Monday Musings: Chiarelli the Grinder, draft age and more

Magic

The 2016 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. Many believe the Oilers’ draft luck continued when the Columbus Blue Jackets elected to pass on Jesse Puljujarvi and select Pierre-Luc Dubois. Time will tell who becomes the better player, but Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers were very happy to land Puljujarvi.

However, Chiarelli did not land the player he needs the most: A right shot defender, but he’s still optimistic it will happen.

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I was more surprised by Nail Yakupov not being dealt, than I was seeing the Oilers leave Buffalo without a right-shot defender. The latter isn’t easy, but it is a necessity for the Oilers to improve and Chiarelli must acquire a defender this off-season.

It doesn’t matter when the deal transpires, but he simply won’t be doing his job if he doesn’t upgrade his defence. He hasn’t shied away from this reality, he’s on record many times saying he knows what he needs, but until he makes a deal Oilers fans will be restless.

Chiarelli understands your frustration. He talked about it Saturday in Buffalo. “I can understand their (fans) frustration (by not seeing a trade), but I have to make the right deal,” said Chiarelli.

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Despite not consummating a trade on Saturday Chiarelli felt he had some worthwhile conversations with many different general managers.

“I had some discussions, so I furthered those along. I thought it was actually a pretty productive day. It didn’t result in a deal, but I thought I had some good talks today (Saturday).”

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Chiarelli has been through this dance a few times. Only Ken Holland, David Poile, Jim Rutherford, Lou Lamoriello and Doug Wilson have been a GM for longer. Ray Shero, Garth Snow and Dean Lombardi all became GMs in the summer of 2006 like Chiarelli.

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I asked him if he’d like to get a deal done instead of rely solely on signing an unrestricted D-man starting July 1st.

“There is a different dynamic before July 1st versus after July 1st. The market shifts a little bit. You have to know where the market goes. It (making a trade) might be a little bit easier before, otherwise you have to wait until the market clears, but there isn’t many D on the market so I don’t think that (waiting) would be too long,” Chiarelli replied.

Chiarelli will keep talking and he has to have a 3rd liner mentality this week.

“You just have to grind away,” he said. “For example, a couple of the discussions I had today (Saturday) the positions (trade requests) had softened. What usually happens is whenever there is a deadline or milestone there is a loosening up. The next one is July one. We are in a shopping period now, there is some movement in discussions, and now we just have to grind away,” said Chiarelli.

Chiarelli would prefer to already have a deal made, but ultimately it doesn’t matter when he upgrades his defence, as long as he does it before the season begins. However, with every passing day the pressure slowly builds to improve his blueline.

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Drafting Puljujarvi is great, but he doesn’t play defence and he’s only 18 years old. Another young, skilled forward will not push this team closer to the playoffs. Chiarelli needs to acquire a RD, and he believes this week presents a good opportunity for him to hopefully close a deal.

Oilersnation waits.

QUICK HITS…

SpeedBag

  • After round one Chiarelli suggested the Oilers would use their third round selections to address some organizational needs. He hinted at skilled forwards and a goalie, but instead the Oilers drafted three defencemen. “The more D we can get the better. They take longer to develop. We want
    to keep stock piling depth there, and we got some skill forwards in
    there later. McPhee is an intriguing pick. I think he was overlooked a bit, and he has the heart of a lion,” said Chiarelli after they made eight picks on day two of the draft.

  • It is too early to accurately critique any team’s draft. I don’t bother reading any of the “Draft rankings” because they are simply guesses and often written by people who have never watched the majority of the players. None of us really know how most of the picks outside the first few will pan out. Columbus left themselves open to criticism for passing on a Puljujarvi, but in five years we will have a better idea if they erred, or made a great pick. 
  • The Oilers signed Iiro Pakarinen to a one-year deal and qualified David Musil. They elected not to qualify Luke Gazdic, Adam Clendening, Kale Kessy and Niklas Lundstrom. Smart decision on all fronts. 
  • Eric Lindros deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was a rare breed of size and skill. It is too bad injuries, specifically concussions, cut his career short. Between October 1992 and April 1999 he played 431 games and scored 600 points. He averaged 1.39 points per game. Sadly, for him and hockey fans, he missed 113 games during these seven seasons, but he and Jaromir Jagr (1.44 points per game) were the two best players in the NHL.

    Despite missing 113 games he was still tied for fifth most points during these seven years. Only Jagr (736 points in 512 games), Teemu Selanne (644 pts in 485), Joe Sakic (612 pts in 493 games) and Adam Oates (611 pts in 500 games ) had more. Ron Francis had the same 600 points as Lindros, but he played 100 more games. He was a treat to watch, and despite playing through injuries he was still among the top-point producers in the NHL.

