The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in the past 14 seasons, but that doesn't mean they will put their first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft into play during trade discussions with other teams.
"I just think we're still building a little bit, still growing," general manager Ken Holland said. "I say this with great respect for the League … that it's a competitive balance and trying to separate yourself to be above it, it's hard. I'm looking on one hand at the three- to five-year look and on the other hand I'm looking at the [NHL Trade Deadline] and I'm trying to meld the two together, juggle things like what my information is, what my coach and what my scouts think and what my instincts are.
"I'm hoping that we can compete for a playoff spot and more on an every-year basis. You can't be in the trading game every deadline, well maybe with secondary pieces, but you can't trade first-round picks [every year]."
The Oilers (32-22-7) are third in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Vancouver Canucks and three behind the Vegas Golden Knights. They are one point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
It is a complicated puzzle Holland must piece together, one made more difficult because several key players have been missing from the Oilers lineup.