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Peter Chiarelli talks disappointing 2017-18 season

After what can only be described as a disastrous season for the Edmonton Oilers, it was Peter Chiarelli’s turn to face the music and answer questions about where this team went wrong and what he’ll be doing to fix it. As always, I’ve got the breakdown.

After finding out that Chiarelli was going to speak today, all I could think about was how this was probably going to be a waste of everyone’s time because the guy doesn’t ever really say anything of substance. Today’s press conference was more of the same, though he did finally admit to making some mistakes in terms of placing bets on young players that weren’t quite ready for primetime and not plugging various holes when he had the chance.

Let’s get to it.

On the wingers

One of the weirder parts of the press conference, and the quote that seemed to get the most attention on Twitter, was when he talked about getting enough offence out of their wingers.

Uhhh… Did ol’ Pete not look at the stats before he threw this gem out there? The highest scoring winger the team had (after the Maroon trade and not counting RNH) was Drake Caggiula with a whopping 13 goals. Does he really think that’s good enough? I don’t think that’s even close to good enough. Especially when you consider that one of those wingers is a $6 million man that was supposed to be bringing swagger to a team that desperately needed it.

When asked about Lucic specifically, Chiarelli defended the big winger while acknowledging that he didn’t play well enough either.

This one was a little bit weird to me only because I think he was more forthcoming with younger players like Puljujarvi (we’ll get there) and Ty Rattie. Shouldn’t the $42 million dollar man have taken more heat for his shitaneously bad play (1G in 46GP to end the season) than just saying he was “sub-par?” Maybe it’s just me. That said, what else is he going to say?

Another weird quote about the forwards was when he essentially admitted that they moved out veterans in favour of younger players and, more or less, were expecting that to work out.

Who needs veterans anyway? Oh, every team that was ever successful? Right.

What about that whole “speed” thing?

Say what you will about the speed of the team, the Oilers just plain didn’t have enough talent and that was the biggest problem. To me, blaming the speed of the team is like a magic trick that misdirects the fans from the real issue of not being good enough. You can’t go all-in on young players and expect them to carry you without expecting them to hit bumps in the road. Chiarelli gambled and he lost — that’s the reality. The fact that the team was slower was just a byproduct of the downgraded skill.

Over-project on a couple of guys? Seems light to me. I can think of at least five guys off of the top of my head (Caggiula, Slepyshev, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, and Matt Benning) that were fighting above their weight class.

Weird that he ended off by saying they the wingers weren’t good enough when he started off by saying they produced enough offence. Flip, meet flop.

ON THE COACHING

A major topic of conversation around these parts has to do with whether or not Todd McLellan and his staff will be back for next season. When asked about the coaches, Chiarelli didn’t exactly give them a vote of confidence nor did he say they wouldn’t be back.

I agree with that. But how much of this is a result of the coaches and how much is on the players?

To me, this was the money quote relating to the coaches. Maybe I’m just overthinking this but it seems like the coaches had a hard time getting through to the players and making sure that they were ready to play on any given night. That’s part of the gig, no? I’m not saying that the players tuned the coaches out, I have no proof of that nor did Chiarelli say it, but quotes like this make me feel like that’s the case. Am I wrong? Gord knows it’s happened before.

The ridiculous part of sports is that the guy that built a flawed team will have the opportunity to try and fix his own mistakes while others will get fired or moved out because of those mistakes. Aside from maybe weathermen, how many times can a guy be this wrong at his job but still manage to dodge the axe?

In hockey, it’s always the coaches that get punted first regardless what kind of team the general manager gave them. Whether it’s fair or not, McLellan (or his assistant coaches) will probably be the ones that are looking for jobs after this season despite having a flawed roster to deal with. To me, it doesn’t make sense to blame the furniture after the roof caved in but that’s the business and that’s what we’re likely to see here. If I had to guess, I’d bet on McLellan coming back but that assistant coaches are different.

When asked who would be evaluating the coaches, Chiarelli sounded like a man who will be back next season.

Oh good. If there’s one thing that we’ve seen in the three years he’s been here, it’s his ability to properly evaluate the team he’s responsible for. That said, the heat is on and if Chiarelli can’t turn this ship around in short order then he’ll be hitting the unemployment line and may have a real hard time ever finding a job again.

ON PERSONNEL CHANGES

When you have Connor McDavid on your roster and still finish in 23rd place overall then you know that changes are coming. When asked about personnel moves, Chiarelli once again talked about not dismantling the roster and looking for tweaks rather than major plays.

Here’s hoping that this means no more one-for-one trades are coming. Maybe? ANYBODY!? *sigh*

What else?

If there’s one area of depth on this team that should definitely stay intact it’s the three centremen up top. With McDavid, Nuge, and Draisaitl in place, the Oilers have a trio of centremen that any team would love to have it was really nice to hear Chiarelli talk about wanting to build around that. Selfishly, I loved hearing him talk about Nugent-Hopkins as a core member which should have been obvious, but that wasn’t always the case amongst some of the media that cover this team. For some reason, there are people out there that seem to think #93 is expendable which makes very little sense to me, so I was happy to hear Chiarelli have his back.

