Chiarelli Aggressively Supporting The Roster

The Edmonton Oilers are currently one offensively minded top four right-handed defenseman (RHD) away from having a pretty solid roster. No,
really. They are.

When Peter Chiarelli took over at the helm of the Edmonton
Oilers he was tasked with the impossible job of taking the Oilers forward
without moving backwards to do it. That is to say that the Oilers needed to get to
the next level without having to give up core pieces to make that happen. With the time to
act starting at the draft and continuing through the free agent period, we are
seeing Chiarelli aggressively put his stamp on the team without dismantling the
best of what was there before.

Did he do that? Well he’s had a pretty good off-season, and July just started. Here are
his additions:

McDavid: Found Money. It wasn’t official but McDavid was an
Oiler the moment the last lottery number dropped. It still doesn’t seem real.

Reinhart: Traded the 16th and 33rd overall picks to acquire.
Had a self-described disappointing 1st pro season but it wasn’t like
he was a complete non-factor. He’s still a solid prospect.

Talbot: Traded the 57th, 79th, and 189th
picks to acquire. The best goaltender available in free agency or trade

Gryba: Traded 107th pick and Travis Ewanyk to
acquire. The team’s new 6D. Big, physical, mean, amazing beard.

Korpikoski: Traded Boyd Gordon to acquire. Maybe the least
useful piece acquired by Chiarelli, but he’s fast and physical. He’s a 4th
liner with 3rd line potential.

Letestu: Signed as a free agent. He is a young-ish (30) 3 or 4 centre who
shoots right. Less emphasis on defense than Gordon, but more skill in the offensive

Sekera: Signed as a free agent. Probably the team’s best all-around defender today. Should be
capable of playing the big minutes with Schultz (?) and forcing Klefbom in the
2nd pairing where he won’t be killed.

In less than a week he has added seven bodies who are all slated
to be on the opening day roster, and he only moved out Boyd Gordon and Martin
Marincin (who you will recall was traded for that 107th pick. No, I’m
still not over it) from the NHL roster to do it.

He was asked to build up the team without completely dismantling
it. What he’s done in the last week is exactly what that looks like in action.

In my piece about the Oilers defense before free agency I
was pretty adamant that Gryba and Reinhart wouldn’t address the real problem
with Edmonton’s lineup. I stand by that statement, but Sekera does address the need
for a top flight defender who can play in all situations. He is a legitimate
21-22 minute per night defender and has been for years.

My personal expectations for Reinhart are purposefully low
for this coming year. He hasn’t proven to be a fulltime NHLer yet and I’d prefer
to assume he belongs in Bakersfield until he earns a spot. However, Chiarelli’s
expectation is that Reinhart will, at the very least, challenge for a roster spot
with the Oilers this year and it’s an assertion he keeps repeating when asked
the question. He believes Reinhart is a real player who will help the
Oilers sooner rather than later. It truly seems like the plan is to be ready
for this kid to make the team in the fall. Between Reinhart and Nurse the
Oilers have some solid talent pushing for spots on a pretty deep left side.

The Oilers new defensive depth chart is as such:

Sekera – Schultz

Klefbom – Fayne

Nikitin – Gryba




The weak link in the defense is still the top spot on the
right side. When the season ended that was the roster spot most of us
identified as the most needing of change. Justin Schultz holds that position
down and there isn’t anyone in the system pushing him out of that spot.

At the top of this post I said that the Oilers are one
offensive-minded top-4 RHD away from having a very competitive roster and I
believe it. My first choice is to sign Franson and sell Schultz to the highest
bidder, but the troubled defender is only 203 games into his career and it’s
still possible for him to turn back north.

The real question is, after watching as much game film as
humanly possible, how comfortable is Chiarelli going to feel having Justin
Schultz at the top of his depth chart?

The GM has been aggressive in his search for NHL talent who can
complement the roster’s strengths. When the Oilers won the lottery I was
adamant that they could not simply wait around and hope their window to win
magically opens up as if by some act from above. I cannot be upset with their actions since the draft because they are doing exactly what I have
wanted them to do.

