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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • 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.  



Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • D

    Sweeney and Neely will be lucky to have a job after the deals they made for Hamilton and Lucic . What are they ? The new , here we go round the Milbury (mulberry) bush , so early in the morning ?

  • billythebullet

    Talbot and Gryba trades are wins. Reinhart still has potential. I have a feeling Pete is NOT close to being done yet. I am very curious to see what he accomplishes on July 1st. Oilers have officially started their journey back to the playoffs.

    • pkam

      Playoffs? Let’s all calm down and temper expectations. We all go through this every year. Granted this year feels different than previous years.

      I think macT’s comments at the end of the year stating another development year did him in. As it should have. I hope chiarelli knows what he is doing and I hope McLennan can get these guys to play a good NHL system. Players better buy into it.

      Anyone think McDavid will start on the first line?

    • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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

          • 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…

        • 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.”.

          • 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.

        • 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?

  • 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.

  • Mik

    Im happy with PC’s moves as a whole this weekend. Although I have to admit when I was watching the draft and heard of a trade with NYI coming, I was hoping for Hamonic, so I was a little disappointed it was Reinhart. Heres hoping PC isnt done with the D as we still need to improve there, but this yrs crop of FA Dmen isnt great so I hope we dont overpay badly to land on

  • Chad88

    We are definitely not that oilers team of the 80’s and will never be. I love the team and at least on paper this forward group resembles a past I once remembered.
    I think the only thing this team has in similarity to the past is that these young guys are just going to have make it on their own. Become great players by just wanting to win, use that speed and talent with some determination and heart and we will see some great winning streaks. I can honestly see some great times ahead of us and I believe some of it starts this season. Also I’m not a jersey kind of guy, but this one I am going to have to have to hang in my man cave. BTW,no I am not drinking the Orange koolaid.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!!!

  • Mooseroni

    At this juncture, what could the Oilers realistically offer to the Sharks to pry Brent Burns out of there? Remember, he only has two years left on his deal.

  • freelancer

    Not getting Hamilton hurt but it’s good to see that the effort was put in and he didn’t overpay when someone tried to take advantage. Right now the Reinhart trade is the only one I’m on the fence about, however we traded picks which are the definition of “could turn out good” for a player who should turn out good.

    Lots of work to be done this summer I hope.

    • 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.

  • rayrayj

    I thing GR will make the team out of the gate,lots of sports writer’s in NY didn’t think NY made a good move trading GR,and for Talbot time will tell can’t be any worse then last yrs goaltending and I think Talbot is gonna try that much harder because its a contact yr and for Eric Gryba he’s a heavy hitting SOB something we don’t have on the defence,so I think it was a successful draft for the oilers and its nice to see a real GM making real GM move’s, can’t wait to see who we sign in free agency..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • CMG30

    Post Draft: I think that the Oil did alright in this draft. GR may not be Hamilton but I do believe he will turn into the true blue stable defencemen that we need as well.

    Small sample size for Talbot but nevertheless, he is a tremendous upgrade in goal and can grow into a decent # 1 or at worst a #1A. And I do believe he will sign with the club after his present contract expires.

    Like every other follower of the Oil, the CIRCUS that was the old management has/is beening replaced with true hockey people with skills surpassing the old crew. This alone is one incredibly feat that has been accomplished.

    As Robin’s piece indicates, we have a long way to go in returning this team to respectability but we fans are actually witnessing it before our eyes. I am not saying “Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice” but things are looking much brighter in River City these days.

    The Kool-Aid this summer is much better than the previoius years…….The resurgence of the Mighty Oil has begun!

  • oilerjed

    @ Brownlee

    I agree with you that draft day was a success in that Chia looks like he went in there with a plan an carried it out. Whether it works out is yet to be seen.

    The thing I can’t stop thinking about is the looks on Chia and MacT’s faces when the trade was announced. They look like the got kicked in the nuts and more then a little disappointed. If Griffin was the guy they wanted and paid the price they wanted, what was the problem.

    At first I thought that maybe the whole trade wasn’t announced as I was sure that I read Chia’s lips say something about the 2nd round to MacT, kind of like he was reassuring him.

    Any idea as to what was going on behind the scenes when the Griffin trade was announced?

  • Paq Twinn

    There are quite a few people suffering from beaten animal syndrome. We’ve all been abused badly by past management. Now we are very leery to trust that the new guy has our best interests at heart. Even worse some will never trust again. Don’t treat these people as “trolls” as they are the victims of the Edmonton Oilers abuse. It will take time but slowly they will inch closer and closer and eventually will be eating right out of the hand once again. Let the healing begin.

    • camdog

      Kevin Lowe’s demeanour changed in about 2007. The fight for his job and many failed player acquisitions eventually lead to him and Mact suffering from this beaten animal syndrome. Rather than being able to prey on other organizations the Oilers became the prey, the Oilers became weak and desperate. At the time I was mad at Brian Burke for saying it, but some of the things he said about Lowe during the Penner offer sheet were true.

      It’s time to turn the page, it really is a new day.

  • 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!

  • Paq Twinn

    It has been said that Griff was a bad acquisition due to his being a lefty. Heard on an interview on 1260 yesterday that he is equally comfortable on both sides. Has no problem on the right side. So theres that as well.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m just glad the Oilers have a GM that’s willing to trade half the draft for players that can help now, not a GM who just talks a big game(Dithers/MacT).

    Can’t wait for July 1st.