The Edmonton Oilers have trudged through quite a strange and unpredictable couple of seasons since much-maligned Peter Chiarelli has taken the reins as the team’s general manager.
From drafting Connor McDavid and acquiring Cam Talbot, to flipping Taylor Hall and handing out a disgusting contract to Milan Lucic, Chiarelli’s performance during his time in Edmonton has been just as tumultuous as his team’s. It’s risen from a struggling and rebuilding club with a ton of young potential, to a playoff team, to a contender, to a Vegas favourite, back down to a basement-dwelling sympathetic figure all in two and a half years.
Chiarelli was hired as GM in April of 2015, and has maybe the most scrutinized and heavily criticized trading records in all of hockey — one that dates back to his time with the Boston Bruins.
So with the afforded luxury of hindsight, allow me to hop on my pedestal for a quick minute and recap Chiarelli’s best and (mostly) worst deals for your reading pleasure.
(Hopefully you have a barf-bag on standby, Oilers fans.)
What you're hoping for in a trade vs what Chiarelli actually gets pic.twitter.com/fixilJtwyF
— Baggedmilk – Beet writer til .500 (@jsbmbaggedmilk) December 7, 2017
Draft picks for Cam Talbot
You know what, since it’s the holiday season and we should be spreading joyous cheer and all that shit, let’s start with one of Chiarelli’s not-so-bad deals. Needing to fill the team’s desperate need for a number one goaltender, he plucked Cam Talbot away from the New York Rangers and gave up only a third, fifth and seventh round pick for a guy who should be the team’s answer in goal for at least the next few campaigns.
Talbot has struggled this season — as has the rest of the team, obviously — but just last year he led the NHL in several key statistical categories including games played and wins, showing his durability as a starter while finishing just outside the Vezina Trophy conversation.
Unfortunately for Chiarelli, this move is the highlight of his tenure in Edmonton so far, and it happened just two months after he took over.
Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson
This is quite possibly Chiarelli’s most notorious blunder, and when you’ve only had your job for two seasons, the fact that you boast several ‘notorious blunders’ is certainly not ideal. To be fair, the Oilers had a surplus of skilled forwards and had an Alberta-sized need to fill on the blueline, so moving out a forward for a quality shutdown d-man wasn’t the worst idea.
And as the team made the playoffs last season with Larsson a key contributor to the Oliers’ success, one could make the case that for a very short period of time, this deal looked okay. Well, now back here on planet Earth, the swap is looking just like it should in Edmonton: Terrible. Hall has found his game once again this season and is the best player on a resurgent New Jersey Devils club looking to do some damage in the Metro division.
Larsson, meanwhile has been okay, but not nearly the impactful player you would expect in return for a former No. 1 pick with all the offensive upside in the world. Hall’s $6-million cap hit is looking like a bargain right now, too.
Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome
What you want the return to be from a Peter Chiarelli trade vs what the actual return is from a Peter Chiarelli trade pic.twitter.com/rFqaiEEvH6
— Cam Lewis (@cooom) December 7, 2017
Unlike the Half for Larsson deal, which a surplus at forward presented an opportunity to fill a hole on D, the Eberle for Strome trade was an obvious attempt to lower costs — and the results have certainly reflected that premise. You get what you pay for, and with Eberle the Oilers had a solid top-six guy with the potential to put up 30 and 65 every season while carrying only a $6-million cap hit, just like Hall.
With Strome, the Oilers got a player who’s only half as expensive as Eberle, but not even close to half the player he is. Now in his fourth NHL season after a very productive OHL career, Strome has yet to score 20 goals and has cracked 30 points just once. He’s been skating as an extra forward in practice this week, which means he’ll likely see the stands for the first time as a healthy scratch on Saturday.
McDavid’s monumental contract presented a challenge in managing the salary cap over the next eight years. But the minimal, almost insulting return the Oilers got back for Eberle is another terrible blemish on their GM’s already spotty-as-hell record.
Missing out on Mathew Barzal for Griffin Reinhart
Chiarelli ran head first into a generational building block after he was hired in 2015 when the No. 1 overall pick once again fell into the Oilers’ lap and a young star named Connor McDavid became Edmonton’s new face of the franchise. Chiarelli and the organization could have struck gold twice in that first round if not for a desperate attempt to shore up the team’s blue line with the acquisition of Griffin Reinhart, which saw the No. 16 and No. 33 overall picks go to the New York Islanders.
That first-rounder at No. 16 turned out to be Mathew Barzal, a stud of a WHL prospect who is looking like a potential offensive force in this league for years to come. The 20-year-old is operating at a point-per-game clip in his rookie season, will be in the running for the Calder Trophy, and has (along with Eberle) been a driving force on a resurrected Islanders club.
The team needed a blueliner bad in 2015, but not a fringe one who, at the time of the deal, only had eight NHL games under his belt.
Tumultuous tenure in Boston
Don’t worry, beloved Oilers fans, another franchise has suffered the same pain you feel right now. A ten-year run with the Boston Bruins started off promising and peaked with a Stanley Cup victory in 2011. However, as successful as his time in Boston was for a while, Chiarelli pulled off some absolute stinkers that Bruins fans still lament to this day. Chiarelli was canned by the organization he won a Stanley Cup with just four seasons after the feat, and these failed deals likely played a big part:
In July of 2013, the Bruins shipped out All-Star forward and elite scorer Tyler Seguin along with Rich Peverely and Ryan Button to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and three prospects including Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Frazer. Boston has no one on their roster left from that deal, while Seguin has turned into a top-10 NHLer.
Chiarelli parted ways with now two-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel for a couple first round picks and a second-rounder. The return in the deal was actually great, as two of those picks turned into Seguin and now-Flames blueliner Dougie Hamilton. However, Chiarelli flipped Seguin himself and incoming GM Don Sweeney traded Hamilton, leaving not much return left for one of the game’s great snipers in Kessel.
Blake Wheeler, now captain of the Winnipeg Jets and one of the team’s best offensive talents, was flipped to Atlanta for Rich Peverly. I’m just going to leave that one there.
So far, aside from accidentally falling into a Connor McDavid draft year, Chiarelli’s greatest act with the Oilers to date has been not losing his job.
Though time is surely running out, right?