The Edmonton Oilers have no realistic chance of making the playoffs this season but that shouldn’t stop Craig MacTavish from looking to make some personnel moves that could ultimately help change the culture in the Oilers locker room.
It has been obvious thus far into the 2013-14 season that the Oilers are lacking at least two top-four defensemen, a forward with size and skill and ultimately a legitimate number one goaltender.
These types of assets are hard to come by in the NHL and MacTavish will have to look long and hard at dealing one of his young group of forwards in order to fetch a decent return.
Here is a look at five realistic trade targets for the Edmonton Oilers in 2013-14.
While Simon Despres isn’t quite the top-four defensemen the Oilers so desperately need and covet, he is a clear upgrade over players currently on the team, such as Nick Schultz and Corey Potter.
At 6’4” and 214 pounds and just 22 years old, Despres still has time to develop into an asset and a quite reliable defensemen at the NHL level.
He has the size that the Oilers are currently lacking, and while his offensive game hasn’t quite developed thus far at the NHL level, there is still plenty of time for Despres to find his spots in the offensive zone.
Despres has been demoted to the AHL and it appears as if he could be had for the right price should Pittsburgh look to add a player such as Ales Hemsky or Sam Gagner to gear up for a Stanley Cup run this season.
Tyler Myers had a breakout rookie campaign, registering 48 points and earned the Calder Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year in the 2009-10 season. He then followed that up with a respectable 37-point season, but has seen his play and ice time diminish since then.
After signing a large contract extension, Myers has somewhat failed to live up to the performances of his first two seasons in the league. His contract is $5.5 million per season, with five years remaining, and this could be seen as a burden on a team like Buffalo whom, much like the Oilers, are in the process of rebuilding and redefining the franchise.
Myers has proven that he can contribute offensively, but it his strong hockey sense and his intimidating size that would be the largest asset in Edmonton.
The price for Myers wouldn’t be cheap, but he is a young defender who has demonstrated his potential.
Wayne Simmonds is the exact type of top-line forward the Oilers currently lack in their locker room.
At 6’2” and 182 pounds, Simmonds plays a rugged brand of hockey, but has proven during his time in Philadelphia that he is more than capable of contributing offensively.
Edmonton has been criticized as being too soft to play against at times, and a player like Simmonds would go a long way to help shed that reputation.
His tenacity and willingness to mix it up physically would provide a bit of protection for finesse players such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle.
The price tag for Simmonds would be substantial as well, with a player like Eberle possibly being the return, but if the Oilers are serious about changing the dynamic on the team, such a move might be a necessity.
Dustin Byfuglien would bring size and the ability to play forward or defense for the Oilers.
Before Paul Maurice took over the Winnipeg Jets it appeared that Dustin Byfuglien’s time in Winnipeg was coming to a close.
This stance may have changed as Byfuglien has once again found his stride while playing forward under Maurice, but Byfuglien would give the Oilers size and an offensive threat either up front or on the blue line.
While his defense has often left a bit to be desired, there is no question that Byfuglien would automatically slot into a top defensive pairing with the Oilers or on one of the top forward lines, depending on how Dallas Eakins would utilize a player with such a diverse skill set.
Brandon Dubinsky could be a great addition for the Oilers should Columbus look to shed salary.
With Ryan Johansen set for a contract extension this offseason, the Columbus Blue Jackets may be more inclined to move Brandon Dubinsky, and his contract that averages $4.2 million per season, for the remainder of this season and all of next year.
Dubinsky is capable of playing the wing or at center and has the grittiness and determination that has often eluded the Oilers during their prolonged rebuilding process.
Dubinksy may not cost the Oilers as much in return as say Byfuglien or Myers, and so if Columbus is interested in moving the forward, Edmonton should be one of many suitors in the mix for his services.