The Edmonton Oilers sit 23-24-5 through 52 games for 51 points. This season has been a huge failure for the team. The Oilers have fired a head coach and a general manager, yet they’re only three points out of a playoff spot due to a historically poor Wild Card race.
The Oilers shouldn’t spend any assets on rentals. They should sell off all their pending free agents (Alex Chiasson, Alex Petrovic, Kevin Gravel, Cam Talbot) and try to offload any expendable players with salaries that exceed their value (Zack Kassian, Brandon Manning, Ryan Spooner, Kris Russell, Tobias Rieder).
The Oilers aren’t contenders. That’s abundantly clear. Could they go on a bit of a run and pass a few teams for that second Wild Card spot? Sure. But they’re not a threat despite Connor McDavid at the top of the roster. A new general needs to change how they build and acquire talent.
The organization would probably love even just a first-round playoff exit. But no assets should be dealt in pursuit of that.
Acquire as many picks and prospects and dump as much salary possible. These last 30 games should be about setting the table for the next general manager. This doesn’t mean they need to tank or blow it up for another rebuild, but everything move requires long-term success in mind, not sneaking into the second Wild Card spot and losing to Winnipeg or Calgary.
Trading a second-round pick and a prospect like William Lagesson for a Mats Zuccarello-type rental would be the wrong move.
Get a third-round draft pick for Chiasson. Get anything for Talbot. Try and move Kassian’s $1.9 million. Does Matt Benning or Russell have value? If so, move them too.
The Oilers need cap space and assets if they’re going to turn this team around. A couple mid-round picks and dumping a player like Kassian or Manning might not seem like a big deal, but every pick and dollar saved can be used by Edmonton’s new general manager at the draft or in free agency.
Maybe the Oilers can move Spooner’s salary with a draft pick you get at the deadline. Dumping Kassian’s $1.9 million creates more cap space to acquire a winger in the offseason.
This team isn’t a player two away. There are too many holes and not enough support for when McDavid’s not on the ice.
It’s about building for next season and beyond. Again.