Will Peter Chiarelli Make Bold Moves?

The Edmonton Oilers have given full control of the Oilers to Peter Chiarelli, naming him President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. Chiarelli is going to take a few weeks to assess the team and players to see exactly where his positions of strength and weakness are before making any moves, but he will make moves. Given his track record of making big trades in Boston I think we can expect a big trade or two this summer.

The Weaknesses

The weaknesses on the Oilers are pretty obvious, they need a starting goalie and they need a couple of top pairing defensemen if they want a shot at making the playoffs next season. They may have an opportunity to get a piece or two via free agency but typically that requires an overpayment and I’m not sure thats a good idea in Edmonton so I expect Chiarelli to make a couple of trades to fill these areas.

The Strengths

The Oilers have a lot of young skilled forwards that other teams would covet very highly. Its been a topic of hot debate amongst Oilers fan and the media whether or not the Oilers should trade one of the young stars to bring in a missing piece and I think now is the time.

Connor McDavid is on his way to Edmonton and he will really change the complexion of the top 6, for the first time is recent memory the Oilers will have some depth at C but it really isn’t a position that they should be trading from. They have McDavid, Nuge, Lander, Drai and Gordon which is a fine depth chart imo but there isn’t enough depth there to make a trade and still expect to be successful.

On the wing however they do have a position of strength to deal from, any one of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov could on the move. Its much easier to fill in holes on the wing than it is at Center or Defense which is why I think there is a good chance that Chiarelli will move one of those players.

Another area of strength the team has is on the farm club, there are a few young defensemen in the system who look to have a pretty good shot at a successful NHL career who could be bundled with other players or picks to bring in a top end player.

The Extra Pieces

If Chiarelli can manage to bring in a couple of top pairing or even top 4 defensemen there will be a couple of guys he may be trying to dump, mainly Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ferrence and Justin Shultz. The Nikitin trade and signing is one of the black marks on MacT’s resume, he is clearly not capable of playing top 4 minutes on an NHL team but MacT paid him like one and marketed him as one as well. If Chiarelli can move the contract or even buy out Nikitin it will go a long way to helping the Oilers manage the salary cap.

When Andrew Ferrence became a UFA in Boston Chiarelli was in no hurry to sign him so he came to Edmonton to collect a handsome salary and be named captain of the team. I expect Chiarelli will be able to move Ferrence either in the summer or at some point during the season.

The other name I have here is future Norris candidate Justin Shultz. Shultz has not progressed since joining the Oilers and it can be argued that he has actually regressed. At this point he’s at best a 3rd pairing defensemen but he’s getting paid like a top 4 and Chiarelli will either see his issues and move him for a more useful piece or see his potential and put him in a position that he can learn the game and succeed.

The Vision

It was clear from watching the press conference of Chiarelli’s hiring that he feels the Oilers need to be a ‘heavier’ team, he talked about teams that play heavy and win battles but are not necessarily really big players. He communicated very well that they need to work much harder on and off the ice and need to find the right mix of players to bring speed and size. Would trading a player like Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov for a top 4 defensemen and replacing them with a player more similar to Benoit Pouliot who can play a heavy game and still compliment his highly skilled linemates be a step in the right direction?

Hold on Oilers fans, we may be in for a summer full of debate, excitement and (hopefully not) regret. I expect to see a much different Oilers team in training camp than we’ve seen to finish the 2014/15 season.

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16 thoughts on “Will Peter Chiarelli Make Bold Moves?

  1. CofC

    “Filling the holes” on the wing is one thing, but replacing dynamic and creative offensive players like Eberle and “core”is a much greater challenge; Through the “dark years”, one of the few things that kept many of the games interesting was watching the fluid passing, cycling and sometimes jaw-dropping plays made by these incredible young forwards – If we have to give that up for robotic unimaginative vertical cook-book hockey like we see from so many teams today, not sure it’s the right direction. Need work on D and Goal, clearly, but a quick fix isn’t always the right fix; Entertaining hockey doesn’t automatically equate to wins.

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    1. bleed oil

      AS much as hoped MacT would make the BOLD moves he promised, I hope Chiarelli does the opposite… initially. I think Mcdavid so completely changes the makeup of this team that we need some time to observe his impact and how he meshes with others. IMO Nuge and Mcdavid are untouchables, one of Eberle, Yak or Hall could go but you have to see how the forwards work together and also perhaps with improved tending and D (which I think they can do through other trades or UFA’s) everyone’s value will go up and you’ll get more in a trade next summer or mid season. Don’t be rash!!

