Poti finally has his “D” day

By Dean Belanger

In what had become a cruel process, the Oilers have finally traded Tom Poti and Rem Murray to the NYR for Mike York and a 4th round pick in 2002. In an earlier deal, the Oilers also traded Sean Brown to Boston for prospect Bobby Allen. The Oilers have finally addressed their concerns at the center position, but in doing so have really weakened their blue line. Each deal on their own is a fine trade, but when you consider that the Oilers have given up two defencemen off their NHL roster, you have to wonder why the Brown deal was processed…

Sean Brown was originally a draft choice of the Boston Bruins and was traded to Edmonton with Mariusz Czerkawski and a first round pick for Bill Ranford in 1996. Since that time, Brown has been in and out of the line up and struggled with consistency and his confidence. What he has never had a problem with is racking up penalty minutes, and always sticking up for his teammates. In 269 career games with the Oilers, he has amassed 664 PIM. Brown started the year playing with Scott Ferguson and both were a steady pair on the blue line. Once Tom Poti was signed, both Brown and Ferguson were taking turns in the press box and it really affected Brown’s play.

Making his way to Edmonton is promising young D man, Bobby Allen. A second round pick in 1998, Allen is described as an exceptionally mobile defenceman with outstanding defensive skills. The Oilers feel he has a very bright future in the NHL, but will report to Hamilton for the time being.

Tom Poti saw his meteoric rise to stardom halt this season, mostly due to the fact that he missed training camp as a holdout. One has to believe that Poti took the whole process very personally, because his play was dramatically affected, and he seemed to harbour some bitterness to the team and its fans. There is no doubt that Poti has word class skills, and could become that Norris trophy defenceman that many people were talking about after his rookie season.

Also included in the deal with the Rangers is Rem Murray. Murray in an extremely versatile and talented forward. Unfortunately, Murray had problem finding the net this season, as a team wide slump devoured him. In 416 career games, all with the Oilers, Murray has 72 goals and 162 points. His best season was in 1998-99 when he scored 21 goals. Murray will add depth to the Rangers, and probably serve as a key penalty killer.

Most Oiler fans should be very excited to see Mike York added to the team. A dynamic young player, York can play either the wing or at center. If used at center, he could be the key to the entire season, as the Oilers will finally have two lines that have the potential to score. York, currently in his third year, has already achieved a career high in points with 57. In his rookie year, York posted an impressive 26 goals.

Replacing the two D men, from Hamilton, are Sven Butenschon and Ales Pisa, who broke camp with the team in October. Butenschon was also an all-star this season for Hamilton in the AHL. Alexei Semenov may have been close to getting the call, but it wouldn’t have done him any good to come to Edmonton as the 7th D man.