How Peter Chiarelli built his last Stanley Cup winner

Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli was hired as Boston Bruins general manager on May 26, 2006. On June 15, 2011, he hoisted the Stanley Cup, having successfully built the Bruins up from the NHL basement to the pinnacle of the sport.

Edmonton Oilers fans obviously hope that Chiarelli will do the same with his new team, and so it’s worth looking at exactly what he did the last time around.

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The Playoff Roster

Milan Lucic David Krejci Nathan Horton
Second Line Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Mark Recchi
Third Line Rich Peverley Chris Kelly Michael Ryder
Fourth Line Shawn Thornton Gregory Campbell Daniel Paille
Left Defence Zdeno Chara Andrew Ference Tomas Kaberle
Right Defence Dennis Seidenberg Johnny Boychuk Adam McQuaid
Goalies Tim Thomas Tuukka Rask
Spares C/RW Tyler Seguin RD Shane Hnidy

This was obviously a pretty good group.

The forwards were led by two feature lines, one primarily offensive and centered by David Krejci and one primarily defensive and centered by Patrice Bergeron. The third line was a multi-purpose unit that could do a little bit of everything while that fourth line was tough but highly functional; Claude Julien didn’t have a problem using them in the defensive zone and Shawn Thornton put up 20 points that year while also filling the enforcer slot. Seguin was a rookie and was broken in slowly as an offensive specialist.

The defence was a lot like the Oilers’ 2006 group. Zdeno Chara was a beast at the top end, playing all kinds of minutes and making everyone around him better. There were three solid, capable veterans rounding out the top-four and the third pairing was Marc-Andre Bergeron and Matt Greene in everything but name. Tim Thomas was of course outstanding in net.

So how was this group assembled?

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Trader Pete

Peter Chiarelli4

The list of players acquired via trade is staggering; fully 12 of the 22 (55%) of the players to dress for at least one postseason game were acquired in trade by Chiarelli at some point during his tenure. The list includes:

  • Forwards: Mark Recchi, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille
  • Defencemen: Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Tomas Kaberle, Adam McQuaid
  • Goalies: Tuukka Rask

A further four were added via free agency: Zdeno Chara, Michael Ryder, Shawn Thornton and Shane Hnidy. And we should also mention Tyler Seguin, who arrived via the draft but whose draft pick rights were acquired thanks to the trade that saw Phil Kessel end up in Toronto.

Chiarelli isn’t afraid of making deals, and he wins more than he loses. It’s of interest to me that most of the supporting cast up front was made up of outside hires, players who were established NHL quantities and who could be hired to fit whatever criteria the general manager drew up. Outside of the scoring line wingers, we can see a preference for multi-purpose forwards; players with primarily defensive credentials but also with the ability to play either an offensive or a physical game. If we look at Mark Letestu, signed to a three-year deal this summer, he fits into the same mould as the Kelly and Peverley hires while Lauri Korpikoski isn’t a bad match for Dan Paille.

Chiarelli’s success in building up the defence via trade is a good sign for the Oilers, too; Edmonton has prospects on the way but the current blue line looks pretty rickety. Style-wise, Andrej Sekera and Griffin Reinhart are both the kind of two-way players that Chiarelli obviously prefers, while Eric Gryba has thingsi n common with McQuaid.

Inheritance and the Draft

Draft Lottery

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What is worth noting is that a number of core Bruins aren’t on the trade acquisition list above. The club’s top two centres – Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci – were both young forwards who Chiarelli inherited when he took over the team. Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas was a holdover, too. Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and (as mentioned) Tyler Seguin were all draft picks after Chiarelli’s hire.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the three holdovers from before Chiarelli are all relatively rare NHL pieces. Franchise goalies and top-flight centres don’t grow on trees, and Chiarelli kept those cards he was dealt.

However, we should also note that Phil Kessel – a 21-year-old with 36 goals who was drafted in the summer of 2006 – was sent away. He’s a tough piece to replace and a hard player to trade away, but Chiarelli did it.

