To say the Edmonton Oilers have been a disappointment this season is to understate in the extreme. While I don’t think the Oilers are as bad as they’ve looked to this point as we’ve watched things go sideways, that’s cold consolation with the playoffs almost certainly out of the question now. The ugly bottom line is the Oilers haven’t been good enough.

Given how the Oilers raised expectations last season by reaching the post-season for the first time in a decade with 103 points and going two rounds before losing in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks, it’s no wonder fans are frustrated with that they’ve seen. I wonder, though, if those pre-season expectations were realistic. With the benefit of hindsight, and with the slumping Oilers sitting at 18-22-3 as they take on the Nashville Predators tonight, I’m not sure they were.

A lot of people, me included, were fooled by what we saw last season. A lot of us expected the Oilers to take another step, to improve on what we saw in the 2017 playoffs, maybe win the Western Conference and make the Stanley Cup final. They could even win the damn thing. Bottom line, we got fooled. Worse yet, it seems obvious now GM Peter Chiarelli did, too.

Take a look at some of the predictions that were made, some by MSM outlets, others by blogs, during the pre-season. A lot of relatively smart people here.

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May 10, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette (50) meets with Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) and players following the 2-1 victory and series win following game seven of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

At Post Media, two of four local panelists picked the Oilers to win the Western Conference. One of them picked the Oilers to win the Stanley Cup final over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

At Sportsnet, seven of 16 pre-season prognosticators picked the Oilers to win the West and two of 16 picked Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup. Three panelists had Todd McLellan winning the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year. Across the street at TSN, Frank Seravalli picked Edmonton to win the Stanley Cup.

At NHL.com, the Oilers were picked by many to win the Pacific Division. They got four votes to win the Western Conference and one vote to win the Cup. At the Sporting News, all three writers doing their 2017-18 season preview picked Edmonton to win the Pacific Division.


I picked the Oilers to come out of the West and meet Pittsburgh in the Cup final. Jason Gregor picked the Oilers to win the Pacific Division. Cam Lewis picked the Oilers to win the Pacific Division. On and on . . .

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At the Hockey Writers, Kelowna-based writer Larry Fisher picked the Oilers to win the division, the conference and the Stanley Cup (over Pittsburgh).

Justin Cuthbert of Puck Daddy over at Yahoo Sports picked the Oilers to come out of the West and lose to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup final.

It’s worth noting as well that every one of these predictions was made after Chiarelli dealt Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for Ryan Strome in a salary dump deal that weakened the right side and knowing that Andrej Sekera would miss the start of the season recovering from knee surgery. Even factoring that in, I thought the Oilers would be fine. So, obviously, did Chiarelli. Wrong and wrong.

What about you? How many of you who are mad as hell now saw this coming? How many of you had the Oilers finishing outside the top three in the Pacific Division and outside of the top eight in the Western Conference in the pre-season?


Remember the story from 10 years ago or so about the guy who started with a paper clip and, through a series of several trades, ended up with a house? You can read that here. It seems to me that Chiarelli is headed in the opposite direction with trades he’s made in consecutive seasons, giving up talent to fill a specific need.

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I wasn’t surprised Chiarelli had to overpay to land Adam Larsson, giving up Taylor Hall to make the deal. I thought the price was a bit steep, but the way Larsson played last season took some of the edge off. Chiarelli also gave up the most talented player last summer, swapping Eberle for Strome and cap space that he hasn’t chosen to use as of now. Now the Oilers lack scoring on the wings.


  • Brent Seabrook? No. Too old. Too expensive.


  • That's My Point

    And then drafting the smallest player ever in the history of the NHL in the 1st round, who’ll probably never even make the NHL when you don’t have a 2nd round pick. YIKES!!!

    • morsecode89

      It’s easy to crap on Chiarelli for many of the terrible trades he’s made, but Kailer Yamamoto already has 9 more NHL games and 3 more NHL points than many other players in his draft class. Even though he’s struggled a bit (12 pts in 13 gms in the WHL) since getting sent down, he out-scored many players taken above him and has since been lauded as being one of the better late round picks in recent drafts.

