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