69
Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Chiarelli to be patient with Oilers defence

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.

      • Joy S. Lee

        I’d imagine he’s peaking at forwards and goalies now and then, too.

        He’s not afraid of pulling the trigger for something he likes, either. Challenge is like you’ve said, measuring how quickly all of the young players in his lineup can become consistent staples. Where they are now and where they’ll be by game 82 and beyond is an unknown. Then, next year as well. But I think he’s right… it’s a big year for a lot of the youth on this team. That includes the Condors and the juniors. (Hey, the Oilers actually have a GROUP of juniors with potential; that’s a new twist altogether.) The depth they have now gives Chiarelli a great deal of leeway, so I like that he’s preaching urgency.

  • I am Batman

    Patience my a$$!
    Get Nash, Doughty , Burns, and Karlsson (all at the same time and within tomorrow).

    I’m jealous of the shames that are in the middle of a melt down because they sent to the AHL one of their favourite prospects, Jankosomething.

    We need to complain about something so that the shameful bunch down south don’t beat us on anything (and in crying like coyotes it is very hard to beat them).

    Hate is a strong word.
    But I hate the Calgary Shames.

  • camdog

    The Oilers just need to wait a week or 2. There are teams holding onto d-man right now, eventually teams are going to have to play them or send them down or trade somebody from their line up to make room.

  • thenoble1

    Whatever happened to loyalty? I know it was just a thought but to get rid of your best defenseman after he’s been hurt because the younger kids might step up is just down right stupid. I know there’s the cap but….. come on.

  • Jaxon

    I think if Benning and Nurse step up, it won’t be Sekera that gets traded, it will be Russell. Sekera won’t waive his NMC, and it won’t save the Oilers much to buy him out, but Russell can reasonably be bought out and save the Oilers $3.4M in the process. The non-empty threat of a buyout will open Russell’s mind about waiving his NMC. If not, they buy him out and solve a big part of their cap issues next summer. Russell and Nugent-Hopkins are the only contracts that can save the Oilers some cap hit next summer other than letting Maroon (probably), Strome (probably not), Letestu (definitely possible) and Fayne (certainly) walk. I could also see Caleb Jones traded for help elsewhere or to sweeten a deal. Caleb to Columbus?

    • Oil29

      -Oilers are not trading Russell or buying him out he is too good
      -Maroon will sign for a hometown discount
      -I’m pretty sure Fayne’s contract expires at the end of the year (AMEN)
      -Sad to say Hopkins more then likely is will be packing

      • Joy S. Lee

        Among all of the young guys Chiarelli is wanting to step up, I’ll bet Nugent-Hopkins is at the front of that wish list. And not necessarily so he can trade him for more assets, but to make Chiarelli’s job harder to the point where he wants to keep him around.

        To me, that’s how big of a year this is for the Nuge. Because he’s still young, and if he can add consistent offense to his resume, he becomes a vital cog in the wheel. Who knows, they might even renegotiate something longer term, taking into account his next couple of rich years. To make it a more equitable return for the Oilers, who have paid him handsomely for the return to date. To me, it’s not that Nuge is a disappointment; far from it. He just hasn’t produced results akin to the Ferrari and yacht he has in his driveways. I would love nothing more than to see him produce those results right here and now, because on this team, that would just be pure fun to watch.

    • Oilerz4life

      Don’t really see how Strome is much either IMHO and can’t see Auvitu being much of a stop gap on D when real hockey begins. Kind of disappointed in PC, think he could have done more, especially with Calgary snatching up Jagr and our RW side being weak. Afraid the Oil are a step backwards atm, peeps can trash away but I can see it going that way to start.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Seriously, you’re disappointed in PC? Uh, think back only a couple of years… zero depth, less toughness than that, and no hope. What do you see now?

        That Chiarelli is taking a patient approach at this time makes perfect sense. He’s assembled a deep core of players, leaning on the side of youth, most of whom he’s still getting to know. Making accurate projections is a serious challenge, especially in a relatively new organization. (Hey, when those lottery balls dropped, a new organization was born, from McDavid to Nicholls to Chiarelli to McLellan… completely revamped leadership at every position.)

        Right wing is fine. It’s not like Luke Gazdic and Eric Belanger are in the top nine. The team should be fine. And if it is, he has more to work with in rounding out his top-heavy roster under the cap. He wants to see what he’s got before he pulls out the blender, and personally, I like that.