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    2. Jody Post author

      I’m not undervaluing the wonder kids that the Oilers have now and I don’t take trading one of them lightly but if Chiarelli want to bring in top end defensemen and a strong goalie he’ll most likely need to do it via trade. Chiarelli isn’t afraid to trade away young talent to get the pieces he feels he needs so even if we don’t fully agree with it I think you’ll see a big trade this summer.

      Reply
  2. dave (Welland, ON)

    Hey when are people going to start giving mac t some credit?
    He has been there just 2 seasons and results are starting to show. His 3 core guys are still kids who, don’t forget, all want to stay in Edmonton. What has been the biggest barrier to their growth has been the lack of a veteran coach. Before any future changes , THAT should be their priority. History has proven that young teams need a veteran coach to teach them. Kids like hall, nug, ebs and shultz need that.
    Mac t has traded for or drafted a strong group of players that, with an
    experienced coach, will excel in time. Before charelli comes in like a hero and blows up the team, give what is in place now , a chance. Don’t discredit all of macTs hard work. It takes time (more than 2 yrs) to build a winner.
    Mac T has invested a lot time with the oilers ,….invest the time in him BELIEVE!!!!

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    1. Jody Post author

      So… you want to give Mact some credit but in the same comment say the biggest problem with the team is coaching? Do you realize it was Mact who hired Eakins and then stuck with him when the whole world knew it wasn’t working? I do think Mact did some good things but he also made a couple of big blunders that have cost this team, the head coach, the lack of center depth and MacT’s unwillingness to fix the issue last summer, and the apparent lack of ability to properly evaluate NHL defensemen (mainly Nikitin, Ferrence and Shultz). MacT was clearly a much better GM than Tambo but that doesn’t mean he’s up to the task of turning this ship around.

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      1. CofC

        I think regardless of who is at the helm (GM) it has to be recognized that, while taking longer than expected (undoubtedly somewhat due to coaching instability), the young group of core players is steadily moving in the right direction; If one were to trade away a piece or two of the core, I think the Oilers could reach “another level” and possibly be playoff-bound; But how many teams are stuck perennially scratching the surface of the playoffs or getting eliminated early on, year after year… These are the teams that are willing to trade for one of our “wonder kids” because they realize you need another gear to really contend for the cup on a regular basis. And when the “next-level” Oilers eventually realize this, how difficult will it be to re-acquire players of that pedigree (especially given the level of maturity that an Ebs or Yak or Hall would have achieved by then – very possibly superstars)? We have these players NOW; Keep the core, leverage other assets (picks, players, prospects) to shore up the D and Goal. It may not mean immediate success, but the ceiling potential will be far greater. And yes, Mac T (and Lowe) does deserve credit for maintaining the Vision; He knows the potential and in fact spent time playing for a team that was another “gear” above the rest of the NHL. The Oilers have that potential now. Don’t shoot for average or above average – be the best.

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    2. CofC

      Would have to agree, Dave;
      Regarding coaches, as Hall commented on in a recent interview, adapting to different coaches’ systems doesn’t require a huge change; However, he did support that the connection between coach and players is huge (as evidenced by Neslon’s influence on the play of various players, and the players’ willingness to buy into the system and compete hard). No doubt, coaching plays a significant role, and while it’s generally accepted that perhaps Eakins was not the right choice at the right time (I think a more mature team might have responded differently to Eakins), the last thing the Oilers management should want to do is make a second mistake in the coaching department. Agree on the Vision, then make tweaks to realize it; Is the Vision winning the cup once (or nearly) amidst a run of boring hockey (only “interesting” to the fan of the team because they’re winning), then falling off the radar for years to come? Or is it playing exciting hockey (Fun watching the Hawks and for many years the Wings) with a real shot at the cup every year going forward? People scoffed at MacT’s statement about making “5 or 6 passes” – but for those of us who witnessed the original Oilers play, and enjoy watching a dynamic puck-passing possession team to this day, it makes perfect sense. Stable D, solid Goalie, robust down the middle, and dynamic highly-skilled and imaginative forwards under a coach who connects with his players – we’re almost there.