They are trying to build a winner today. The team is not waiting around. Even if Chiarelli doesn’t
add another body he’s already found the man who will be his starting goalie, added
offense to the bottom six, and changed out three of his six opening night defensemen from a year ago.
Even with all the positive change it still might not be enough to make up the
37 points that stood between the Oilers and the playoffs.

Is it greedy to suggest the Oilers need to do more? Maybe,
but if they are indeed trying to build a winner today then they realistically
need to make further changes to the roster.

There is a lot of time between now and training camp. We
wait to see what other changes if any are in store for the Oiler roster.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    I find this quite hilarious. For a guy that absolutely bashed Macts two years as gm Chiarelli has basically kept saying and doing the exact same things. Kept the core intact. Added to the roster using picks and prospects and free agency. He even said yesterday that seeing Leon, Darnell and McDavid at orientation camp sent tingles up his spine. All guys Mact brought in. Chia has added much like Mact did. Brought in the best available ufas. I still hate the Reinhart trade and I hope he proves me wrong. Gordon for Korpikoski confuses me too. This roster is still a question mark. Even Lowetide was saying he’s confused by the defense and how it will take shape. Keep pumping Chia though. sheep

    • someguy

      Seriously? You do understand that when a team goes through a management change guys are usually shuffled around, right?

      MacT was lucky he wasn’t fired. As soon as Bob Nicholson was brought in the writing was on the wall.

      The proof is in the pudding. Chiarelli has already made more moves to advance the Oilers forward then MacT ever did in his 2 years.

      Keep pumping Mact though. Koolaid drinker (PS that was with correct punctuation, too. 🙂 ).

  • bazmagoo

    I’d go Sekera – Fayne, Klefbom – Schultz, Ference – Gryba, Nikitin with Reinhart and Nurse in the AHL unless they blow the doors off in training camp. If one of them does it’s easy to bury Nikitin in the minors and make Ference the 7th d-man. Competition for spots, holy McJebus it’s been a while.

    Also would like to see Chiarelli sign Eric Fehr, he’d be this off seasons Pouliot. Poo – Nuge – Ebs, Hall – McDavid – Fehr, Purcell – Lander – Yakupov, Korp – Letestu – Hendricks, Klink/Gazdic/Pitlick

    I think that’s an substantially upgraded lineup compared to last year. Plus we have a real NHL coach!

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    I like the moves Chia has made but I have a legit concern and that is when push comes to shove, who is going to protect guys like Mcdavid? The team still lacks overall team toughness. I cant stand to watch another season where the team gets pushed around without any repercussions going back the other way. They need some sandpaper with skill in their top 9 somewhere..

  • CMG30

    PC is fresh air in the Oiler office. Thank you Bob for him and the new coaching staff.

    I was choked to see PC trade away all of the draft picks that he did but that was just a temporary loss of breath. He has turned this roster into a real team. The fact that he did it without trading away our best players is proof of his talent.

    The rumor mill of trading Ebs or Yak or Drai was such a grind to listen to. All three of these guys are very talented and dedicated players.

    Lets get on with the good news. Nurse will make the roster and be an impact player. The McDavid effect will turn Yak and Drai into stars. Why worry about defence when we have the puck all night?

  • O.C.

    Why not Fayne paired with Sekera on the top pairing and Schultz on the second pairing with Klefbom? Plus, I will be somewhat satisfied if we make up 36 points and at least push hard for a playoff spot.

  • Craig1981

    I’m guessing the bottom pairing (Nikitin – Gryba) will be traded by trade deadline and be replaced with (Nurse-Reinhart) once they get AHL time………If Nikitin plays the way he did 3 years ago and someone will actually take him at 1/2 salary.

  • YFC Prez

    The only option for a right handed shot on the first line is Fayne. We’ve been using players outside their skill set for years. Let him play shutdown minutes on the second pairing with Reinhart. That’s where he is best suited and where he will see the most sucess.

      • YFC Prez

        Based on his performance on the worst team in the AHL being coached by someone worse than Eakins for a franchise who lost interest in him? I wouldn’t put much weight on his numbers from the last year.

        Also however bad the sound Tigers were they were worse when Reinhart wasn’t in the lineup.

        Let’s just wait untill training camp to argue about Reinhart. I’m quite confident he’s going to surprise a lot of you. He’s a defenceman that can actually play defence. Something we need.

