It’s no secret Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli likes big hockey teams. His Boston Bruins teams were filled with size and grit, with 6-foot-9 behemoth Zdeno Chara leading the charge on the blueline. The 2011 Bruins were poster boys for this as they poked and prodded the Canucks on route to the Stanley Cup.
Chiarelli echoed this in his inaugural press conference as Oilers general manager alongside Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson. Chiarelli talked about the Oilers playing fast, but not hard. He wanted them to play “heavier” and that would come from the coach and player additions. His moves reflected that.
Chiarelli immediately added two huge defencemen, trading a ludicrous duo of draft picks for struggling Griffin Reinhart and a fourth-round draft pick for Eric Gryba. Lauri Korpikoski comes in for Boyd Gordon, which isn’t much of a size difference. Andrej Sekera and Mark Letestu are useful players who aren’t huge.
Zack Kassian was an in-season trade after an unsuccessful trade to Montreal, and would be one of the three big, gritty wingers acquired by Chiarelli.
Chiarelli’s major roster construction occurs during 2016. Patrick Maroon is acquired for a fourth-round pick and failed prospect. The speedy, play-driving Taylor Hall is sent out out for firm Adam Larsson. With a glaring hole at left wing, Milan Lucic gets a buyout-proof seven-year contract on July 1st.
There’s still a few smaller players added in Drake Caggiula and Kris Russell, but the bulk of his additions are bigger, heavier players.
David Desharnias was a deadline acquisition that didn’t play much. Jordan Eberle was dumped for the disappointing Ryan Strome
Jussi Jokinen’s hockey might have been too heavy, as he was traded for smaller, less heavy Mike Cammalleri in November. Yohann Auvitu is small and can fly.
2017 didn’t have the size entering that 2015 and 2016 did, but much of the roster was already made at this point.
This is Chiarelli’s team. Only one player on the team that played against Calgary wasn’t either signed, re-signed, or acquired by Peter Chiarelli – Darnell Nurse. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the other, but he’s on injured reserve.
Are they too slow? To borrow from former Oilers-GM Craig MacTavish, if you have to ask the question you know the answer. It’s crazy a team with Connor McDavid is even talked about as slow.
They need to get faster players. Seeing the Buffalo Sabres skate circles around Edmonton on their second game in two nights is concerning. An influx of players like Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, and Ryan Strome has slowed the team down.
The Oilers best asset is Connor McDavid. Acquiring big, lumbering wingers to compliment him isn’t the best use of that asset.
The emergence of Jujhar Khaira helps. He’s big and skates well, but they need speedy players in their top six. Half their top six skaters aren’t very fleet of foot.
Chiarelli, or whoever is managing the Oilers, needs to add more speed and skill. Kailer Yamamoto will help, but you can’t leave it all on a 20-year-old winger.
Otherwise, the Oilers will be built more for 2011 and 2012 than 2018.