It’s interesting to look at those names and compare them to the Oilers core group of young players. My list includes Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse (yours may vary) and it’s safe to say all will be considered carefully by Chiarelli. McDavid is irreplaceable and Nugent-Hopkins is the ‘range of skills’ kind of player that Chiarelli clearly likes, but I wonder a little about Hall and Eberle. Both players have incredible value to the Oilers in the here-and-now, but also have value on the trade market and Chiarelli hasn’t been afraid to move comparable-value forwards (Seguin, Kessel) in the past if he thinks it makes sense.


  • Randaman

    I have a feeling the Nation will implode if one of their beloved core pieces is dealt. I agree with your list of untouchables. I see Eberle or Yak as the first to be mentioned in trade talks.

    I say bring it on if it attains the desired goal.

    • ubermiguel

      It always depends on the return.

      Only McDavid is untouchable at this point, and he changed everything. Before the draft lottery I said Nuge was untouchable, but that future #1 centre position has been filled.

      I would say Nurse is almost untouchable (primarily because of organizational need) but if the trade offer included Doughty or Subban you’d have my attention.

      It’s hard to think of a better LW to have at this point besides Hall, so the his return would have to be an insane upgrade in some other area (e.g.: Carey Price pulls a Patrick Roy and demands a trade out of Montreal).

      • bradleypi

        Like it or not we have a weakness on RW that has to be addressed . Eberle is the only one that should be a lock because of that weakness . Trade him and we have little down right side , as Yak and Purcell are not very good in comparison to our club or others as yet . You have to keep Eberle because of organizational needs as you put it . Hope Yak has a good year and either becomes a second lock on RW or plays well enough to fetch us a good return in a trade . It’s probably why Purcell is still here as well, maybe to increase his value for trade .

    • bazmagoo

      I think you play Hall with McDavid this season then flip him for a #1 d-man next off season, hopefully Oliver Ekman Larsson. Draisaitl and Yakupov are McDavid’s future wingers. Trash away Oilersnation! Haha 🙂

        • Dan 1919

          There’s only so much ice time… If Mcdavid is as good as advertised, he will eat up every minute he’s capable of, meaning having a guy like Draisaitl exchanged for another top line winger or dman makes more sense and gives a more usable asset than him sitting on the bench waiting for a quick shift while McDavid lights it up.

          • number99

            Pittsburg was able to run Crosby, Malkin and Stall and that was their prime year. I agree its less ice time, but that helps come playoff time, with all the injuries almost every player is forced to play through.

          • Dan 1919

            You just answered your own question. Is Stall still there? So actually it didn’t work out because Stall’s skill was superior than that of the position he was alloted in PIT… and he didn’t settle for it, he wanted out.

            Exactly what will happen if Drai ends up being a great player and is opressed on the third line here.

            Come on guys wake up, hasn’t the last 10 years taught you anything, teams need to be built on strategy, not EA NHL 14 hopes and dreams strategies.

          • OILFANMEXICO

            I welcome the idea that if Drai is kickin’ a$$ on the third line then maybe we can move him for a bonifide #1 Defenceman. Third line centres are a lot easier to come by. Why play a 1st or 2nd line centre on your 3rd line, waste of talent? Especially when we lack so much on the backend.

          • TKB2677

            I think you need to wake up. Get your facts straight. Pens offered him a 10 year contract, but he rejected it, AFTER playing for them of r6 years already. He wanted to join his brother in carolina and nothing else. Pens did everything they possibly could to keep him.