      Kailer might never be an NHL star, but he looks to be tracking to be a pretty solid middle six winger that can score. Something the Oilers are currently lacking. He can also skate well and has some serious puck skills.

      But yeah bud, maybe Chia will trade him for another big gritty player, because the Oilers with Nurse, Lucic, Maroon, Kassian, Kharia, and Larsson need some more size and toughness to win.

  • That's My Point

    Vegas has 18 wins and 3 losses out of 21 home games in their 1st NHL season and the Oilers have 18 wins out of 43 games. Yeah I guess, just do nothing but keep watching the games and expect things to change. OR take control and FIRE THE MALL!

    • puckle-head

      I think that Vegas building such a strong team out of players that other GMs deemed not worth keeping is a good indicator that maybe, just maybe, we should stop assuming NHL GMs know what the hell they are doing just because they are NHL GMs. The league’s collective braintrusts are paralyzed by ideologues who think themselves the smartest guy in the room and refuse to consider alternative ways of evaluating players, outside their preferred method. Then they surround themselves with people who think like them, and don’t challenge their closely held beliefs. Think of how many times a GM signs, releases or trades a player, then gets panned by the public at large for making a terrible move. It’s not often the GM is vindicated.

      • BringitbacklikeSlats

        You’re misinformed about nobody wanting those players Vegas got. Maybe some of them but it’s not like they were castaways to expansion clubs of years past. The expansion requirements made it competitive for the first time and many will argue that they were given too much talent for a new organization.

        • puckle-head

          Fair point, but I also didn’t say nobody wanted those players, but the fact that they’re all guys who couldn’t crack the top 10 (or 8) most important skaters in their club list by the GMs, and are now arguably the one of the best teams in the league says a lot about NHL teams’ player evaluation skills (some teams more so than others).

  • Natejax97

    Geez Rubes when you put it that way it sounds even worse…lol. Good read though…wonder how much of this was sitting on the back of the players mind and the idealogy was to cruise through the regular season and gear up for the playoffs…just yuck. Hope they come with their lunch boxes packed from Game 1 next year and make sure this year was the anomaly and not the norm. Go Oilers!

  • Rama Lama

    This is usually what happens when you hire egomaniacs……..I suspect if you were to ask the average Oiler fan about all the trades, most would not have made the one for one trades that PC made. This is not in retrospect but at the time of inception.

    It all started early with the two almost first round draft choices ( 16 & 33) given up for a junior defenceman. Followed by Hall who was arguably one of the best left wingers for a defensive defenceman. I for one like Larsen but let’s face it he is a defensive defenceman, not an offensive defenceman. Most fans would have given PC some slack had he acquired an top offensive defenceman.

    Then there was the Jordan Eberle trade……..trading a top three player for a fourth liner. I’m not trying to be a revisionist but I suspect the vast majority of Oiler fans would not have approved of any of these trades as being good.

    PC has proven that he cannot pull off a good trade…….I do not think too many fans will disagree with this comment.

    • No proof they would pick Barzal at that spot, Halls pouting and vacating scrums is something I do not miss at all. Eberle needed to be gone regardless of cap space usage. In the playoffs he was less than useless , when everyone else gives you 110% and the floater(wearing a letter) that cant take or make a hit to make a play operates at about 50% I am sure the rest of the roster noticed and I doubt they miss him at all. Biggest miss was not replacing Sekera and addressing back up goalie. And yet again Anders Nilson goes somewhere else and seems to be doing fine. Seems to happen to every player that vacates this ongoing gong show.

    • gr8haluschak

      I call BS here, a D man that knows how to play D was what this team needed, if you think Kevin Shattenkirk was a better option for Hall then you are about as smart as the barnyard animal in you pic

      • Klef abs

        No a better option would have been a two way guy. Like Seth Jones. We all know Ryjo went and the oil apparently discussed Nuge but Poile said Hall was off the table at the time he made the trade. He said if he was available then it may have turned out different.

