The Edmonton Oilers woke up Wednesday morning in 30th place in the NHL standings.
They are tied with Buffalo in points, yes, but classified officially dead last because they've played one more game than those all-in-for-Connor-McDavid Sabres.
Will the nightmare ever end in Edmonton?
The once-proud franchise hasn’t played a postseason game since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals in Carolina.
The rebuild has lasted what feels like forever.
The blue line is still mediocre. The goaltending again isn’t good enough. And the team is razor thin at center.
General manager Craig MacTavish is working the phones, no question about it, sources around the league confirmed to ESPN.com, and specifically one source confirmed that Edmonton has talked to the Columbus Blue Jackets about a potential deal.
TSN colleague Aaron Ward reported Tuesday night that the Oilers and Blue Jackets were in talks concerning David Perron and Artem Anisimov, among other names -- both Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen and president John Davidson have a history with Perron from their St. Louis days. Add in the fact that former Jackets GM Scott Howson is now with the Oilers as senior VP of hockey operations and there are lots of reasons the Jackets and Oilers have familiarity to work with.
Kekalainen told Columbus beat writer Aaron Portzline on Wednesday morning that although he’s having regular trade talks with other GMs, he was not close to a trade.
We shall see if there’s a trade between Edmonton and Columbus, but the real question is how much of a difference would it make for the Oilers? Guess it depends on what other potential pieces would be in it.
No question Perron’s name has also come up in talks with other teams, sources say. He seems destined to be moved.
But in conversations with other team executives around the league about the Oilers this week, the resounding comment that echoed throughout was that Edmonton wouldn’t be able to make a tangible difference to the look of their roster until the day they’re willing to put one of the big boys in the fray, and the name Jordan Eberle is the one they most often mentioned.
Now, Eberle hasn’t actually played that well this season, but he still carries some weight around the league in terms of name value.
Taylor Hall would seem to be the most untouchable asset, but at this point the Oilers can’t afford to make anybody untouchable. At the very least, you have to listen.
In the meantime, I would also venture a guess that the Oilers will look to address their goaltending via another trade sometime this season. They have to. It makes you wonder whether they should have accepted Vancouver’s offer two years ago when Cory Schneider was put on the table apparently in return for Edmonton’s first- and second-round picks at that draft, plus defenseman Martin Marincin.
But are trades the answer right now? As another rival executive suggested, is the smartest thing at this point not just to take a knee and get in the lottery chase given this year’s draft class?
On the surface, it’s probably what makes the most sense. But eight years of hockey hell has also eroded some of the good will (loyalty?) of the fan base in Edmonton. Can you afford to take a knee and not risk further brand alienation? Or would fans in Edmonton, a pretty savvy hockey community, understand that it would be worth it given the draft class?
Tough questions, no easy answers.
What does seem evident is that the Oilers appear destined to make a trade or two at some point here, perhaps sooner rather than later.