Monday Musings: Chiarelli overhauling Oilers


Peter Chiarelli was named General Manager and President of Hockey Operations on April 24th, 2015. In just under 15 months on the job he has made significant changes to the roster and coaching staff. He hired Todd McLellan and an entire new staff, and he hasn’t been afraid to make trades.

Whether you agree or disagree with the moves he’s made, he has been true to his word about how he would re-shape the roster.

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He wanted the Oilers to become bigger, stronger, more skilled and ideally more difficult to play against. It didn’t work out last year, as the Oilers skated to a 29th place finish and their 10th consecutive season out of the playoffs.

Chiarelli’s easiest decisions have come on draft day. He gladly choose Connor McDavid first overall in 2015, and he happily selected Jesse Puljuarvi fourth overall this past June.

He has made 13 trades since being named GM.

He acquired Griffin Reinhart for the 16th and 33rd picks at the 2015 draft.

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He landed Cam Talbot and the 209th pick for the 57th, 79th and 184th picks in 2015.

He acquired Brad Ross and the 107th pick for Martin Marincin.

He moved the 107th pick and Travis Ewanyk for Eric Gryba.

He acquired Lauri Korpikoski for Boyd Gordon.

He traded Liam Coughlin for Anders Nilsson.

He dealt Ben Scrivens for Zack Kassian.

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He traded Philip Larsen for a fifth round pick in 2017.

He moved Justin Schultz for a third round pick in 2016 (Filip Berglund).

He dealt Teddy Purcell for a third rounder in 2016 (Matthew Cairns).

He acquired a fifth rounder in 2016 (Graham McPhee) for Anders Nilsson.

He landed Patrick Maroon for Martin Gernat and a fourth rounder in 2016 (Jack Kopacka).

He acquired Adam Larsson in exchange for Taylor Hall.

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On July 1st, 2015 he signed UFA Andrej Sekera to a six-year deal worth $5.5 million/season, and Mark Letestu to a three-year pact at $1.8 million/season.

This July he signed Milan Lucic to a seven-year contract with a $6 million cap hit and back up goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a one-year deal worth $800,000.

In 15 months he has drastically altered the Oilers, especially the top-nine forwards.

When he took over these were his top-nine forwards and top-six D-men:

Taylor Hall

6’1″, 200

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

6’0″, 185

Jordan Eberle

5’11”, 180

Benoit Pouliot

6’3″, 200

Anton Lander

6’0″, 185

Teddy Purcell

6’2″, 195

Matt Hendricks

6’0, 200

Derek Roy

5’9″, 184

Nail Yakupov

5’11”, 195

Oscar Klefbom

6’3″, 215

Justin Schultz

6’2′, 195

Andrew Ference

5’11”, 182

Mark Fayne

6’3″, 212

Martin Marincin

6’4″, 201

Nikita Nikitin

6’4″, 217

Here are those 15 spots today:

Milan Lucic

6’3″, 233

Connor McDavid

6’1″, 190

Jordan Eberle

5’11”, 180

Benoit Pouliot

6’3″, 200

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

6’0″, 189

Nail Yakupov

5’11”, 195

Patrick Maroon

6’3″, 230

Leon Draisaitl

6’1″, 215

Jesse Puljujarvi

6’4″, 203


You could exchange Kassian (6’3, 217) for Puljuarvi if you wanted. And Draisaitl was in the organization prior to Chiarelli’s arrival.

Oscar Klefbom

6’3″, 215

Adam Larsson

6’3″, 205

Andrej Sekera

6’0, 198

Mark Fayne

6’3′, 212

Darnell Nurse

6’4″, 213

Brandon Davidson

6’2″, 210


Davidson and Nurse were already in the organization prior to Chiarelli’s hiring.

I used top-nine forwards because they play the most minutes, and usually your top-six defenders play as much as your third line wingers, if not more.

