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November 14, 2013 | 5:51pm ET
Oilers GM insists team trying to improve

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish knows his team needs more grit and has to be better defensively, but he's found the task of acquiring those assets to be very difficult.

MacTavish addressed the local Edmonton media on Thursday and voiced his frustration to the team's 4-14-2 record in the first 20 games of the season.

"I'm frustrated. I'm pissed off," he said. "But you have to take a step back and take a realistic view of where we are.

"When you're three or four pieces away from making a significant improvement, those pieces are hard to find. We're trying and looking to improve this team as quickly as possible."

The Oilers have been linked to several trade rumors since the season started, primarily involving 2012 first-overall selection Nail Yakupov and right wing Ales Hemsky.

While the team continues to insist they are not interested in trading Yakupov, other clubs have inquired about his services and some team executives believe he could be had "for the right, steep price," one NHL team official told TFP.

Hemsky is in the final year of his current contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Many believe he will be dealt at some point this season.

MacTavish fully appreciates "the frustration everyone has" towards the team, and while he indicated the Oilers have been "a tougher team to play against defensively" lately, there are plenty of holes on the roster.

"We're still very much on that vein of trying to add bigger, heavier people," he said. "I was more optimistic, at that point, about my ability to do that, given some of the current pieces we had. I was unable to do that, in as meaningful a way I wanted to.

"We need more, for sure. This is not going to be a quick fix solution."

Edmonton's biggest need is a top-pair defenseman, or two, but that type of player comes with a very high price tag. Whether the Oilers part with Yakupov or not, in order to address the glaring need for a stud defenseman, the team has other assets it can deal.

MacTavish indicated that he would be willing to part with the team's 2014 first-round draft pick if the right opportunity presented itself.

"I don't view another first round draft choice to be what we need going into the latter part of this year or next year," he said.

The Oilers tried to acquire defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Philadelphia Flyers this past summer on the day of NHL Draft, but came up empty.

According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, the Oilers offered Philadelphia three second-round draft picks in exchange for Coburn, but were turned down.

MacTavish and his staff will continue to scour the market for possible upgrades, but until they're willing to part with significant assets, it will be difficult for the Oilers to obtain exactly what they're looking for.

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