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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  • CLubhouse

    I don’t think Chia is done I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2 more deals or signings….

    So, Trouba? I know he’s not the offensive dream but he makes solid first pass transitions and shows improvement on PP in WPG each year and is only 22. He did not file for arbitration and no news of any progress with WPG and contracts. Rumors are flying in WPG that he doesn’t want to be there play behind Buff and Myers. My bet is he is next big name to be traded. So why not to Edmonton.

    Looking at WPG depth they need LW & LHD. It’ll be an overpay and I suspect that RNH is going nowhere as he has more experience than the other two centers we have combined in NHL. On top of that Bruins really want this kid so I’d like to stick it too them for what happened in 16 with Hamilton as well. Other teams interested MTL, NYI. If offer sheeted I suspect it’ll take 4 firsts…..

    Whats it take to get it done?

    Pou, Reinhart/Davidson/Klefbom 2017 1st, 2018 1st?

    Might be too expensive but if we can build a super d core around Connors age I’m all for it and gives Larsson competition for 1st paring.

    How awesome would it be to have Larsson, Nurse, Trouba, one of Klefbom/Reinhart/Davidson/Sekera as our d core of the future. There’s some depth on D.

  • OilersGM

    Chiarelli made a huge mistake by acquiring Reinheart instead oh Hamonic when he could’ve had him for pretty much the same as gave up for Reinheart because that’s when Hamonic asked for a trade or maybe sweetened the deal little bit
    By not acting quickly he paid dearly and that’s Hall for Larsson, I believe if he was aggressive he could’ve had Hamonic and not give up Hall to get him….
    I’m not a Chiarelli fan and it’s only a matter of time where he mortgages the future just to get into the playoffs…
    He also does not live up to his nickname(Chia) that’s for sure…

      • OilersGM

        My handle says I could do the job better then Chiarelli could, I honestly believe I could now your opinion don’t meat S*** to me so I really don’t care what you think and I’m not the only one that has that view of Chiarelli the whole hockey world knew it was a bad deal he made just like he did with Seguin… But it seems to me you are blind and can’t see what people see in reality

    • The Ghost of Alex Plante

      What makes you think he could have got Hamonic for ‘pretty much the same” as he gave up for Reinhart? No way in hell the Islanders make a deal for “pretty much the same” as what they gave up for Reinhart.

      • OilersGM

        What makes you think they couldn’t have or add something else but not a big asset… Were you in on the conversation… When a player asks for a trade and all other GM’s know about it the players value goes down germaticlyy….

      • OilersGM

        Hamonic’s value went up as the year went on he could’ve had prior to last season… Chiarelli is two steps behind all other GM’s case and point Hamilton he couldn’t convince Boston to take the best deal for its organization and not to make it a personal thing but fell short and don’t tell me they wanted Nurse..a good GM would’ve convinced Boston to take what’s best for the organization and that was the Edmonton picks over Calgary’s

  • JT

    Not saying hes a bad gm or he hasn’t done anything good but here’s the negatives that have happened under chia:

    -traded two very high draft picks in an incredibly deep draft for Reinhart

    -we very well could have gotten Hamilton last year from Boston if Chia wasn’t our GM, but instead vindictively he was traded to our biggest rival. Not saying that’s right but that’s what happened

    -we lose a probably high second round pick next year to Boston for hiring chia

    -Hall was traded. The guy who the oilers made the face the franchise for the last 5 years for the same quality of dman we could have gotten had chia not been our gm (Hamilton) for nothing

    -we traded one of the best face off men in the league for korpikoski. Our face off stats have been abysmal

    -Hamilton, phanuef, Subban, Weber, Bieksa, Jones are some of the dman that have been on the market since he took the reigns and we didn’t land any of them

    • Powdered milk

      Who would the oilers have traded for Subban or Webber? The other 4 are no better than Larsson

      Hall was no longer the face of the franchise

      Gordon scored 4 points last year

    • hockey1099

      Reinhard hasn’t failed yet give him a chance. Other than guys like doughty most dman don’t get good until 24-26.

      You think bold moves Mact would have got you dougie Hamilton? Mact can’t find his balls during mini golf. I don’t have any faith in a guy that assessed Shultz as a Norris trophy candidate.

      As for hall you really think he could have got more for him? If so you think chia purposely hurt his team and his long term employability because he is lazy. The oilers were bargaining from a position of weakness. It sucks we lost the the trade but we may win the war. Chia pet got what he could. Blame the past gms for doing nothing to balance this team.

      Boyd Gordon may win you a face off but he doesn’t provide offense. No problem moving that. I think letestu has a better offensive upside.

      Subban got traded for Weber and Weber got traded for Subban. Which stud dmen did we have to offer up in exchange for either of those players?

