A NEW DAY

NewDay

The Edmonton Oilers have been selling hope for so long without coming remotely close to delivering results to fans, it’s completely understandable a sizeable segment of their long-suffering faithful is taking a show-me-don’t-tell-me stance. I’ve resided in that camp awhile.

While that bottom line – actual results — remains to be seen months ahead of a season in which the Oilers will attempt to avoid missing the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year, I’m feeling a lot less cynical than usual as I write this today after watching the NHL Entry Draft unfold in Florida. I sense I’ve got some company in that.

Obviously, there’s still plenty of work to do. There’s unquestionably some rough road to be navigated. With those default caveats out of the way, for the first time in a very long time my gut tells me the NHL will soon have to find a new laughing stock. The Oilers are no longer the dysfunctional outfit that couldn’t find a clue with a road map and a flashlight just months ago.

A lot of that vibe has to do with the new man at the controls, GM Peter Chiarelli. Unlike that New Boys on the Bus photo the Edmonton Journal ran years ago with Teddy Green, Craig MacTavish and a smiling Kevin Lowe behind the wheel, I no longer expect the whole works to end up in the ditch upside down and on fire. The reason for that doesn’t begin and end with Chiarelli, but much of it does.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER

Archie

The easiest bit of business Chiarelli took care of in Florida was stepping to the podium and selecting Connor McDavid with the first overall pick. He’s the big story. He’s the game-changer. McDavid pulling on that orange jersey is the moment on which this franchise will pivot and turn north. But Steve Tambellini could have picked him. McTavish could have made that pick.

It’s the rest of what we saw from Chiarelli that impressed me. He checked off boxes he said he wanted to check off going into the weekend – finding a goaltender and adding a defenseman. He acquired former Oil King blueliner Griffin Reinhart with the 16th and 33rd picks, doing so after making a very good offer to Boston in an attempt to land Dougie Hamilton.

Chiarelli eventually got the goaltender he wanted, Cam Talbot, from New York with the 57th, 79th and 154th picks Saturday. That unfolded when he circled back to GM Glen Sather, whose original ask Friday was reportedly considerably more, after making a pitch for John Gibson of Anaheim.  

Chiarelli dealt spare part Martin Marincin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Brad Ross and the 107th pick, then flipped the Toronto pick along with Travis Ewanyk to Ottawa for blueliner Eric Gryba, who will be able to step right into the line-up next October as a depth veteran.

REASONABLE MOVES

SafeBet

I’m not going to suggest that Chiarelli knocked everything out of the yard with each and every move he made on the weekend because we don’t know that now and we won’t for some time.

  • Will Talbot, 27, stuck behind Henrik Lundqvist in New York, become the starter the Oilers need? Talbot’s numbers are very good, but those numbers have come over the span of just 57 games. Might Talbot be the guy the Oilers hoped they were getting when they acquired Ben Scrivens? Sure. Or not.
  • Reinhart, 21, just three years removed from being taken fourth overall by the New York Islanders, is a big, strong kid who was a real leader with the Oil Kings, but he’s got to improve his skating. Reinhart has played just eight NHL games. Hamilton he is not. A top-pairing defenseman Reinhart is not – at least not yet.

Talbot and Reinhart are maybes, nothing more and nothing less, but they seem like reasonable bets and calculated moves as opposed to just-do-something longshots. Chiarelli paid a price that reflects that rather than a desperation premium for “might-be” guys.

Chiarelli was patient in landing Talbot and he didn’t get rattled after missing out on Hamilton. Former Oil King boss Bob Green knows Reinhart as well as anybody and Chiarelli was obviously willing to listen to what his director of player development had to say about his former captain.

At the bottom line, Chiarelli got the goaltender he wanted. Whether it’s the goaltender he needs remains to be seen. He added a young blueliner in Reinhart who will play in the NHL. The question is how high up he can climb on the back end. He added a serviceable veteran in Gryba. Help now.

My take after watching Chiarelli is that the guy pulling the levers for the Oilers now actually understands what needs to be done to return this team to respectability and contention. More important, I came away from watching Chiarelli work at this draft confident he knows how to make it happen.  

