Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A hindsight look at Peter Chiarelli’s gruesome trading record

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.

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(Hopefully you have a barf-bag on standby, Oilers fans.)

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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.

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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 

Sep 18, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) and Calgary Flames right wing Garnet Hathaway (21) battle for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton Oilers won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

  • KenBone18

    So this year’s scape goat is Chiarelli. And so it goes – Eakins, Mac T, Hall, Schultz, Yak, Eberle and now Chiarelli.

    Who do the Oilers blame next year? Preimer Notley, Donald Trump? The Mascot?

  • Natti_89

    Oh boy now that you mention those Boston trades……gulp. I am a lifelong Bruins fan and I forgot about that. I think the cup win makes people forgive and forget. But man, those are some real ? ‘s

  • Roberto

    I don’t think Strome has been a healthy Scratch yet has he? And Griffin hasn’t played a game with the Oilers this season because he is no longer with the organization.

  • RyanCoke

    So the second last sentence has a gaffe that totally makes me lose respect for you as a professional writer. I once had a doctor spell losing wrong too, he is definitely no longer my doctor if he can’t spell a basic word correctly.

  • thelinedriver86

    So you say last season the hall trade worked out but this season it didn’t? Are you going to flip flop again if hall gets hurt after Christmas and doesn’t play a full 82 again? Or what if the oilers make the playoffs next year and the devils suck? Hall gets hurt every year, and didn’t do anything for 6 years to bring the team closer to the playoffs. Just stop the whining about this team.

  • Consultant

    This is a serious serious discussion that needs to take place. Thanks for this article.
    Defend some these moves all you want but at the end of the day, he is batting well, well below .500 in terms of return value. That’s it man, the sample size is big enough and most importantly – HE IS NOT IMPROVING, what else is there to talk about, Chia must go, and he must go right now. At this time while the team is struggling is the time to get it done. DO IT Nicholson, this is in your hands. Don’t wait until its a tire fire. Learn from history.

  • Wonderboy

    I think Chiarelli sucks as much as the next guy, but I remember reading article after article saying how expensive all of the six mill men were and now they are bargain deals.

  • ziyan94

    This article tells us nothing that we don’t already know.
    Chiarelli has done alright, but his greatest shortcoming was the failure to bring in reinforcements this summer.
    Small typo at the end, “loosing” his job.

  • Craig1981

    Hinsight is 20/20, but the Chiarelli signing had me worried from the start. His Stanely cup came from getting great drafting in the rounds past the 1st round. Krejci, Lucic, Marchand… Edmonton has none of these great/lucky picks. This is what made Chiarelli and I doubt his skill as a GM…….He did flease Rask from TO.

      • Craig1981

        I didn’t mean to imply that he did. I actually meant the opposite. If he didnt have those in the system would his supporters have the same respect for him? Would he even be the Oiler’s GM?

  • Klef abs

    Before the Reinhart trade it was because of Chia burning his bridges that Boston sold Hamilton for less to our main rival. He’s not 100% at fault for that as it’s half in Sweeney. But if we’d have gotten Hamilton, likely the awful Reinhart deal wouldn’t have happened and likely the awful Hall for Larsson wouldn’t have happened. Dominos created by Chia burning his bridges.

    • Gravis82

      Many of us here have never stopped saying it was a blunder. There was no way it ever made sense. Team success doesnt mean it was a good trade. How do you know that Larson caused the success last year and Hall would not have resulted in greater success? You cant. But any reasonable person can see how lopsided that was.

    • GK1980

      I agree, it isn’t a blunder nor as bad as the writer makes it out to be. The team moved sideways with this trade. Filled a hole, created a hole. I don’t consider this trade brutal, it wasn’t a great trade but not as bad as people are making it out to be.

  • Natti_89

    Since our special teams have been a ? on the ice, who could We brings in to solve the issue? Are PP and PK coaches a ‘thing’? And who would be a good benchmark? Listening to Gregor today did actually open my eyes on how we are on the same page 5×5 this year as last but he difference is the special teams . Forget the blame who do you bring in or what do you change to solve?

  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    It honestly pains me to see what could have been haha. I’m not going to get strung up because it’s in the past, but both the Hall and Reinhart trades absolutely wrecked the Oilers chances of being a dynasty. I’m still pretty indifferent on the Eberle trade because even though Eberle is having a great year with the Islanders, I couldn’t stand his consistent weak and lazy play as an Oiler. When the both the Reinhart and Hall trades happened, I remember ever single person I spoke to was extremely surprised and dissapointed with the return.

