With a roster freeze taking effect Feb. 7 and the trade deadline arriving shortly after the end of the Olympics, the Oilers will need to assess some current players and decide whether or not they will be a part of the equation going forward.
The Oilers are once again out of the playoffs and are one of the worst teams in the league, begging the question as to whether or not general manager Craig MacTavish will consider making a bold move and trading away one of his coveted young forwards in order to help address issues either in net or on the blue line.
Here are the Edmonton Oilers’ five biggest questions ahead of the Olympic break.
Sam Gagner could be a valuable piece for a playoff contender.
Sam Gagner was one of the Edmonton Oilers most consistent players last season, and as a result the center earned himself a tidy three-year contract worth an annual average value of $4.8 million.
Unfortunately for Gagner and for the Oilers, Gagner has failed to match this performance this season and has struggled to find any offensive consistency to his game.
Gagner will be an interesting piece heading into the winter break, as teams looking to add scoring depth may decide to take a chance on Gagner.
The question in any potential deal with Gagner is if the Oilers will assume any of the money owed to the former first-round draft pick and whether or not Gagner can fit on a wing on a potential contending team.
Ales Hemsky could finally be making his exit from Edmonton this season.
For the past few seasons Ales Hemsky’s name has been on the trade block in Edmonton, and each year the talented winger remains an Oiler.
This could be the season that Hemsky is actually moved, but whether or not the Oilers can get a decent return for his services should come into play.
For all of his ups and downs and injury woes, Hemsky has been a soldier for the Oilers. Should the Oilers decide to finally part ways, it will be hard to get a player in return who has comparable skills.
There is no doubt that Hemsky could be nice audition for a team looking to add a little extra scoring to the squad, but if the Oilers can’t get a decent return it will be interesting to see if Craig MacTavish pulls the trigger on a deal.
Edmonton could look to move a player like Jordan Eberle to address some pressing needs.
As the Oilers continue to struggle, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a major move may be necessary in order to turn things around in Edmonton.
In order to properly address some of the significant holes on the roster, Craig MacTavish may have to seriously consider trading away one of his top-tier assets.
While a player like Nail Yakupov may have been a first overall selection, his current stock isn’t nearly as high as a player such as Jordan Eberle.
For the Oilers to move a player of Eberle’s caliber, a significant piece would have to come back, namely a top defender or goaltender.
The Oilers may need to look at new assistant coaches to help Dallas Eakins out.
Ralph Krueger was relieved of his duty as the Edmonton Oilers’ head coach after 48 games, so it’s not far-fetched to wonder if perhaps Dallas Eakins’ time in Edmonton is running out.
The Oilers need to establish some consistency behind the bench, so perhaps pulling the plug on Eakins isn’t the right call, but it could be time for Craig MacTavish to replace some of the assistant coaches around Eakins.
Eakins is a first time NHL coach, so adding a bit of veteran presence around him could be a very good thing to help smooth the transition.
MacTavish sought out Eakins and ultimately made the hire, but he inherited the likes of Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith as assistant coaches, and with patience running out in Edmonton, a change of the assistant coaching staff members may help quell some of the rumblings from fans and media members.
Ben Scrivens had a performance for the record books with his 59 save shut out of the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 29, but one strong game does not necessarily warrant the starting job in Edmonton.
Scrivens will almost certainly see the majority of the remaining games as the Edmonton Oilers assess what exactly they have in Scrivens.
While it’s likely that Edmonton will try and re-sign the Spruce Grove, Alberta, native, the question will be whether or not they sign him as the No.1 option or as a backup to a potential new starter acquired at a later time (and pay him in accordance to his role on the team).