The Oilers dispatched a scouting expedition featuring their president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, general manager Craig MacTavish and special adviser Mark Messier to the Garden on Monday for the Rangers’ 2-1 defeat to the Ducks.
Edmonton, which has opened 3-10-2 under first-year coach Dallas Eakins, is believed to be accepting offers for veteran winger Ales Hemsky while also exploring the market for second-year winger Nail Yakupov, the first overall selection in the 2012 Entry Draft.
Even if interested in Hemsky, the Blueshirts would have to maneuver to get under the cap in order to accommodate the 30-year-old. Hemsky is on the final year of a contract worth a $5 million cap charge and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
It is unclear whether the organization would have (or be willing to part with) the necessary assets to match Edmonton’s needs and acquire the extremely talented Yakupov, who led the Oilers with 17 goals a year ago, but has just one goal and two assists in 13 games after being scratched twice in the early season.
The emergence of Chris Kreider and return to the lineup of Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan have forestalled the immediate need to rush into a deal for a top-six winger, but general manager Glen Sather has been known to gamble on talent.
The Blueshirts are likely one of the few teams in the NHL apt to even consider trading for the skilled but finicky 20-year-old Russian, whom many in the industry believe is difficult to coach and liable to bolt for the KHL, an international league based in Russia.
The level of Rangers interest might be influenced by medical reports regarding Rick Nash, who has been sidelined since Oct. 8, when he sustained a concussion in San Jose on a first-period shot to the head from Sharks’ defenseman Brad Stuart.