Many Oilers fans seem to be of the opinion that a 3 or 4 year rebuild is required for Edmonton to become a “true contender”. I don’t believe it has to take that long, generally agreeing with Lowetide's take. With the right moves at the deadline and this summer, Edmonton can reasonably expect to be in the playoff hunt next season with an eye towards continually improvement over the next 3-4 seasons. It remains to be seen which approach the Oilers will take; they generally seem to take a different route than I would were I in charge. For instance, I was a big proponent of completely rebuilding under the old CBA when the Oilers were locked in their seemingly endless series of 7th thru 10th finishes. I’m not a fan of a complete rebuild through youth in this CBA. As I have previously stated (how time flies!), I think it’s a strategy that cannot work as well as it did under the old CBA. Actually, I probably need some clarification here. A team forced to operate at the cap floor, with the liberalized free agency in the current CBA, may have a difficult time competing without some sort of old-CBA style rebuild, even though it won't be as effective as it would have been in the old CBA. A team that is spending at the cap ceiling has no reason to rebuild like that in the current CBA. It is unnecessary at best, and at worst a way for management to set low expectations and shrug away poor results for the next season or two. That isn't to say that it couldn't work, of course it can - just that it takes longer than I think is necessary for a team willing to spend to the cap.
I agree with the general consensus amongst fans of the Oilers that gaining cap space for this summer/next season is paramount. To do so would require moving a bunch of players, perhaps more than the Oilers will be able to move at the deadline. In addition, it’s probably an open question whether it makes more sense to move some of the following players now or in the summer. I would move all of these players now if I could; it's not worth the risk of being unable to move them later IMO.
Two questions Oilers management should consider asking themselves about each of their non-core players heading into the deadline are:
"Do I have an internal replacement ready for next season?"
"Can I reasonably expect to replace this player for similar money (or less) on the UFA market this summer?"
If the answer to either question is yes, this player should be traded before the deadline, should they prove tradeable.
To my mind, the players that qualify are:
Obviously the more you can get in return for each player, the better, and some of these players would seem to be worth more in trade than others. But I would prefer to have the cap room (15.0 mil) over the players. I don't expect the Oilers to move all five, along with Pisani and Comrie - I don't know that a team has ever moved out 7 players at the deadline. But a year with many teams in the race and few sellers is as good a year as any...