On Saturday night Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Oilers are shopping veteran forward Matt Hendricks.
This report has led to two reactions from Oilers fans.
There are those who can see that Hendricks doesn’t hold much value to this team anymore and if you can get any sort of value for him you should jump all over it.
Then there are those who see him as a valuable member of the locker room and you should hold onto him simply for that reason, no matter how many nights he sends in the press box or how ineffective he is on the ice.
I’ll look a little more in-depth at both of these points of view.
There is a problem with trying to assess Matt Hendricks on ice ability from this season because he has only been on the ice for 56 minutes. In those 56 minutes, spread out over 5 games, he has the team’s second worst CF% (team relative) and has been on the ice for 1 goal for, and 4 goals against.
For the past few seasons, the Oilers have had a solid skater who could kill penalties and hold his own in the offensive zone. This year I see a player who has lost a massive step with his skating and can’t hold the physical style of play that has made him a fan favorite over the past few seasons. He simply isn’t the same player he has been over the past two seasons, and that isn’t necessarily his fault.
Hendricks is now 35 years old and in his 12th year of pro hockey, when you factor that with the style of player he is, it’s no surprise that Hendricks is now being slowed down by nagging injuries.
All the above factor into why I believe the Oilers should be moving on from #23.
“But he’s a leader in the room!”
I have a rule when it comes to this stuff, and I always do my best to never break that rule.
If you aren’t in the room, you should not comment on who the team’s leaders are.
If Todd McLellan, Peter Chiarelli and the rest of coaching/management deem that the locker room can survive without the presence of Hendricks, then I think this is an instance where you need to trust the decision makers.
All in all, I know Hendricks is a fan favourite, I enjoyed watching him play and watching him have success. Fewer things made me smile more than seeing Hendricks celebrate one of his few goals (see photo for proof).
But the reality is, he can barely stay in the Oilers lineup. If you can get any sort of value (middle round draft pick) for a player who is nothing more than your 13th forward, then you jump all over that.
It sucks to trade a fan favourite, but you can’t let blind faith get in the way of a smart hockey decision.
(numbers via puckalytics.com)