While Chiarelli didn’t really say much about player turnover, the quote that interested me most came when he was asked about finding a new backup goalie for Cam Talbot.

Wait a minute… Didn’t Chiarelli move a fourth-round pick to acquire Al Montoya? Yes, yes he did. And now he wants to look for another upgrade? Apparently. Are we really cool with having the team piss away assets on a guy that isn’t even in the plans? Who are the pro scouts on this team anyway?

I will not rip my hair out… I will not rip my hair out… I will not rip my hair out… AHHH I LOVE WASTING ASSETS! *faints*

For as long as I’ve been writing at this website, one of the biggest holes we have is a guy that can produce points from the back end. When asked about acquiring that elusive puck-moving defenceman, Chiarelli said that it’s definitely on his shopping list and that he didn’t care if the guy was left or right-handed.

I was happy to hear him say this. I know that, in an ideal world, we’d want to have lefties and righties balancing each other out but that shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker if he can land a quality puck mover. That said, I don’t know how he’ll be able to get this guy without moving something substantial which somewhat eliminates the idea of him not dismantling the roster but I digress.

I also liked hearing that Chiarelli was open to moving this year’s pick because the Oilers need immediate help and it would be a nice change of pace to see them going for it with a magic bean or two. Now, with that said, the Oilers are desperately going to need value contracts in the coming years so it would be a real gamble to move a mid-first round pick with the prospect cupboards being as bare as they are.

THIS AND THAT

On Puljujarvi:

Another hot topic here at the Nation is in regards to how Jesse Puljujarvi was being used and Peter Chiarelli offered a vote of confidence for the young Finn.

That sounds like a pretty fair and accurate evaluation to me. Puljujarvi had an up and down season, but that’s not exactly surprising when you consider that he’s only 19-years-old and barely speaks the language. I know other players from his draft class are ripping it up right now but that doesn’t mean that every prospect will develop in a straight line. Needless to say, it is way too early to give up on this kid and I hope that the organization is willing to give him the development time he needs.

Happy to hear this. Give the kid time (preferably another season in the AHL).

On Ty Rattie:

Many of us wondered why it took so long to call up Ty Rattie after he led the Condors in scoring and Chiarelli gave us the answer.

If Rattie’s game needed to be more well-rounded then it makes a lot of sense to keep in him the AHL to work on his game. This answer worked for me and I hope Rattie can use this as motivation to work on his two-way abilities. Personally, I hope to see him back next year because I think there’s a player there and he could be one of those value contracts that this team desperately needs.

On RNH sticking on the wing

This morning, Gregor wrote about Nuge playing on the wing but Chiarelli wouldn’t confirm that he will stay there next year.

As long as he’s still here, I don’t really care. That said, McNuge was magic on ice so I can’t think of any reason why the team wouldn’t just keep them together.

On setting up young players for success on and off the ice

Gregor asked if the organization is doing enough to ensure that the young players are prepared for life in the NHL and Chiarelli gave an honest assessment.

I know that the Islanders hired a life coach for Matt Barzal and I would love to hear about the Oilers doing the same thing for their young guys. That said, it took them until this year to get Jesse Puljujarvi an English teacher (better late than never) so I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

On not finding a Sekera replacement

This is the quote that pissed me off the most because it was an obvious problem from the moment they found out Sekera would need surgery. Not finding a suitable replacement for Sekera while he was recovering was ridiculous, but so was Chiarelli’s answer about whether he regretted his decision to move forward without.

Oops. If only someone could have seen this coming. *facepalms hard enough to knock head off shoulders*

THE WRAP…

With the end of season presser done and Chiarelli disappearing back into the shadows for however long it will be until we next see him, we’re left to guess at what his plans for the summer will be based on very little information. One thing we know for sure is that putting too much stock into anything he said today will likely result in being wrong because this is a guy that keeps his cards close to his vest. Chiarelli is the kind of GM that will say one thing in the press and do another thing in reality so the rollercoaster ride that will be the offseason is only just getting started.

Aside from saying that RNH was a core member, not giving the coaching staff a firm vote of confidence and being open to trading the first-round pick, there wasn’t a whole lot here to get excited about but that’s exactly what I expected. That said, Chiarelli did admit to making some bad bets and expecting too much out of some of the younger players so I’ll give him some credit for that because that candour (if you can call it that) is not something that we’ve seen much of with him. Frankly, I was happy to hear some accountability from the GM but it’s also important to recognize that he created a lot of the current issues himself.

In the end, nothing he could have said would have made this season any better and he’s got a long road ahead of him to try and make things right. Can he do it? We’ve got six months to find out.



  • Ivan Drago

    It was pretty obvious McNuge worked out. That the enjoy playing with each other and we have a need for a high end winger. So what does PC say about it “I didn’t tell him he’d play the wing, but I didnt not tell him either “ wtf does that mean? God forbid you straight up tell Nuge “we plan on playing you on the wing next year, so practice up on retrieving pucks off the wall in d zone and come into camp mentally prepared for the wing”. Instead let’s keep him guessing all summer. Go away PC!