          • nuge2drai

            How did the hopes and dreams work for the kings with Kopitar, Brown/Richards/Carter, and Stoll work for them but I mean why would you want 3 very good centers because, after all, the oilers have been a center making factory for 25 years

        • bradleypi

          Because 3 outright scoring lines isn’t Petes style. Look at his Bruins line up that year. 2 scoring lines, a checking line that can produce and then an energy line. That’s exactly how I envision the oilers this year. There’s no way he’s playing a rookie in the bottom 6. I see a checking/tough dzone draw line anchored by lander and Hendricks and an energy line with letestu, gaz and klinkhammer. Oilersnations hard on about 3 scoring lines just isn’t gonna happen. Let leon develop in the ahl this year. There is absolutely no need to rush him in this year

          • bradleypi

            I’m glad you brought up PC’s “style”, because lost in this conversation is how his (and other GMs around the league) have changed their views as to what would be an ideally built team for 2015/2016.

            I realize Mr. Willis’ article wasn’t meant to address this topic (might make for a decent article topic for the future, though), I’m just speaking to some of the commentary here, maybe this is something we need to figure out. We have some quotes from after his hiring and during the Draft where PC does mention the idea of having a unique build for the team that factors in the changing game and the assets currently available.

            Top teams right now, that look to be consistently good, would be the final 4 of the playoffs last year, c’est ne pas? How different are those teams from Chia’s Bruins?

            I do agree with your other points in regards to taking it easy with Drai. There are bound to be injuries so it’s not like he wouldn’t be playing on the team for stretches at a time.

        • bazmagoo

          Personally I want to make the playoffs in 2016-17, 11 straight years out of the playoffs will break the NHL record. Ouch. Can’t see the team making the playoffs the way it’s drawn up right now, imo. Way too much pressure on Klefbom, Schultz, Nurse, and Reinhart to lead the way. Our defence isn’t experienced enough. Can’t keep rushing players into the NHL and expect different results, we should all know that by now.

          Sekera is a good player, but he’s a 2nd pairing guy on a competitive team. We need a #1 guy badly, and Oliver Ekman Larrson is that. If we have the chance to land him for Hall we should go for it.

  • B_Oliver

    If Chiarelli trades Hall for anything less then Carey Price AND Drew Doughty I will actually burn OEG’s offices down.[Kidding]

    On a serious note, I could see Chiarelli trading one of our young left defense to bring in an established right-shot stud defenseman. I would be OK with this, but at the same time I worry it would be someone like Klefbom. 🙁

    How much of the future are we as a nation willing to sacrifice in order to “win now” ?

  • Randaman

    I agree with the trade whoever it takes stance with one caveat. Those trades need to wait until at least this summer if not next.

    For example it seems foolish to trade a scoring winger plus whatever for a first pairing D if you already have 2(Nurse and Klefbom). I don’t think Chiarelli will have those answers until the end of this year at the earliest.

  • B_Oliver

    An addition to my earlier post. It comes down to do you want to win now or win big. I think that trades could be made involving some of the young guys(Kbom, Yak, Drai, Nurse) that could get this team to the playoffs this year.

    I personally would rather wait on the development on the young D, hold on to all the talent you can and make a run at multiple cups in 2017-23. Hate to give up that chance for a first round playoff exit this year and a mid-tier, St. Louis Blues existence.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Again some mistakes in this blog. Edmonton media sure likes crediting Chiarelli for more than he should be.

    Chia was not at the helm making those picks in 2006 when they got Kessel, Marchand,Lucic and traded for Rask. It was Gorton.

    ” With newly named general manager Peter Chiarelli still tied up with obligations to the Ottawa Senators, and a coaching decision waiting on the horizon, interim General Manager Jeff Gorton made his first major trade on draft day when he sent Andrew Raycroft to Toronto in exchange for Finn goaltending prospect Tuukka Rask. The Bruins hung onto the No. 5 pick, a decision that paid off when they drafted University of Minnesota standout Phil Kessel. They then traded a pair of picks to the New York Islanders for the opportunity to draft Moncton Wildcats center Brad Marchand, a teammate of Bruins prospect Martins Karsums, in the third round, and they finished the night with a total of six picks.”

    • Kevin McCartney

      I’ve been confused at the hope pouring out from Oilers fans and I appreciate both the article, Jonathan, and this comment about Jeff Gorton’s role. Gorton, of course, has been involved in building the Rangers into a cup contender. But he was also the Assistant GM or interim GM when the Bruins acquired almost all the major pieces with which Chiarelli won a cup.

