Did the Oilers Keep the Wrong Piece of the Cole Trade?

At the deadline in last seasons race to the playoffs (which the Oilers missed), Erik Cole was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for Patrick O'Sullivan and a 2nd round pick.

That 2nd rounder was then moved to Buffalo for Ales Kotalik.

During the offseason, the Edmonton Oilers had some tough decisions to make. With too many contracts, not enough salary cap space and a team in the New York Rangers who were willing to offer up more for Kotalik than the Oilers figured he was worth, Edmonton chose to keep Patrick O'Sullivan for his skill as a shooter, versatile style and two-way defensive play.

By all accounts, moving Cole was the right thing to do even though it fell under some harsh criticism. Cole was becoming a UFA, there was value for him on the trade market and he was having a less than stellar year for Edmonton.

Take a look at his numbers in Carolina this season, and you'll quickly realize dumping Cole for what the Oilers were able to obtain was impressive.

The problem is in Patrick O'Sullivan's play. To say the least, he's been less than what the Oilers expected from a shooter, having scored to date only 4 goals and 13 points in 27 games. To boot, for a defensive specialist, O'Sullivan's plus/minus - 11 is cause for concern.

O'Sullivan looked to be ready for a great season having sparked chemistry with Mike Comrie in pre-season, but Comrie has run into illness issues for most if not all of the regular season, so that chemistry never carried over. O'Sullivan has been unable to find that kind of chemistry with any other current forward on the Oilers roster and Edmontonians seem to be just waiting for something positive to come from O'Sullivan's game.

Meanwhile, over in New York, Kotalik is making a case that the Oilers made an error in judgement. Kotalik, who took off on a tear to start the season, and while he's since slowed along side the rest of the Ranger (less of course Gaborik, who's been a stud) still has 6 goals and 18 points in 26 games.

Those numbers themselves are not all that impressive and an argument can be made that Kotalik's 0% faceoff percentage can gladly stay in New York as can his plus/minus - 12. The difference I suppose being that Kotalik was never seen as a strong defensive presence, while O'Sullivan was to provide that style of smart two-way hockey.

Knowing what the Oilers seem to see now, would they have been better served to keep a proven one-trick pony in Kotalik?

It's a debate that likely wouldn't find many people in agreement, but it strikes an interesting question.

What is it about tracking back the pieces of that trade, that make everyone involved in it's plot-line a much worse player for having been connected to it?


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