WHILE I’M AT IT

Megaphone

  • Boston’s Don Sweeney and Cam Neely looked like tools trying to sucker Chiarelli in his bid to land Hamilton. Chiarelli offered picks 16, 33 and 57. Sweeney and Neely said that wasn’t enough and asked him to add Darnell Nurse to the package. Chiarelli said “no thanks” and the Bruins sent Hamilton to Cowtown for Calgary picks 15-45-52.
  • Wasn’t keen on renderings of Edmonton’s mostly orange third jersey before the draft, but it looked sharp to me when McDavid pulled it on. That No. 97 of McDavid’s is available for sale now and suspect it won’t take long until it’s out-selling No. 4, 93 and 14 combined.
  • Pint-sized Vladimir Tkachev didn’t get a sniff for the second straight summer, going undrafted. I don’t think there’s any harm in the Oilers bringing the kid back with a tryout offer, but he’s fallen off in a big way after creating a buzz at camp here last summer.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Chad88

    Why is every one tossing Schultz into the line up predictions?!

    PC could very well just say no to that hideous contract and trade him.

    If this weekend was any indication of how he wants his backend to look I don’t see Schultz fitting in.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    It’s been nine years. I’m firmly in the “show-me” camp, especially since, after years of drafting barely competent players after the first round, we shipped off several of our 2nd-4th round picks.

    The biggest test is a signing or trade for at least one (but please, PLEASE two) capable NHL defencemen. My dream would be Franson and Sekera, but I would be happy with just one, or failing that, Paul Martin.

    This team needs guys who aren’t learning to play defence on the job.

    Shipping out Nikitin’s cap hit will go a long way as well, as I have serious doubts he can contribute in any positive capacity.

    We wait.

  • Chad88

    I am happy that the Oilers traded draft picks for players that would be NHL ready sooner, Talbot Reinhardt, to grow with the core

    They both will need some time to round into NHL players but not as long as 18 year old,.

    Now as long as we don’t critize them too much and run them out of town like Petry and others.

      • pkam

        Oh Please , are you new to Oilers Nation.

        Oiler fans criticised Petry like they now criticize Schultz. Schultz will be a better player when he gets a new coach and is not asked to play top line minutes until he gets older and more experienced.

        Oilier fans would have run Gordon out of town if he would have been slotted as first line center.

        give your head a shake

    • bradleypi

      I was of that thinking as well. Great job by PC to get him for those picks. So Robin, what is your feeling about the defence? Is there more moves to be made by PC? Is PC gonna buy out anybody? Anybody in free agency he might be targeting? I’ve got a feeling he wants to run with Reinhart out there so that’s gotta make nikitin or ference expendable if not both. Is Reinhart ready to play for this defence?

  • Oilerchild77

    Very good move by Chia to turn down the bait that Boston dangled in Hamilton. Nurse could still turn out better anyways.

    Totally surprised that Boston had the firesale they had without offloading Chara. Perhaps others are available? Krug maybe? The franchise is in rebuild mode for sure, and would likely love to offload Chara.

    As like the rest of us, the Reinhart trade seems like an over-pay, but I love the rest so all-in-all a GREAT draft by the Oilers. The Gryba trade will be a winner–fans will love this guy. Not as cheap as Marchment, and not as much of a leader as Gator, but more so a hybrid of the two.

    Let’s watch free agency now! I bet a lot more free agents that have a few years left in the tank are looking more seriously at the Oil now.

    Can’t wait to get my orange jersey–let the good times roll!

  • bradleypi

    @ Oilerjed

    I coudn’t agree more. The look on their faces was disturbing. It was like wtf did we just do. On the otherside of the deal, the cameras showed Snow’s pokerface as he winks across his table like he just got a royal flush. I think they will regret that deal, Reinhart is a prospect, there were other draft prospects left on the table with higher ceilings. Get the best players available and if need be, trade them after. What showed on that trade was like a kneejerk reaction similar to what Mac Idiot has been doing during his whole tenure. Chiralli leaned on those clowns. This probably not gonna be a popular post but I guarantee 99% of ON secretly agrees. No real scouting staff so they rely on the clowns for scouting reports 2 years ago.

    • Oilerchild77

      Ahhh, who cares. We got MacDavid. The real turnaround in the drafting process happens next year when Chiarelli has his guys in there. As for Reinhart. He’s only 21 and could still pay off. Give it time.

    • Double Dees

      And u could do sooooooo much better, right?

      All these fools think they know everything! When in reality they are the most pessimistic people in life.

      What u say on ON reflects how u live life.

      How about some encouragement for a management group that made the Oilers a much much better team today.

  • Slapshot

    Whats with all the negative Nelly’s out there? We won the Lottery and drafted Conner McDavid,New POHO,new GM,new Coach and its still not good enough for some people,give your head a shake, we could be in a lot worse shape,be glad that the Oilers are finally starting to head in the right direction with experienced and competent people at the top,give it time and this team will be a power house.

