The Edmonton Oilers need to crunch numbers and fast as a need to free $1.97 million in space to activate defenceman Andrej Sekera from long-term injured reserve has to be made shortly after his conditioning stint.
While TSN's Frank Seravelli suggests that placing both Brandon Manning and Alex Petrovic on waivers and demoting both players to the AHL if they clear could do the trick, it seems like there remains other crazy option that was discussed by NHL insider Darren Dreger on Wednesday on TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg.
Sure, the Oilers need to make some cap scape now to insert Sekera back in the lineup, but after this season, the Oilers will still have $70.99 million committed towards the salary cap with five unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents from this year's roster.
Dreger was asked if a blockbuster trade, including forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, could be the ultimate solution to free up some cap space and help Edmonton in the future.
Take a breath. We know Oilers fans weren't planning to face awful trades once GM Peter Chiareilli packed up his bags and left the team last month. Dreger doesn't believe trading RNH, which would clear $6 million in cap space, is the right solution... unless the return is one you simply cannot refuse.
“Can’t imagine. I can’t imagine, unless it’s just a jaw-dropping offer,” Dreger said of trading Nugent-Hopkins. “Because when I look at the Edmonton Oilers, you can count on probably six - maybe seven - fingers how many players are players of substance - with all due respect to those who are earning a living as NHL players. And I’m not trying to be disrespectful.
“What I’m talking about is what separates a very average team to slightly below average team to a team in the West that is trying desperately to compete with the big clubs. And Edmonton just cannot do that.
“Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is one of those pieces. He’s one of their top three players, along with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid - and when Oscar Klefbom is healthy you can throw him into that mix as well.
“I can’t imagine. Now, I do think that whether it’s Keith Gretzky or a management team or the new GM when he’s hired, he’s going to have to be very, very creative. I don’t think that it’s out of the realm of possibility that Edmonton could be a big player in free agency, but to do it - man, they’re going to have to move out so many contracts. Look at anyone who’s earning around $2 million or 2.5 that’s employed by the Edmonton Oilers - that player is probably going to have to go for next-to-nothing coming back. And that’s difficult to sell. You’d have to be very, very creative.
“But yeah, it’s just a pool of negativity in Edmonton. Man, it just cannot get better. They cannot shake it. And it was interesting for me today to see Ken Hitchcock up in the stands while Glen Gulutzan took over practice for the Edmonton Oilers from a coaching perspective.
“So who knows what’s happening next there.”
The Oilers are currently riding a six-game losing streak and need to find solutions to remain in contention for a playoff spot. For now, they remain just three points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference - and trading RNH probably isn't the best way to clinch it.