  • 1983 and This Year

    I really hope they can sign Franson, but only for something short term. If not there is a right handed D-man that becomes a UFA at the end of next year that we can hopefully sign, Brent Seabrook. Wishful thinking I know lol. I almost want another bottom 6 forward, I admittedly wanted Brodziak other names I wouldn’t mind picking up are Eric Fehr or Shawn Matthias, I think either one would be better options than Lander at 3C.

  • 1983 and This Year

    It takes years, if not decades to overcome what’s been developed in Edmonton the past decade, a losing culture.

    You guys have literally been the laughing stock of the entire NHL for the past decade. I’ve never seen less humble fans in my life than Oiler fans given their track record of being bottom dwellers over the past 10 years. Karma is a you know what.

    Until you actually make the playoffs (or come close), show some humility

    • YFC Prez

      Ducks have had a really good team lately. Are you going to go into hiding and stop cheering for them if they ever start to regress and start to lose again?

      It’s funny. I see all kinds of ducks fans now that they are a top team. Where the hell were you guys when they were a joke of a team owned by Disney.

      Bunch of fairweather wannabee fans giving us heck for standing by our club. What a joke.

        • YFC Prez

          Bull crap. You couldn’t get 2000 people into your beautiful building in a city that attracts more tourists each year than edmonton has in population.

          Fairweather fan. Can’t understand why a fan base would support their club after a decade of losing. You will never understand that. It’s just not in your blood.

        • Oilerz4life

          Right. Your barn was empty. Nice try through. “Being humble and not running our mouths”. I seem to remember Edmonton schooling San Jose in humility at one little incident where the humble Americans booed our national anthem in San Jose in the playoffs. Edmonton turned and cheered so loud for the American anthem in Rexall it just about blew the doors off the barn. So spare me your bullcrap sermon in humility, because we schooled your ass in humility. Youtube it. Classic. Piss off troll.

    • OilCanFan1

      And on that farm we have a duck eeee iii eeee iiii ooooh with a quack quack there and a quack quack BANG! BANG! And on that farm we HAD a duck eeee iii eee iii ooooooohhh…Conner,Hallsy,Nuge…supper time!!!! Here we go Oilers here we go!! CLAP!CLAP! hahahahaha! Keep it coming trolls! I can do this all day!

    • Johnnydapunk

      Oh I’ll bite…

      If it wasn’t for a former Oilers owner managing to almost ruin the team and make a certain trade in 88, hockey wouldn’t exist in Southern California. Without Gretzky going to LA, there would be no Sharks and be no Ducks.

      At least the Oil were created to just be a hockey team unlike the Ducks which were created just to promote and sell Disney cr*p.

      Honestly I think most Oil fans were/are showing a lot of humility as no one has said we deserved the first pick, or are planning parades anytime soon, but I think most are excited that changes have been made and who wouldn’t be happy to express that on an Oiler site.

      Surely there is a Ducks site (maybe?) where many are talking about your exciting signing of Horcoff and Khudobin?

  • BigMcD

    I like how the only thing screwing the oilers right now is everything done before Chia, i.e. Ference and Nikitin. That 7.75 mill in CAP space would like nice on a Franson at the moment.

  • ahbrown_42

    I’d like to see Erhoff here on a 1 year deal. He’s still getting buyout money from the Sabres. Where else would he get first pairing minutes to re-establish his cred and if the Oil aren’t within 6-8 points of the playoffs at the deadline, move him to a contender cheap.

  • radicator

    No one’s suggesting Ehrhoff? If he can be had for $3.5 or even $4 x 3 years, I’d take a flyer on him. He’s veteran enough to play on the right side and push Schultz to 2nd pair.

  • Zarny

    The first line is key. Sign Cody Franson and I think the roster is solid. Sekera-Franson wouldn’t be the sexiest top pairing in the league but they’d be reliable for 82 games.

    Without that piece I’ll temper expectations of moving up the standings next year. There is certainly still a lot of risk and unknowns on the blueline. They don’t have the depth to tolerate key injuries.

    Of course the flip side is the potential of the young players. The Oilers will need significant contributions from the young players to exceed expectations.

