It's now fewer than four weeks to the NHL trade deadline and the compelling question lurking in the background all season soon has to come out from behind the curtains.

What do you do with Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner?

Or, from another angle, what will Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky do a year from now when they become free agents?

Does G.M. Steve Tambellini have handle on that? Does he have his game plan?

If Hemsky and Penner want to find out what they're worth in free agency, or want to try wearing another jersey in another city currently located higher in the standings, then this is the time to do the deal.

They're not needed for a playoff push.

Next year Hemsky will make $5 million and Penner $4.25 million. That's more money off the salary cap should they depart. If the Oilers have a new state-of-the-art downtown arena and entertainment district approved soon and start to shoot up the standings next season and become a more attractive place for free agents to play, you'd have the money to replace them.