Chiarelli Expectations

What’s up Nation! Draft correspondent Dustin Nielson here on my way down to Dallas to cover the draft for the Nation. Starting on Thursday morning I will have daily videos and multiple articles documenting the Oilers trip to the 2018 NHL Draft.

As I sit here at the international side of the Vancouver Airport I can only think one thing. Why in the hell is there only one bar in this place? It’s called the Canucks Bar and Grill and it’s jammed right now.

To my left, there is a woman that has more ink than aisle two at Staples and could very likely leg press me. On my right, a pilot, I don’t know if he’s my pilot but I have confirmed that he’s not boozing.

It’s kind of funny to think that I’m writing this in Vancouver and it’s the Canucks 7th overall pick that could really open things up for the Oilers. I know Craig Button had Adam Boqvist going to the Canucks which would open up someone like Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson or maybe even Oliver Wahlstrom to slide to the Oilers at ten. My final mock draft will be posted first thing on Friday morning and it will most certainly be wrong, just like every other one.

It could end up being a very busy few days for Peter Chiarelli so here is a look at what I think his top priorities should be over the next 72 hours.


Photo Credit: MARTIN BAZYL / Agence QMI

This event is called the 2018 NHL Draft not the 2018 Trade For A D-Man so the main focus needs to be not screwing up the 10th overall pick. With the way this year’s draft is set up, the Oilers are in a very good spot with the 10th pick. I’ve been covering NHL drafts since 2006 and not once have nine top-ranked prospects all been drafted in the first nine picks.

There will be a team that surprises everyone in the top nine which means that one of Bouchard, Dobson, Hughes or Wahlstrom could very well be available at ten for the Oilers. The annual volatility of the top ten is the main reason Chiarelli should hang on to the 10th pick, at least until they are on the clock. This first priority is the one that all of you should feel pretty good about. The P.O.H.O. (President of Hockey Ops for all you newbs) has had a pretty good track record with the draft so far and I’d trust them to hit the nail on the head again this season. However, if either Dobson or Bouchard is available and they choose Ty Smith I will personally drag Lowetide and Stauffer to Churchill square for a lashing.


Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning have both received two-year deals in the past week, time for Darnell Nurse to get his. This doesn’t HAVE to get done over the next three days but I do think it would help things to get this negotiation out of the way. If Chiarelli is going to be actively shopping for help on the wing or blueline, maybe both, it would be nice to have a number for Nurse locked in.

On The Nielson Show (that’s my radio program, tell a friend), Rishaug has suggested something around 2.8-3.2 million would be reasonable for Nurse on a two-year deal. I don’t see a downside to a bridge deal for either team or the player.


Mar 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) and Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (41) fight during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

This deal will get done at some point over the four weeks but it would be ideal if Chiarelli can find a taker for his disgruntled winger at the Draft. I’m not sure where Lucic’s value is at right now but I do know it will probably go up a bit after his bonus is paid at the end of the month.

I think the pressure is on Chiarelli to find a suitable deal before that so he can actually be aggressive in free agency as opposed to playing the wait and see game.

I don’t think it’s likely this gets done in Dallas but it would certainly ease everyone’s stress levels.


In a perfect world, Chiarelli comes home from the draft with a high-end prospect selected with the 10th overall pick and a right shot d-man that can help the top unit PP immediately. In reality, he may come back with only one or the other.

Chiarelli may have to settle for a left shot d-man who can help on the power-play but how much are you willing to part with to get someone who may or may not be able to do the job better than a healthy Oscar Klefbom. The problem facing the Oilers right now is that any of the d-man they are currently interested in will end up costing them either this year’s first-round pick, Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi.

Despite what some of you are already thinking I’ve been told that Jesse Puljujarvi’s value around the league is still considered quite high. I wouldn’t part with him, but the Oilers might. If Wahlstrom slips to ten could the Oilers draft him and move Puljujarvi to get some much-needed help on the blueline? That’s not a stretch.

My preference would be Rasmus Ristolainen out of Buffalo. Who or what will it take to make that deal happen?


The Oilers will need to add one or two wingers in the off-season. The draft is an opportunity for Chiarelli to start planting seeds for possible deals to the pull the trigger on in early July.

Wingers with speed and a bit of scoring ability will be easier to get in free agency than a right shot d-man. The smart play here is to throw some ideas around, attempt to sign free agents and when you come up empty go back and pull the trigger on a deal or two.


Trade the 1st round pick in 2019 for help on the blueline or wing.


  1. Choose Wisely 85% chance of happening
  2. Bridge Nurse 90% chance of happening
  3. Trade Lucic 25% chance of happening
  4. Find a Righty….or a Lefty 50% chance of happening
  5. Plant The Seed 100% chance of happening

As for my to do list in Dallas……Jimmy Johns.


Founded in 1950, Sports Excellence Corporation represents over 150 family-owned independent hockey retailers across Canada and the United States. Our highly knowledgeable hockey specialists are available to assist all your equipment needs. Find your closest Sports Excellence retailer here!

Recently by Dustin Nielson

  • Daniel Tencer, Esq.

    These are all fine, but we all know Chiarelli’s top priority will be to find the one-for-one deal which would net the Oilers the most negative return value.

  • Shane

    #4. I keep hearing how awesome Klefbom is when he’s healthy and what an awesome contract he has. Problem is he’s never healthy and 4.5 million for a player that only plays like a top 4 dman half the year isn’t a good deal. If he gets you a durable, productive Dman who can actually pass it to McDavid (Krug, Ristolainen, Trouba were all at one point rumoured for a 1-1 trade) I’d do it.