      It seems to me that most of Chiarelli’s limited success came courtesy of outside forces. Inheriting a core group, Gorton’s 2006 draft, Toronto’s unexpectedly poor seasons after the Kessel trade, Colin Campbell involved with officiating and discipline in 2010… even Chara was a poor decision by Ottawa as much as a good decision by Boston. If the Leafs made the playoffs after acquiring Kessel and Boston got Joey Hishon and Joel Armia, I think his record is remembered differently as their pipeline was constantly empty apart from the spoils of that trade.

      Chiarelli has a bad draft/development record and Boston was in cap trouble every year for 6? 7? years because of it. He gave bad deals to bad players. He overpaid role players and undervalued skill. His major draft find (Lucic) was found by someone else AND was counter-indicated as a prospect (he scored 19 points in 62 games his draft year). It seems trading is his only strong suit. He’s obviously not incompetent like a Don Sweeney or Tambo. But despite fan fare, it’s been a lateral summer from the GM perspective (i.e. obvious McDavid selection aside).

      The Reinhart acquisition (fine player, wrong hand, wrong price), trading a young multi-tool possession defender (Marincin) away to bring in yet another player from the Aulie/Mark Fraser tree (Gryba), not seizing the market opportunity on Ehrhoff/Franson, having exactly 4 centres for the NHL that include only 2 proven options (Nuge/McJesus/Lander/Letesu). Sekera/Gryba/Reinhart in after Petry/Aulie/Marincin out. Letestu/Korpikosi in after Gordon/Roy out. Talbot is a fine bet (but not a sure thing) and McDavid was more random luck for Chiarelli that let him hire a good coach. (Praise Hockey Jesus)

      I’m told the point of hockey fandom is to feel hope and excitement, so go to it if that’s your thing. But I just don’t see evidence for Chiarelli being an above average GM despite holding the position for an above average team. He traded well, but there are some stinkers in there, too (Wheeler/Stuart for Peverly/Valabik, Kaberle for 1st/2nd/Colbourne, Seguin trade…). From my perspective, it’s the same old ‘he won a cup so he must know the magical secret’ garbage that bad teams use to excuse questionable personnel moves.

  • TKB2677

    I personally see Yakupov gone before his contract is up with the Oilers. They just need him to play good enough for his value to be improve.

    I have nothing against Yakupov, I see him long term as a top 6 forward. I just don’t see how a team can win if your top 6 RW’s are Eberle and Yakupov. I just think that to win, the Oilers need a different type of RW in their top 6. A bigger, all around guy. So it comes down to only being able to have either Eberle or Yakupov on the team and I would keep Eberle just because you know exactly what you have in Eberle. Eberle is a guaranteed 25-30 goal, 60+ point player every year. Those totals could go up a bit in a really good year but you know they won’t go down. Plus I think that Eberle will always be a better, all around player than Yakupov.

    Yakupov, nobody knows what he will be. He should be able to reach Eberle’s totals but he hasn’t been even close in 3 seasons. I also think that Yakupov will be the type of player who will score in bunches then go through long stretches of not scoring. I also think his all around game will always be very lacking. So it will be a balance between how much he is helping you vs how much he is hurting you when he isn’t scoring.

    • Or….. we can not write off yak and hope he can have two stellar right wingers in Ebs and Yak. If theres anyone to turn it around (under a coach like mcleallan not eakins before you point its been a couple years) its Yak. He’s passionate and will do much more then many players to win/improve his own game. Give him the year then ill agree with you that he isn’t worth keeping if he only gets about 30 points next year (which i will bet heavily against happening).

      • TKB2677

        I think you missed my point completely. I don’t think you can dress 2 purely offensive RW’s that are under 6ft, under 200lbs and have success in the league. You can have one but not 2. To balance out your lines, one guy has to be bigger and play a more 2 way game. There is always a chance I am wrong but if you look at the Hawks and look at their top 6, their top 6 is balanced with a mixture of great skill, size and 2 way play.