    He was also +177 in those seven years. Jagr was +155, Francis was +75, Selanne +49, Oates +30 and Sakic +25. I’m not the biggest believer in +/-, but that is ridiculous compared to the other top scorers in the same span. 

  • I heard many conversations with agents and NHL management and there are talks about the NHL considering moving the draft age to 19. It is about time. If you want to have an exemption rule, fine, allow 18 year olds to be drafted in the top-ten, but otherwise it won’t hold back players from playing. Last year only Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanafin played four months after being drafted. Eichel was 19, so it was really only two players who would be impacted by moving the draft back. You could then move the draft to be a complete calendar year, from January 1st to December 31st, and players born after September 15th, wouldn’t have to wait. 

    The current cut off date has already proven it doesn’t hurt kids. Many of the top picks in recent years were late birthdays, and had to wait another year to be drafted. Auston Matthews, Eichel, Taylor Hall

    The main question is how does the NHL make the switch? There is some talk about splitting it up over two years, and moving the cut off day back five months one year and four the next. It makes a lot of sense. NHL teams would have another year to evaluate kids. Players would have another year to mature and grow, and we would see fewer 16 year olds in major junior hockey. Too many kids get ruined by rushing to the CHL and playing fourth line minutes. They should stay at Midget AAA or play junior A, where they could play more minutes and develop their game. 

    Hopefully this happens in the next few years. 

  • I had a much deeper attachment to the draft this year. My nephew Noah was there and he was lucky enough to be selected by the San Jose Sharks. I’ve spoke to many excited young men over the years, and it is one of my favourite days of the year. Pure joy is the theme of the day, and because of my press credentials I was able to see him right after he was drafted. He is usually a pretty calm and reserved, but I’m not sure I’d ever seen him smile that big before. Congrats to all the players drafted, and to those who didn’t, don’t let it get you down. Adam Oates, who is in Hall of Fame, was never drafted and many other top players weren’t either. Your future will not be defined by one weekend.

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  • Bleeds Oil

    FIST !!!

    Screw the flames !! Just saying they suck !!

    Chia will make magic for us I personally guarantee we get 2 top 4 D by the time puck drops home opener !

    Also #97 wins the scoring title

    Book it !!

  • Rob...

    Congrats to your nephew. I hope you’ve teased him about his need to develop an epic playoff beard. Props to you as well for being transparent with your awards picks a few articles back. You stuck your neck out and have incurred criticism because of it; your efforts hopefully helps pave the way for more transparent voting by all of the voters, leading to less biased votes.

  • JermBank

    IMO the 4th pick could not have been used more effectively, thanks to the Blue Jackets. Trade value clearly wasn’t there for the 4th pick to land a dman that can play top 4 minutes, and an extra gun on the right wing was certainly an area that needed to be addressed.
    I thought that PC would use 4th overall to take Dubois, but I’m predicting both CBJ and EDM will be happy with their first round selections from the 2016 draft.

    • he shoots he scars

      I wonder if Chiarelli threatened the CBJ manager that he would offer sheet Seth Jones unless Puljujarvi was still available for Edm on the draft board. I know Edm need rhd, but offer sheets seem to be against code for gm’s. A way to use offer sheets yet not get blackballed by other gm’s for actually submitting an offer sheet.

  • I agree with moving the draft age to 19. In my opinion the spotlight is just too much for most kids who just turned 18 and it could be very stressful. Going back to juniors did wonders for Draisaitl last season and it could help many other young men. It would also help CHL teams as their Memorial Cup window is open for a year longer and the league would be more competitive.

  • freelancer

    I see it more likely if there is a trade for it to be after July 1st. Teams who miss out on guys like Lucic or Okposo may have to turn around and trade assets for guys like Eberle or Pouliot.

  • Jay (not J)

    Lindros’ stubborn refusal to adapt his game kept him on the sidelines for what should have been some of the most productive seasons of his career. I can’t deny he was a better player than most around him, but his game never really grew, he never learned to keep his head up and he was often unavailable when his team needed him the most. It’s a slow year for the Hall, and that, in my mind, more than anything he accomplished in the NHL, is what’s getting him in.

  • Oil City Roller

    Hey Gregor, I’m not sure why you were surprised Yak didn’t get traded. No one in Yak’s camp ever asked for a trade. I know it seems like Yak asked for a trade but trust me, that is just a faulty memory of every fan in Edmonton. The only other explanation is Chia is a lair but that couldn’t be true. He’s a “great hockey mind”, and a “Harvard Man” and such behaviour would be beneath him.

    • Jason Gregor

      What are you talking about. This is what Igor Larionov, Yak’s agent, said on my show about trade request.

