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Hindsight is 20/20 – The Peter Chiarelli Story

Peter Chiarelli held his annual year-end press conference earlier today facing the music of this disastrous season.

Baggedmilk did a great job recapping yesterday’s press conference highlighting a lot of the topics that Chiarelli spoke on, but there are somethings that didn’t sit well with me.

I feel like I’ve given Chiarelli a long leash as a fan, and as a writer – I’ve tried to not be overly critical of some of the deals he has made. More so given the fact that Taylor Hall basically quit on the team saying he “really didn’t want to talk to coaches” when in Edmonton.

Other deals like trading Eberle for Strome I wasn’t as big of a fan of given the obvious downgrade in on-ice talent coupled with the fact that he never really utilized the extra cap space gained in the deal.

However, after today’s press conference my leash has tightened

I will give him credit for his press conference – he did own up to misreading some of the younger players. He also said looking back, he would have brought in another defenceman in wake of Andrej Sekera’s injury and subsequent re-injury but hindsight is 20/20.

The honesty is nice to see, but let’s not kid ourselves here – these were things that the analytics community was screaming from the top of the High Level Bridge before last season even ended.

How were the Oilers projecting these depth players like Drake Caggiula and Ryan Strome? Did they really see them taking that big of a step forward?

What about on the backend? Was Yohann Auvitu supposed to step in and save grace? What about the decision to sign Kris Russell to a four-year, $16 million deal?

The Russell deal is one that could hinder the development of Oilers defensive prospects, but that’s an article for another day.

Maybe Oscar Klefbom could’ve played better, but the team decided that they would let him play out the season with a shoulder injury that forced him to have 22 chips removed in a late-season-ending surgery.

The team doesn’t have a lot of depth on the wings, given that their leading scoring winger was $6-million man Milan Lucic and his measly 34 points. Let’s not forgot he scored a mere eight points since Christmas.

Behind him on the wings were 35-year old winger Michael Cammalleri and his 22 points in 51 games with the Oilers and then Caggiula, who only put up 22 points in 67 games.

Anton Slepyshev scored 12 points in 50 games, and Jesse Puljujarvi who scored 20 points in 65 games, who let’s not forget that he was deployed very poorly at times this season.

The Oilers downgraded the wing significantly by trading Hall for Larsson then Eberle for Strome. Larsson hasn’t been the player they were hoping for and Strome struggled in year one.

The Canadian Press included this snippet in a June 29, 2016 article:

Edmonton is betting on him fulfilling his potential as a former top-five pick and evolving into a top-pairing defenceman, much as fellow Swedish countryman Victor Hedman did for Tampa. Hedman was deemed a bust early in his career, before breaking out as a 23-year-old with 13 goals and 55 points.

Larsson, now 25-years old, has only put up 32 points in 142 games with the Oilers.

If they were betting on him breaking out into a Norris trophy defenceman, they bet wrong.

“O Captain! My Captain!”

The Oilers still seem to be in the same position they were in years ago and even though they have Connor McDavid, they can’t rely on him to be the runaway Art Ross winner every year.

Chiarelli admitted that they still need a puck-moving defenceman (and hopefully one that can put up points), even though they traded Hall for what they thought would be that in Larsson.

He alluded to the fact they would like to trade for a goaltender to push Cam Talbot even though they traded pick 102 in this year’s draft for Al Montoya.

How does Chiarelli rectify this?

Well, he made it clear that he doesn’t want to blow this roster up – which I don’t think it the answer either – but at what point will he begin to make moves that have a significant positive impact on this roster?

Where is the deal to be made where he comes out as a clear winner, instead of coming out as the clear loser like he has in the past?

If I’m Bob Nicholson, my leash around Chiarelli is as tight as possible.

This offseason is one of the most crucial the team has ever faced. The future of this organization is counting on Peter Chiarelli and his staff to make this team better and if not, we could very well be on the outside looking in on day one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On Twitter: @zjlaing



  • Corbs

    I don’t get the hate for Russell or the wry about his contract. You said yourself we have empty cap space so his contract is fine. In the last two years of his deal he is easily movable.

    Larsson was never brought here to be an offensive dman. He was brought in to stabilize the defence and he did exactly that last year. He had a lot to deal with this year so I think it’s fair that he took a step back. He’ll be fine next year. Hall was an overpay…no doubt there.

    Who cares about a 4th round pick for Montoya. It’s not a big deal to use a 5th round pick to stock Bakersfield instead of the 4th. Everyone was crying for a backup and he got one. This year he wants to upgrade it. It’s much easier to do that in the summer. This isn’t a bad thing.