        If you look at the success of Pouliot with Eberle and Nuge. Nuge and Eberle are by far more offensively gifted than Pouliot but what Pouliot brought to the line to balance it out was a bigger body, that played a more physical, edgier style, went to the net, went into the corners, stood in front of the net and helped make up for some of the defensive faults of the other 2. If Pouliot played all year with them and was healthy, he scores over 20 goals.

        If you look at the other line. You put Hall, McDavid together but who is going to fill the Pouliot role? Yakupov isn’t overly big, he’s not the type to drive to the net to pick up the garbage, he’s not going to go into the corners, he’s not going to stand in front of the net and he’s not going to cover up defensively for his linemates. He’s a shooter who sticks to the outside. All I am saying is the Oilers in my opinion need another Pouliot type to play with Hall and McDavid to balance out the lines.

        I totally get that he still needs time and that there is a good chance he will turn into a good shooter. But like I said, if he does develop, he’s never going to do anything I said the line needs to balance it out. In my opinion, Eberle and Yakupov are way to similar. Yakupov probably has a better slap shot and one timer but Eberle has way better hands, way better aim and way better puck handling skills. But they are both smaller, purely offensive guys. If you have too much of the same, it makes it way easier on the opposition to defend.

  • Reg Dunlop

    First off, @Rock11 I think St. Louis is a tad above a mid-tier team; in fact they will get a chance to demonstrate that fact game one against the oil(shudder). Any deal not involving McDavid that puts us in the same company as the Blues is a go.

    Second, and I am not a big Yak fan, @TKB2677 it is unfair to compare Yak to Ebs. With 2 post-draft seasons in jr. Ebs entered the league at 20 which is equivalent to Yaks 3rd NHL year. With poor development, as if he was an afterthought, and questionable coaching and implementation behind him, next year we will get a better idea if Yak can approach Eb’s 21 year old 76 point campaign. You may be right about him being traded, though.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Key to the cup win was getting Greg campbell Son of Colin “fire that ref for giving my son a penalty” Campbell.

    I hear Colin asked to have his name put on the cup.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I have no idea where all this confidence in Yakupov is coming from? What evidence is there to suggest that he can bounce back? Not saying he can’t, but I’m sorry, a good 5 games at the end of a losing season isn’t good enough. If he can turn into a 35 goal-scorer, great. But I’m not impressed with his skill set. He’s a shooter, yet he can’t one-time the puck to save his life.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed, but I don’t see him ever being more than a one dimensional guy who once had a ton of potential.

        • number99

          Google Yakupov one-timers, youll find more than “once in a while” It was more in reply to the “cant one-time to save his life” part of the comment. The dude has not been put in a position to succeed, and once he is,I feel he clearly has the tools to flourish.

          • Cowbell_Feva

            Yak has been put in several spots to succeed over last 3 seasons and only Roy was partly able to make him look like a possible keeper . We know how well organization feel about Roy now , as he is gone for nothing . He has had opportunities on power ply and all our centers to claim a position , yet has still failed to do so . Now you want to stick him with a raw rookie and expect him to flourish ? Keep dreaming . This is about what’s best for the team , not Yakupov if you catch the drift .If he can not flourish with Lander like Forsberg did in recent tourney , then they should look to trade him away . He is more the problem than the centers or wingers he has had the opportunities to play with . He needs to earn the spot , not be given it .

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            I disagree. Yak has never played with a veteran playmaking two way Center.

            Most teams would have made acquiring this type a player their top priority to shelter their #1 pick, and to give him a “chance” to succeed.

            Oilers never did this – hence why Yak has not had a chance to show his true potential.

          • Cowbell_Feva

            Yakupov hasn’t been given a chance?? On what planet. The guy has been tried on the top 3 lines with all sorts of players, including RNH and he hasn’t clicked.

