Peter Chiarelli has changed the chess pieces over the summer and the Edmonton Oilers have more young firepower than the club has been able to cobble together since the glory days. With great opportunity comes great responsibility and for Chiarelli the clock is ticking. What’s on his whiteboard? What keeps him up at night? Let’s have a look.
DON’T BURN MCDAVID’S FIRST SEASON: There’s work to do and burning a year of McDavid’s entry-level
deal—these are three seasons Edmonton will never get back again—would be
a crime. Chiarelli needs to be on the lookout for trouble and be ready to provide anything Todd McLellan requires—especially if the playoffs are close. Getting this young team some playoff experience—even a few games—would show progress in year one McDavid.
LOOK FOR BONA FIDE DEFENSEMAN, EVERY NIGHT AND DAY: Chiarelli’s summer included adding three defensemen (Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart) to the mix, but it also means that the club remains weak in terms of actual NHL men in their prime. Each of the men acquired has real value, but I think it’s completely reasonable to suggest that only Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne are established NHL players with enough experience to be considered completely reliable. That isn’t enough, not even close. Peter Chiarelli should remain watchful, and if an early season losing streak causes a team like the Vancouver Canucks causes them to re-think their future, Chiarelli needs to be on the phone right away.
HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR GOALIES
If Talbot, Scrivens, Nilsson, Brossoit, Laurikainen can’t get it done, Chiarelli should be aggressive. There were some substantial talents available during the waiver period last fall, and PC should pounce this year if there are any early questions about the goaltending. Losing a season due to addled goaltending should be met with firing
After that, Chiarelli can sit back and see what happens with what should be a much improved team. I don’t think it’s out of this world to talk about being in the playoff hunt and if the GM can add one more defender with experience, it might be likely. Almost there. Don’t ignore the whiteboard.