Chiarelli has made the Oilers bigger, but by removing Hall they aren’t as skilled and not as fast. Nugent-Hopkins was their biggest centre when Chiarelli was hired, but now he’s the smallest of the three, despite him adding five pounds. Lucic, Maroon and Puljujarvi make the Oilers much heavier. Puljujarvi’s speed and size could be a huge benefit, but at this point it is just a could. The right side is pretty weak in proven NHL players after Jordan Eberle.

On the blueline they Oilers now average five more pounds per player, but, more importantly, this group of six is much faster and more skilled.

We can disagree with some of Chiarelli’s moves. I didn’t like the Hall trade, or the Reinhart acquisition and a year later that trade looks even worse. When he was hired Chiarelli outlined a plan and he has stuck to it. He hasn’t changed his direction. We will find out in the next few month or years if it is the right decision.

He obviously isn’t finished — they still lack an offensive right-shot defender, and the team still will be relying on many young players — but at least he’s added a few player in their mid to late 20s who can play significant minutes.



  • Are the Oilers better? I get asked this often. It is hard to be worse. If they finish 21st-24th, I don’t consider that improvement. Sure, it is better than 29th, but it isn’t close to the playoffs and it would mean setting the NHL-record for futility: eleven consecutive seasons without a post-season appearance.

    This team has to be a playoff team or miss the dance in the final week, for me to say the team improved. Had they been healthy last year, I’m sure they could have mustered four more wins and a few OT losses, so if they finish with 80-84 points this year, I don’t view that as any significant improvement.

  • Only two western conference teams in the last six full NHL seasons (82GP) have made the playoffs with fewer than 95 points. Dallas had 91 in 2014, while Minnesota had 87 in 2016.
  • Since they switched to two divisions (2013/2014 season) the lowest point total to make the playoffs from the Pacific division was Calgary’s 97 in 2015. We’ve never seen four Pacific division teams make the playoffs in the three seasons since the format change. The Oilers need to improve by 20 points to reach 90 and be in the playoff conversation.
  • Interesting trade today between the Rangers and Senators. The Rangers traded Derrick Brassard and a seventh round pick in 2018 for Mika ZIbanejad and a second rounder in 2018. Brassard is six years older and has a $5 million cap hit for the next three seasons. Zibanejad has a $2.625 million cap hit, but he is an RFA at the end of the season. I’d guess his new deal is close to the same money as Brassard.

    I’m a bit perplexed why the Senators traded away Zibanejad when he’s six years younger, yet their production over the past two seasons has been very close.

    Brassard last two years:
    46-72-118 in 160 GP
    Zibanejad last two years:
    41-56-97 in 161 GP

    Brassard played 17:53/game, while Zibanejad played 17:45. Their PP minutes were basically the same, but Zibanejad played 1:25/game on PK. The main difference was the D-men they played with at EV.

    Over the past two years Zibanejad’s main linemates were Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman, while Brassard played with Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash. Zibanejad played 959 EV minutes with Erik Karlsson with and had a GF of 2.81 and CF% of 51.8%. Brassard played 813 EV minutes with Dan Girardi and produced a 2.80 GF and a CF% of 47.3%. Brassard did play 747 minutes with Ryan McDonagh and had 3.85 GF and 49.2 CF%.

    These stats don’t tell the entire story, but the Senators must feel Brassard will be able to produce even more playing with Hoffman/Ryan and Karlsson than the younger Zibanejad, and possibly those three made Zibanejad look better. It will be interesting to see how they play, but giving up a player six years younger for one who hasn’t produced that much more to date is surprising to me.

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  • madjam

    What is going on in Oilerland ? No new Gm or coaches bought in this year ? Steady as she goes , as we sail into the playoff picture this season . The mast of the Viking Finn (Jesse) crashing thru the icebergs and into the high seas , while Braveheart (McDavid) steers the ship towards it’s bounty/treasure – the Stanley Cup . All hands on deck says Captain Hook (Lucic) , time to swab the decks .