            He’s all over the ice, out of position most of that time, and is an atrocity in the defensive end.

            He was pretty dominant in the OHL but hasn’t translated it into the NHL. Hall has, Ebs has, RNH has, but Yakupov has not. Yet he gets all kinds of love and is said to be mis-treated?!?

            For the people that say to trade Eberle over Yakupov, just stop….stop now. This isn’t a competition for who can miss the most one timers wide of the net. Eberle is a consistent point producer from day 1. Yakupov has been consistently underwhelming which is why he was delegated to the press box. I’m not Eakins fan, but the Rusky was doing zero good for the team on the ice at that point as well.

  • bradleypi

    I think it’s important to remember that the Kessel Trade came off of a four month long contract dispute… So, yes, he’s clearly not afraid to pull the trigger on large deals but his biggest two trades (the Kessel trade and the Seguin trade) were forced by extenuating circumstances (the Seguin trade’s being the supposed “off ice” issues ) and not strategy.

    I can’t imagine circumstances will emerge where it would make sense for Chiarelli to deal Hall or Eberle.The Oilers will be looking to improve and compete immediately and it would be nearly impossible to convince a team to give up as good or better a player in a trade in which Eberle or, even more so, Hall were involved. Both of the blockbusters Chiarelli did made the Bruins worse the instant they were made (remember the Kessel deal took a couple years pay off) so I would guess all the talented players are safe until the Oilers run into cap issues.


    I’m still of the belief, that we need to give our current roster time and freedom to play their style and gel. Our main holes may fill up with Nurse, Reinhardt time will tell. Our offence is nearly unmatched if they can gel imo.

      • Cowbell_Feva

        He means offensive roster. The context was pretty clear when he was talking about holes in the roster.

        Actual offensive result is another issue entirely. Coaching has a lot to do with the actual result, no one knows that better than Oilers fans (and even Flames fans, with Hartley’s “12 Monkeys” style offensive system).

        You saw a 20% increase in scoring when Nelson took over, which is quite significant. With Hartley’s “12 Monkeys” system they were able to outscore teams like Pittsburgh, which has a lot of high end talent in the offense.

        Teams with both coaching AND talent were on another level last year. The Lightening, Blues, Islanders and Stars were offensive powerhouses.

        Now that the Oilers have the coaching and the talent, I give them a few years of gestation before they break out to become comparable to those sorts of teams.

  • Tanker

    I wouldn’t make a major move until the season is over. See what is there for a full season under a real coach, and proven staff. Unless a no-brainer deal for a #1 Dman comes along (because those are oh so plentiful), assess what is there. Good moves were made in the off season. Especially in the coaching. See what it yields with the proper “sample size”. If we are flying and in playoff contention, make the right trade. If we are out, get rid of the right pieces (Upcoming UFA, Bad Contract), and make the better deals at the draft or UFA open season.

  • nuge2drai

    Build up the middle. Build up the middle. Build up the middle.

    It is an inarguable fact that this is how cups are won. Goalie, defense and centers. Wingers, no matter who they are, are expendable in the quest to have high end G/D/C’s.

    McDavid/RNH/Drai 1-2-3. We are set.

    Talbot. Not 100% set but lets see what he can do.

    Sekera/Klefbom/Nurse. Not a strong top 3 (yet anyways).

    Any winger on this team should be fair game in the quest for a 25-30 minute dman in his 20’s.

    • bazmagoo

      “Any winger on this team should be fair game in the quest for a 25-30 minute dman in his 20’s.”

      This all day.

      “McDavid/RNH/Drai 1-2-3. We are set.”

      McDavid/RNH/Lander is how I see it playing out. Dr Drai will be an important part of the team, I’m of the opinion you can never have too many centres. I just see him better suited as a left winger, on this team.

  • crackerjack14

    I’d love to see Wayne Simmonds in the copper ‘n blue. If Philly struggles this year, I wonder if they’d be open to a Simmonds for Yak trade? Imagine Hall-McDavid-Simmonds as your “second” line.