The Edmonton Oilers have made things clear for the past several weeks: the current season is not going to end like last spring's where the Canadian club took part in the playoffs, and they will start selling assets and enter a retooling mode to find the right scoring piece to pair with captain Connor McDavid.
That seems like a good plan, but to be able to land a speedy, goal-scoring winger who plays heavy minutes, you have to offer the asset in return. The usual names come back in trade chatter like forwards and pending free agents Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu, who are expected to be dealt by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
However, a bigger piece is now rumoured to be placed on the block by general manager Peter Chiarelli... and fans are not going to like this.
Rival teams sources have informed The Fourth Period that "the Oilers are willing to move blueliner Oscar Klefbom if it meant acquiring a top-line winger."
After all, almost two summers ago, the Oilers shocked the world by moving top forward Taylor Hall to acquire defenseman Adam Larsson, and now they could do the same by moving a top blue liner to land a quality forward.
The 24-year-old defender is in the second-year of a seven-year, $29.169 million contract and has struggled this season, recording just three goals and 13 points, and registering a -12 rating. The Oilers could always decide to keep him and hope for a better performance next year, but could also move him out if the right trade presented itself.
The Oilers could stick to their first idea and move centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, out of the lineup with an upper-body injury and is expected to return later this month, to land a scoring winger.
But now with Klefbom, there is another option on the table for the Oilers, and for the several rival clubs looking to bolster their back end, like the Tampa Bay Lighting, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, Chiarelli might be nervous to pull the trigger on such a big trade, and could wait and evaluate his options during the spring and make a move closer to the NHL Entry Draft in June.