Seems to be a popular title around the web. It seems rather obvious but many people go near the correct answer. It is three steps much easier said than done. I will go hardest to easiest.
1. Dump the players Chiarelli has signed as UFA's
2. Grab key UFA's
3. Dump Chiarelli (McLellan should go to if they want a cup but he can get them to the playoffs)
The first one is the toughest. Lucic's contract is buyout proof. At least as buyout proof as they come. Oilers need to trade him but they are either keeping salary or getting a bad contract back. They could package him to Ottawa who has an even worse contract. Maybe the worst in the league with Bobby Ryan. Ottawa can't afford Ryan and they can't afford Karlsson's extension. Bobby Ryan will never be worth what he is paid but he is at least a top 6 player which is more than Lucic can say right now and he is not going to be better in his remaining 5 years. Yes this would be a hard trade to pull off and it won't happen but that type of creative trade is the only real chance the Oilers have of parting with Lucic.
Sekeras needs to go. Hopefully he can get back to almost where he was before injury. He could arguably still be a second pairing defender on some teams. His contract is again tough to move though.
Russel in some ways is the worst. Oilers need a RHD that can fix their PP. Grabbing one of them makes Russel third pairing and Benning can do that.
The second point is tough for Chiarelli. I am agreeing with Mike Johnson from the NHL Network on this. You go for Carlson. Washington is not going to be able to sign him. Oilers need to go for his rights. I would think a 5th round with a conditional third would be the price to get him early. Costly but not as expensive as his salary will be. I think 7.5 on a 7 year is roughly what they would need to spend. The thing is, he is worth it. The cap is going up and despite how it looks, Russell, Sekeras and Lucic will be gone eventually. You can build a blueline around Carlson and if they Oilers can get their PP going, they are back in a playoff race. He will cost but he is worth every penny.
The next UFA would be a goalie that can play minutes. Maybe even a 1B option. Bernier, Raanta... This type of net minder. They need someone that can push Talbot and that is not Montoya. Both of these should be cheap and easy to sign if you go after them right away.
The last is character wingers. Oilers have
LW: Nuge, Yamamoto, Lucic, Kharia, Caggiula, Slepyshev and Benson
RW: Puljarvi, Kassian, Rattie, Pakarinin and Aberg
Obviously they have a hole on RW and I am not sold that Rattie being the top line option is a gamble they need to take. If he turns out to be best and they bump everyone else down one, then awesome. Still a cheap signing like Perron, Vanek... someone like that who has consistent production and can play either wing would give the Oilers tons of options. The Oilers will most likely get two great prospects with their first picks. They could be ready next year but most likely one or two years for any help on wing. Yamamoto, Benson and even Rattie have little to no NHL experience. To allow them to try different line combinations will help these guys develop and take the pressure off them. Also grabbing a couple of players like Vanek for 2 years on a 2 mil a year cap hit would allow them to be competitive while going through the mini rebuild they are looking at.
Last step is the largest and most important but also the easiest. Fire Chiarelli. He has proven he can't make these moves. He can't get value for our players in a trade, he can't sign a proper UFA and he can't get us the players we need.
What he will do is trade Nuge and get next to nothing in return. I like Nuge and he looks great but My guess is that Yamamoto will be the Oilers second best winger. Nuge has huge value in the trade market, especially this year where top 6 centers are in high demand. There is room to move him that could benefit the Oilers is numerous ways. Moving their third round pick up would be great, moving one of the 3 terrible contracts in the move would be nice and the Oilers can grab a winger to replace him. Chiarelli can't do this. If he loved Larsson it should have been Eberle. Even then there should have been a pick or prospect coming back. So many great options out there in the trade world. Not doable with our GM though.