There is precious little to separate the teams in the NHL standings. Florida is 10-17-5 on the season, with 25 points through 32 games; Edmonton has the same totals off a slightly different 11-18-3 record. The Oilers play in a tougher conference and have leaned less on the shootout, so they may be the better team but neither of these clubs is likely to be anywhere near the post-season conversation down the stretch.

For the Oilers, trying desperately to pull themselves out of a rebuild, there may be some selling of free agents going on but they are still looking for immediate improvements. One would think the Panthers are in a similar position given that the team has managed just one playoff appearance in the last 12 seasons, but with a handful of exceptions virtually every player on the team has found himself in trade rumours at one point or other.

A lot of those players should be of interest to Edmonton G.M. Craig MacTavish.

The most obvious is defenceman Dmitry Kulikov. Kulikov has been in trade rumours since at least last spring (we wrote about him then) and would immediately become Edmonton’s best left-shooting defenceman. Yes, that says almost as much about the Oilers’ blue line as it does about Kulikov but the 23-year-old has 263 games under his belt and is right at that stage of his career where defencemen put it all together.

The trade rumours have also come with suggestions that Kulikov might be about to jump to the KHL; the option there (if the Oilers are interested) would be to try and negotiate an extension before acquiring his rights (note: I’m not a lawyer but as I read the CBA, Kulikov can talk about an extension prior to January 1 because he’s currently on a two-year contract). Given the Oilers needs on defence and the number of Russians MacTavish has brought in, Edmonton might be an attractive option for the young rearguard.