      • Shane

        And yet a couple years ago during his contract dispute everyone was saying how much better Klefbom was and we don’t need that kind of guy in our dressing room. I suspect next yr when Torey Krug gets 70 pts and Ristolainen gets 45 playing 25 min a game again it’ll look stupid to.

  • Consultant

    Good run down. Lots going on right now. Exciting weeks ahead.
    Let’s hope Chia found a fantastic negotiation strategy book to read during his brief holiday.

  • OilersGM

    I mean this when I say I get scared of the thought of Chiarelli doing anything and I mean anything. Chiarelli does things that make people want to blow their head off.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Awww , Come on… Maroon was a great find. Our prospect pool is as good as it’s been in the last 15 years. Plus with the new coaches, I am excited not only about developing our existing players but the raft of prospects we have is exciting. I think we are in great shape. One has to hope, to stay positive? But, I think it’s looking great. Now if Whalstrom would fall to us… It’s steak & lobster on Sunday…

  • That's My Point

    Expect the WORST, and it might not be that bad, BUT expecting the Oilers to win the Cup in 2018 and then watch them fail miserably out of the playoffs was crushing.
    Now I have LOW expectations, and might be pleasantly surprised.

    • OilersGM

      I’m not scared of the team expectations as we are all used to missing playoffs year after year but it’s the guy managing the team now that’s what’s scary. Every GM in the league knows they can fleece Chiarelli, I mean if it wasn’t for the cheap owner in Ottawa (Melnyk) we would have Ceci and the Sens would have Hall but because he didn’t want to take on Hall’s contract the trade fell through.

  • The Immortal

    All you had to do was watch the playoffs and realize that wee little Kailer is an absolute BRUTAL pick. Men against wee little boy.

    No way I trade Jesse instead of Kailer.

  • ed from edmonton

    I’m not a fan of bridging Nurse, it would free up $2M or so for the next two years, but could mean not being able to afford him during his best years. Unless there is a great deal pending for somebody that will be a great help and the extra cap space is needed this is not a good idea. Remember the Eberle trade basically freed up $3.5M is cap space, which was never used last year.

    Is Ristolenen that must better than a healthy Klef? Yes 3 straight 40 point years on terrible teams is impressive, but Klef had 38 in his best year. However Klef plus a sweetener might land Ristoleinen if Buffalo are interested.

    If Lucic is traded it will only be after his July 1 bonus is paid.

  • Moneyball

    Where does the idea come from that Lucic is disgruntled? I haven’t seen any indication of that, just a lot of articles that seem to reference each other but no actual source. Personally I hope he is back and has a successful season with th Oilers.

    • The Future Never Comes

      Question, I here alot of people jumping back on the “let’s watch him rebound back to form” comment, but what happens if he doesn’t rebound? And no I don’t think it’s likely he only gets 1 goal in 48 games sort of deal, but what if he gets a goal say every 9,10, or 11 games and ends up with 10-14 goals total? If that does happen, than there is probably a 5% chance he would ever be tradeable with that price tag. Just playing devils advocate.

      • The Future Never Comes

        P.S he was already feeling the weight of the city on his back, you think he is going to be able to shake that feeling if things don’t get better? If he goes more than 7-8 games at the beginning of the season without scoring the pitchforks will be out worse than ever before.

        • Consultant

          One has to think he’s out there training like a beast. And doing a lot more speed related training than the previous summer when it sounded like he was more weight and strength focused. I remember some were questioning his approach as he trained in LA with NFL guys and MMA fighters… If he is doing stairs everyday, etc. then maybe he gets a step back…

          • The Future Never Comes

            Speed won’t help his passing and puck handling skills from last year. The issue wasn’t speed, it was that he couldn’t make a 10 foot pass or win puck battles down low or in tight.

        • Reg Dunlop

          Scoring is only one part of what Lucic is being paid to bring here. His skating has been exposed by the new NHL. It is horrawful. His desire to physically engage to help team mates is inconsistent. He very rarely fights, actually nobody fights anymore especially against the best fighter in the league. Moving on from Lucic would help this team immeasurably.

        • Moneyball

          Makes sense what you are saying. The factor that I think you have overlooked is that EDMONTON can’t afford to run another Ufa out of town. We need to be off a few no trade lists by showing that a free agent can have a bit of success here. Lucic can succeed here or rebound off the all time low he had the last half of the season.

  • Jimmer

    Tomas Tatar. Say it with me…Tomas Tatar! A forgotten piece in Vegas with a big contract on a team that is small…and on a team that does not need more speed…they need size. Tatar for Lucic and a 2nd round pick in 2019. No salary being held back either way since the contracts are similar. He can room with fellow Slovak Sekera on the road. They can braid each others’ hair and have pillow fights. If this happens I will get a Chiarelli tattoo! Book it!

      • IRONman

        Good read. Agree with most. No bridge nurse. If Nurse goes to 40 pts he will cost 6 to 8 million. Go 4 mil x 8 years. Trade Klefbom and Lucic. Lupul that Sekera Guy

        • crabman

          if you can sign Nurse for $4M×8 you do that everytime. Not going ti happen though. Nurse should be pushing for $5M longterm, overpay today. Bridge in the $3.5M×2 is my guess. I highly doubt Nurse scores 40, possible but nothing about his game up to this now points to him having a big offensive breakout unless he suddenly becomes a coach favorite on the PP. And even if ge does score 40 I’m not convinced he gets $6M, definitly not $8. Only 20 defencemen make $6M+ a season and only 2 are 26 or younger.

  • Bobber

    Klefbom needs to go now while his stock might still be valued. One more injury filled or sub par season and it’ll plummet. Strike while the iron is hot. If we can unload Lucic fine, but not if we have to eat a pile of money in which case just keep him and hope his game comes back.Chia as per usual will make fans happy this year again except it won’t be Oiler fans.