The Edmonton Oilers may be thinking about trading elite center Connor McDavid. Well, maybe not yet, but the Oilers should have that thought in their mind as the future of Edmonton hockey could be in trouble as the salary cap is an issue.
This team could look drastically different by the 2026-27 season as key players will be either UFA’s or RFA’s, including McDavid.
McDavid is without a doubt the best hockey player in the last 10 years. His speed is top-notch, his playmaking skills are tops in the league, and he had led the Oilers and the NHL in scoring for most of his career.
He also has personal achievements that include 6 all-star games, 5 Art Ross trophies, 3 Hart trophies, 4 Ted Lindsay awards, and the Rocket Richard this past season by scoring 64 goals.
The Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid could be looking for a change.
The one thing he has not done is win the Stanley Cup but he should not be held responsible for that, management should.
While the Oilers are in a good spot now, the near future could spell trouble. The salary cap is about to go up within the next few seasons.
This cannot come soon enough as Edmonton, as the team has a projected cap space of -$390,792 for the upcoming season.
McDavid has been nothing short of amazing since his NHL debut in the 2015-16 season. Since then, things have gotten better and better.
Last season, he scored 64 goals and added 89 assists for 153 points, setting career highs across the board. For his career, he has produced 303 goals and 547 assists for 850 points in 569 games. His numbers in the playoffs are just as good, 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points in 49 games.
McDavid is under contract, along with Evander Kane, until the 2026-27 season with an AAV of $12.5 million per season. He took a pay cut with his last contract as he wanted to help the team around him get better overall.
So, why trade McDavid when he is the best player in the last 10 seasons? He would get an impressive return for a team that needs a drastic makeover from top to bottom and also needs prospects to improve their pipeline.
The defense and goaltending need an upgrade and have now for a while and a massive trade like this would set up Edmonton for a long road of future success.
Aside from Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the team has no scoring depth, which is why the team has played subpar in the postseason. Since the debut of McDavid, the Oilers have had 100 points as a team three times.
They made the playoffs five times during that stretch but have made the conference finals one time, have had two second-round exits, and one first-round exit, and were eliminated once in the qualifying round. They have also finished second in the division five times.
This is all with McDavid being the best player on the Oilers and in the league. The team is wasting his efforts year after year by not getting him help and expecting him to do it by himself.
The rest of the team, aside from Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, have not held up their end of the bargain and have suffered some critical losses in the postseason because they had no defense or little scoring support.
The goaltending has had its moments but has not helped the situation. Imagine the return the Oilers would get for McDavid.
Let us not forget that Draisaitl is still on the team. He has been arguably just as good, if not better, than McDavid over the past few seasons, with the last season set aside.
Draisaitl has been as effective as McDavid in the offensive zone production department and was more crucial in the playoff push when McDavid had slightly struggled. Besides, Connor McDavid looks miserable doing interviews now and is tired of losing at the most crucial parts of the season, including the playoffs.
Fans out there may be saying “There is no way he gets traded”, or “They would never trade away a franchise player”. Here is a small list of players who were critically important to their organization’s future that did end up getting traded: Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Jaromir Jagr, and Dominik Hasek.
While all are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, all the names above, except for Hasek and Roy, have impressive offensive resumes. Again, McDavid is an offensive star that is carrying the Oilers and the league. However, will he want to stay in Edmonton if they keep having the same result in the playoffs?
Speaking of contracts, Connor McDavid is not the only key piece of the Oilers’ future who has a contract ending soon. As mentioned above, the contracts of McDavid and Kane are up at the end of the 2026-27 season.
Draisaitl is a UFA after the 2025-26 season and defenseman Evan Bouchard is a RFA in the 2025-26 season as well. With the Oilers already short on projected cap space, they will not be able to afford Draisaitl, McDavid, Kane, and Bouchard with their contracts ending within two years of each other.
Someone will have to either take a pay cut, which McDavid and Bouchard have already done, or a big trade will have to happen. It’s something to think about.