    All that said…I think Chiarelli is a bad gm I’m afraid of what he will do this summer. I’d fire him today.

    I just don’t think your comments make any sense. Sounds like you’re looking for a reason to be angry with him.

    • Johnny Utah

      Sure the 4th round pick, the overpay, the NMCs in themselves aren’t terrible by themselves, but they just continue to add up.

      Saving 1M here (Russell’s deal), 1M there (Draisaitl) gets us a 3rd line winger or frees up some more room for a Carlson in FA.

      Chiarelli just seems careless, lazy, or stupid. Take your pick.

      • A-Mc

        We always had the cap space to sign a 3rd line winger, but Chiarelli didn’t do it for reasons unknown. Not saving a couple million bux isn’t the straw that broke the camels back.

        When we hear Chiarelli talk about young players coming in and slowly pushing and developing, it is my opinion that this is exactly what we need to do if we’re looking at proper long term cap management. Because of this, if Chiarelli has a good chance at bringing in Carlson, he likely HAS to have a strategy for moving Sekera or Russell and their NMC’s (My Preference would be to trade Russell). He cannot and should not sign Carlson if it leads to trading Nurse or Klef, IMO.

    • tkfisher

      The Russell deal is bad because it’s a) too much money for a third pairing guy b) too much term for an aging third pairing guy c) a no move clause when you clearly didn’t need to offer it – it’s not like an undersized, aging third pair Russell with little to no offense has a ton of leverage in negotiations d) the second wave of expansion (which was obviously coming) and giving a no move clause forces you to protect someone you have no business protecting, and to either move him before the contract expires, or prior to the expansion draft would mean you’ll need to throw in a sweetener just to move the contract and thus you’re bleeding more assets because of a self inflicted idiot tax. Add this to Russell having no leverage, it’s too much money, for too long, for a flawed player lacking offense, who is undersized and aging (but adequate in a third pairing role), almost everything about that deal is moronic. I’m not sure how anyone with or without a Harvard degree would miss that.

    • 24% body fat

      We have 3 better left D thats why. Two are younger and will be signed to better value contract in the future (value means, movability, price, length and sign during their prime) So 4 million this year for a number 5-6 d, who usually plays his offside and has shown that he is not good at is ok, but for the future years it is not. And as lucic has shown us, this is the age in which most non elite players start falling off.

    • toprightcorner

      Oilers needed a back up with experience and those are very tough to find mid season, Montoya was likely the best available and a 4th is the going rate. PC didn’t have time to to bash the bushes over a month to find anyone better.

      Picking up Davidson on waivers and getting a 3rd in return more than covered that bet but people forget that and only focus on trading out the 4th.

      • Getting really hard to support this gong show any longer. If the year opens where we have not one but two failed management/coaching regimes still employed , I will have to opt out. I would rather spend my money on the Okotoks Oilers than waste any more on the never ending gong show. Everyone under the owner in management have been terminated should have been the announcement. I have to agree, until the FOG’S and the FOK’s are gone, nothing will change. Another year like that and Connor will be looking to get out and who could blame him?

    • OilersBro

      He had Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, a bunch of picks, and 15.5 in capspace when you subtract out Sekera, Lucic, and Russell.
      I’m not stuck in the past, I’m just saying if you can’t get a d-man with those resources, you shouldn’t be a part of the Oilers future.
      Mark my words boys, if Chiarelli gets a d-man, it’ll be a short term fix that hurts us in the long run. At this point, we have a GM in place who is only trying to keep his job and that’s the most dangerous kind of GM

        • OilersBro

          Just as I 100% agree on the insights below haha where you discuss Russell being worth his value this year & Larsson playing within the scope of expectations.
          To add to your comment regarding 4th or 5th round picks, an Edmonton based data consulting firm (Darkhorse Analytics) once found out (in the early 2000’s) that there are the same odds of a player getting drafted in the 4th round to make the NHL as a player in the 5th round. Edmonton was the first to leverage this data successfully, however, once the rest of the league found out, the odds changed because team’s drafting strategy changed to be more risk-seeking during the 4th round. It’s been some time since the league has generally accepted that strategy and I wonder if that was something Peter considered when making a conditional trade agreement?

      • Garett14

        If I we’re near you, I would give you the biggest high 5 ever. Spot on. He has already been wreckless with assets without fear of losing his job. Now? He may enter full kamakazi mode to try and repair damage that quite frankly can’t be fully fixed even by the best managers in the league. It’s not so much about who they would choose as a replacement as much as it’s about taking the keys away before he hits the road 15 beers deep.

    • Corbs

      You don’t think a top ten pick and a prospect gets you the dman?

