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Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett

Recapping Peter Chiarelli’s pre-draft media scrum

With the first round of the NHL Draft coming up tomorrow night, Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media this morning to give a little bit of insight as to what he’s got planned for the weekend, the Milan Lucic trade rumours, buying out Eric Gryba and much more. Let’s break it down.

To get things started, Chiarelli was asked about this morning’s decision to buy out Eric Gryba when it would have probably made more sense just to bury his contract in the AHL.

With the way Chiarelli answered the question, it kinda seems like this buyout was doing Gryba a solid. Chiarelli specifically mentioned that buying Gryba out gives him a chance to look for work elsewhere, so that makes me think that this was nothing more than being good to a guy that wasn’t in the plans. It’s an admirable thing to do even if it doesn’t make any sense from an asset or cap management perspective.

On the 10th overall pick

Obviously, with the first round of the Draft kicking off tomorrow, the bulk of the questions asked were in regards to the Oilers’ plan for the 10th overall pick. When asked about his overall philosophy, Chiarelli said what you’d want to hear from your GM at this time of the year.

I like that, Pete. That’s the right answer. Regardless of position, you always take the best player available. Period. Full stop. I’d rather not revisit the years where the scouts thought Mitch Moroz at 32nd overall was a good idea, ya know? You get it.

The idea of moving the pick for immediate help has been talked about since the season ended, but it doesn’t really make sense to me because the Oilers are in dire need for skilled prospects in the system. Drafting 10th overall would likely give them another player to help remedy that issue. Not only that, Chiarelli has a solid drafting record so why wouldn’t they just go up to the podium and grab the best possible prospect they can? Make the pick, Pete. You know you want to. Besides, the last time you traded on of our first round picks it didn’t exactly go over so well, ya know?

But what about the whole right-handed vs left-handed balance thing? Do you care? Does it have to be a right shot defenceman if the guy can put up points?

Ah, okay. So you’re not going to turn down a guy necessarily because of what hand he shoots. I get that. That would be like Paul Dorion refusing to make trades within his own division, ya know? If you approach things that way then you’re basically eliminating a good chunk of the available talent pool, limiting your chances of actually winning a trade. I’m curious, though, does that mean that you’re mostly looking at taking a defenceman tomorrow regardless of who’s still available?

Ah, okay. So it’s not like you’ll turn down Oliver Wahlstrom if he’s still there. I get it. What else?

Now, that’s interesting. Considering the third cluster of players is supposed to be so evenly matched, I wonder if we could see the Oilers trade down in the Draft order to add more bullets to their gun? Personally, I like the way Keith Gretzky has drafted so it wouldn’t be the worst idea to give him more swings at the plate if the players that are left are mostly considered equal. I guess we’ll see.

On making a trade for an offensive defenceman

We’ve talked a lot about Peter Chiarelli going out and finding an offensive d-man that can put up points and run a power play, but as we saw with the Hall for Larsson trade, it’s not that easy to execute without the risk of getting burned. Chiarelli basically admitted as much when asked about going out to find that offensive guy that we all covet so much.

Just wipe the idea of another one-for-one out of your brain, alright? We cool? Cool.

On Milan Lucic…

Obviously, the Milan Lucic trade rumours have been a huge part of the summer so far and it was obvious that Chiarelli was going to be asked about it. Last week, we had basically turned the site into Lucic Nation so I was curious to see how the GM was going to handle any questions about him at his press availability today. Hilariously, Jim Matheson just came out and bluntly asked, “Did Milan Lucic ask for a trade?”

Man, Pete, for a guy that went to Harvard you should have had a better answer in your pocket for this question than running with ‘no comment.’ I’m just saying that ‘no comment’ is, in fact, a comment and it’s pretty obvious what it means given the topic. Wouldn’t it have been easier to say that Lucic hadn’t asked for a trade? That probably would have killed everything dead in their tracks but instead, you basically admitted that it happened and that Sergeant Swagger wants out. That said, thanks for confirming what I’ve been saying for weeks, though. I appreciate it.