    • Natejax97

      It is pretty easy to throw a guy an anvil when he is trying to trade 5’10” soft players making 6 million a year because they score 20 goals in the regular season (17 actually because he got a hat trick in a Vancouver game at the end of the year that was a complete laugher). Same player was completely overrun in the playoffs scoring 0 goals. I have Eberle’s jersey hanging in a shadow box in my home. Loved him but it was hard to watch and it was his time to move on. He had no value on the trade market. GM’s are not stupid, they saw the exact same thing we saw during the playoffs last year. Glad he is doing well on the island in the Eastern

      • MrBung

        It was the timing. Chia claims the main motivation to moving Eberle sooner was the threat of an offer sheet on Drai because of one good playoffs. Now Drai has regressed. Many players like Caggiula and Drai have a great playoffs and play above their pay grade based on adrenalin and the style of play being different…then saddle their team with a big contract. Drai ideally would have been at closer to Scheifle level … around 7 million. All the cap pay adds up – a million here a million there.

  • Ty Guy

    Chia is building a cup contender….for 2012. i feel like no matter what he does he will lose. for years small, skilled and fast didnt cut it. moved to size and grit finally and the league flipped back to speed. now we need skill again? talk about chasing a tail. no more reclamation projects. no more goons. get a scouting staff that researches past the first round. try just win one trade….if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck keep it off our roster.

  • camdog

    I thought they’d be fine going into the season. Thought they’d need to pick up some help on the wing sometime in the New Year. I bought into the analytics on Jokinen and the wishful thinking of PC on Strome. After game 2 against the Canucks I was concerned because they got out worked and out skated. Game 3 they got completely out classed by Winnipeg. Suffice to say things haven’t changed since game 3. It was obvious then that they were in trouble.

  • VK63

    Given the heightened level of organizational arrogance attributed to a single playoff round in 11 years.
    It’s perhaps not that shocking.
    Karma has a way of offering heaping helpings of humble to those in need.

  • Anton CP

    I don’t know if I’m fooled but it is frustrating for sure. I was remembering that Avalanche’s 113 points season then collapsed into oblivion. Sens suffered the same fate this season and of course the 2006 Oilers. Vegas will almost guarantee to follow the same fate with so many free agents that they got will be seeking new bigger contracts elsewhere. The Oilers are not ready, but the hope will be after this season when all RFA situations are much more clearer.

    • MrBung

      True. The current Oil are example of this phenomenon. I don’t see the Oilers returning to the playoffs for another season, but next season will probably see less losing streaks and an uptick on the special teams … unless Chia damages the team with more bad, value shedding trades and cap issues.

  • Klef abs

    I said that they would regress. They downgraded in many areas and would not get repeat career years out of 7 players again and we would likely face more injury woes than last season. I was chastised and called names and told I wasn’t a real oilers fan. I said from day one that when we hired Chia we’d regret it. Was banned on here a couple times for calling out bloggers for pumping Chia and the team. Still waiting for apologies from most here.

  • OnDaWagon

    I didn’t think they’d be this bad either, Robin. But the buggers keep proving me wrong.

    Looks like the management team in Boston have been building a pretty decent group…since removing their handcuffs.

    I also don’t believe this coaching group is high caliber. I don’t care how long they have coached in the league. I think one of the biggest mistakes made over the last three years, was letting todd Nelson walk away. He seemed to have the right personality to have players work for(with) him.

    Anyhow, another disaster has arrived upon us. But if you are interested in a condo in Vancouver…S38+ mil will get you one.

    • ET

      Ya I would have kept Todd Nelson too but I also would not have gotten rid of Ralph Kruger. Both those coaches were and are good with young players but our management team had to outthink itself and go after TMac. Poor decision in my opinion but TMac was the low hanging fruit and flavor of the day when he became available so we panicked and grabbed it so now we must pay the piper! I do believe that we will turn it around to play some good hockey this year and next year we will be back in the playoffs. It’s not a God given right to make the playoffs Oil fans, it must be earned and sometime crap happens and a season goes down the drain, happens to lots of good teams in all sports.

  • Soccer Steve

    Trash this or call me out as smug or benefiting from hindsight. I saw this coming.

    THAT said, in no way did I predict that we were a lottery team. Clawing for 9-10th place, but not this. The word ‘Disappointment’ does no justice here.

