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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    • Boom76

      Nuge is the man and I would love him to take a huge step this year. Remember when he dropped the gloves on Hamhuis and like no one backed him up? That was awesome (but not the noone backing him up part, that was sad). I think/hope Chia sees his value and doesn’t trade him.

      • Shameless Plugger

        The offseason is for optimism and wonder and hope. Yes the past ten off seasons have been full of these as well and the season following haven’t been fruitful. Tell us something we don’t know. Do you have to mention it every post?

        Man alive you are one negative human being. .

          • Shameless Plugger

            “You can’t be fond of living in the past, ‘Cause if you are then there’s no way that you’re going to last
            – Gordon Downie.

            I choose to look forward. I don’t forget the past I just don’t live there.

          • chickenStew

            Interesting then, that your Oilersnation profile has this little tidbit:

            Display Name: Spydyr

            Tagline: Winning isn’t everything,but wanting to win is.

      • 99CupsofCoffey

        That’s what sports are: something to look forward to in a sometimes dismal world full of police shootings, suicide bombings, nuclear disasters, starving people, crazy wildfires.

        It’s taking a break from reality for even a moment, and hoping for something better.

        Hope is a good thing, even when it may not have amounted to much in the past.

    • Oilers-Entourage

      Is that when your D tookoff? Jk , and yes i agree. I will add one thing, although i didnt like the Griffin trade, if he develops nice then maybe people will stop hating on him.

  • After years of doing nothing, fans can longer say the GM hasn’t done anything.

    One thing I’m excited to see in the line up, which just hasn’t been present, is balance. Our big mean players aren’t slow plugs, our small skilled forwards no longer outnumber forwards with some size and defensive awareness. The team has centre depth, and is at least on its way to fixing the defence. And for only the second time in many years, the team goes into next season with the same coach.

    Well done I say.

  • Westcoastoil

    I’d rather see them sign Wiz for 1 year on a cheap deal ($1.5ish) to be the 3rd pairing PP Dman than blow any assets for Barrie. Not a fan of further surgery to the forwards corp.

  • Seanaconda

    The zibby trade could just be Ottawa being cheap with real world money they waited till new York paid his bonus before the trade and he’s only making 3.5 real dollars for the next 3 years. Similar to the phaneuf trade.

    • stonedtodeath61

      That trade surprised all of us here in Ottawa but it makes sense. Our top 2 forward prospects are 2015 1st rounder, White, a centre. This year Logan Brown, a centre. Zib will be due a huge raise this summer and will get over paid. We needed a left handed centre as zib had zero chemistry with Bobby Ryan. Brassard is a better 2 way player and Zib has had some problems in the past in regards to conditioning ( not sure if that has anything to do with it ). Personally, I like the deal and the fact that the Ranger fans are pissed, that helps my confidence, lol

  • daryl

    I have to disagree with the author the only really bad trade Peter made was for Reinhart. The rest made sense. Why trade away something so valuable for another LH dman never understood that. As it turns out Reinhart is toooo slow and has not progressed Snow did a snow job on Peter but that was the really big mess up the rest were all hockey moves

      • I am Batman

        I’m relatively okay with the Hall trade, I would have preferred Eberle a million times but clearly the Devils aren’t stupid.

        About Reinhardt…. I have time for one more season from him to judge that trade. With more sheltered minutes and less rush to get him performing… Who knows…

        He has to know that if he doesn’t progress fast he might be done, and I recall from his days at the W, the kid is a fighter, he has a ton character . Let’s see if he can come to camp sharp and if he earns a spot… With so much depth on the left, he has his work cut out for him.

    • Shameless Plugger

      Really? Reinhart is 22 years old. Dman don’t hit their stride until 24/25. I’d reserve judgment until he makes that mark.

      He showed well at the end of last year. I know it’s a new concept to us oiler fans but develop the kid and you might have a useful NHL player.

      You’re 100% certain the draft picks given up in the deal are going to turn into bonfide NHL’ers?

      It was a crap shoot for crap shoot trade! Let it pan out before you pan it.

      • OTOF2

        At the time of the trade Chia clearly said that the trade was made in an effort to improve the defence “now”. Not to “hopefully / maybe” help the defense in a few years from now. So based on Chia’s own criteria this trade is most certainly a complete fail. But go ahead and try to sugarcoat it if you like. Accepting failure has become the Oiler way.

        • Shameless Plugger

          You’re 100% certain it was a failure on a 22 year old 4th overall selection?

          I guess I’m not ready to give up yet.

          Another gm once said Schultz has Norris potential.

          You’re gonna take the gm at his word now?

          • OTOF2

            Not sure why you are having so much trouble understanding. GR may still develop into a solid D ( in another year or two). But the point of the trade, as per Chia’s own criteria, was “immediate help”. The trade did not provide immediate help. Simple as that. Objective not accomplished. Fail. End of story.

          • BlueHairedApe

            Reinhardt moved up as soon as injuries hit. That’s immediate help is it not? The 16th and 33rd overall picks would not have been able to do that. Because of the injuries he had to play above his current depth and I thought he did alright despite the demands placed on him at the time.

          • Shameless Plugger

            ……..resumption of story,

            I like most oiler fans am almost out of patience. But I’m not going to over react because of one statement made in the media. I’ll see the forest for the trees and recognize we acquired an asset that is further along in his development than any player we would have selected in the first round or there on.

            I think that’s what was meant by Chia’s statement of “ready to help now”.

            Not as in 30 minutes a night game 1, but more along the lines of a player we don’t have to wait 4 to 5 years for.

          • daryl

            Heres the thing Reinhart is toooooo sloooow it as simple as that he will never be more than a #6 Dman I like a lot of Peter’s moves this was not one of them

      • hockey1099

        Gordon was replaced by letestu which is an improvement. But in hindsight a 5th round pick might have been better than korp. Hell Gordon for future considerations may have been better. At least korp is gone.

  • Druds

    Im glad to see we are having more intelligent writing rather than the previous two weeks of “Lets fire Chia” and “OMG we are all going to die with the pain of not seeing those pouty Hall lips” ,or “I love Hall like he is my own baby son”. Stuff that belonged on the Inquirer.

    I was pissed too but I didnt react like a 11 year old and have a tantrum which was pretty well what most of the local ON did. I am happy to move on… Chia had big balls but at least he did something as opposed to Bold Moves Mactavish who essentially brought us Eakins.

    I also agree with R U kidding Me………..

  • Bubba Train

    I guess the issue now is will we really get better by adding Defencan Barrie for instance.

    I hear lots of request to find this offensive player but I am not certain those asking are willing to pay the price. It would likely be Nugent Hopkins going the other way.

    Does that make us better?

    Few more points from d but less from Center.

    I think it is best not to wish for Barrie but an inexpensive short term solution instead.

    Probably a good idea to bring Gryba back for extra depth as well.