Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli has worked the phones nearly from the day he got the job in April, exploring ways to land a top-end defender. It’s obviously the team’s most glaring need, especially to buy time to allow promising youngsters Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse to develop without feeling the pressure to be top guys before they’re ready.
But I will tell you this -- that listless Oilers performance Monday night in Toronto is just further proof, at least in my mind, that Chiarelli at some point before the Feb. 29 trade deadline needs to consider dealing either winger Jordan Eberle or center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Not because those players have done anything wrong -- although both can be better than they’re currently playing -- but mostly because trading either one of those guys would represent cutting the cord with the previous regime’s failed rebuilding attempt, and more importantly, it potentially would get them that top defenseman the Oilers covet in return.
My guess is Eberle is more likely to be the one who's moved if there’s ever this type of deal. You’re always reticent to move a center, but I think if this season continues to go along as is, Chiarelli can’t afford to be too picky. Easier said than done, and perhaps the offseason presents better opportunities, but more change -- tangible change -- is needed on this Oilers team. Just my opinion, but my guess is Chiarelli is beginning to look down the path of asking himself this question as well.