        In Vegas, the Oilers have a significant lead for the most money being bet. Perhaps patience has been earned. The season is long, and Pete has time. Even opinions among fans vary widely. How about we all wait and see what we’ve got, because – and I’m sure you’ll agree here – as long as Connor and his friends are playing, it’s going to be worth watching.

      • Mr. J

        Yamamoto is better than Eberle. He had more puck steals in pre season than that eberle guy did in his entire time in edm. He also back checks. His offensive skill is undeniable. Won’t miss Eberle.
        Strome also does all the right things except not nearly as offensive but he is in a contract year so expect him to be a horse out there.
        Our young guys like slepy, khaira,Cagg, Pakarinen are all hungry beasts and are all ready to take they’re game to another level.

        Oh and Connor Mcdavid is the captain and when you have a leader like that EVERYONE on the team only gets better. None of those young guys will ever want to have a slack practice/game/workout in front of captain Connor. Practice with the best day in and day out, that is how you get better than your competitors.

        Nothing wrong with internal improvement.

        • Joy S. Lee

          Pffft, nobody is McDavid, not even close, except for McDavid. Using him as a comparable seems a tad unfair. There are still 500 other players out there. Kane and Toews make 10.5 each. How do you think he stacks up to those guys? Or Tarasenko, or Horvat, etc?

          97Train is right… he’s a heck of a player, and here I will compare him to McDavid, in that he’s barely scratched the surface. He will probably be one of the NHL’s premier icons of the next decade… would that make him worth it?

      • Play Dirty

        Not saying he isn’t pretty good. IMO he’s not 1.5m better than Drai and he’s not within 2.5 of McDavid. For all the issues that people said about Drai’s small sample size, we’ve seen more of Drain than Eichel.

        • McRaj

          I would trade Drai anyday straight up for Eichel. Saying otherwise is being a homer. Eichel will be worth his 10M. He, Matthews, and McDavid will all be in the Top 5 in league scoring (barring injury) for the next 10 seasons.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Have you checked out the NBA salaries lately? Or MLB? Soccer? I hate to say it, because it seems so wrong to even think it, but these guys make chump change compared to a lot of the other sports. People can’t help but watch the games Connor is in, so he can help the NHL change that.

        Point taken, however. It’s easy to see why some parents get a little carried away with raising a potential pro athlete, and why some kids lose sight of their reason for playing the game. I remember watching Oil Change, and seeing the self-portrait drawing Tyler Seguin had on his wall when he was showing them around. It was of Seguin in a Red Wings jersey with a single-digit thought bubble: “$.”

    • OriginalPouzar

      It doesn’t make the Drai deal look amazing – Eichel is approaching being a top 5 player in the league – he’s in the same league as Matthews.

      • JimmyV1965

        Eichel might be better than Drai but the jury is out on that. I’ll give Eichel the edge right now, but I won’t be surprised if Drai turns out to be a better player. There’s very few players in the league with his combo or size power and playmaking.

      • Joy S. Lee

        I think you’re jumping the gun on that, and I’m the guy that said Eichel would be top-shelf elite before he played an NHL game.

        If we’re comparing results… Eichel has not proven this unequivocally, and not by a longshot. Leon has done quite a lot in his short time in the league, including being near the top of the playoff point leaderboard in only two “NHL” playoff series.

        You could be right. But the results don’t speak of that just yet, and pro sports is a results-oriented business.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Thanks for posting. Fact is, Draisaitl played like a dominant force for the greater portion of last season and playoffs. Eichel is currently unable to say the same, though that may change on his behalf. However, I think most of us still expect Draisaitl to be a dominant force, in the meantime, so it’s not as unequivocal as that fellow suggested.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I listened to this earlier today and was happy with what Chiarelli said.

    He clearly acknowledged the potential issue, not only on the 2nd pairing, but on the third pairing (moving Benning up takes away Nurse’s calm puck-moving partner and weakens the third pairing).

    To me, he won’t wait long prior to make a move if the bottom 4 aren’t, at the very least, treading water.

    The schedule in early October is relatively soft for the Oilers and I fear that, if they don’t take advantage, they will be behind early and will end up battling for the wild card.