      The problem is Chiarelli is the one making the deal so he’ll over pay for a guy who isn’t very good.

    • MrBung

      The opportunity to do this kind of deal is likely gone with the bad or mediocre deals he has already made. Little of value left otherwise just creating a new problem in solving this one.

  • Johnny Utah

    Completely agree. McDavid masks a lot of his ineptness. This long-term approach while we have hands down the best player in the world seems flawed. That said, I would not trust him to make a big deal. Best to cut our losses and fire him.

  • Lucas McDavid

    “If they were betting on (Larsson) breaking out into a Norris trophy defenceman, they bet wrong“

    When has anyone in the Oilers organization ever been quoted saying this? Chiarelli said he was more of a shut down defenceman, and that’s what he has turned out to be.
    Personally, I liked the move. We were in dire need of help on the back-end.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        And so we will continue to try to improve upon it. With that said, I don’t see how trading Klefbom helps us on the back end unless Oscar is part of a package that gets us OEL or Karlsson?

        • McRaj

          This comment made me so angry. Not the trading Klef part. The “And so we will continue to try to improve upon it.” It’s been a frickin issue for years. Why hasn’t it been dealt with. When will it be dealt with? When Connor asks for a trade and we trade him for a #1 Right Shot D Man?

    • cfour

      Totally agree and still like the deal, hall was not going to be the player he is in NJ here not a chance. Larson is what he is and has been very good for the oilers, people need to get over that trade ffs!

    • toprightcorner

      Agree 100%

      Was Hall an overpay, sure by a bit, but not a ton. Hall got a wake up call when he was traded and realized he had to change his attitude and that is what made him into a better player. If Hall was still with the Oilers there is no way he develops into the player he was this past season. Good on him for growing up and bouncing back, but Hall is not the same player that was traded so you can’t compare the Hart trophy candidate with the Hall that was traded.

      I beleive Larsson is a to pairing dman with the right partner. When Klefbom puts up 40 pts, he is the right partner, when he puts up 20 pts, he isn’t. Larsson is a perfect partner for an offensive dman, he was never supposed to be an offensive dman.

    • Hemmercules

      No he didn’t quit, he never really started. Trading Hall for a Larsson was a bad trade but Hall was entitled. He said himself he never bought into the system or put in extra work in the summer. His coach in jersey even mentioned something along the lines of Hall needing to fully buy in this year and look what happened. It took a trade to another non playoff team two wake him up. Had he been as devoted to the Oilers as he has been this year in NJ he likely would still be an Oiler. Just my opinion. Im sure I get lambasted with trashes.

    • camdog

      Steve Staios said something to the effect that shuttling out the veterans and forcing leadership on the kids wouldn’t work. It didn’t. There were other veterans that made similar comments, they were ignored by management.

  • camdog

    One of Klefbom or Nurse will be traded for help on the right side this off season. The log jam on the left side will be gone, the Russell contract was never the biggest problem with this team and it won’t be in the future.

  • Hemmercules

    The pitchforks have been out since before Christmas but I still don’t see anything happening. I doubt Nicholson is going to fire everyone after being one year removed from a decent playoff run. No one is stepping down either. Right now Im just hoping Chia learned some lessons and doesn’t get too crazy this summer trying to save his job. Chia’s comments don’t really point to anything majorly significant happening anyway. Sounds like Nuge is probably safe? Maybe add a goalie, a winger and/or a dman if possible. Im definitely not a worried as the majority of the people around here but maybe I just dont care as much anymore? Wait and see.

    • OilersBro

      Peter actually has good drafting just look at his track record in the later rounds. In an ideal world we could just demote him to a scout and let a GM who understands asset management do all the trading/free agent signings lol

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        The last 3 drafts aren’t the issue for me, it’s the lack of good judgement from the pro scouts! I thought we had improved on previous pro scout Morley Gare and the staff from the old boys club days but it looks like we haven’t.

  • E-Mac

    I truly believe offer sheeting an RFA defenseman is the way to go this summer.

    Step 1: Trade Sekera. Maybe he will want a fresh start somewhere else. Maybe he will want to go somewhere warm. If he waives his NMC some team will want him, he is still a very solid d-man. Literally trade him for anything to clear cap space.

    Step 2: Offer sheet Dumba. The guy is on the sharp incline. PP QB for future. Right shot.

    Step 3: Failing Step 2 above. Offer sheet Montour. This guy has incredible shot and speed. He is going to be a stud and will QB the PP for years. Right shot.

