Changes are coming in Edmonton this summer. A first-round sweep against the Winnipeg Jets guaranteed as much for a team in win-now mode, and with a number of inherited contracts coming off the books, general manager Ken Holland is certain to bring in new faces and make the team unequivocally his.
Monday's trade with the Chicago Blackhawks will be the first move of many. The Oilers traded defenseman Caleb Jones and a conditional third-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in return for Duncan Keith.
That's three-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time Norris Trophy winner and four-time NHL All-Star Duncan Keith. Not since Chris Pronger in 2008 has a defenseman of such stature joined Edmonton. His credentials are unimpeachable, and he'll be an eventual first-ballot Hall of Famer. During a press conference on Monday night, Holland made sure to allude to those qualities while staunchly defending the cost of acquiring Keith, referencing the player's "experience" and "intangibles," which he said are needed to succeed in the playoffs.
The assets surrendered to Chicago are not a big deal. Caleb Jones is a 24-year-old defenseman on an $850K cap hit who skates well and can do a competent job as a sixth or seventh defenseman. The Oilers, having already traded a number of mid-round draft picks in recent years for meager returns, are further cutting into the prospect pool with the departed third-round pick, which isn't great. In the big picture, those are negligible expenditures in the pursuit of improving the NHL roster.