    • winteriscoming

      I am going to agree with you, I was waiting and wondering this summer when Chia was going to make some changes but nothing happened. No additions only loss of talent and moving to a younger team. All of which have come back to bite them in the a$$. Not wasting my time watching them any more.

      • Seeing Chiarelli sign all those career AHLers and waiting for that big move while teams around us were making legit deals felt like seeing all your siblings and cousins get cool toys while you starred at your new dictionary on christmas morning. I still remember the disappointment this offseason, you could just feel that Chiarelli was leading us straight to an endless pit of misery with the lack of moves.

  • Wiggleswag

    I refuse to say I was fooled. I have seen them play the way I expected and win and I seen them play the same way and loose by 3 or 4 goals. It’s been a weird year and apart from poor goaltending early the rest is hard to explain.

  • Chainsawz

    I thought in the summer that the offseason was one of missteps and disasters for the most part and that if the Oilers were going back to the playoffs, it would be almost all due to McDavid going supernova. I had no inkling that it was going to be this bad though. If you did, there’s a GM job I wouldn’t mind you having.

  • BendingCorners

    Yes everybody is disappointed. Chiarelli gambled that the young guys would progress enough to carry the team this year, and that Talbot would stay razor sharp. He lost the bet and maybe his job.
    He could have kept Eberle for another year, signed Russell and Draisatl for less (especially Draisatl since he is only an RFA) and found a better backup for Talbot and found a filler for Sekera on a one-year contract. Or he tried and couldn’t find the right fit.
    Next year (again and again and again, sadly) the bet might pay off.
    It’s a tight league and it doesn’t take much to go wrong to push a good team to the bottom. As long as Chiarelli doesn’t make any panic moves, this team cold still be very good.
    (Disclosure: I cheer first for the Flames and second for the Oilers. We have similar problems in Calgary and less talent overall).

  • OnDaWagon

    Oesterle emerging on Blackhawks “top pair”. Nice move brass. $650,000 for this year…And next. Who is evaluating players here ??

    I say fire them all…Gm…Coaches…let the players coach themselves. I spose it could be worst, but not much…and i would at best be entertained by it. Imagine being entertained by the players…try it. FIRE THEM ALL.

  • nunyour

    no on Seabrook too, but how about this, Klefbom and Drisatle, for Hoffman and Karlson. Ottawa gets the centre they want, we get the no. 1 d-man we need, Hoffman is the sniper Macd. needs. I think the money is about the same for both teams.

  • Anyone got a time machine? I’d like a one way ticket to March/April 2017 where our hockey team was made up of actual hockey players instead of cardboard cutouts and we actually looked forward to the next game every 2 days. Those orange reebok jerseys looked much nicer too.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I don’t know??? What’s really different Casey, really???
      All this talk about moving this & changing that…
      Am I the only one that sees a pretty talented team with no direction?
      Even McDavid… How many times in a game now is he saying, F***-it… and we see him go on a one man tear…
      If the team had some direction, we wouldn’t see that… Like it was progressing last year. Lots of promise & progression, this year, it’s “seat of your pants, on the fly management” with absolutely no direction.
      It’s not the lack of skill level to my eye. It’s lack of direction & systems.
      That’s why we are seeing individual players mid-game saying “f***-it” and going on a brief tear, trying to be the hero…
      I just don’t know how a team can go from showing so much exciting promise to what we see today? God, Eberle wasn’t THAT good???

  • GK1980

    Chia’s moves were a waste. Somebody said do you think the devils would trade hall for Larson straight up right now? HELL NO. Is Chia just soft when it comes to negotiations? He sure seems to be. Eberle trade was a disaster.

  • OilCan2

    The spring of 2017 was a high water mark for the Oilers. Like the article says the glowing future was actually only warm memories; not the actual roster status.

    Losing Sekera for 6 – 8 months was the killer blow to the team. The PP fell apart as a direct result. Every other D man was forced up a notch with only Nurse answering the call. Slepyshev and the Drake were injured early. Only one of our big $$$ signings seems to have shown up.

    The only hope we have now is to beat the Flames every game for the rest of the year and watch Connor McDavid highlights every week.

