Back during training camp, the Oilers brought Chris Kelly in on a professional tryout contract. He didn’t end up making the team, but stuck around and practiced with the team for quite some time.
At one point, Mark Spector suggested that the Oilers would officially sign Kelly to a contract after Kailer Yamamoto was sent down to the WHL. It never happened, and it seems now that the possibility of Kelly joining the team is out the window as the veteran pivot has joined the Belleville Senators (Ottawa’s AHL team) on a professional tryout.
The Oilers could technically still ink Kelly to a contract because the PTO isn’t a binding clause. Last season, the Oilers brought Kris Versteeg to camp on a PTO and he ended up signing a contract with the Calgary Flames. So I guess he could play and practice with Belleville and come back to the Oilers, but Peter Chiarelli hasn’t given him a contract yet, it seems very unlikely it’s ever going to happen.
The Chiarelli connection is what made Kelly and the Oilers seem like an inevitability this year. Chiarelli joined the Senators in 1999, the year that Kelly was drafted by Ottawa. When Chiarelli was general manager of the Boston Bruins, he acquired Kelly in a trade with the Senators prior to the winning the 2011 Stanley Cup. Kelly played a key role on that Bruins’ Cup team and stuck around in Boston for five seasons after that.
Kelly had a good NHL career. He appeared in 833 games between Boston and Ottawa and racked up 123 goals and 289 points. In his prime, Kelly was a very effective two-way centre who could kill penalties, win face-offs, and chip in a little offence. But at the ripe age of 37, Kelly simply isn’t that player anymore.
Last season, he played in 82 games with the Sens and had some of the worst underlying numbers in the NHL. The fact that he’s apparently moving on is a good thing for the Oilers, who don’t have a need for an old, slow player at this point.