    Barzal is looking to be on his way to the Calder, can you imagine that speed on McDavids wing?
    Not to mention the other pick could have been 6ft5 dman Brandon Carlo.
    I think I heard Stauffer defending the trade a few days ago saying “the oilers weren’t necessarily going to pick Barzal” even though at the time of tge draft, all Oiler fans and analysts were shocked Barzal dropped that low. You throw in the fact that they drafted Benson over DeBrincat.
    Keeping Hall would have likely led to slightly less points for Drai, resulting in a lower salary


    Some combo of Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse, a free agent,

    Damn does that hurt

    • Rock11

      OK for the millionth time Barzal was never going to be drafted by Edm. After 97 was picked the Oil needed D and size. A smallish skilled forward was not going to be drafted with that pick. I know that is the easy narrative but it’s just lazy and stupid and I can’t believe the author of this article fell into that moronic trap.

      Second Eberle was not lazy and weak. His game certainly was not crash and bang as he literally was not built for that. He played how he needed to survive and produce offence which is the most valuable commodity in the NHL. In return Chiarelli got a player with the same “style” of play but without the ability to score. I remember this summer people being excited about Strome cause he was going to be bigger, stronger, more physical and could probably replace most of the lost goals too. These were people who had never seen Strome play. I would argue that he is lazy as in the rare moments when he decides to use his feet he can be somewhat effective.

      Chiarelli is simply a terrible negotiator. We see that with every new brutal contract and we see it in nearly every trade. Even if we assume the major parts of the Hall and Eberle trades remain unchanged, imagine how much stronger the organization would be if a second round pick had come back in each trade. Consider the cap room had the Russell, Drai, and Lucic deals been at market value. Prospects and cap room could have put the Oil in the market for a significant trade(Weber, Subban, Seth Jones etc.). Or to be a player in free agency on a Tavares, Doughty, or Karlsson. Sadly none of that is possible now.

      • Bringer_Of_Snow

        I 100% agree with your last point. I would love to be negotiating a contract extension with Chia. It seems like whatever you ask for you get. This is even supported in the video showing his call on the Seguin trade. From what I remember, he asked for a first, they said no, he asked if they could throw in a second, they said no, then he was like okay deal.

        Everything I was hearing during the draft had the Oilers taking Barzal. The reasoning was that their forward prospect pool was non-existent. And I specifically remember hearing people mentioning how they wouldn’t be able to afford all their forwards, so having skilled prospects to come in and produce necessary.
        Yes, obviously the big talk during the draft was acquiring a top RHD, seeing as that was one of thier biggest weaknesses. And when they missed out on Hamilton, Chia panicked and practically paid the price for Hamilton (an established, physical and offensive dman) for Reinhart (slow, visibly struggling prospect, probably not even in the top 10 dmen in the Islanders organization) instead.
        We can agree to disagree on Eberle. I am not saying that I like Strome’s game or anything. I just think Eberle was frustrating to watch. And not being able to perform in the playoffs because it was “his first one” is not even a remotely good excuse. That didn’t seem to bother half of the roster.

        At the end of the day, Chias incompetence in asset management and cluelessness in contract negotiations is what has directly resulted in their team makeup today. Oilers had the assets to follow the Chicago or Pittsburgh blue prints. Instead, they are more looking like the Bruins, bound to win a cup or two, but with the reckless contracts given out, not sustainable.

        • Klef abs

          Many say the oilers were interested in Svechnikov and wouldn’t have taken Barzal…except that Barzal wasn’t supposed to drop that far and wasn’t supposed to be available still. So if they kept that pick and used it and it wasn’t him then they are all dumber than we thought as every broadcast and scout screaming BARZAL!!!

          • Bringer_Of_Snow

            haha exactly my point. Svechnikov was the player I believe Stauffer was saying who they were going to draft. I’m not sure which would have had me doubt Chia’s competence more; drafting Svechnikov over Barzal, or moving 2 high picks in a deep draft for a struggling prospect who had fallen out of favour in Reinhart.

