Oilers in unfamiliar position of being deadline buyers

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Like yard sales and cherry blossom festivals, Edmonton selling at the deadline is an annual springtime tradition.

But this year, that’s set to change.

The Oilers currently sit third in the Pacific Division, nine points up on fourth-place Calgary. It’s too early to call it a lock, but Edmonton sure seems like it’ll be participating in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Which means, in all likelihood, the Oilers will be buyers at this year’s deadline.

“It’s our job to make it hard on a management team to decide whether it is going to add or subtract,” head coach Todd McLellan said this week, per the Journal. “In the past it’s been fairly easy, he’s been able to look at the standings and understand where we’re going to end up.”

“He” in this instance is Peter Chiarelli, who’s only in his second year as Edmonton GM yet has already experienced selling at the deadline. Last year, with his club en route to the worst record in the Western Conference, he shipped several assets — Justin Schultz, Teddy Purcell and Anders Nilsson — out of town, in exchange for a handful of picks.

That followed in a long tradition of Oilers GMs (Craig MacTavish, Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe) that did the same during the club’s current 11-year playoff drought.

So let’s assume the Oilers break with tradition this year, and are in a position to add. If Chiarelli’s going to be a buyer, what’s he going to buy?

Answer: Probably a blueliner.

Back in late December, McLellan addressed his club’s need for more on the back end.

“It’s Christmas and we all have wish lists,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We’re coaches and we’re never happy but when you talk of those type of players … say a power play quarterback, somebody who puts up points, we don’t have that.”

History suggests Chiarelli will be more than happy to oblige. In Boston, he made it a near-annual tradition of stocking up on defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.

Will be interesting to see if that trend continues in Edmonton this year.