Will the Real Robert Nilsson Please Stand Up?

Making trades in the NHL is all about getting the best return you possibly can for an asset going the other way. When it comes to superstars, more often than not, those trades are pretty one-sided, if for the simple reason that no team really wants to trade a superstar. More often than not, that superstar wants out, which lowers his value.

While Robert Nilsson isn't a superstar, he's got the skill and shows glimpes of the possibility, that one day he might be. What makes a superstar a superstar, is their ability to be better than effective almost every game and while Nilsson's natural gifts rival many NHL players, his consistency is always a concern.

Case in point, Nilsson, who has been terrific since his return from concussion is giving Oiler fans hope that his lazy, inconsistent, sloppy days are behind him. The problem is, his play is bound to slip if his history as an NHL player tells us anything.

So knowing what we know about Robert Nilsson, when would be the time to trade him, if as a GM you'd want to trade him at all?

It's no secret that the Oilers are on a constant lookout for ways to free up cap space, trim contracts and pick up future pieces that can help their team. Robert Nilsson is one of those names linked to all sorts of rumors and speculation.

When Nilsson plays his "we can't believe he got paid $2 million a season for this crap" type game, his value is virtually nill and no team would touch his contract with a 10 ft pole.

But, when Nilsson puts on the type of performances he's been putting in the past 4 games, are a few different teams interested? One might logically assume so, especially if his play continues beyond just a few games.

Should the Oilers then still be willing to move Nilsson if by the 10 or 12 game mark of his return, he has 12 points and is a plus/minus + 3 or +4? I suppose that depends on who you ask.

For those that see the Oilers as a team that needs rebuilding, it's likely Nilsson isn't part of that rebuild. Moving him for a 2nd round draft pick o r a higher end prospect would be a minor miracle and done immediately.

For those that cling to the hope that the Oilers will make a playoff push this season, sans Hemsky, Nilsson has maybe the most skill at the forward position on the current Oilers roster. They'll need every inch of the offense he provides.

If you're on the fence like I am, thinking move for the right return, keep if the values not there, the question becomes when do you move him?

Do you wait for his play to slump? Thus lowering his value and any possible return other than a 5th round pick?

Or while he's hot, do you call 29 other GM's and say "look at this guys play right now. He can be a key ingredient to take you where you want to go but we need to move a contract and we'd like a decent draft pick."

Interesting question to say the least and one that I'm sure the Oilers are considering. Meanwhile, if Nilsson continues his pace, no matter what happens, the news is good if you're an Oiler fan or in Oiler management.


The problem is that you assume that you can find a GM who is dumber than Oilers fans; these guys are paid to know that the player they're trading for has a history of inconsistency and uneven results. They're paid to not make trades based on the last three weeks of play. If we're looking to offload Nilsson the first chance we get, what are the odds that any other GM will not immediately know why?

Mike Milbury isn't an NHL GM anymore.

December 10, 2009 at 9:03 AM comment-delete

Robert has to play a lot more games that showcase his abilities before any GM will touch him.

His stats are weak. His reputation is poor. His size also works against him.

The real question is, how many games would Nilsson need to play at this pace before people would overlook all these deficiencies?

I wager it's at least 40 games if you want value back. If it's just a salary dump, 25 games.

Does he have that in him?

December 10, 2009 at 10:49 AM comment-delete

Good comments on both sides, and I don't think I overlooked the idea that a GM doesn't trade for streaky bouts of greatness, but an overall picture of a player.

What I'm asking, is how long a player would need to play before a GM says, we could use offense like this for our playoff push and this kid seems to have it in spades right now. A GM will trade for that if the return the other way is fair.

What I'm suggesting, is that the Oilers should be on the lookout for a GM who's interest gets peaked in just the slightest. And if they find one, do they make that trade immediately to shed the contract.

At Nilsson's pace, he's worth the $2 million. Big question is, can he keep it up?

December 10, 2009 at 12:08 PM comment-delete

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