The Edmonton Oilers are just two points out of a playoff spot, although the Minnesota Wild sit in the second Wild Card position with a game in hand.
A Pacific Division playoff spot is probably unlikely at this point. Vegas sits in the third spot and the Oilers trail them by 13 points with three fewer games played.
Barring an unforeseen turnaround, it’ll be Wild Card or bust for the Oilers. They’re still in it with Dallas, Colorado, Minnesota, Anaheim, and Vancouver fighting for those two Wild Card spots and the Central teams duking it out for third in the division. Colorado is slumping and the Wild are without Matt Dumba.
Should the Oilers move their first-round draft pick for help?
Oilers colour commentator and host of Oilers Now Bob Stauffer floated this idea Tuesday night.
IMO the Edmonton Oilers must be exhaustive in their efforts to improve scoring depth up front and should be prepared to move their 2019 #1 if neccessary to acquire a legit top 6 FWD…with term…
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 9, 2019
The Oilers need to improve their forward group. Dealing their 2019 first-round pick is one option. Trading the 2019 first for a forward, likely a winger, would mean three of their last four firsts spent on wingers.
Any deal should be top-three protected with the Oilers not a lock for the playoffs.
Trading the first-round pick in an attempt to make the playoffs would be another short-sighted Peter Chiarelli move. The Oilers should be better than where they are in Connor McDavid’s fourth season, but they’re not, and they’re likely not contenders this season even if they squeak into a Wild Card spot.
There’s an argument for trading the first-round pick. The Oilers don’t have many other high-value assets. Jesse Puljujarvi is another chip they could use.
Any trade would require money going out or a player on a cheaper contract coming in.
Teams out of the picture or not serious about winning this season like Montreal, New York Rangers, Chicago, St. Louis, or Los Angeles would be targets.
Maybe that means Tyler Toffoli or Chris Kreider. Los Angeles and New York aren’t focused on winning now and would rather have a first-round draft pick for the future. St. Louis has to give Buffalo either their 2019 or 2020 first-round pick for the Ryan O’Reilly trade. They have some interesting forwards that could be available (Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz). Chicago might want to clear cap space and that could mean Brandon Saad heading out of town.
Trading the first-round pick to try and make the playoffs this season would be risky. There’s an argument for moving the first, but waiting until the summer could see new players available that aren’t in season.
The Oilers really want to make the playoffs, but trading their first-round pick to squeeze in a Wild Card spot is something a desperate team does. The Oilers aren’t contenders.
As much as it pains Oilers fans and management, this team isn’t a top-six forward away from a deep playoff run. Stay the course and build towards the future.