  • pkam

    “Chiarelli paid a price that reflects that rather than a desperation premium for “might-be” guys. ”

    I don’t understand how a 3rd rounder for Scrivens or Fasth is a desperation premium for “might-be” guys and a 57th , 79th and 154th for Talbot is not. They all seem to be very reasonable price considering their stats before the trade.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Here’s to hoping Griffin, as Peter called it, pops in the coming seasons as an Oiler. Reinhart is a gamble that hopefully delivers. After failed attempts to land Hamilton, Gibson and a Provorov/Werensky type, they were left with little option but to go this route.

    With Reinhart and Gryba here now, shedding Nikitin and Schultz and bringing in a Cody Franson. That might be the significant enough change on that back end to hold fort until they can take a shot at Seabrook next summer.

    If anyone sees the orange Oiler McDavid jerseys available for sale this week, please post the location here. Just seeing that jersey in your collection would just be awesome therapy for Oiler faithful. Thank you in advance.

  • Oilerchild77

    Let’s see, they traded draft choices, a prospect who will never make the NHL and a talented young d-man who doesn’t play hard for……. A backup goalie, a prospect who will never play in the NHL and 2 d-men who play hard but have little real talent.
    An upgrade? Yes, but only a small upgrade.
    Until Talbot shows he can really be that number one, I will not bet my house on the team making the playoffs for another year or two.

    • camdog

      Well they did draft Connor McDavid….With Mact at the helm and without McDavid I was thinking they were 3-4 years away from the playoffs, so 1-2 years would be a positive for me.

  • pkam

    Who is gonna teach Griffin Reinhart how to skate? Lowe, MacT? Who??? Islanders have a 20 goal 50 assist kid in Barzal and we are stuck with another statue.

    • Oilerchild77

      They’re called skating and skills coaches and the Oilers have those. As for the Barzal kid, yes he looks promising, but he’s a center. The Oileres don’t need centers right now. Where do you think he would fit in? On the fourth line? No, all the best defenseman were taken by the 16th pick and the rest did not compare with what Reinhart brings. It was the best option available and it might just pay off.

      • pkam

        Good observation that Reinhart may have been the best D prospect available when the deal was made. It’s obvious that the Oil went into the draft with specific objectives. Cam Talbot, Dmen and higher compete level.

        I doubt if the Oil would have taken Barzal at 16 for the reasons you point out. If he progresses to an NHL center in say, 3 years, would he displace McDavid, RNH or Draisatl?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hey Reuben. Many have defended what they thought was fact, that Lowe had little/nothing to do with the player side of operations anymore. Where you surprised to see quite the opposite in fact this past weekend?

  • CMG30

    I think PC had the right ideas about what needed to be done to start fixing this team.

    I liked the thought of bringing in a guy like GR although ACTUALLY bringing in GR tells me that PC had no choice but to lean on MacTavish and Green for advice (GULP!). MacT can’t be wrong ALL the time, can he? I hope they don’t try to force him into the lineup before he’s ready. But I digress, something tells me that next year, after PC has had a chance to actually learn the players in the system the Old Boys influence will wane. OTOH, MacTavish is likely under the impression that PC is just keeping his chair warm… because these are the Oilers after all.

    Still, work to be done. Oil need actual veteran D and they need them to fill the 1-2 holes on the blue line. Free agency anyone? Sign even one guy like that and I’d be willing to state that this team will still be playing meaningful games into February and March.

  • pkam

    Oilers horrendous record last year in own Conference cost us dearly (9W-30L-11T) . Our East record was far better with 15W-14L-3T .

    Conference breakdown : Pacific -a paltry 4W -21L-4T . Central -5W-9L-7T . With another addition or two , I could envision us splitting our Pacific matchups this season and consequently be in the thick of things .

  • PEBOisONit

    Robin says Pint-sized Vladimir Tkachev didn’t get a sniff for the second straight summer, going undrafted. I don’t think there’s any harm in the Oilers bringing the kid back with a tryout offer, but he’s fallen off in a big way after creating a buzz at camp here last summer.”

    Sure why not. Maybe make our ALL or ECHL team and see if he can make it as a pro. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  • pkam

    I dont think Hamilton is going to be as good as he was in Boston with Chara. Chara has helped churn out a lot of good confident defensemen in Boston. He seems like a guy looking for a big payday like O’Reilly. The Flames can have him, I like how the Oilers got bigger and meaner with the Acquisition of Gryba. I like big physical defensemen who can play on the edge. Darnell Nurse has all the tools to become even better then Hamilton.

