Buyer or seller?
Seller. That, of course, wasn’t the plan heading into the season when the Oilers, under new management, promised that the turnaround after seven consecutive seasons out of the playoffs was at hand. Instead, things have gotten worse, not better, and the Oilers stand to get another high-draft choice in 2014, after having three No. 1 overalls, plus the seventh pick last year in the past four years.
Quality veteran stability, to nurture the young talent that they have on the roster. Ideally, they would want to significantly upgrade their blue line corps, which is near the bottom of the NHL in terms of overall quality. No one is trading established defenceman at the deadline, however, so they will target players that can evolve into that type of sort of player in time, or draft choices they can use to develop those sorts of players.
On the block
Ales Hemsky, who has scored only one goal in calendar in 2014, looks like he could really use a change of scenery. His talent will tease some potential suitors. The Oilers have also dangled centre Sam Gagner, thinking that Mark Arcobello, who is tearing up the AHL since his demotion, could fill the role of small centre on their roster. Ryan Smyth, closing in on the end of his career, might go for a low draft choice to a team looking for leadership. Nick Schultz, another pending UFA, is available for teams seeking depth on defence. Ilya Bryzgalov, signed as a free agent to stem their goaltending issues, could be had for anyone willing to take him on for the final month.
Nail Yakupov. The Oilers are on record as saying Yakupov, the so-far underachieving first overall pick in 2012, is not on the move, but they can’t help but listen to offers if someone thought Yakupov could get his career jumpstarted by a change in scenery. Edmonton has enough high-end talent up front that they’re already committed to paying in the long term (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) that if the right offer came along – say a young defenceman that could fill an organizational need – they would have to consider it.