Teams are typically divided into buyers and sellers as the trade deadline approaches. The picture gets clearer and clearer as we get closer to that day at the end of February - and this year has been highly unusual in the sense that the insane parity has made it hard for teams to determine whether they are buying or selling.
There are a lot of teams that are disappointed with their performances, but because everyone is so close in the standings, it's hard for teams to know if they are out of the playoff picture or not.
Having a better sense of that enables a general manager to operate with a clearer goal - are we selling off our expiring contracts and likely giving up on the season? Or are we making moves to compete for the playoffs?
The Edmonton Oilers aren't completely out of it yet, but there's a much higher chance of them missing the playoffs this year, after seemingly ending the drought last season.
Elliotte Friedman hit the airwaves on Friday afternoon, telling the 630 CHED that he fully does not expect the Oilers to make the playoffs this year, and that he would be "very surprised" if Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu were still on the team in March.
Along with Mike Cammalleri, the two aforementioned players are set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and they will all carry interest. Maroon has proven himself effective as a gritty forward scoring in the dirty areas - while his goal scoring is down this season, he's still on pace for roughly 40 points this season. That nearly matches his 42 points from 2016-17.
Letestu is a reliable bottom six centre who provides a veteran presence and some consistent offense in that role. A team looking for a bottom-line centre would be very happy with his services.
Cammalleri is probably the least likely to go of the three. While he has posted great numbers over his career, his 5 goals and 15 points this season don't inspire much confidence. He's significantly past his prime and has virtually no playoff experience. He's played in the playoffs 3 times in his career, from 2009 to 2011. He was particularly effective back then, but he was at the peak of his career at that point and his production has completely tailed off ever since, largely due to injuries every year.
Friedman has been wrong before, but his statement carries weight, as he figures to be one of the most respected NHL insiders in the business.
The Oilers will use these players as bait to restock the cupboards a bit - acquire some draft picks in a very strong draft, and hopefully some prospects to boot.
OILERS NEWS BITS
Cam Talbot was pulled Friday night after allowing 2 goals on 2 shots - Al Montoya was perfect in relief, leading the team to a 4-2 win.
Laurent Brossoit didn't fare too well in the AHL last night.