  • OilersGM

    PC shouldn’t have ever traded Hall and I don’t want to hear about his attitude.
    If it was Eberle for Larsson I would’ve been fine with it but not at the expense of a Hall. And Eberle for Strome was boneheaded especially when you say it’s because of an offer sheet that wouldn’t have came because only 3 teams had their own 4 – 1st rd picks remember they had to be the teams 4 firsts and not acquired from somewhere else. Good GM’s sit on their assets until they get fair value case and point (Yzerman&Sakic) not be desperate to make a move and besides teams build around their core not trade them. Also if the Eberle deal was cap dump what is Chia doing not using it this year. I would say 80% of the fans would agree with me that Chia is not a good GM, his track record says it all. The prove is in the putting.
    Did I think the Oilers would make the playoffs absolutely but I knew they didn’t have enough fire power to win it all and in an expansion offseason Chia missed a major opportunity to take advantage of some teams and failed to do so just like he failed to add at the trade deadline last year because he admit his team was to young and not ready to win it all that is stupid to think. We all know they were couple of breaks away from winning it all and maybe couple of additions would’ve pushed them over the top. Honestly I can go on and on but what’s the point this organization likes being the joke of the league.

    • ET

      You may not want to hear about Hall’s attitude but the simple fact is that he had a terrible attitude, was a cancer in the room and absolutely needed to go. So did Eberle, too soft and too lazy. Neither of them will win a cup until they grow up and become team players. I do believe that the management team can certainly wear some of the blame for how these 2 players fizzled out after good starts to their careers. I wish them both all the best, just not as Oilers.

    • MrBung

      It was a really gut punch to give up a player of Hall’s calibre to just get a Larsson stay at home defenceman. Brutal. These trades just kill an organization.

      • MrBung

        I thought there was going to be a regression. Of course, not this bad. I thought they would still squeak into the playoffs, but I thought all this talk about winning the Pacific and getting the Finals was laughable. I hoped I was wrong, but I looked at the roster and couldn’t see it.

  • Gravis82

    Why don’t you find some articles that urged caution, suggested they may be overachieving, and that there were still major holes to fill despite the success in a season where everything broke right. Because they did exist…..

    • Gravis82

      here is one for example, did you read it?

      “Oilers are a middle ground team when McDavid is not on the ice”

      “It seems clear that middle ground teams with their star off the ice are not Cup favorites like many consider Edmonton to be and there is lots of work for Peter Chiarelli to do when it comes to making the team better.”

      “Middle ground teams can make the playoffs, miss the playoffs, win a round, maybe two, but they’re not Cup favorites in my opinion.”

      “The Oilers need to significantly upgrade the team, especially in regards to playing against other team’s best players, in order to be a perennial Cup favorite.”

      “As it stands today, they are a middling team without their star on the ice, were blessed with great health of their top 6F and top 4D, got a great season from Talbot, and still only won one round in the playoffs. That combination of good luck might not return”

      “If nothing changes between now and the season opener, I wouldn’t bank on the Oilers finishing with 103pts again.”

      This article was intense and indepth and based on facts and observation, and was impossible to ignore. And yet, for some reason, the oilers have no one on their team doing this analysis for them? This is why they lose trades and make bad decisions.

  • Rock11

    While I certainly didn’t expect the Oilers to take this big of a step back I was certainly worried about making the playoffs. The summer moves were terrible but more than that I could see that improvement was a foregone conclusion for many teams. No way the Avs could be as bad as the year before. Dallas one the conference two years ago and then hired Hitch so you had to plan on them improving. Nashville was going to be better in the regular season. I expected more from the coyotes as well. I also expected minor improvements from LA and Cgy. Those points couldn’t all come from eastern teams. Vegas has been the biggest surprise though. I expected a lot of the gains from those other teams to be at Vegas’s expense. Whoops.

  • ricardo2000

    The analysts weren’t fooled. The game is much to complex for them to understand. This isn’t abuse: across the league, and over many decades, draft picks don’t match team projections. This indicates that team leadership can’t properly evaluate players.
    And they didn’t give enough weight to the crappy TEAM DEFENCE, but they will blame Talbot for this sad outcome.