Peter Chiarelli held a quick presser at Oilers practice today and one of the biggest things he spoke about was the need to be patient with his defence.
As we all know, Andrej Sekera won’t be around for a few months and that leaves a big hole on the Oilers’ back end. Having him out of the lineup is going to add more minutes and pressure to young guys like Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse, and it will be interesting to see how those two step their games up with this added responsibility. Are they up for the challenge? We’re about to find out.
When asked about the defence, Peter Chiarelli spoke about the opportunity that Darryl and Benning have ahead of them.
“We were patient with those two last year and they showed that they could do the job. The second pairing is a different level… you get different matchups, you get harder matchups, you get more minutes.”
Those tougher minutes and matchups will act as a good measuring stick for Chiarelli as he will look to evaluate what he has back there. Both Nurse and Benning need new contracts next summer, and these first few months will be important for management as they figure out just how good these two players can be if given the opportunity. The opportunity is there but the question will be how much leash will they get?
“I’m going to be relatively patient.”
I’d love to know how many games or what exactly “relatively patient” means to Chiarelli. You know he has the answer in his head. Is it 10 games? 20? If the Oilers start bleeding points early (doubtful but possible) then you’d think/hope that Chia would pull the trigger on an upgrade before letting the deficit get too big, right? WHAT DOES ‘RELATIVELY’ MEAN HERE, PETE?! What else did he say?
“We do have Sekera coming back at some point but every game is critical. Every segment is critical.”
The start of the year is going to be a really interesting spot for the Oilers. Everyone knows that the expectations have been raised and, with the way the business works, any misstep would likely reflect poorly on management, and that’s why I really want to know what patience means for Peter Chiarelli. Based on simple human nature, you’d have to think Chia is feeling some extra weight on his shoulders as he looks to turn this team into a champion and I’d bet that his patience will run out quickly if things go sideways.
“We always look to improve the team and we’ve looked at some D. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t look at some D.”
Another angle we could see here would come if the Oilers actually excel in the time that Andrej Sekera is out of the lineup. If they can be effective/do well without Seksy patrolling the blue line then that could (maybe) open up possibilities of moving him next summer to save cap space. I don’t have anything to base that off of, I’m just floating the idea, but is a unique wrinkle that could come out of this injury situation.
While we don’t necessarily know what will happen in the future, it’s fun to know that the wait is almost over for getting things started.