      As for Seth jones we got outbid. Our small skinny centre (nuge) was less than johansen who is bigger and a better goal scorer.

      We can all arm chair gm this but we have no idea what actually happens. Gms don’t publicize what they do its all hush hush and hidden most of the time. Look at the body of work overall. We are bigger we have more overall skill (despite losing a top 10 scorer) then we did before chia took over. Judge him on the overall product on the ice. If doesn’t improve fire him. If it does improve give him the time he needs to fix the mess he took over. You can’t undo 10 years of crap in 1 year.

      • RJ

        So what is the timeline? How long does he get a free pass?

        The best two moves he made were drafting McDavid and Puljujarvi, but you don’t need to be a HOF GM to make those moves.

          • RJ

            It wasn’t going to be one summer. Give him time.

            It wasn’t going to be by Christmas. Give him time.

            It wasnt going to be by the deadline. Give him time.

            It wasn’t going to be by the draft. Give him time.

            It wasn’t going to be until free agency. Give him time.

            It wasn’t going to be until the regular season. Give him time.

            I read this site every day. There’s a solid group of Oiler interns who post on here (maybe just koolaid drinkers) who are quick to defend PC, and you can’t say anything critical.

            You just have to cheer every move he makes: even when it’s a bust.

          • OTOF2

            So much irony in your reply. You seem to be assuming that the team is better, but yet they have proved nothing on ice. The last time the Oilers skated in a game it was as the 29th place team. How can you be so sure they are any better?

  • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

          • 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

          • 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.

  • Strottie

    If everything goes our way and we acquire Tyson Barrie, then it’s reasonable to expect the Oilers to make the playoffs. We’d have essentially every piece we’ve been missing since the days of Souray. After that, it’s a matter of our own luck on the injury front and that of the other 29 teams.

    But having watched this team nosedive into the ground over the past decade just to continue burying itself deeper, I’m not holding my breath. There’s a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” that need to happen between now and July 29th.

    On the bright side: if they miss the playoffs (again), they’ll do something that the Oilers haven’t done since the 80s. Set records.

    Please Chiarelli…

    • daryl

      Why would you give up Davidson by acquiring Barrie during the expansion draft. Be patient and use a fill in like Boyle for a year or two and see how our own prospects work.

  • Hockeyfan

    Your team has certainly improved during Chia’s reign. it isn’t by trades though, it is by high draft picks for being horrible at hockey, as per the last 10 years. Most of his trades are bad, due to teams being unwilling to deal with the Oil. Your D corps is sorely lacking and i still can’t see this so called potent offense.
    Nonetheless, this year should be more more competitive for the fans. You better hope the PK is up to speed or it will be a tough year again.

      • Hockeyfan

        Understand something. I’m not here to make excuses for your pathetic welfare franchise like the majority of your fan base. Just because you need a reality check to see the big picture don’t blame me, thank me.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      yup, you just gotta love Lames fans chiming in on how the Oilers suck. can’t wait to see them fall flat on their faces this season with Brian Elliot in goal playing behind the “league’s best defense”….LOL!!

      • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

        I’ve been listening to how good that d is for a couple of years. Good on offense and terrible in own end. Hamilton is 6’5″ 230 and the softest ginger I have ever seen.

        • madjam

          The energetic Finn likes the crash and smash game as well , and he has the size to impose himself at all times in a game , as per his teammates saying about his play even in the pro team . Even if they are up 6-0 he still likes to impose even further , and does not take the foot of the pedal they say . The character of Jesse is daunting , physical and high level . He’ll become a fan favorite very soon . McDavid flanked by the physical likes of Lucic and Puljujarvi , plus his speed , could be a handful for any team to play against . How good might he be ? Calgary was trying to trade for him in draft , and was apparantly going to give up Tkachuk (6th) and D.Hamilton to get Jesse and Sonny Milano .

  • CMG30

    Overall I think PC has made the Oil better. Still, that’s not saying much for a decade long basement dweller. Balancing the team instantly improves the whole situation. Ditto if they can manage to keep a healthy roster for once. Adding veteran help is another good way to improve things, as is upping the ‘grit’ factor.

    On the down side, not all his moves have worked. Korpikoski was a failure, Reinhart was overpriced and didn’t live up to expectations in year 1. Going forward, he could still work out.

    The Hall trade was brutal from an asset management/skill standpoint. I find it very troubling that PC wouldn’t attempt to maximize return from the 2nd largest asset the Oiler had. Hall may have been the overpayment it took to pry Larsson out of New Jersey but when half the league is caught flatfooted on Hall’s availability and were willing to offer more, questions should be asked.

    I doubt PC is done with the roster but the addition of Larsson takes a good deal of pressure off. Hope he’s biding his time and watching to see what shakes loose by the end of summer.