Honestly, this one felt like he was trying to put the genie back in the bottle by suggesting they expect him back and feeling better. We all know that he wants out, Pete. You can just be honest.

On Free Agency

Considering the Oilers won’t have much cap space left when guys like Nurse and Strome get signed, I was curious to know what Chiarelli’s thoughts were on free agency. Will the Oilers still be active? Dabble? What say you, Peter?

Free agency hasn’t exactly been kind to the Oilers over the years so maybe the lack of cap space will actually be a positive thing for once. Personally, I think Chiarelli does better with his small deals than he does with the big ones and having so little cap space to work with will probably keep him in his ‘small deal’ wheelhouse. A guy like Vanek probably wouldn’t cost them much and that’s the kind of guy I’m expecting them to sign.

On Matt Benning…

I have to admit that I was pretty surprised by how upset some folks were with the Matt Benning contract. I think Benning is a solid player that was asked to do too much last year, and it wasn’t exactly surprising that a young guy would struggle with being thrown into the deep end before he was ready. When asked about Benning, Chiarelli expected, as I do, that he will have a bounce back year for the Oilers.

No arguments from me. I think Benning is a solid option when properly slotted and it will be up to the Oilers to make sure that happens. The tricky part, of course, will be making sure that he’s not fighting above his weight class again. Confidence is a real thing and the Oilers didn’t do the guy any favours by giving him top-4 minutes before it was ready.

On Darnell Nurse’s coming extension

With the Oilers taking care of some housekeeping leading up to the Draft (Caggiula, and Benning), it seems like only a matter of time before Darryl gets his name on a dotted line. When will that be? Chiarelli wasn’t handing out clues about how things are going, but did say that it’s on the to-do list.

Atta negotiate, Darryl!

On Taylor Hall winning the Hart

With Taylor Hall winning the Hart Trophy last night, I was wondering if anyone was going to ask about it and that’s when my boy Reid Wilkins stepped up with a heater. To paraphrase, he said “Oilers draft picks had a good night at the awards last night. What did you think of Connor winning the Ted Lindsay and Taylor Hall winning the Hart.” Oh man, that’s comedy. Anyway, Chiarelli gave the diplomatic answer that you’d expect him to give.

Sometimes it’s the price you have to pay. Honestly, I feel bad for Adam Larsson in all of this. He was getting trashed directly or indirectly on Twitter last night but this really has nothing to do with him. It’s not his fault that Chiarelli would pay $6000 for a slice of pizza but he gets lumped into this whole thing because he was the sole return in that trade. It’s not fair to Larsson, and I think people should leave his name out of the whole conversation.

THE WRAP…

At the end of the day, what we got was another classic Chiarelli presser where he said a lot of words about not much at all. What we learned is that he’s willing to move up or down at the Draft provided the right deal comes along, but that he’d also be happy to stay put. We also learned that acquiring defence is hard and that he’s not married to the idea that the offensive d-man has to be right-handed. Aside from that, there really wasn’t anything new to report, but that’s exactly what I expected.

I’ve transcribed and live-tweeted enough of Peter Chiarelli’s pressers by now to know that he’s not going to be overly forthcoming with his answers, and that’s fine for the most part. Frankly, I’d rather see him execute winning trades and draft properly than spill his plans to the media like MacT used to do. That said, there’s no doubt that Chiarelli is on the hot seat and this coming weekend will be huge for his future with this franchise. If he doesn’t start landing a few wins on his own personal scoreboard then he’ll certainly be hunting for a new gig, but scoring a ‘W’ at the Draft would definitely be a step in the right direction. I, for one, am very interested to see how things go this weekend. We wait.

What do you guys think?

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  • Bobber

    Ugh. Chia has no one to blame but himself for handcuffing the Oiler’s. His Bad trades and signings have been real head scratcher’s. It started with Sekera, then Lucic, and then crapping the bed on Hall and Eb’s. Throw in over paying Leon and Russell and you’ve got yourself a cluster ….!

  • freelancer

    Looking at the Koskinen, Caggiula, Benning, and Gryba buyouts the Oilers have wasted almost 3 million in cap space.

