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.

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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.



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.

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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.



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.

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  • 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.  



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  • 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.

    • oilerjed

      I love how flames fans, on a gorgeous sunday morning, having nothing better to do than sign in to ON to talk trash. You guys just sound incredibly jealous. I dont blame you. You have a decent looking team with good management building it. We were stuck with Tambo and MacT but though they were inept management they came with horseshoes up their butts. No matter how we got here, we now have solid management and a FAR greater chance at success now than you.

      • OilerSucks

        Clearly luck in the lottery does not equate to results on the ice. The oilers could have the father, son, and holy spirit as a front line and still screw it up.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Check out the three or four advanced stat sites. The Flames finished 28th in a 30 team league, in terms of puck possession. They only had the puck 43% of he time. They fell behind in most games, and they had shooting and save percentages that will be tough to maintain. I heard a stat that only two other gems have made the playoffs with possession numbers as bad as Calgary’s: Toronto and Colorado. What happened to them?
          Will Hamilton move the Flames’ possession numbers from 28th to 10th? Will just as many Flames have career years like last year? Will goaltending keep bailing them out?
          What I am saying is, are they really rebuilt?

      • oilerjed

        “A FAR greater chance at success” than the Flames? Hmm easy now, I know you have a 7 year headstart on your rebuild but last I checked the Oilers were a bottom feeder while the Flames were the talk of the last season as well as draft day, and in the 2nd round of the playoffs.
        Oilers will have to start to walk the walk because this has all just been talk, and talk is cheap

        • a lg dubl dubl

          I foresee a Colorado 2.0 in the Lames future real soon.

          Hiller is on the down turn, Ramo is as good as gone.

          Gio will want Close to 9mil

          That leaves Hamilton and Brodie as their 1-2 dmen.

          And then there’s Smid, love the guy but….?

          • Chad88

            Gio 9 mill? Give your head a shake. You do realize that would make him the highest paid defenseman in the league? Not even close to that.. With the smart, reasonable deals he just negotiated for Backlund and Brodie, I have no doubt he will be able to keep things rolling.
            Smid? He may never put on a Flames jersey again to tell you the truth.

          • pkam

            The reports last week that Gio’s initial ask started with a 9. Whether its 8 or 9 is somewhat moot, unless something unforseen happens he will be one the highest paid D men in the league soon.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Yep, and good on him. He is definitely top 5 dman in the league. It’ll be interesting to see what the Lames do within the year.

            I hope Gio makes them sweat, and he moves on cause I don’t see them keeping both Hamilton and Giordano.

            Could have Blackhawk problems without the cups if they do keep both lol!

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Your last sentence is bang on. If the Flames were contending or very close, you pay a 31 year old Gio and Risk cap issues. But, they aren’t and Gio at $4 million will get them some great prospects. Can still chase him next June if he looks like the piece they need.

          • GRC

            I think a major part of the reason the Flames acquired Hamilton is so they can move Giordano this season. They will get very good value for him at the trade deadline even with his pending UFA status.

            As for Chiarelli’s work…tough miss on the Hamilton situation but its tough to blame him for that. Not sure if Reinhart was a solid plan B or not. There is some risk with this player.

            Otherwise I like the Talbot acquisition and Gryba will be a serviceable bottom pairing dman.

            Now…about the top 4….

          • a lg dubl dubl

            Throw an offer sheet for Hamilton, get Gio. You guys jealous much? Thought the Flames sucked but yet you want our players
            Which is it? You’re more confused than Scooby-Doo up there haha

          • Petrolero

            They may trade him as he has a great cap hit and could put a contender over the top. It would have to be an over pay but a few top teams have the prospects.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            That’s my thoughts too.

            Unless they get good to great return(other than picks and prospects)for Gio, the Lames d looks pretty porous after Hamilton and maybe Brodie.

          • Oilerchild77

            Could see the Flames step back a bit this year as last year was unexpected. But, like Colorado, the Flames are building well and have a very strong group of prospects in all positions. Free agency may help or hurt the Flames. They need 2-top 6 forwards and I don’t think Poirier is ready to grab one of those spots yet. Granlund maybe though

    • Petrolero

      I don’t have a problem with the high draft picks they’ve amassed. I tsn the rest of the team that has hurt them. They neglected the defence and crease for too long.
      For defenceman, if you track the trades and all subsequent movesof the players involved, they usually resulted in a trade for picks, and no roster players. It took a few steps, but ultimately, they eroded their prospect supply.
      That’s why I am not as negative about the Gryba and Reinhart deals. At least they got a defenceman with NHL experience in Gryba and a player with potential, not a player to be named later.
      Hopefully, those days are over.

