Things are getting ugly very quickly for the Edmonton Oilers. After overcoming an 0-4-1 start to finish October 4-5-1, the Oilers enter the final week of November having won only 2 of their last 12 games. With a record of 6-13-2, they're mired in dead last in the Western Conference. Once again, this club is in danger of having their playoff hopes dashed before the New Year.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson called upon Oilers GM Craig MacTavish to make a trade to help embattled coach Dallas Eakins, who's become a focal point of criticism. Matheson points out they need a second-line center and it could mean trading a winger to get one. He also notes the Oilers need better goaltending and defense, as well as players willing to compete hard for 60 minutes every game.
Matheson wonders if MacTavish could dangle winger David Perron or perhaps move right wing Jordan Eberle in a larger deal. He follows up by suggesting they pursue a starting goalie like San Jose's Antti Niemi or a veteran center like St. Louis' Patrik Berglund.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Oilers are interesting in moving Perron for a “top-line center.” Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman report the Oilers are desperate to do a deal, but rival GMs are under the impression they don't want to part with any of their core players.
Taking the core of Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz out of the equation, there's not a lot of bargaining chips to address the Oilers needs. Perron is likely the best trade bait they have, but it'll take more than him to land a first-line center.
They have a trade history with the Blues, swapping Perron and Magnus Paajarvi in July 2013. However, it's unlikely the Blues want Perron back in exchange for Berglund. The Sharks, meanwhile, won't part with Niemi until Alex Stalock has returned to action following minor knee surgery.
Third-year winger Nail Yakupov is a fixture in the NHL rumor mill, but with only seven points in 21 games he's not going to fetch a top-line center or a starting goalie. They won't part with 2014 third-overall pick Leon Draisaitl.
It's difficult to make player-for-players swaps this early in the season but, as the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens recently proved, not impossible. The difference, however, is the Stars and Canadiens weren't dealing from the same position of weakness as the Oilers. The Stars are only a handful of points out of playoff contention, while the Canadiens currently hold the league's best record.
The Oilers, meanwhile, face missing the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, with the only consolation being another shot at a first-overall draft pick. There's an air of desperation about them now. Being in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes is not what they envisioned for this season. Rival GMs will attempt to exploit that weakness.
It's debatable if MacTavish can land a quality center with Perron, and such a move won't magically fix all his depth issues. Still, MacTavish has to try. It remains to be seen, however, if he can find the right deal before the Oilers playoff hopes vanish entirely.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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