    While the Knights only have 2 right D on the roster, they have 10 or 11 d-man and only 10 healthy forwards. Colin Miller is a legit target and would go a long ways to solving this problem.

    • Joy S. Lee

      I’m kind of glad you got that impression. So, he’s preaching patience, but he’s also not willing to let the season get away on the team. The way I see it with both youngsters, neither is going anywhere. So, if we consider both of these guys thrown into the deep end for half the season, what might each look like coming out of training camp next year?

      Well, if they sink, they might learn to swim. And, if they swim, well… then they need to just keep swimming. How good can Benning be? How good could Nurse be? There’s only one way to find out, and because they are young players, we can’t assume anything for another year or two. I’ve seen shades of Coffey and Lowe in Nurse, and I’ve seen high intelligence and savvy from Benning. Hopefully they can continue to develop those qualities while gaining some very challenging and valuable experience. Let’s not also forget that they should have the steady Cam Talbot behind them.

  • OilCal

    Going forward, this team needs one more good, young defenseman. It will have to come at expensive of the forward group but I think it’s desperately needed

      • Samesame

        They shoulda offered him and a quality addition for Trouba last season.

        Probably too late now. Every game trouba looks better and nurse remains struggling

        • camdog

          Ya but they don’t need another young d-man that has trouble thinking the game. Last years playoffs were rough on Nurse. I wouldn’t trade him yet, but eventually the Oilers will have to stop trying to develop players and go for the cup. If Nurse plays to a higher level, a level we all (fingers crossed) think he can get too the defence will be strong. If he doesn’t, well than it will be like last years playoffs and that wasn’t good.

          • Joy S. Lee

            Surely you’ve heard that defensemen take a little longer in the development phase? How many NHL games has he played to date? I mean, did Shea Weber (insert the name of any high-end defenseman here) come out of junior like he was shot out of a cannon, or was he allowed to develop?

            It’s not as if Darnell is a complete sh*t show. He can play, but he’s made mistakes. As he eliminates those while his abilities and potential come to the forefront… THAT is why you don’t trade a competitor like Nurse, EVER. You develop those guys, because they become the very foundation of your championship team. You NEVER trade guys with that kind of competitive streak, you nurture them and reap the benefits later.

    • Joy S. Lee

      It’s not “desperately needed” until it’s desperately needed. At this point, that is not the case, and development doesn’t happen in straight lines. We’ll all have a much better idea after the first five games, and besides, every team will have it’s mix stirred up by injuries. That’s why depth is so vital, and I’m very glad the Oilers and Chiarelli are trying to address this first and foremost.

  • OilCan2

    PC is going to wait and see who is worth what on a contract with Nurse & Benning. The squad is set for the home opener. PC still has a roster spot or two open if a legit D comes available.

  • Tonto

    CHI finished 1st in the west last year and where our in the 1st round in 4 games.
    Oilers fans worry too much about nothing. Oilers will make playoffs this year but it seems like nothing is good enough for their fans.

  • Samesame

    Can’t see that group really “excelling”. Think the best we can hope for is they don’t cost us games

    That said, if by some surprise they do play well without sekera, itd still be nice to keep Reggie. Guys a really good 2nd pairing defender. Sucks that hed be the one we’d look to move as russel and that contract is virtually untradeable for at least this season and next. Awful contract that totally handcuffs us improving on the backend other than internally. Best case, they do and we’re paying russel 4 mil to play 3rd pair for multiple years.
    Just awful

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I’m behind Chiarelli on this 100%. People have complained that he didn’t do much in the offseason, but what were you guys expecting? Another Hall-for-Larsson deal? Sure he locked up McDraisitl, which was his #1 priority, but he didn’t see a need to make another groundbreaking trade again. That being said, the Oilers still have around $9M in cap space. If Chiarelli does think he needs defensive help, he has options. Remember, Sekera will come back, but he probably won’t be as good right off the hop. This is the stage where the team is at now. Internal growth and development.

    • Joy S. Lee

      That’s half the fun. Hopefully we have the offense to overcome our deficiencies, and in the meantime, everyone gets better and understands their roles better. When a guy like Sekera comes back, or PC brings in someone else, the team will be that much better for the experience, because now the third pairing can become a force, as well. The risk makes it more fun (and frustrating) to watch, ’cause we don’t know what to expect.