    • Natti_89

      You people and ‘what could have been’ rosters. GFY and go play the latest instalment of NHL. Living in the past will never move you forward. Keep on dreaming

      • Bringer_Of_Snow

        Relax there big boy. The first thing I said was I’m not going to get strung up on that past haha.
        The purpose of this article was pretty much to discuss his past moves. Thats what I’m doing. Don’t need you to be a hero today.

  • madjam

    Has Chia made same mistake Wilson made , that ultimately led to McLelland taking the fall for the Gm taking a winning culture out of their club with poor personnel decisions in off season ? Has our GM made culture worse on a winning team from last season , just like happened in San Jose ?

  • GK1980

    I’m assuming and hoping the Oilers will have a ton of cap space to “Buy” some star players. I hope Chai knows what he is doing because right now it looks brutal. Barzal looks amazing…..dang.

  • Spoils

    we should trade next year’s pick now

    i know people can’t see it, but the oilers are making the playoffs this year. Sekera and Larsson come back. Talbot is going to have an incredible second half. McDavid is going to blow the doors off the NHL and Draisaitl is going to activate. Klefbom will return to form. the pp is going to come online. Jesse P, Strome, Lucic, Maroon, the 4th line continues etc.

    we are losing games by basically 1 goal right now. how many of these things have to stay bad for that to continue? but when we turn the corner, we are never looking back. the is McDavid’s life story we are talking about here.

    this team will start playing .600 hockey going forward and finish with a miraculous 10 game run.

    if you believe this, god bless you.

    • Butters

      Trade next year’s pick? Oilers making the playoffs? Spoils please add a tilde or :p at the end of your comment otherwise some people might think your serious.

  • Butters

    The worst part of the Eberle trade is the fact they won’t reason Strome and therefore gave away Eberle for almost nothing. The Griffen trade broke my heart in 2015. I thought that draft was going to set us up for a decade.

  • Protect the Future

    What I do not understand is that while we are built for the playoffs and do ok in the hitting department, this year we are not “hard to play against”. Some say that teams can not use playoff style toughness all year as it will wear them down. In my experience, winning is a great remedy for bumps and bruises. Mc D gets mauled all game long. Mates come to his defense when there is an egregious foul but how about for someone even looking at him funny? How can anyone forget the fine assortment of fellows who rode shotgun for the Great One? If the plan is to let 97 do it all himself then they better make some space for him, he sure isn’t getting the calls. The g.m. is not in my good books right now and I have little faith in him saving the day with miricle moves. The only chance for a positive end to the season begins and ends with our current roster, whether I like it or not.

  • CMG30

    I’ve been harping on this for a few weeks now. PC needs to be shown the door. His signature move is to ship out talent in lopsided deals. Somehow he believes that you can lose a trade and be a better team for it. What’s next? RNH for a couple 3rd rounders? McDavid for a few third liners with no trade clauses?

    Can’t assess talent. Can’t build a team. Can’t manage the cap.

    What are you waiting for Katz? This guy should have been fired yesterday.

  • FFF

    What’s confused me the most and isn’t talked about here is the cap management. While he has overpaid for Lucic and I think time will show the same for Draisaitl (although he did get a deal on McDavid) sometimes you have to do that to attract or keep talent.

    But there have been a couple of moves that cleared up a lot of cap space for this season when there was no need for it – next year when McDavid’s contract kicks in every dollar will be precious.

    Can someone tell me why they 1) traded Eberle this off season instead of next when he would have only had one year left and the return inevitably would have been better and 2) bought out Pouliot this year instead of next year when the ongoing cap hit would have been negligible – now they are stuck with 1.3M in dead money in three years they will be desperate for cap space. Made no sense to me, just bury him in the minors this year if you don’t want him and couldn’t trade him – and since Buffalo has used him in all 28 games, I feel like a trade with some retained salary would have been possible.

    • IRONman

      Clean house. Bring in GM from Detroit. He knows how to build properly. The sad thing is know one even scouted Griffen in 2015 before giving away Barzal. Crazy bad mangers

      • Klef abs

        Are you drunk? Holland is the last guy we should bring in. Another dinosaur. And we had plenty of people scout Griffin and employed his former jr gm. Not to mention Chia said he personally scouted Grif at both Memorial cups and said he was nhl ready.

  • RJ

    I remember when Chia was hired, there was a poster named Verdad who absolutely hated Chia. Starting to look like that guy was right.

    Criticized all of the deals.