After a rough recent stretch, the Edmonton Oilers added to their defensive corps when they traded for Florida Panthers defenseman Alexander Petrovic in exchange for Chris Wideman and a conditional third-round draft pick, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. This may not be the Oilers only move as Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson writes that Edmonton may not be finished making trades.
With Edmonton owning two third-round picks in the upcoming 2019 draft, the Panthers will receive the better of the two picks between their own and the New York Islanders’ third-rounder the team received in the Brandon Davidson deal back in February of 2018.
Despite starting 9-2-2 under Ken Hitchcock when he replaced Todd McLellan on Nov. 20, the team has since struggled, losing five straight, all in regulation. Suddenly, the team finds itself in sixth place in the Pacific Division and moving further and further away from a playoff spot. For Edmonton general manager Peter Chiarelli, this is a desperation move in hopes of saving his job as the hope is that the 6-foot-4, 216-pound defenseman will add some size and toughness to the Oilers’ blueline. Petrovic, a stay-at-home defenseman should provide some defensive talent for a team that has been without several key players on the blueline, including Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell, who are both on injured reserve as well as Andrej Sekera, who has been out all season.
The 26-year-old Petrovic has struggled finding solid footing in Florida recently as he hasn’t been handed significant minutes with the Panthers despite the fact that the francise was incredibly high on him just a couple of years ago. In fact, Florida opted to protect Petrovic over Jon Marchessault, who they instead traded to Vegas in the expansion draft last year. Petrovic was most well known for a hit against Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane that broke the star forward’s collarbone just before the trade deadline in 2015. That physical play was what led Florida to protect Petrovic. However, Petrovic has averaged just 17:23 ATOI this season, which is an improvement over the 14:39 he averaged last season, but far from the numbers that the Panthers had expected when he arrived in Florida in the 2012-13 season when he was 20 years old. The hope is that with a change of scenery, especially with him returning to his birthplace of Edmonton, Petrovic may fulfill some of those hopes of being a top defensive, physical player.
Wideman, who was just recently brought aboard in Edmonton via Ottawa, moves onto his third team this season. Wideman was acquired on Nov. 22 from the Senators in exchange for a 2020 conditional sixth-round pick, a relatively low price for a defensive defenseman. However, despite being a defensive-minded coach, Hitchcock didn’t trust Wideman, evident by him averaging just 11:26 of ATOI in the five games he appeared in.
Both players will be unrestricted free agents next season as Petrovic is finishing out a one-year deal he signed this summer for $1.95MM and was likely not returning to the team next year anyway considering the lack of playing time the blueliner has been receiving the last two years. Wideman is on a one-year, $1MM deal and must prove that he belongs if he wants to hold a NHL roster spot in the future.