      • bradleypi

        In what world did they neglect the crease? They had an nhl goalie in dubnyk… Mact just didn’t believe in him. One decision I’ll never forgive Mact for was his handling of dubnyk. Not sure what Mact was thinking…

          • camdog

            The Oilers looked like an expansion team in the first 40 games under Eakins. Every player on that team looked like it was there first game playing with each other. Granted for some players like Gags, they always played like that.

        • pkam

          MacT was under a lot of attacks for giving Dubnyk that starter job. So when Dubnyk failed to deliver, MacT was under even more stress. Remember the response here when MacT didn’t find a starter and gave the job to Dubnyk?

          Everyone went after MacT for saying “If you have to ask the question, you know the answer.”. To me, it means “Everyone knows he hasn’t proven he is a starter so why do you media guy even ask this stupid question.”. In other words, “Why do you ask this question, you know the answer.”.

        • PEBOisONit

          The world in which Dubnyk faltered, after his GM publicly doubted his abilities as a starter, and the Oilers had no one in the system to replace him with. Do you think LaBarbera, Roy, and Bunz were adequate? They didn’t have Broissoit at the time.

          • pkam

            You must be kidding. You faltered because your GM doubted your ability? Shouldn’t you go out to prove to him so he can have confidence in you instead of falter and confirm his doubt?

            What has Dubnyk done at that point that a GM should have full confidence in him?

            Everyone knows MacT has tried to land Schneider to compete with Dubnyk, if MacT had no doubt, why did he try to acquire Schneider? And do you think he shouldn’t?

            And MacT probably have more confidence in Dubnyk than most fans here. He only doubted, while most here had already written him off as a career backup when MacT handed him the starter job after failing to land Schneider and sign Labarera as his backup. And that is why there was the question by the media that triggered MacT’s response of “If you have to ask the question, you know the answer.” That ‘you’ I believe is not referred to MacT himself, but the media and fans.

          • pkam

            So no goaltender prospect is MacT’s fault? That was his 1st year as the Oiler’s GM.

            The team is slightly better in goaltender prospects now but it is still not good, is it Chiarelli’s fault?

  • Mooseroni

    Good to turn the corner, now to address some culture issues…..does anyone else think it’s a bad idea to have 5 replica cups in the oiler dressing room? It’s almost like saying “WE HAVE ALREADY WON THIS SO TAKE ER EASY, YOUR AN OILER”….too far in the past…….

    just like the 5 retired jersey’s…..seeing a no 9 in oiler silk would be nice!!!

  • This was suppose to be McDavid day . But Oilers made it the day you gave up too many draft choices for Reinhart, Leaves a bad taste in your mouth,the Oilers find a way to make fans feel ill after drafting a generational talent.

    • Too many draft choices? If you’re not sure about the player, that’s one thing, but were you expecting the Oilers to get a fourth overall pick from 2012 for the 16th by itself? Adding the 33rd makes you feel ill?

        • JackB

          I believe that Jacob Trouba, Olli Matta and Morgan Reilly all went in that same draft after Reinhart. Would acquiring those lower drafted players also be an overpayment? Skating is an area that can be improved as can physical strength. Size, hockey IQ, composure and a willingness to compete are areas that Reinhart has been recognized for. If he becomes the Oiler’s “Brooks Orpik” I think the trade is reasonable since defence is an area of necessary upgrade. I also think that when Zorbril (spelling?) was taken by Boston , it influenced the Oilers decision.

  • Paq Twinn

    Did we add any grit, heavy players, facepunchers, you know, somebody to step in when play gets rough? Oh, we are going to leave that role to Nulrse are we, what, we don’t need that type of player in the new gentler NHL, we’ll see.

    I beleive that is an area that also needs to be addressed.

    • 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?

  • Gave up too much for Reinhart the players available at #16 and # 33 . NYI fans are excited about the deal since Reinhart has dropped as a prospect in their organization. Oilers knew this but thought they were smarter. We wait.

  • 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?