  • camdog

    Reinhart’s skating isn’t the limiting factor in his success. How he adapts to the speed of the game, his hockey IQ, will determine his success. If he can think the game at an NHL level and learn to play with a chip on his shoulder he’ll be a pretty good top 4 d-man. His skating will improve, his work ethic/character is top notch.

    • pkam

      Another guy who got slammed for his skating stride and said wasnt fast enough for the NHL game was Jason Smith. I can see Reinhart moulding into a stalwart like Gator was back in the day. We just need to publicly shame him and get Captain Insano to call him a virgin on live tv and were golden baby!

  • Jaxon

    Candidates for tryouts? Loik Leveille (RD), Vladdy Hockey Tkachev (LW), Dante Salituro (C/RW), Luke Philp (C/RW), Maxim Tretiak (G). I’d like to see Vladdy Hockey and Loik Leveille at training camp.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    Can we all agree that if we didn’t change a damn thing from last season except firing Eakins the Oil improved? So why all the bitchin’? New front office, New coaches MCDAVID, bigger Defence, better goalie we are not going to bottom out like last year! July 1st is not here chill out people! Chiarelli is far from done. Franson, Green, Sekera take your pick.
    -P.S, My prediction, Gryba will take out/injure one of the Flamers top guns next season with a crushing hit(no suspension)reigniting battle of Alberta.So glad i’m not a Flamer fan, would hate to be up against the mighty Oil!

  • Jaxon

    I like Chiarelli’s approach at the table. Besides Marincin, he did not touch anyone on the current roster to make a deal. He upgraded goal and defense, and he showed the patience and savvy of a seasoned GM, passing on deals where the cost became too rich. And yet, at the end of the day, he did not walk away empty handed.

    • OILFANMEXICO

      I agree,we still have all our players so if our guys improve under Mclelland, trade deadline may be interesting. It will enable us to potentially trade one of our forwards to land Seabrook or another #1 D.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    if we had to give Nurse to get Hamilton ….sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

    Calgary will sign Hamilton around $6M

    We got a starting goalie, a depth dman and great prospect who may grow into exactly what we need for $3.5M. leaving us lots of room to add quality in free agency.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    When their season was on the line the Islanders played Matt Donovan and Scott Mayfield instead of Rienhart. He was also, reportedly, passed by Ryan Pulock in the AHL.
    So Reinhart wasn’t in the AHL because the Islanders had a deep defense. He was in the AHL because he isn’t (yet) good enough to play in the NHL.
    That’s the reason for the reaction to the trade.

    • JackB

      Chiarelli acknowledged MacT’s work because Chiarelli is a classy guy.

      He also refused to comment on the rumour that Boston wanted our picks + Nurse for Hamilton. The question was put to him 3 times “no comment” “no comment” “no comment”.

      Chiarelli refused to throw Sweeney and Neely under the bus. YEAH . . . I’d say he’s a classy guy!

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I’d rather risk three picks based on 57 games than $26 million (!) based on 39. I think DD is a great kid, but… yikes. I don’t know about that. Good on him, though.

    Anyway, no, Chiarelli didn’t hit it out of the park, but it was a solid double to the gap. The team has improved in critically destitute areas, and they will start the season with a significantly more balanced lineup, under the direction of an infinitely better coaching staff than this time last year.

    Nice burning bus imagery, Robin. heh

  • JackB

    D wrote “It’s possible that the Dubnyk situation ended up costing MacT his job”

    You might be right!! But I think what really cost him his job was firing Kruger and hiring Eakins . . . followed by his handling of Petry . . . followed by his handling of Dubnyk (but that was partly Dubnyk’s fault … “why the hell couldn’t you have gone to Lyle’s summer goalie camp one summer sooner Dubbie?”)

    . . . but, if MacT hadn’t made those rookie mistakes . . . we would have finished last season HIGHER than 28th . . . and wouldn’t have gotten Connor McDavid !!

    THANK YOU MACT !!!
    THANK YOU MACT !!!

  • No.9

    “And u could do sooooooo much better, right?

    All these fools think they know everything! When in reality they are the most pessimistic people in life.

    What u say on ON reflects how u live life.

    How about some encouragement for a management group that made the Oilers a much much better team today.

    Double Dee”

    Does Double Dee refer to you like two sausages in your mouth at the same time? LMAO! Listen “fool”, I ever suggested that Icl could do better or in fact that Chiarelli is doing a poor job. But those picks coulda been used more effectively. Why settle for a Porche when you coulda had 2 Maclarens. And learn your grammer you drunk kid…”What you say ON refelcts on how you life” hahaha wtf.