  • Zarny


    If you don’t like Franson then they need to sign or trade for someone else who fits the bill. He’s just an example.

    Or Sekera-Fayne gets the job done as a top pair and Schultz or Gyrba are effective in a top 4 role. Or two of Klefbom, Reinhart, Nikitin, Ference and Nurse get the job done as a top pair D.

    A lot of ors in that 2nd paragraph and none I’d put a lot of money on for next season.

  • Zarny

    Ducks Fan wrote:

    You guys have literally been the laughing stock of the entire NHL for the past decade. I’ve never seen less humble fans in my life than Oiler fans given their track record of being bottom dwellers over the past 10 years. Karma is a you know what.

    9 years ago the Oilers were 1 game away from the Stanley Cup. 9 years is less than a decade.

    The Oilers have only been the laughing stock since 2009-10. That’s only 6 seasons or like half a decade + 1.

    • radicator

      We will listen to you, a Duck fan. I bet you were a awesome player in your youth and thats why you troll this site and talk hockey to simple Canadians. Or maybe just throw on the roller blades. head down to the disco and dance the night away with your “partner”.

    • Johnnydapunk

      We will listen to you, a Duck fan. I bet you were a awesome player in your youth and thats why you troll this site and talk hockey to simple Canadians. Or maybe just throw on the roller blades. head down to the disco and dance the night away with your “partner”.

    • someguy

      What people don’t understand aside from the fact a lot of people overrate him here. He want term and big money. Oilers in 3 years are going to be pushing the cap and you don’t want a guy who couldn’t make Nashville making 5+ for 6 years. This is why i say sign Jan Hejda for 1-2 years he will help and he is cheap and term is nothing

  • Johnnydapunk

    Just a couple of things:

    1- The idea is to be competitive this year. To be in the mix down the stretch, but it would take a massive change in the standings for the Oilers to make the playoffs next year. This conference is tough.

    2 – I agree with those that say Chiarelli and Mclelland have to see what they have. Play them under the new system, who is willing to be the player that Mclelland wants to dress. Give Johnston time to work with the defense and set the pairings and place them where they can succeed.

    3 – Next year has many more of the required pieces coming available in free agency. Look for changes at the trade deadline and July 1, 2016.

    This is year one of post OBC, Peter has given McLellan the seeds, lets see what grows.

  • radicator

    If we have, or can make, the cap space to sign a veteran defenseman to a short term contract that can play on the right on the top pair, then I expect Chiarelli to pursue. In my mind, it’s as simple as that.
    I hope Chiarelli is not done with this defense.

  • Craig1981

    Oilers are horrible and have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting near the playoffs this year. The reasons why are overwhelming and painfully obvious:

    No forwards that will actually play defence, well you had one, Boyd Gordon, but just traded him. Soft, lazy forwards all over this roster. There is a reason the Olympic team didn’t get near Hall…pre-Madonna, attitude, baby, entitled, poor work ethic (unless the puck is from the opponents blue line in).

    Horribly porous defence…Ference (old), Nikitin (useless), Gryba (useless), Schultz (a complete joke in his own end), Reinhart (slower than an 80 yr old man). That’s 5 of your 7 Dman with MAJOR flaws.

    And lets not even get to the world class goaltending…Scrivens (career backup/pilon), Talbot (see Scrivens).

    Your only hope in hell is that somehow McLellan can get some accountability out of these players and some effort on a consistent basis every night to at least come up with a half respectable season, unlike 9 of the last 10 years.

    Why it won’t happen though, see my comments on both the Defence and Goaltending above…you guys still won’t be able to keep the puck out of your own net

  • radicator

    You cant get a top D man without a trade, and the GM wants to see the team play with his own eyes.

    Therefore I think 2015-16 will just be a “lets see how it goes” year and then next summer a part of the core will likely be traded for a franchise d-man

    Thats how I see it anyway. I also see Chiarelli continue to tinker during the season and I feel like we could see one or all of Purcell, Pouliot, and Hendricks traded eventually. They are all pretty good one-dimensional hockey players, but PC seems to prefer more well rounded players (ie. gordon trade). Pouliot I could see staying but he’d have to improve defensively