gagner was shipped off to the Tampa Bay Lightning in what had to have been a very difficult move for everyone inside the Oilers organization.
Gagner had been in Edmonton for what felt like an eternity and in today’s NHL, seven years can sometimes be viewed as exactly that.
It was clear both the player and club needed a change and from an organizational standpoint, MacT clearly wanted to bring in an actual National Hockey League player if he was going to be sending the former 2007 sixth overall pick out of town.
Enter Teddy Purcell and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
While no one really knows what Steve Yzerman has up his sleeve, it is obvious Tampa Bay is going need some extra cap space to make whatever it is happen. From their standpoint, parting with Purcell wasn’t an issue but eating his $4.5 million ticket via buyout was. By grabbing Gagner and promptly flipping him to the Arizona Coyotes and agreeing to take on a third of his $4.8 million cap hit over the next two seasons, the Bolts GM was able to create even more space than simply handing the native of St. John’s, Newfoundland his walking papers.
Sending Purcell to the Oilers was a no-brainer and now it will be up to Dallas Eakins and his newly restructured coaching staff to find the player that posted 24 goals and 65 points during the 2011-12 campaign and not the one who scored just 12 times and a collected grand total of 42 points in 2013-14. Problem is…that one season could have very well been a career year for the former Los Angeles Kings signing.
Looking at his career numbers, Purcell has eclipsed the fifteen goal mark on just two occasions, (17) ‘10-’11 and the aforementioned twenty-four during the following season, and has generally posted a shooting percentage of less than 9%. Last year wasn’t exactly out of the norm for him at 7.6% but his ’11-’12 total of 15.8% certainly was. With that being the case, we are likely talking about a 15-17 goal scorer at best, with the potential of him going off and putting together a 25 goal campaign in a dream season.
A good chunk of his offence comes from power play, which isn’t a bad thing, but what else does he really bring the table? There is no question Edmonton is desperately searching for bigger bodies to add into their forwards ranks and while Purcell stands 6’ 3” tall and tips the scales in and around the 205 pound mark, he doesn’t play a physical style of game whatsoever and is actually very close in weight to Gagner.
By the sounds of it, he is adequate at best in his own end of the rink and as his numbers might suggest, he is very inconsistent when it comes to both production and his game to game performance. Now considering he was just traded for a guy with more than a few warts, it should surprise no one that the player the Oilers received back has more than a few of his own.
Which brings me to the whole purpose of this article…what are reasonable expectations for this player? Fans and media alike must realize Teddy Purcell will likely never come close to duplicating his career bests during his time in Orange and Blue. He is simply not the player and to be perfectly honest, he is probably best suited for a role on the third line with more than his fair share of looks on the man advantage.
Unfortunately, the Oilers desperately need to add size and a veteran presence inside their top two forward lines and are not at all sold on Nail Yakupov being able to handle that sort of responsibility at this stage of his career. Add those two things to the fact Purcell makes $4.5 million a season and you can almost certainly write his name in pen as a top six forward come next October.
In my mind, taking away opportunity from Yakupov isn’t exactly the best way to go about things but on the other hand, this team needs to get better and having these kids earn their spot isn’t a bad thing. However, there is something to be said about putting players, and especially young ones, into a situation where they can both be successful and continue to develop. That wasn’t always the case in 2013-14 when it came to the talented Russian and it cannot happen again in 2014-15.
How these situations play out will go a long way in helping determine the sort of season Teddy Purcell possibly puts together during his first year in Oilers silks but again, with this team’s quality of roster being what it will likely be and the player’s limitations and history being what they are, expecting anything more than fifteen goals and forty or so points is completely unrealistic.
Expecting the sun and moon is rarely a good idea and in this scenario, it would be a major mistake. If expectations are kept in check, this deal likely won’t look too shabby come next April but if they are not, be prepared to be greatly disappointed.