Since the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers have had the first-overall pick four times. In addition, they have also drafted third and seventh overall in that span of time. Somehow this team still finds itself in the National Hockey League’s basement.
Maybe a little more patience is required in order for all of these young pieces to come together. However, the one thing the Oilers’ fans do not have any more of is patience. It has been ten long years since the Edmonton’s last appearance in the postseason and it has been nothing but almost unwatchable hockey since then.
The reality is that the Oilers must go through another rebuild of sorts. Peter Chiarelli must review all of the pieces he has in place and decide what changes need to be made. There is no denying that this team needs some serious improvements to their blue-line, a true number-one goaltender, and impactful veterans to lead the team while the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl develop.
Building through the draft has not been a success so far for the Edmonton Oilers. Chiarelli is going to have to make improvement to this organization through the trade and free agent market. In order to do this, Edmonton must part ways with a least one of their more valuable assets. The only question that remains in who will the Oilers trade away?
Since being drafted 22nd overall in 2008 draft, Eberle has been a productive member of the Edmonton Oilers. He has provided his team with over 20 goals and 60 points a season since his rookie year (not including the lockout year). So far this season he has only managed to find the back of the net on four occasions and has been unable to record any other points in his 14 games played this season.
Eberle is a good hockey player who can have a strong impact on whichever team he ends up on. A change of scenery could be beneficial for the 25-year-old who has only known a losing atmosphere in Edmonton. The Oilers could receive some decent pieces in return for Eberle as well. His contract at $6 million a year until 2020 could be seen as bit of a deterrent for some but there are a few teams out there who may be a forward away from the postseason who would be willing to deal.
Of the players available, Eberle may be the one who will receive the least in return. Every franchise knows that this is the guy that Chiarelli is the most comfortable parting ways with and they are going to take advantage of that. There will be no game-changers to be had in exchange for Eberle alone, which may prevent him from being dealt.
The first-overall pick from 2011 may be the odd man out in Edmonton when it is all said and done. The 22-year-old Nugent-Hopkins has had a decent start to his career, scoring 71 goals and adding 134 assists in his four-plus seasons with the Oilers.
Nugent-Hopkins has what it takes to be a number-one center in this league but is not going to have that opportunity in Edmonton once McDavid and Draisaitl come into their own. Number-93 will slide down in the depth chart which makes him expendable.
The Oilers could expect to receive an impressive return in exchange for Nugent-Hopkins whose best years are still in front of them. There are plenty of teams out there looking for improvements at the center position and might be foaming at the mouth thinking about what Nugent-Hopkins could do for their franchise.
Now wait one minute Oilers’ fans before you decide that my head would look best on a spike. The likelihood that Edmonton trades away the best player on their roster and one of the best left-wingers in the entire league is extremely slim. Hall has been the one consistent bright spot and the leader of this franchise since being drafted first-overall in 2010. However, it cannot ignored that the face of the franchise changed once McDavid was selected this summer and he will eventually be the one rocking the “C” on his chest.
Just because Hall is not going to be Edmonton’s golden boy forever does not mean that it is in the teams best interest to trade him. Having Hall on the same line as McDavid could prove to be lethal and steer things in the right direction for the Oilers. At the same time, we cannot pretend that the Oilers would receive a boatload in return for the 24-year-old. Every team in the league would be on the phone trying to snatch Hall away from Edmonton.
In reality, the only way Hall gets traded is if Chiarelli wants to blow things up or he is presented with an offer he just cannot say no to.
Only Time Will Tell
With 2015-2016 season turning into another lost cause for the Edmonton Oilers, they are in no hurry to make an immediate move. This can only be a good thing for a general manager that wants to make all the right decisions to finally turn this team around. One would imagine that Chiarelli will listen to offers for every player on his roster except McDavid and Draisaitl. However, most players will not provide Edmonton with a franchise-altering return. For this reason, I can guarantee that either Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, or Hall will be wearing a different team’s sweater no later than the start of next season.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.