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Edmonton Oilers’ GM picks up forward depth ahead of trade deadline: ‘No risk no gain’

WATCH ABOVE: Recent news and highlights about the Edmonton Oilers.

The Edmonton Oilers added three players ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, acquiring winger Andreas Athanasiou, Edmonton native and forward Tyler Ennis and defenceman Mike Green.

With uncertainty around how long players like James Neal and Joakin Nygard will be out due to injuries, and only 20 games left in the Oilers’ playoff push, general manager Ken Holland called the additions “insurance.”

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“We felt that we’d like to do something to put a little, I’m going to use the word buzz, into our team,” Holland said. “They’ve played hard all year, they’ve battled and scratched and clawed.

“We’ve got ourselves in a position where we’re fighting for a playoff spot. We’re banged up a little bit and I wanted to provide some depth.”

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Athanasiou, as well as forward Ryan Kuffner, was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for forward Sam Gagner and a 2020 second round draft pick and a 2021 second round draft pick.

In 46 games this season Athanasiou has recorded 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points. Athanasiou is coming off a 30-goal season a year ago. In 294 career NHL games, Athanasiou has 83 goals and 71 assists for 154 points.

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The London, Ont. native has played five career playoff games, recording one assist.

“He’s got great speed,” Holland said. “He’s got high-end skill and he’s a talented player. I think he’s 25 years of age, so we’re hoping that… You know, he’s not 21 and 22, he’s 25 years of age and we’re hoping his best years are ahead of him.”

Detroit Red Wings left wing Andreas Athanasiou (72) passes with New Jersey Devils left wing Nikita Gusev (97) pursuing him during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Newark, N.J.
Detroit Red Wings left wing Andreas Athanasiou (72) passes with New Jersey Devils left wing Nikita Gusev (97) pursuing him during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Newark, N.J. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Kuffner signed with the Red Wings as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has played 10 career games with the Wings. He has six goals and three assists for nine points in 32 games with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Gagner leaves the Oilers after playing in 35 games this season, scoring five goals and collecting seven assists for 12 points.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers win in McDavid’s return, acquire Mike Green from Detroit

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Holland called the conversation with Gagner “difficult,” saying the 30-year-old “loves being an Oiler.”

“Certainly we paid a price for Athanasiou — no risk no gain,” Holland said.

LISTEN BELOW: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland speaks to media after the trade deadline and Mike Green talks to Reid Wilkins about joining the Oilers

The Oilers made their second trade of the day when they picked up Ennis from the Ottawa Senators for a fifth round draft pick in 2021. Ennis played in 61 games this season and has scored 14 goals and chipped in 19 assists for 33 points.

Ennis’ career high in goals came in the 2013-14 season when he scored 21 goals. His career high in points is 49, recorded during the 2010-2011 season.

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Ennis, 30, has 131 goals and 178 assists for 309 points in 604 career NHL games.

Ottawa Senators forward Tyler Ennis skates during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. ()
Ottawa Senators forward Tyler Ennis skates during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. () AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

Late Sunday night, the Oilers acquired defenceman Mike Green from the Red Wings.

Green, 34, has 11 points in 48 games this season. The Oilers gave up injured forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick in 2020.

READ MORE: All the moves made across NHL ahead of trade deadline closing

Detroit is retaining half of Green’s salary in the deal. His cap hit is $5.375 million.

“You need lots of dimensions,” Holland said. “You need size. You need some big guys, you need some defensive forwards, you need some offensive forwards, you need some playmakers and certainly Ennis and Athanasiou [and] Green, they’re guys that can skate.

“I like a team that can skate. I like a team that can compete, but not everybody has to skate fast.”

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The Oilers made another minor deal before the deadline, trading defenceman Joel Persson to the Anaheim Ducks for goaltender Angus Redmond and conditional seventh round pick in 2022.  The draft pick is conditional if Persson plays in 25 NHL games next season for the Ducks.  Redmond is currently playing for the Newfoundland Growlers of the East Coast Hockey League.

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The Oilers are in action next on Tuesday, facing the Ducks in Anaheim. The puck drops at 8 p.m. 630 CHED will have all the action starting at 6 p.m.