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January 23, 2014 | 11:58am ET
Oilers have tough decisions ahead
TheFourthPeriod.com

The Edmonton Oilers know a major shakeup is needed and pulling the trigger on a big trade is weighing on GM Craig MacTavish's mind these days.

The Oilers made a couple of moves last week to alter their goaltending position, moving Devan Dubnyk to Nashville and acquiring Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles.

Scrivens, however, is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

With several pieces available for trade, MacTavish has been fielding offers for a number of his players, including a few pending free agents.

The Oilers are expected to trade forwards Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth before the March 5 trade deadline, though the returns for both players will not be substantial.

A number of teams are interested in Hemsky -- Columbus, Detroit, the New York Rangers, Toronto -- and Smyth -- Chicago, Boston, Vancouver, Phoenix -- but it's unclear when MacTavish will come to terms on a trade for either player.

MacTavish's biggest challenge will be decided whether or not to trade any of Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov or Jordan Eberle.

The Oilers have received serious interest in all three young stars, two separate league sources confirmed to TFP, and while Gagner appears to be the most likely of the three to be moved, dealing Yakupov or Eberle has been seriously considered by Edmonton's management brass.

Whether the Oilers ship Yakupov or Eberle this season remains to be seen, as many believe a trade in the off-season, perhaps closer to the NHL Draft, would give the team more flexibility.

MacTavish has said earlier in the season that he is not interested in trading Yakupov, though it's now believed that he would make a move if the right offer presented itself.

Atop the Oilers' wish-list are a strong, two-way center, a top-two defenseman, and a starting goaltender.

The Oilers have held discussions with the Carolina Hurricanes about netminder Cam Ward, who has a no-trade clause, but a source close to the organization told TFP he would consider waiving it, under the right conditions.

It's unknown if the Oilers are a team Ward would accept a move to, but it's more likely the Hurricanes will explore a deal in the off-season, as they will need to solidify their position between the pipes first.

If MacTavish isn't able to trade for a goalie, he will pursue one of the many free agents available this summer.


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