      “Well, I had a talk with [Peter] Chiarelli before the deadline so we talked about it and kept it private. There was no need to make any noise, so I asked for that permission and he gave me that permission. I talked to a couple of teams, and I’m not going to name them. It was good interest from three different teams. At the end of the day Edmonton decides who they are going to get in return. So there has got to be value for Nail and I was just asking carefully so I could take a look and give them a chance, maybe give them some fresh air to play. It’s not like I asked them to just give, for the last fifteen games of the season, sixteen minutes of ice time to showcase him in case you want to move him in the summer time.”

      No faulty memory my friend. Simple truth. He wants out, which is fine, but non of this was fabricated by myself of fans.

      • Ron Burgundy

        While I am in no way supporting Oil City Roller’s post, I think what he is referring to is Chia’s statement that “He (Yak) never asked me for a trade” a couple of days ago. Which I suppose reading your quote above is probably technically correct, since it was Larionov who asked.

      • It seems like the two parties are not on the same page. It seems clear that Yak asked for a trade but PC straight up denied it to a reporter this week. Should we be concerned about this?

        Edit: not sure why the trashes. Not one else has concern that Yak said he requested a trade and PC saying he didn’t?

          • Yeah, that does seem like a possible explanation though PC doesn’t strike me as someone to argue over semantics like that especially since in all meaningful sense a trade request from Yaks representative IS a trade request from Yak. I for one am genuinely curious as to what is going on here.

          • K.Pal

            Strikes me that PC would indeed argue over semantics when he finds doing so to be to his advantage for whatever reason.

            Seems everyone here has gotten to used to a GM letting everyone know what he is thinking where as PC apparently thinks we don’t need to know until he is finished.

            BTW….He’s right :))

      • Oil City Roller

        Sorry for being unclear. I was sarcastically calling Chia a liar for stating Yak and his agent never asked for a trade request even though we all remember that’s what happened.

      • K.Pal

        Just curious as to who was the fly on the wall and heard what was actually said. Seems that everything that appeared in the media was released by individuals with their own agendas and is therefore very suspect.

        Personally I think Yak would love to move on, but nothing I’ve seen in the media regarding him personally asking Chi for a trade would hold up in court 😉

      • dinger

        Looks to me like Chiarelli and Larionov are starting
        down a bad path playing the media against each other?
        Just an opinion, maybe they weren’t in the same room when they had the conversation.

  • If the draft age changes to a year later there is no chance that the Connor McDavids of the future stay in the CHL instead of earning 500k in Europe. Auston Matthews has paved the way and that will very likely be the model moving forward for young superstars.

    • Jason Gregor

      Don’t see why. I said players who were 18 could be drafted in top-five. Matthews was a rare case. His birthday missed cut off by two days and he’s incredibly talented.

      Very few players are as talented as him. Euro teams won’t just hand money to anyone.

      For instance, Tkachuk and Dubois were top picks this year. If they had to wait until next year, Euro teams wouldn’t be lining up to sign them. They still need to develop in junior.

    • Serious Gord

      My thought as well.

      19 does make sense but other leagues and the players may have different ideas not the least of which is to start making some coin. That said I still think the NHL should push forward with it.

  • Pouzar99

    Like most Oiler fans I am celebrating Puljujarvi’s selection but pulling my hair out over the need for a couple of good right shooting D men. I get the corner Chia is in as everyone knows what we need and I’m grateful that he hasn’t settled for way less than reasonable value. I like the way he waited out the Rangers on Talbot last summer. I suspect he will go hard for a good RSD free agent and ultimately make a major deal to acquire another, but it is killing me and I have read so many stories about possible trades my eyes are falling out.

  • RJ

    I agree with pushing back the deadline for drafting to 19, but I would go one further.

    It makes no sense that Puljujarvi can play in the AHL next season but Bear has to wait one more year before he can play AHL hockey. If the point is player development, then AHL hockey should be an option coming from the CHL in their draft+1 year.

    • Jason Gregor

      Bear wouldn’t develop very well in AHL. He isn’t physically strong enough or skate well enough to get enough minutes.

      He had an excellent WHL season, but it was one year and he will develop better playing every situation in Seattle.

      He wouldn’t go to AHL and play PP time ahead of Laleggia or Oesterle if he isn’t in Edmonton.

      • RJ

        At 18, he wouldn’t have done well in the AHL, so back to the WHL. And this off-season, it’s NHL or WHL, and no in between. That’s the current model.

        Under your hypothetical, this is his draft year. He was not a good enough skater at 18, but as a 19-year old he was Improved. With work in the off-season, it is possible he improves enough to move up. If not, he goes back to the WHL. I’m suggesting that some players should be allowed to take an intermediate step. Bear improves enough and his development would be better served in the ECHL or AHL

        Even if this doesn’t apply specifically to Bear, there are prospects where it would benefit them.