  • Oil9744

    It’s crazy how quick Oilers fans turn on managment and even players so much every season, I remember not to long ago people were saying Nuge is to small, or even last season so many fans were saying he sucks and he’s not worth 6 mill, last season every thought PC was a genius cause of his trades and having a 103 point season, now apparently he’s the worst GM in the NHL haha PC said he wants to upgrade the goaltending, that’s a check in my books, he’s open to move the pick to upgrade his team now, another check, he sounds like he’s gonna make some changes to the coaching staff, another big check, we are literally one season removed from this GM giving us our best season since 2006, I think we give him one more shot this season to fix the holes that Edmonton has, If that doesn’t work then that’s a different story, I think Edmonton is going to have a good off season and make the playoffs next season under Chiarelli

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      I’m with you on this front, but at the same time, that pressed makes it seems like a Chiarelli has no idea how to even begin to fix this club. But yes, he has a leash because of last season, as he should,

    • RJ

      I was one of those guys saying he was too small. He is. He’s only ever played one full season. That’s one out of seven. That’s not good.

      I was one of those guys saying he wasn’t worth the $6m. If you go back and read some of his scouting reports in his draft year, he was supposed have “the best vision since No. 99.” For someone who was an elite offensive player out of juniors, with Gretzky-like vision, a career best of 37 assists in a season is not elite. He’s the lowest-scoring 1OV outside of the defencemen and Yakupov.

      For a guy touted locally as an elite two-way player, how many Selkes does he have?

      For all the people hammering Lucic for his production this year, last year was the only time Nuge has ever played a full season, and he scored a whopping 43 points.

      He had one good season of production in Year 2 of his career and he parlayed that into a big contract. Good work by his agent, but he’s not a value contract.

      Play him with McDavid all of next season. Let him beat his career best in points (a whopping 56 points), and he can start being a value contract.

      Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player to have on the team. But I’m not part of the Nuge cult that somehow sees a 48 point season being more valuable than a 70-point season.

      • Big Nuggets

        at peast he doesn’t get caved in defensively like the 70 point player. Its nice when players can score a lot of points but this team has always needed more than that, that’s why Nuge’s offense has developed sideways. If he adds more scoring next season he will be a really well rounded player.

    • revingev

      while I’m not one that went all crazy for the GM last year, I did give him credit for what he did well. OK, here is the flip side and reason why people are jumping ship. Yes he took a team last year to the highest heights they have experienced in over 20 years. He got praise for that….BUT….he can’t be praised for what he did well and NOT criticized for what he messed up on this year. It’s life…. At work, I perform well this year, I get all the credit and praise, next year i make lots of mistakes, I may have a longer rope but I still face criticism. I think the fans have the right to do so as well if we like it or not. Besides fans invest hours and hours into this team, spend lots of money on following this team and have a right to be disappointed. Just like the had the right to be excited last year. That’s fandom (Fanatics) We’re crazy people…. 🙂

  • Dirtbag Daddy

    The Oiler’s may as well trade all the picks. The draft history is horrible and the scouting is second to none…..from the worse. They need first over all picks so that the world can help decide who they should pick. I’m not a genius but it appears that a baboon could pick better than what the Oiler’s have done. Have that baboon coach as well because the current staff are gate openers. If they want to improve the team get rid of Lowe and MacTavish. They seem to control who the coach plays and who the GM signs. They never get blamed for any decisions because of being sheltered.

      • Dirtbag Daddy

        Tom Renny confirmed such items when he coached in Edmonton. If he is being dictated to, then the rest are as well. How else can you explain how this team never improves through all the coaches and managers that have been employed.

  • madjam

    Much of seasons demise was goaltending , and would not surprise me to see Talbot traded , and a new NBR.1 goalie bought in . If we had decent goaltending this year things might have been different , and domino effect on rest of club much less . Chia far to slow to fix problems that seemed obvious throughout the year with cap space to burn . Put them both together and no wonder we faired poorly with most of rest of club .

  • tkfisher

    “I think we have wingers. I think our scoring was adequate this year so I’ll disagree with that.” On the plus side, half of that statement is true. They do in fact have wingers, 12 roster slots for them. Many of those wingers aren’t qualified to play where they are playing in the line up, but the team does in fact have many, inexperienced, wingers. What an ass hat this guy is. A dog chasing his tail is the best description I can come up with. I’m not sure he’s even aware that he’s going in circle filling holes by making holes, and often times creating bigger holes and not even owning up to it and passing the buck.

  • Timothy_Tuxedo

    Without doubt the Oil underperformed expectations this year. The management, coaches and players all must accept responsibility for that and work at being better. I think the results we achieved in 2016-17 where not a fluke and a true representation of what this core can do and believe consistency in the front office and head coach along with some minor moves and Talbot’s return to form will return this team to the playoffs next year.