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  3. Cody Tugak

    imagine this guys, Draisaitl, McDavid and Eberle on the same line and then Hall, Hopkins and trade away yakupov in a package with purcell or nikitin maybe ference, for another right handed shot forward, everyone says we got a huge hole in the back for d, so trade away the guys like ference nikitin who are too old for this young group, the kids are fine, we just need a coach similar to john cooper, if they do trade away ference nikitin yakupov and purcell, that will open up a whole lot of cap space for some good free agents, hopefully good two way forwards for the third and fourth line or a good goalie, keep ben in net as a back up, he proved himself, i say, try hire Dan Bylsma as head coach and keep Tod Nelson as assistant coach, he proved himself in a short period of time with bad d as well

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  4. Jody Post author

    I know you guys don’t want to hear this but the Oilers will not magically turn into a Stanley cup winning team by waiting for the young players to develop. By the time the Defence has developed to an NHL calibre this team will be in a lot of cap trouble. Thats the problem with keeping everybody you draft and develop, they all want a big pay check when things start to work out. All of the successful teams that people use as an example for building via the draft filled key roles via trade and traded away some big pieces to do it. Chiarelli strikes me as the type of GM who will pull the trigger when he sees a trade opportunity that he thinks will improve this team in the long run.

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    1. CofC

      Agree re: defence; Needs some stabilization and perhaps movement of pieces to shore up, though not a complete overhaul. We do have some cap space coming up after next season, although maybe needs to be dealt with sooner… Goal needs a piece obviously, and I agree that likely Scrivens will get the backup role this coming year, although his “acrobatic” and lunging technique leaves him out of position and not square to the play often – perhaps a liability as backup, but with expiring contract upcoming and potential like Brossoit in the wings, keeping him in place behind a more reliable #1 seems likely.

      I think our centre depth is looking favourable, and other than tweaking forward pieces not sure we’re in a bad place here – our offence has shown much promise against very competitive teams, but as a young group the top performers tend to get down and lose their drive after being scored on after only a handful of shots that in many cases should have been stopped. Very difficult to play confidently when you don’t have trust in your back end, particularly goaltending (exacerbated by youthful makeup of team). Even our team defence has shown promise statistically, showing reasonable numbers (better than some contenders with top goaltending such as Montreal) from perspective of scoring chances against from close range; Obviously the breakout needs some work, but this is coachable.

      My guess is that one (or two) D pieces and a goalie will be nearly transformative this coming season, especially now that pressure at Centre position has been eased. Then you’re going forward from a position of strength when it comes time to future dealings, and have a chance to evaluate your talent under more favourable circumstances this upcoming season. Right now we have some leverage in picks, prospects and secondary players to work with, the leveraging strength of which will be lessened significantly after this off-season (especially re: picks which are highly valued this draft year given depth of draft and number of teams in need of picks).

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      1. dave (welland on)

        I agree with C of C about Scrivens being a decent back up goalie , the need for a starting goalie and the Oil needing a couple dmen to stabilze the youngsters. I also strongly agree that we don’t need to overhaul the team. Mac T has put some incredible pieces together for the future ( as well as moved out some big contracts with former players in his first year) . I’m not saying there wasn’t some “learning curve decisions ” that in hindsight didn’t work out (Dallas E being the biggest error) but name a GM ,including Charelli , ..that hasn’t made some regrettable decisions as they master their trade.
        Address the coaching issue ……that has been our Achilles heal. Get a proven , veteran, puck possession style coach and watch the progress take shape rapidly. As I mentioned in an earlier comment these young core kids WANT to stay in Edmonton, that has been a major hurdle in the past with regard to signing players. Now that that is not an issue, work to develop these young talented assets thru veteran coaching and let them develop for the long term success of the Oilers.
        . Another important thing to remember, the young core kids are all good buddies. In today’s NHL, often times egos foster negative competition amongst stars on the team. and eventually lead to dissention (eg Dallas Stars).
        As an Ontario resident, Id love nothing better than to have the team from the “Oil Country” be the first Canadian team return to Cup contention and big back the glory years.

        Reply
        1. CofC

          Agree;

          Also wonder if Todd Nelson is a diamond in the rough – the players love playing for him reportedly, and you can see it reflected in their play and drive; Pre-Todd I think I could count on a couple of fingers the number of times the Oil came thorough with a 60min effort (the first time this season was the last game (win) against the Rangers I believe); With Todd at the reins, there were a number of strong-effort games, and many more strong starts (not a key feature of the Eakins era) that went bad after some easy goals scored against (somewhat understandable with a young team – especially since the young Oilers have had poor “backup” from their goalies from the time they first started playing in the NHL – one or two mistakes and the puck’s in the net – not a good way to build confidence and reinforce work ethic);

          Looking at the coaching situation, as with every decision, it’s risk versus benefit when considering keeping Todd:

          Benefit: Connects with players, knows the players (including prospects) and the system (and vice versa), results have shown much better sustained effort and better starts, as well as turnaround from players such as Lander and Yakupov. Despite all the injuries late in the season, did an admirable job.

