23

The Nielson Ratings – Early Off-Season Review

The next three weeks will be extremely busy for Peter Chiarelli and his staff. Prepping for the entry draft, working on new contracts for restricted free agents and carefully navigating a possible Lucic trade will provide the management team with a full plate.

Before we get to the busy and most important time of the year for the Oilers, let’s take a look back at what I’m deeming the five most interesting decisions Chiarelli has made so far this offseason.

MARCH 21st: TRADING FOR COOPER MARODY

Chiarelli wasted no time making his first move of the Oilers off-season. In mid-March, the Oilers sent the third round pick acquired in the Patrick Maroon trade to the Flyers in exchange for college forward Cooper Marody. The Oilers would later sign Marody to an entry-level contract in early April.

I like this move for Chiarelli because he was following through on what he originally wanted in return for Maroon. Marody is already 21-years old and is coming off a terrific offensive season with Michigan. He got a brief taste of the American League putting up three points in three games with the Condors.

Marody should be able to provide immediate offence for the Condors next season and hopefully push for a full-time roster spot in Edmonton in the fall of 2019.

NIELSON RATING: B+

APRIL 27th: WOODCROFT TAKES OVER IN BAKERSFIELD

Jay Woodcroft survived the purging of the Oilers assistant coaches and I think they found a good place for him. Woodcroft will take years of learning from McLellan down to the American League where he will have an opportunity to run a bench for the first time in his coaching career.

By all accounts, Woodcroft is an excellent players coach, which should be an ideal fit for working with younger players in the AHL. The future success of the big club will start with Woodcroft properly developing the likes of Yamamoto, Benson, Marody, Bear and Jones. If I was a betting man I’d be willing to put a few bucks on the Woodcroft experiment working in Bakersfield. His close relationship with McLellan can’t hurt things.

Shout out to my man Ian Herbers who will be re-joining yours truly on weekends down at Clare Drake Arena for some Golden Bears hockey. I’d expect Herbers to bring two more National titles to the Bears in the next three years.

NIELSON RATING: B

MAY 1st: SIGNING MIKKO KOSKINEN

I like the fact that Peter Chiarelli identified a serious need for a backup goaltender heading into next season. I don’t even mind them taking a chance on a 29-year old from the KHL. I still can’t understand though why it required $2.5 million dollars to get Mikko Koskinen’s name on a contract.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think the Oilers could have spent less money on a goaltender that has played in the NHL at some point over the last seven seasons. For the money they are paying Koskinen he will need to be a significant upgrade on Montoya or it ends up being an extra 1.5 million that you didn’t need to spend.

NIELSON RATING: C+

MAY 18th: SIGNING JOEL PERSSON

The Joel Persson signing seemed to excite a few folks until it became known that it wasn’t really a signing at all. Peter Chiarelli is basically calling dibs on Persson in hopes of him taking a step forward in the Swedish Hockey League during the 2018-19 season. There really isn’t anything to lose here for the Oilers.

Persson put up 35 points playing for the Vaxjo Lakers last season and was immediately told he would remain there for one more year. He’s a right-shot puck-moving defenseman with a terrific shot so it’s probably worth a look even if he is a long shot to succeed on this side of the pond. He was fifth among Lakers d-men last year in time on ice, so even in Sweden he’s being used a specialist. No downside to this signing. 

NIELSON RATING: B

MAY 25th: INTRODUCE NEW LOOK COACHING STAFF

For the past nine years, I’ve spent four hours every morning sorting through texts ripping the Oilers for one thing or another. When the Oilers announced that Trent Yawney, Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros were joining Todd McLellan’s staff I didn’t see one person disagree with the decision. It truly was an AM Radio miracle — nobody complained, except for the regular complaints we get every morning. Too much basketball talk, Creed sucks, nobody cares about the Blue Jays, LeBron is soft, Lt. Eric is a dweeb, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The Oilers added two experienced coaches who have run an NHL bench of their own but more importantly have made a positive impact as assistants in other NHL markets. They also brought in a successful junior coach who will be eager to contribute at the next level. I thought keeping McLellan around was the right decision and I really like the way they rounded out the staff.

NIELSON RATING: A

OVERALL REVIEW

Oilersnation Bloggers think their way through the toughest problems.

The changes to the coaching staff were the big decisions so far and I like the way they handled them. A few minor personnel moves up front and on the back end combined with a risky move between the pipes. It’s a solid start to the off-season but the real make and break moves will be made in the next three weeks. I look forward to providing you with another round of the Nielson Ratings in July.

