Jake Guentzel is an ambition too far for Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have been given the best chance of landing Jake Guentzel in a trade scenario, but that doesn't mean it's going to come to fruition.

Edmonton Oilers v Pittsburgh Penguins
Edmonton Oilers v Pittsburgh Penguins / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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Stop us if you've heard this before, but the Edmonton Oilers are interested in upgrading their roster ahead of the Mar. 8 trade deadline. And as per TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, the front office's main priority (now) is apparently finding a top six forward.

As we've previously written, one potential target is former Oiler Jordan Eberle, who is currently plying his trade in Seattle with the Kraken. Other names mentioned by LeBrun, include the Red Wings' Daniel Sprong and Vladimir Tarasenko of the Senators.

Now we're talking

However, all of these pale in comparison to Jake Guenzel, the outstanding two-way winger in Pittsburgh. Often deployed on the top line alongside the legendary Sidney Crosby, he would undoubtedly improve the Oilers' forward talent.

Of course, you'd be well within your rights to ask if the Penguins are even looking to move Guenzel and more to the point, why would they? In this respect it comes down to two reasons, although even these are no guarantee he's going to be traded.

The first relates to the Penguins' current position in the NHL standings, with them five points out of a playoff spot following Thursday night's slate of games. General manager Kyle Dubas and company have to ask themselves whether or not they believe there's a genuine shot at qualifying for the playoffs?

Along these lines, it is worth noting the Penguins do have games in hand on every team above them in the Eastern Conference standings. The feeling is this team is still right in the thick of the hunt to qualify, especially when you consider the talent and experience on the roster; in other words, why move Guentzel and weaken their chances?

Contract complications

If anything, it's the second reason which would be more likely to persuade Dubas to move Guentzel. More specifically his contract situation, with him set to became an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season and the Penguins probably not wanting to lose him for effectively nothing.

At the same time, even if the Penguins do decide they want to trade the two-time All-Star, he is in a strong position to have some say over his fate. As per Spotrac, consider that his contract includes a 12-team no-trade clause, which may or may not include the Oilers.

Now assuming we get past all these obstacles, it still doesn't mean Guentzel is headed to Edmonton. This is because of another aspect of his contract which offers further complications, with a cap hit of $6 million for this season.

As per Cap Friendly, at the time of posting the Oilers have a current cap space of $1,423,861 and a projected deadline cap space of $2,373,102. Either scenario clearly leaves them well short of having the room to add Guentzel's salary.

This is where who or what the Oilers are prepared to offer in exchange comes into play. In fairness, they are in a strong position with some enticing assets to potential include in any return package, including a first round draft pick, Warren Foegele, Philip Broberg, Cody Ceci and Brett Kulak.

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However, the issue with this is how much the Oilers are prepared to give up for someone who will essentially just be a rental? As much as Guentzel would immediately improve their chances of competing for the Stanley Cup this season, the front office has to balance out going all-in right now versus being in the best possible position to compete for the long-term.

Overall, there is no denying that adding Guentzel would put the Oilers in a better position to go for glory come playoff time. Ultimately though, the prospect of bringing the 2017 Stanley Cup champion on board seems like it is an ambition too far.

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