Emerging Storylines for Edmonton Oilers' 2014 Offseason
Thanks to this dubious distinction, the 2014 offseason will again center around what place the Oilers will land in the draft lottery and which player the Oilers will select to help turn the franchise around.
The Oilers are a team in turmoil, and though consistency is needed on the ice and in the management ranks, there could very well be some major shakeups looming in Edmonton this offseason.
Craig MacTavish will most certainly be busy this offseason, as he attempts to change the Oilers’ losing fortunes for the 2014-15 season.
Here is a look at some of the emerging storylines for the Edmonton Oilers’ 2014 offseason.
Who Will Edmonton Draft?
The answer to the question of who the Edmonton Oilers will draft in June will almost certainly be decided by two things: where the Oilers finish in the standings and who gets drafted before their turn to select.
As things stand, the Oilers are 29th in the NHL, only one point behind the Florida Panthers. If things stay the same and the draft lottery plays out as it stands, the Oilers will have the second overall pick.
If Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts is available, then the Oilers will almost certainly draft the talented defenseman.
Ekblad represents the best available defenseman in this year's draft and could very well step right into the NHL next season.
Being able to draft a player of Ekblad’s caliber would go a long way toward helping a major organizational deficiency on defense, but what happens if he is gone before the Oilers get the chance?
There are many interesting players in the draft this year aside from Ekblad or Sam Reinhart. The Oilers could also use a large center or a rugged winger, making players like Leon Draisaitl or Michael Dal Colle interesting choices for the team.
Once the draft lottery is established on April 15, the Oilers should know where they stand and who they are targeting to help the club going forward.
The Nail Yakupov Situation
Depending on whose article you read, it has been thrown around that the Nail Yakupov draft selection was made by Oilers owner Daryl Katz and not the Oilers' management.
While he may or not be trade bait, one thing that is clear that the Oilers need to determine whether or not Yakupov is a part of the answer or a part of the problem in Edmonton.
Yakupov is still extremely young and—as he demonstrated last season—the talented Russian winger certainly has the ability to alter a game with his speed and electric shot.
The problem rests upon the fact that Yakupov’s value is extremely low after a poor sophomore season. So if Edmonton were to deal him, it would be for a low return.
Yakupov has shown signs of his overall game improving under Dallas Eakins, so perhaps patience is needed when handling the slumping forward.
Dallas Eakins’ Future
The Oilers desperately need some consistency and stability in the team’s management and coaching staff, so it would be hard to see Dallas Eakins being removed as coach this season.
However this possibility still remains due to the Oilers’ terrible 2013-14 season.
It appeared that the Oilers were finally buying into Eakins and his way of playing the game in early March, however a recent string of losses and a total of nine (and counting) shutout losses for the season may force MacTavish’s hand in the offseason.
Blockbuster on the Horizon
If Edmonton is to truly change the dynamics in the locker room and add help in some problem areas within the team, then a trade is almost certainly on the horizon.
If Edmonton is serious about making a change, then the team will have to move one of either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall in order to net the most return.
The Oilers need help in various areas, and if Edmonton was to attempt to acquire a No. 1 defender to help their defense, then these young forwards are the only real assets that would fetch the Oilers anything of substance in a trade.
Justin Schultz Extension
Though it has sometimes appeared that Justin Schultz has regressed a bit during his first full season in the NHL, the Oilers will almost surely re-sign the young defender.
The real question is whether the team should offer him a one-year bridge contract to see what a second full year in the NHL will do for Schultz or if they attempt to lock him up long-term.
Schultz is still young and is a good offensive defender, so the team will probably look to sign him up for more than a year or two, and—thanks to a down season—his value could be a bit lower than it was coming out of last season.