          Risk: Small sample size, unproven NHL record, if he doesn’t work out options will be limited mid-season for replacement (many coaching options potentially available now that are sure to be snapped up this off-season) and Oil can’t afford another season without significant progress, optics of handing the reins over to an unproven NHL coach after winning McLottery.

          So while I’m somewhat torn because he clearly seemed to be a step in the right direction for this team, I’d also be hesitant to pull the trigger on him for Head Coach given significant risks (sadly – no more room to trial him). Perhaps a combined effort with Todd as assistant – there to relate to the players and hone his skills as an NHL coach under a proven entity – would be a reasonable compromise (assuming TN willing); Rumour has it that TN has some kind of amicable relationship with TM, so maybe that combination would be a reasonable move(?)

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  5. JKM

    With McDavid coming, and the rest of this year’s draft coming as well, the Oilers have a pot of gold of talent. They can be the best team in hockey starting perhaps two years out for a lengthy stretch of time, but not because of a GM imposing a formula, but rather because a GM and fitting coach helping them get their game/magic to emerge following its own internal logic, adding supplementary pieces only. With the right coach, the Oiler kids will grow and figure it out. In contrast, Eakins was a terrible coach for a team of talent: Dubnyk was demoralized and jettisoned for a bag of pucks, Yakupov’s soul was crushed, and the team in general shriveled.

    Beyond McDavid, this year’s draft should be played fully, not traded away for quick fixes, because this draft is the rich ore of talent to further help set the stage for a long stretch of deep playoff runs. Because of the depth of the draft, both #16 and #33 are really first round picks, and there are players as deep as #65 that in a different year wind up in the 1st round. For sure, there are a lot more 1st round worthy prospects this year than first round slots. Timing is perfect as fine picks this year will probably be ready in two years time to join and/or finish out the Oilers team that will be starting its stretch of deep playoff runs. This year at draft time, at pick #16, the Oilers are going to be looking at a set of normally top 10 players like Konecny, Connor, Barzal, maybe Meier, maybe Provorov. One of the players that falls to #16 may be so coveted by another team (like a primo centerman) that the Oilers might get an offer to trade #16 for something like #20 and #53 (like in 2006) or #19 and #42 (like in 2007). Then, at Oiler’s pick #33 — who’s to say who will or won’t have slide to #33? — Svechnikov may fall like Barbashev did last year to #33. Kylington is projected by some well into the 2nd. Forget the Chiarelli bold moves rubbish talk. Luck has made bold for the Oilers. Just play your cards, baby. The Oilers need to keep calm, boldly keep their picks for the draft, and give themselves a chance to get super lucky. If the chips continue to fall their way, their take through the first three rounds above McDavid could be something like Jeremy Roy, Svechnikov, Kylington, Matt Spencer, and two good goalie prospects. Completely obscene. And wonderful. Go Oilers!

    Reply
  6. Rey

    The best comments I,v read for years Nothing negative for a change I,m in Germany right now it,s even in a sports paper here
    You Oilers are world known. Maybe Leon D. helps

    Reply
  7. Uwik

    What’s the difference beetewn a wind tunnel and the Maple Leafs? With a wind tunnel you can make a draft selection. What do wind tunnels and the Maple Leafs have in common? They both blow…Why is the Maple Leaf team like a centrally installed vacuum? They both suck and are needlessly expensive…What does a high end escort and the Leafs have in common? They both suck for $200. What’s the difference beetewn the Toronto Raptors and the Leafs? The Raptors shoot at a net. What’s the difference beetewn Toronto FC and the Leafs? The Leafs don’t need pylons for practise drillsWhat do John Mayer and opposing Leaf teams have in common? They can both score at will. How do you stop a Leaf power play? (trick question. This is hypothetical) What do Toronto police and the Leafs have in common? A Thin Blue Line…What do a mountain overpass and the Leafs have in common? For the first one you’re not allowed to pass and the second it just ends up that way…What does a Chinatown menu and a history of leaf draft picks have in common? Both are completely incomprehensibleWhat’s the difference beetewn a 60-yard field and a Leaf home stand? There’s a chance at getting three points with the former.

    Reply

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