  • OilCan2

    PC can play the waiting game. JP won us the lotto: again:)

    Carolina wants to get rid of Faulk because his contract just kicked in to the big moola. Winnipeg is stacked on RD and can not afford to spend that much on a single position. Something has to give with Seth Jones. Someone is going to give Stammer the big cha ching and that could very well shake loose a fair to middling RD. Non of those deals are going to happen by stamping your feet and holding your breath until you turn Oiler blue.

    Plus as mentioned PC is keeping lots of roster spots available by not qualifying some fringe players. Being patient with roster spots available could prove to be advantageous when the waiver wire heats up.

  • Hockey Buddha

    Chiarelli isn’t the type to let himself be pushed over a barrel, and he doesn’t disclose a lot about what’s going on behind-the-scenes. In both the Yak situation and in the quest for a right shot defenseman, it’s probably a good quality for a GM to be tight-lipped.

    I’m reasonably convinced that Marc Bergevin wasn’t talking entirely straight about the Subban situation either. MacTavish, on the other end of the spectrum, was probably as open and honest as he could possibly be, and fans wanted him strung up largely because of it. Chiarelli is much more opaque. In our market, it’s fairly wise. We analyze everything to death; we are a hockey-crazed city year ’round.

  • ifiwasgm

    As for me, I was way more bothered hearing the trade rumors of the Oilers getting raped, for a d-man, then I am that Chia hasn’t bucked to the pressure.

    I have no problem waiting, the right deals will come if he proves he’s not as desperate as Oiler fans.

    There is a whole summer ahead to wait it out.

    • Powdered milk

      Ebs and or Nuge will be traded for a defence man, Pete is just waiting for the right deal to come around. Which he should. I would put my money on Nuge being traded at some point this summer. He’s worth more then Ebs is

    • Explicit

      Sure he has a whole summer, but I don’t think waiting is advantageous. After the free agents sign and teams have a clearer picture of their roster don’t trades slow down? Plus the closer we get to the season the more desperate the oilers will become.

      No one knows what kind of discussions Chia has had, but the oilers have needed a Dman for a decade. In the last year alone there’s been a tonne of RHD who would’ve been a perfect fit move onto other organizations. At what point in the summer do your options run dry?

  • harborman

    After watching nearly all of Todd McLellan’s post game pressers last season and seeing the frustration on his face as he described game after game, how certain players didn’t play hard, keep making the same mistakes over and over,were not being accountable etc, leads me to believe a number of forwards will play somewhere else next year.

    Chia has seen first hand who plays with heart on this team,who the floaters are, who the players are that don’t think backchecking is part of the game, and finally, who are the team players.

    I believe Lucic will be the number one target of the Oilers and if Chia signs him then options open to get the defensive help required.Hall,Ebs,Pouliot,Yak,Korpi and of course Nuge should all be in play to get the rhd required.

    Changes will happen in the next couple of weeks and I’m hopeful we will see a different blend/mix of forwards come next year.

  • Moe Sizzlack

    Sign Schenn for 2nd pair right side .. BIG, hits, fights & has a Howie

    Then trade for our TOP pairing Dman .. (Trouba, Barrie, Faulk, Hamonic, S.Jones, Severson or Larrson)

    Eazy Peazy !

  • SourGrapes

    From Pierre LeBrun this AM: “UFA blue-liner Jason Demers and UFA winger Milan Lucic both scheduled to be in Edmonton today as Oilers sell them both on their market/team”

  • the Tyson Jost entourage was on my flight to Hamilton on thursday, they were all pumped and excited and super engaging people, especially his mom.

    As luck would have it they were sitting a couple rows in front of us at the draft on Friday night, the reaction of his Gramps was well documented and noted by bobby mac but his Mom…. holy moly.. she went from excited and composed to completely overcome with emotion. It was so raw and powerful that I was actually welling up. Saw her at the hotel the next day and she was literally levitating.

    When considering the investment that families have in their kids emotionally, physically and now financially it is awesome to see such a tight group experience such an amazing reward. A lasting memory for me to be sure.

    As counterpoint. Noah’s Moose Jaw warrior team mate is goalie Zack Sawchenko, he is a Ritch Winter client and was at the draft as well. He went undrafted.. sadly. His mom was on the flight home to Calgary and her mission was to get to the house, throw Zacks gear on a plane and send it to Nashville for their development camp. Not really two sides of the coin as Zack’s dream is still attainable in this very camp but interesting to compare the two experiences.

    Finally…. that Friday night unleash of Boooos from the Buffalo faithful that was directed at Bettman was un fn real. That’s some kind of commitment Buffalo….. your passion and resilience when addressing the matter at hand was inspiring…… LOL.

  • Kurt

    why are you so horny to change the draft age?
    as you said in this article: “The current cut off date has already proven it doesn’t hurt kids.”
    then in the journal article:” It makes a lot of sense, and it will not impact 99 per cent of the players.”

    So if the current cut off date doesnt hurt kids and if only 1% of kids are impacted…why make a change?