    • FireScorpion

      Braveheart? Captain Hook? The Viking Finn?

      Haha hahahaha

      Wow thats super…flamboyant .

      Oh and if your mast is crashing through icebergs your ship is upside down and probably sinking..which is more likely than playoffs lol. PLAYOFFS!?! PLAYOFFS?!?!?

  • madjam

    Money , money , money . What are our players worth in Canadian dollars as per team salaries is kinda staggering .

    Our 6M men are making 7,828,800 Canadian . Pouliot 5,219,200 ,Yak 3,262,00 ,Ference 4,240,600 , Letestu and Hendriks about 2,400,000 . Maroon just from us 1,957,200, Kassian 1,258,490 . Poor Oesterle is only making 763,000 and Fraser the least at 750, 000 . Canadian money , the cap slightly over 94,000,000 . Staggering amount of money for just one season for the players .

  • DannyGallivan

    Oil’s point total (shortened season grossed up) for the past 5 season starting with the 11/12 season were 74, 77, 67, 62 (trending down) and last year was 70 but without the unusually high level of injury may have been closer to 80. I believe the downward spiral has been arrested and I expect points in the mid 80’s for next year which, IMHO, would be an enormous improvement. Yes, it is not the playoffs, but at least they will be more competitive.

    Thus far I give Chia a gold star for beginning to turn this boat around.

  • TKB2677

    WOW. When you look at the depth chart that Chia inherited, now wonder they sucked.

    I like what Chia has done for the most part. The Hall trade really hurt but in order to fix the problems Chia inherited, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that all the 6 mill boys would still be here. I half expected more than one would be gone but I figured that Hall would be the one kept out of the 3.

    Lucic isn’t going to outscore Hall but I don’t think it’s a stretch for him to put up similar numbers to what Hall did this past season. Then you add in all the other things he does, maybe it works out.

  • This.Is.NHL

    Worst thing to do is trade away everyone but Ebs, he’s the floater and takes tons of nights off, hes a point stacker which means he try’s to get the easy goals for him self at times like when the team has already lost the game or when we blowout the other team. The only way I would change my mind about Ebs is if he starts to hit and fight other wise he’s a cancer on the ice.

      • This.Is.NHL

        Ebs only scores when the other team loses focus because then know then won or lost the game, how about Ebs score important goals like the first goal, the go ahead goal or the game winning goal then that will make up for all the nights he takes off, the morel victory goals don’t get you into the playoffs.

  • You just got LITT up!

    WOW! The kool-aid is strong with the Oiler faithful today. If you honestly believe that Reinhart and Larsson are a good return for Hall, a 1st rounder and 2nd rounder … I have a bridge for sale with your name on it.
    Myabe it is just me and i’m the one on crazy pills, but that is a TERRIBLE return.

    • daryl

      You are wrong about Hall and right about Reinhart. Peter did what he had to with Hall he wasn’t happy but he sucked it up and pulled the trigger and without that we would not be in the hunt for a play off spot. You need to see the big picture and we are a much much better team now. We are not soft we will be hard to play against. We have a defense that can save us 20 goals against this year and Conner will put in an extra 20 goals so if we are down 20 in GA and up 20 GF we will have a shot at the playoffs.

      • ifiwasgm

        I believe the Oilers are a better team, but not because Chiarelli got taken to the cleaner(again) in the Hall deal.
        I’d say the Oilers are better mainly because they are not the Wimpiest team in NHL history anymore.

  • Oiler Al

    Don’t like the fact that McLellan was allowed to bring in his former cronies [asst.coaches] from
    San Jose. Its one thing to bring in Todd, but sometimes you need a fusion of fresh ideas ,as well as create some pressure on the head coach to change things up.

    This was the same crew that missed the play offs with a stacked team the year before!

    People are impressed with MacMillan …… I am not… 29th place!!!! Zero improvement.

    What impresses is Sullivan in Pitts.,wins the cup with a no name defense. That’s improvement.