What is the Western Conference waiting for?
While Eastern Conference cup contenders have been loading up ahead of the NHL trade deadline, the Western Conference has stayed relatively quiet. With the race for playoffs spots and the conference wide open, what's stopping teams including the Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames from making moves?
SAM CHANG: So we've gone through a lot of the Eastern Conference teams. The Western Conference relatively quiet by comparison. Ivan Barbashev going from St. Louis to Vegas, Nino Niederreiter for a pick to Winnipeg. That's basically it.
Why is the Western Conference so quiet? Isn't the Western Conference supposed to be this wide open conference and all these teams, they're kind of just there and there's something for the taking if anyone wants to go get it. But everyone's just kind of sitting back and being like, nah. It's like going to some dance when you're in like high school, and like all the kids are on the wall, they don't want to do anything. It's like, what's going on? Do something.
OMAR: I don't-- maybe it's because like the West is open, like there's no one really taking over. But like Vegas has made a move. Minnesota's has been being the third team and getting all these picks out of nowhere. Dallas got Dadonov. Colorado is Colorado. They don't really need to do anything. They got Jack Johnson back. Huh, Sam, huh? Sorry?
SAM CHANG: I mean, what they need to do is replace Kadri before the trade deadline.
OMAR: So it's like, but also, OK, I have to give a shoutout to my buddy Brad. Because he specifically said, there are no podcasts talking about it so can you please talk about? The Winnipeg Jets, man, like when they were good, we didn't talk about them as much.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's true.
OMAR: We were just like, OK, they're the first and they're first in the Central, whatever. Other teams will catch up. And then they just stayed there. They were good. You talk about them. And now they're going in the other direction. And I feel like there's still not enough people talking about it. Like now, like as of this recording, they've lost three games in a row. I think they've only won like, it's like 6 of their last 16 games or something like that. They can't score a goal, or it's really difficult for them to. They're going back to like Paul Maurice level line combinations. Like I think I'm pretty sure Wheeler, Scheifele, and Connor's a thing again. And now they're in a wild card spot.
And again, Calgary, men, there are so many teams that are so lucky Calgary sucks this year. Because they're, like if Calgary was good, like Winnipeg would have so much more pressure. I feel like the Oilers have so much more pressure. Seattle is in a wildcard spot again as well. Like right now, like Calgary is the only team, I think, who's not in a playoff spot that can still like push for one. Because like Nashville is pretty much peace off. St. Louis is peace off. And then Vancouver, Arizona, and so on and so forth.
And then like the Flames--
JULIAN MCKENZIE: But it's not like they have like-- I mean they have Dustin Wolfe and Matthew Coronado as like their biggest trade chips as prospects and then a first round pick that might be milling around, and already your next two already have all these conditions. Like they might end up with just like James Van Riemsdyk and Luke Schenn, which would kind of be reminiscent of the Leafs, in a weird way.
But like, yeah, like I'm not-- but like I-- well, maybe Nazem Kadri will like that. But like I don't know, like I'm not expecting anything big from the Calgary Flames. And I will be happy to be wrong if they find some wild deal and they get like Luke Shenn and Brock Boeser. But like, something about this team just, they're not hitting right. A lot of people-- they've been mid all year. They haven't had a three-game winning streak since like the first three games of the year. Every other streak they've had has been like two wins in a row or like one win, then a loss, then like-- they're just too inconsistent.
Like I can understand why people don't want this team to like ball out at the deadline. Like they're just kind of mid. So I don't really expect them to really get any big piece. Maybe they'll probably just buy low, kick tires on somebody and then just go. And I think that's probably what we're going to get. But, hey, I'm happy to be wrong.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Julian, as someone who covers the team, like what is the sense around the team? Like do you get like sort of a vibe around them that like they're underperforming or do they want to get ahead?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. Like they know. They know they're not like playing up to standard. But I think like, they keep saying, they're like, oh, we have a group of leaders in here and we know seasons go through ups and downs and turning of the tide and all that. If we could figure this out in the next couple games, it's like, OK, but when are you guys going to actually do this? Like a lot of people are wondering, like when is this team actually going to turn it on?
The other day, Darrell Sutter had this little morning skate presser where I think he was asked about the Vegas game by Eric Francis from SportsNet. And I know people don't like Eric Francis. But like Darrell clearly makes a little swipe at him, and be like, well, yeah, yeah, I'm cheering for the Flames and everyone here is. But that's clearly, one, it's a swipe at media, but two, you're trying to get all these people to be like, yeah, man, you know, no one believes in us. you know, we're the Flames, we're going to believe in ourselves.
Y'all got 22 games, or 21 games, or whenever this episode comes out, to get your ish together, so that way people can actually believe in you. Because through 60-something games, I don't think they've done enough for people to justifiably believe in this team. Like people were saying, all right, you know what, maybe they'll figure it out. They'll head to the playoffs and maybe they're a team that's like, you don't want to face them because of their structure. They might not even make it in. So they need to figure it out. That's my sense.
OMAR: And here's another thing too, and like I'm looking at the standings. It's actually hilarious. Because I forgot this happened last year. We could have a rematch of one of the first round matchups of last year in the Pacific division with the Oilers and the Kings.
ARUN SRINIVASAN: Oh, that's right.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: We could.
OMAR: Now. [AUDIO OUT] The Kings, they sounded like they were getting Chychrun. If they do, and the Oilers don't do anything and the Kings win that series, like I don't know, man. Yes, the Oilers have Connor McDavid. The Oilers have Leon Draisaitl. But I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Edmonton wins that series. I really don't. With or without Chychrun. Yes, and I'm saying that with my chest, whole.
So I don't know. I don't know, I don't get the thought process, I really don't, of like of not making some type of addition every year, especially this year. And I'm seeing some Oilers fans saying like, oh, they don't need to. Like the West is wide open. I'm like, isn't that more of a reason to do that, so you can guarantee that you can make it all the way? Dumb things happen in the playoffs, man. The Kings made it as the eighth seed and they knocked out freaking San Jose and they were down 3-1, or 3-0. Was it 3-1 or 3-0?
ARUN SRINIVASAN: --Devils in the final.
OMAR: Like crazy things happen. So like I really don't get this thought process of the Oilers organization, just like just not-- Joel Edmundson, like really? That's the-- that's the addition?
JULIAN MCKENZIE: And he's not 100% healthy.
OMAR: Like, come on, man. Oh, my gosh. I don't get it. I don't know.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: It's kind of funny, we think of how-- Oh, sorry, you go. Finish your thought, because there's something else I want to add to that.
OMAR: No, I was just saying, like I feel like we talk about this like every week. I don't understand like the organization's thought process. I really don't.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, we do talk about the Oilers every week. And it's funny, because we were talking about how teams who are really good really don't need to consider their draft picks as much. And it's funny, because the Edmonton Oilers, fine, they are not in a-- they're not top of their division, even though they are not that far off. But like because they have the star power that they have, you could easily lump them in that group of teams that really don't need to give that much of a damn about their first round picks or their second round picks in 2025 or whatever. You should be doing everything you can to keep those two players happy and keep them in Edmonton Oilers colors for the rest of their lives.