    And if worst comes to worst trade JP for Faulk. That’s a one for one trade I could get behind. I am not sold on JP and this years draft pick won’t be much behind JP’s development thus far.

    • crabman

      How much would you salary would you offer in those offer sheets so the Wild or Ducks don’t match? Is the player worth the salary and the trade assets it will take?

  • That's My Point

    Hopefully Nicholson fires the coaches and GM today.

    THREE YEARS is ENOUGH!!!

    Why give them more time to waste with McDavid.

    Watching some playoff games last night made me realize how very far away the Oilers are from the playoffs.

    • camdog

      Well considering their were goalies of similar ilk on waivers throughout the season and during free agency one would logically conclude that an asset was not needed to be lost in a search for a back up goalie that started 8 games and to whom management says isn’t good enough to be on the team next season. This is the NHL, there are 31 teams in the NHL, soon to be 32, with a salary cap winning is tougher than ever, you need to be better.

  • GK1980

    “This offseason is one of the most crucial the team has ever faced. ”

    VERY TRUE. As a fan even with last years success if they sputter out of the gates again this year it will be devastating. Short leashes all around next season. If they sputter out of the gate Todd is gone.

  • toprightcorner

    I don’t think the Oilers ever thought Larsson was going to be putting up points, any fan that thought this was delusional.

    The problem was less about the players taking a step forward but most of the players actually regressing. That was not expected or could have been foretold by anyone.

    I agree that hindsight is 20/20, but there was not 1 person out there that would have predicted such a terrible year, yet everyone wants to blame Chairelli for not seeing it in his crystal ball.

    • Rubbish. Don’t address missing your #1 defenseman, don’t address the backup tender, don’t address the porous defense overall, don’t instruct your head coach to stop with the L formation penalty kill that was being openly mocked by broadcast crews. Don’t address dismissing the idiots that got us here in the first place. Don’t address the hole on right wing. He had plenty of opportunity, but chose to sit on his hands. From what we have seen so far that might actually be a good thing. Just as I suspected weeks ago, more lip service, nobody gets fired, nobody gets held accountable. Same old , same old. Fish rot from the head down, all management below ownership should have been skidded including Nicholson.

    • crabman

      @ toprightcorner, No one expected Larsson to be an offensive defenceman but Chiarelli, at the time of the trade, talked about the player still developing and having more to give offensively than he had shown up to that point. Even last year during the playoffs when Larsson scored that nice goal jumping into the rush McLellan talked about Larsson having that element to his game and more to give. I disagree and he hasn’t shown anything in his career to show he has any more offense to give but that doesn’t mean the management group didn’t have higher expectations.

      You are right that many players took a step back this year, but they took a step back from career highs. Very few are playing much below career average, Lucic and Talbot. The bet was made that the young guys would continue to progress and the vets would keep up their above average play.
      I for one didn’t see this kind of drop off but I never bought into the idea this team was a cup contender. They weren’t good enough last year and made no attempt to get better.

  • ubermiguel

    Just a reminder if Chiarelli keeps his job it doesn’t mean he got off scot free. Nicholson is Chiarelli’s boss and can reign in his leash a bit. I’d let Chiarelli make all the calls and talk to other GMs, but big deals need Nicholson’s ok. Sometimes managers need to actually manage their employees and help them improve.

  • BendingCorners

    The forward group will be fine. Slepyshev and Yamamoto and Puljujarvi will all be better next year and are plenty fast enough. If Lucic loses 10-15 lbs he will be faster and more agile.
    The D-corp could use a top-4 addition; Karlsson will reject Ottawa’s offer and Edmonton will get him in exchange for four first round draft picks (and Russell or Sekera if they’re very lucky).
    Talbot will bounce back.
    The biggest question is whether TMac will adjust player usage to take advantage of the lineup’s various talents. Hopefully yes; the Oilers are a good team that had a bad year, not a bad team hat got lucky two years ago.

  • ifiwasgm

    Look at Chiarelli’s deals,
    How many had you saying, “wow that was a great deal? (I can’t think of any, although some turned out good)

    How many had you saying, “wow that was a bad deal? (Hall deal had the outside hockey world picking their jaw up off the floor)(I know a bunch of crazy Edm fans thought and still think it was good, but seriously it will go down as, just as bad a trade as Seguin for nothing)

    Chiarelli has proven to me that he is a terrible GM.

    Russel contract $$ is mind boggling, buying out Pouliot and having to carry $1.33mil for 4yrs is just plain thoughtless. Giving a blank check to Draisaitl did not help the team.(big Leon fan but you gotta try and negotiate man)

    Chiarelli has put this team in a bad spot with no $$ and no assets.
    Terrible GM.