Edmonton Oilers pass on Kyle Chipchura

Kyle_Chipchura1

It seemed so obvious. Right there, available for nothing on the waiver wire, was a useful fourth line centre with zero acquisition cost. Instead, Kyle Chipchura will remain in Arizona after going unclaimed by the NHL’s other 29 teams.

That Damien Brunner cleared is not all that surprising; after all, he comes with a $2.5 million cap hit and that’s a lot of space for an NHL team. But Chipchura is a pretty reasonable fourth line centre priced at just $875,000; it’s a bit perplexing to see him zip through waivers without any team putting a claim in. 

Missed Opportunity

Craig MacTavish4

It’s hard not to see this as a missed opportunity for the Edmonton Oilers. 

This is the same team that as recently as training camp felt so strongly about having a spare centre that it kept a mediocre Will Acton on the roster while waiving camp standouts Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinizzotto (both of whom have subsequently made their way back to the majors). Acton was ultimately demoted and then traded, never having been replaced on the roster as the Oilers’ No. 5 centre. 

And the funny thing about Chipchura is that on merit he very well may have deserved one of the top-four centre slots on the club. The team’s current depth chart is as follows, with select numbers highlighted:

Player Avg. TOI EVPTS/60 RelCorsi ZoneStart Faceoffs
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 21:30 2.15 6.1 59.0% 49.5%
Mark Arcobello 15:48 1.03 -1.2 70.9% 49.1%
Boyd Gordon 13:30 1.15 -7.0 14.7% 56.4%
Leon Draisaitl 12:44 0.88 3.0 79.8% 43.0%

At the start of camp, Dallas Eakins talked about having only two NHL centres, and that’s basically what the chart above suggests. Nugent-Hopkins is delivering wonderfully in his role, as is Gordon. Arcobello and Draisaitl on the other hand are struggling to score and struggling to break even on the shot clock despite getting a continual offensive zone push.

For the sake of contrast, the following are Chipchura’s numbers this year:

  • 10:23 TOI, 1.10 PTS/60, 4.9 RelCorsi, 35.6% zonestart, 54.7% faceoffs
Chipchura this season has scored more frequently than Arcobello and Draisaitl, he’s won more faceoffs, and he’s posted a better on-ice Corsi number despite frequently starting shifts at his own end of the rink. He’s also bigger than everyone in the above group other than Draisaitl, and he hits and fights and has history killing penalties.

At worst, he’s a nice fit as the club’s No. 5 centre. At best, he could have taken Gordon’s role, freeing up that veteran centreman, or displaced one of Arcobello and Draisaitl. 

In some ways, this is a lesser sin than letting Mike Ribeiro wander off to Nashville in the summer was; after all, Chipchura isn’t a top-six player like Riberio (22 points in 25 games) is and wouldn’t have had the same impact on the ice. In other ways, it’s worse, because the Oilers know now exactly how bad they are down the middle and have turned their nose up at an effective 28-year-old with 350-plus NHL games under his belt.

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  • YFC Prez

    RNH
    Arco
    Gordon
    Chip

    Makes a lot more sense than leaving a 18 year old who is obviously having difficulties. Draisaitl is going to be Gagner 2 if they continue this.

    At this point they’ve all but come out and publicly stated the tank was in full swing.

  • Serious Gord

    Yes, Chipchura would have helped but what’s the point? This season is lost. It’s not like he’d help us get to the playoffs. Improving and finishing 25th is just dumb. If this year is lost better to finish 30th and go for a top pick. If get as many kids experience as we can at this point. That said…it’s really sad to be out of hope by Christmas again. This is the most embarrassing organization in pro sports.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Thought about that as well.

      Could it be MacTavish talked to Chipchura before they decided to put in a claim or not? Not everyone is willing to up and move into a toxic environment like Edmonton.

      If Craig did, he could’ve saved himself some post claim embarrassment if he wasn’t at all interested in coming to a team like the Oilers. Have to believe Mactavish probably has to olive branch every player who may be coming back this way, just to save the possible negative pr battle that could insue.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    there is continued comments on how many centers eakins was given to start the year but what is overlook is that matt hendricks was very accomplished face-off man when he was signed to his contract in Nashville. The “Coach” and this team mis manages all the assets it is given and over values others. If Eakins wines about the center situation maybe he should look amongst his roster for another fourth line center. thats not to say that what the third line of the oilers hasn’t been satisfactory in the worst situations in the entire league it is just a fact of Eakins putting himself in a spot to pass the blame and not remain accountable.

  • Darth Oiler

    It’s things like this that you have to do for a proper tank job. KC is going to contribute to 2 to 5 wins if the oiler were a team sniffing around the playoffs I think they would have claimed him but when thoes 4 to 10 points in the standings may mean the difference between Conner McDavid or Lawson Crouse I see the oilers logic. (Or maybe this kinda logic is why we missed the playoffs the last 5000 years)