  • Chad88

    I’m not sold on Talbot. He’s no different than Scrivens. A great GAA playing behind an excellent defence but will be exposed as just an okay backup playing behind the Oiler D. The other trades aren’t any better. PC did nothing that will make the Oilers better other than the obvious number one pick. Hopefully something positive will come along on July 1st or it will be another miserable season next year.

    • camdog

      I didn’t trash this comment but with better D scrivens and talbot should be fine and put up decent if not at least average numbers. Then hopefully our arsenal on the top two lines can score like mad next season!

  • I googled the “New Boys on the Bus” photo you mentioned.

    Man, I miss that jersey scheme from 1996-2007. Like seeing the old schools once in a while, I just wish they had a more modern jersey for most of the games.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • as it stands our line up is

    Pouliot – RNH – Eberle

    Hall – McDavid – Purcell

    Lander – Draisaitl – Yakupov

    Hendricks – Gordon – Klinkhammer

    Klefbom – Schultz

    Reinhart – Fayne

    Ference – Gryba

    Talbot – Scrivens

    Work definitely needs done

    • Chad88

      I would probably try Yak with Pouliot and RNH, for more stability, plus to give him the oppourtunity to succeed. Put McDavid in between Hall and Ebs.

      Purcell, Lander and Draisaitl on 3rd line.. All in all, not bad.

      PC still needs to land us a D-man that can play hard minutes with Klefbom.

      Other than that, we are getting there, I think.

      I like that he went and got a younger Dman, gettting a 30+ year old dman, is not doing the team any favors. Hopefull Nurse and Reinhart can complete their NHL games this year.

    • Petrolero

      The lineup would prolly look more like this with the players currently signed:

      Pouliot -RNH-Ebs



      Nurse and Draisaitl are starting in the AHL. Schultz has not been re signed, and it is hard to say what they will do because he’ll be so expensive and with Nikitin and Ference’s contracts there are some tough decisions to be made.

      I think the Oilers will sign a top 9 forward before guaranteeing a spot to draisaitl.

    • Oilerchild77

      Judging by your line combinations, yes work definitely needs doing. For starters, if they’re smart, Draisaitl will start in the AHL, not on the third line center position. Also, I think Yak should play with McDavid to help his development. He’s not going to develop playing with third line muckers.


    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.

    • Your comment was deleted because your IP was blocked in the past for taking repeated potshots at me. That block either lapsed in our system or was removed. Until it’s put back in place I will remove comments you post. And, no, I’m not debating this.

  • 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.


    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!

  • D

    Reasonable assessment. I concur that, while Reinhart and Talbot are not sure things, they are reasonable bets.
    GR, I believe, is a sure bet to be at least a serviceable Dman. He can definitely be all of what Matt Greene brings and more.
    And Talbot has already proven to be a very good backup, and most of the current NHL starters were very good backups at one time.

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    For those fans who don’t like the recent trades, consider this…

    Oilers basically shipped out Perron and Petry for Reinhart and Talbot.

    In the process the team cleared 8 mil in cap space.

    The trades aren’t complete until the team spends the cap space on July 1.

    For example if we sign Erhoff and Franson with added cap space the trade would end up being…

    Perron, Petry


    Erhoff, Franson, Reinhart and Talbot.

    I consider this draft a huge success, looking forward to July 1.

  • Mik

    Correct on all counts Robin. The Battle of Alberta should be back in a big way soon enough. Can’t wait for July 1st. Hoping for Sekera and Franson plus a decent 2way forward. In Pete we trust.

  • PEBOisONit

    I like that they got defensemen who will be able to grow with this group. If we could find one veteran d-man (preferably a top-2 25-28 minute guy) to lead this group of VERY young D that would go a long way for this D corps.

    Look at Chicago’s D, their key guys were all just slightly older than Kane and Toews when they were drafted. The Oilers have that exact same setup if you replace Kane/Toews with McDavid and you replace Keith/Seabrook with Reinhart, Nurse, Klefbom, Schultz.

    Finally we have a group that is built from the D out. The question is will they live up to their potential?

  • 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?

  • D

    Reasonable assessment. I concur that, while Reinhart and Talbot are not sure things, they are reasonable bets.
    GR, I believe, is a sure bet to be at least a serviceable Dman. He can definitely be all of what Matt Greene brings and more.
    And Talbot has already proven to be a very good backup, and most of the current NHL starters were very good backups at one time.