OVERALL NIELSON RATING: B+

Recently by Dustin Nielson

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I’m happy with what Peter has done thus far. Everything he’s done has been low risk, high reward. And I know people are unhappy with the Koskinen signing, but consider this.

    Talbot and Montoya are in the final year of their current deals. Koskinen has been given 1 year to prove himself. That’s three goalies who are in “I need to prove myself” mode. The crease in Edmonton just got a lot more competitive. And to people who say “it’s too much”, we gave Kris Russell a 1yr/$3.5M contract in 2016-2017. Also the last time the Oilers had a goalie who played in the KHL the year before, it worked out well for Talbot. Sure, he lost the crease for a bit, but he won the starting job back and his stats in the 2nd half of the 2015-16 season were one of the best among goalie in the NHL.

    The staff hires give the Oilers one of the strongest coaching staffs in the league (on paper*), the singings of Lowe, Patrick and Rattie are solid deals that help the Oilers, and his willingness to keep the 10th pick shows that a) he’s not taking advice from the OBC, b) he sees talent in this draft and wants it, and c) he knows that the player he selects WILL help Edmonton in some way, shape, or form.

    Sure, the potential Lucic or Klefbom trade could undo EVERYTHING, but I’m liking what he’s done so far.

    • The Ghost of Alex Plante

      People dislike the Koskinen because of the dollar value. Not because they don’t think the Oilers needed a better backup. I’m not sure how the Russell contract is a comparable? At least Russell had a track record in the NHL when he signed his 1st deal with Edmonton.

      2.5 million for an un-proven backup is ridiculous. Especially considering the Avs signed a KHL goalie with better numbers for basically league minimum around the same time as the Koskinen signing was announced. I don’t think anyone has a problem with added depth/competition, but to pay that much money for him when we already have salary cap issues is insane to me.

      For Koskinen to earn his paycheck he has to be one of the best backups in the league. I really hope he does, but I’m not holding my breathe.

  • Spydyr

    D-

    Once again over payed for a player this time a KHL goalie.

    The coaching moves were typical Oiler. Hey you sucked at your job here is another position in the organization.

    Bring in players that should have been drafted if they actually had second round picks. Trying to fill holes through the lets hope he works out way.

  • NewPants

    Hoping it’s not about what they don’t do this off season. I’m all about not making mistakes but this team needs a player or two upgrade for Draisaitl’s wings or we’re looking at the same team as last year without Big Rig.

  • TKB2677

    For the most part, I have liked the Chia moves so far. I am a little skeptical on the Koskinen signing just because it’s a hell of a lot of money to pay a bit of an unknown. In my opinion, goaltending is critical to a teams success and was one of the biggest reasons the team struggled this past season so I felt they needed to address it. So if you are going to pay 2.5 mill for an extra goalie, I would have preferred it be a known commodity. If it pays off, great but it’s a big time risk.

    • 18% body fat

      I get that he had to pay Koskinen what he was making in the KHL but why was Pavel Francouz not an option. Signed much cheaper, had better numbers and is a year younger. Unless they talked to him and he already said no.

      • The Whispererer

        To add insult to injury, not only was Francouz signed by Colorado for $690k, but former Oiler draft pick Miroslav Svoboda ( i wonder if we’ll ever learn how he got away unsigned ) signed with Nashville for $767.5k.

      • TKB2677

        It is a bit puzzling. Maybe the Oilers liked that Koskinen at least has a limited amount of time in North American playing 3 seasons in the AHL and 4 games in the NHL where as Francouz has never played in NA. Koskinen has played 6 seasons in the KHL where as Francouz has only played in 3 seasons. Koskinen is way bigger by 4 inches taller.

        Not sure really sure though. Doesn’t make a lot of sense when you look at the 2 guys. The Oilers better be right.

  • Derian Hatcher

    For whatever it’s worth….I met a former AHL goalie at a business event. He said that Koskinen is an exceptional goalie and it’s a great signing. Hope he is correct :). I continue to have hope for this organization (except the the In-game fan experience…it’s pathetic).

  • Spoils

    one thing I am excited about is the unprecedented parity in the NHL. There’s a thin line between winning and losing. The caps and the knights showed the role confidence can play.

    Still think we need more scoring on the wings.
    Still think our PP needs to add a QB with a booming point shot.

    This B+ grade is like a quiz before the midterms. The big marks are still to come.

    The draft? Lucic level trades? Free agents?

    we wait