There isn't too much that can happen between now and the trade deadline on February 26th that can salvage this season, or make any real impact on next year.
The Edmonton Oilers have been heavily linked to the Ottawa Senators' Mike Hoffman, and while it's possible that a deal between the two teams transpires, it may only happen in the summer, around the draft.
Either way, nothing the team does now will have any immediate impact - this season is all but lost.
12 points out of a playoff spot, and about 48 points away from the historical threshold to make the playoffs, the Oilers would need to go something like 24-9-0 to close out their season, or 22-7-4. Something like that. Let's be realistic for a second. Do the Oilers really stand a chance at pulling off this kind of record to finish the year?
Yes, many of their games remaining are against the Pacific division, against whom they've had a lot of success this season. But let's not kid ourselves into believing in a miraculous playoff run. If we're wrong, feel free to quote this in April.
Where the most significant changes will occur, to hopefully fix this team, is on the draft floor, and then during free agency.
One of the hottest names expected to hit the open market is James Neal from the Vegas Golden Knights. He's managed at least 20 goals in each of his 10 seasons in the NHL, which is no small feat. He's the model of consistency, and he is the perfect fit for Connor McDavid's wing.
NHL analyst Brian Lawton was on 630 CHED radio earlier this week, stating that he believes Neal is a player that Peter Chiarelli will covet. He surprisingly compares him to Milan Lucic. They have relatively similar career numbers, production-wise, but they aren't really of the same mold.
Neal is more of a sniper, while Lucic plays a power game. Skating is also a difference between the two.
Although if you look at this video, you do see some Lucic in him.
Anyway - Neal is certainly someone who would help the Oilers dearly. Despite the fact that he is now 30 and his best years are behind him, he's still playing at a high level, and has succeeded everywhere he's played. If he can keep up with McDavid, they could become a lethal tandem.
The only question is - at what cost? The contract will likely be somewhere around 6 years and $6 million per year. That will be a tough contract to swallow, but may be worth it.
What do you think?