With a record of 3-9-2, the Oilers sit dead last in the Western Conference and already have significant ground to make up if they hope to reach the playoffs for the first time since they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2005-06 season.
The last thing anybody in Edmonton wanted entering the year was to be in contention for the first overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft. However, sadly the reality of the top pick in the draft is much closer than competing in a playoff round.
Having three first-overall picks on the roster should have made the Oilers a much better team. Unfortunately, the nucleus of young talent that exists on the club isn’t working. Therefore, to turn around the constant losing that has gone on in Edmonton, a significant trade must be made.
There’s too much talent with the Oilers’ top-six forwards for the team to be this bad. Teams around the league would beg the heavens for the chance to possess the type of young talent Edmonton has with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov and David Perron. Even Mark Arcobello and Ales Hemsky provide quality scoring depth for the club.
Unfortunately, the Oilers are too young up-front and it’s cost them severely in the first month of the season. No team in the league can compete with that much inexperience and that many offensively-minded forwards without it significantly hurting them on the defensive end.
The problem for Edmonton is trying to acquire forwards to help out defensively is the least of their worries, as the team doesn’t have a goaltender capable of making a save and it also has one of the thinnest blue-lines in the league.
For Edmonton to progress in the future and finally get out of drafting in the lottery, they need to trade Hall or Eberle. Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner will provide two quality centers moving forward, and Yakupov doesn’t have the type of trade value that would bring back anything of significance. Therefore, moving Hall or Eberle for a stud defenseman or quality goaltender would go a long way for the Oilers.
Moving one of the two would be a tough sell for the fan base, but based on the return it would solve a lot of the issues plaguing the team over the years. Hall and Eberle are legitimate first-line wingers in the league and being so young (Hall is 21, Eberle is 23), so talented and under contracts easily manageable within the salary cap, the return trading one of the two would provide would be massive. Given all the young talent already on the roster, if any team could move their early-20s star and still be set for the future, it would be the Oilers.
Edmonton can’t continue to stock-pile draft picks hoping their young roster suddenly figures things out. They need to acquire veteran leadership that can show their inexperienced team how to properly win in the NHL. Having five or six goal-scorers on the roster is a great thing, but if all they can do is score and can’t play a lick of defense it easily explains how the club started the year 3-9-2.
Having all this young talent might have made the future in Edmonton look bright, but all it’s proven to provide is a dark and grim season through the first month. If the team doesn’t sacrifice one of their two stars to try and right the ship soon, then Oiler fans will be hearing something they are all too familiar with:
“With the first pick in the NHL Draft, the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select…”