    Signed an unproven backup goaltender when there should have been options in the 1 million range. Caggiula and Benning feel overpaid by about 500,000 each and the 600,000 over two years for Gryba.

    Put all that cap together and that is another roster player. Good information to those who don’t think small overpayments matter.

    • Loil

      Personally I thought the Benning and Caggiula contracts were fair market value. The Koskinen signing and the Gryba buyouts are a waste of money. I see it as 2.8 million wasted. Did we need a proven back up goalie to push Talbot? Absolutely. But I too feel we could have and should have gone after a far cheaper and proven option.

      It’s nice of Chia to do Gryba a solid in giving him a chance to land a job elsewhere, but, at the end of the day, this is a business. One that you can’t afford to be throwing away $300,000 if you are hoping to maintain your job as GM.

    • Oilman99

      With your vast knowledge I’m surprised you’re not an NHL GM, the real world says you don’t have a clue. Obviously Gretzky and his staff did their homework before signing Koskinen, and the other guys are getting going rate in this days NHL.

  • oilerjed

    BM- “Oilers are in dire need for skilled prospects in the system”
    What is the good of prospects in the system if your main team is not able to live up to its potential due to a hole in the lineup? I understand that development is important but it has to be balanced with the needs of the big club. Is a 2nd or 3rd line player or 2nd or 3rd pairing dman worth holding the club back?
    As for Larsson getting chirped on twitter, when will people get over themselves? Hall winning the Hart (whether he deserved it or not is another story) doesnt in any way make him worth more then when he was traded. And guess what, even Hall after winning the Hart, is not enough to get you the #1 RH offensive Dman on his own. Would Ottawa take Hall for Karlson? definitely not. Larson was a good return for Hall, a cookie thrown in terms of a draft pick maybe would have been a bit better but wouldn’t really change much other then optics.

    • btrain

      I agree, Larsson should not receive any chirping, he didn’t make the trade. However, I must question your logic. There are more than a few defenders between Eric Karlson caliber and Adam Larsson caliber. So because Hall doesn’t = Karlson not sure how that automatically makes Larsson a fair return. If not for this trade, many people would still not even know who Adam Larsson is. Today he is a poor mans Vlasic as he is slightly weaker both defensively and offensively while, when on his game, is capable of holding his own against top competition. There is value to this and their is a possibility he reaches Vlasic caliber/consistency, but he has some work to do before earning that kind of reputation.

      The point here is that Larsson may have represented the Market value, but you are never well advised to buy high, which is what Chia did. The market value is one thing, fair value is a completely different thing. Regardless of what Larsson does in his career, how much of a void he fills for the Edmonton Oilers, this will go down as one of the worst trades in the Salary Cap Era and beyond. Doesn’t mean we can’t like Larsson, but almost every NHL team has at least 2 or 3 players of his ability or better, while to have even one Hall caliber player would be extremely fortunate.

  • Spoils

    here’s the question i would have asked: what would you have had to do to have a top 6 like this:

    RNH-McDavid-Draisaitl
    Hall-Barzal-Eberle

    then you have Pulj and Yammer and some other assets to build out the rest of the team… maybe sign a key goalie and you are done.

    so if you just do nothing except pick Barzal and make some adjustments to the bottom 6 etc.

  • ed from edmonton

    I think our friend BM should attend of few pressers with other GMs. Perhaps BM was at too many McT pressers where he was mostly interested in proving he must be a smart guy with his Queens MBA so that he would spill his guts about his plans. Still can’t believe he stated point blank he would trade Hemsky and Horcoff devaluing both players value.
    If we look at the questions from the presser

    1. What part of his answer didn’t you understand, or what more could PC say. Gryba not in the Oil’s plan and they gave the guy a break. Pretty simple.
    2. BPA, what more is there to say.
    3. Trade is possible if the deal is right. He has said this consistently over the last two months.
    4.See answer to 2.
    5. See answer to 4.
    6. Confirms that good offensive dmen are not traded very often. Perhaps he should have pulled a McT and stated he in not a patient man an will find that player this summer. Would that have you Happier?
    7. His no comment is as good as saying ML has either asked for a trade or has said he would be open to consider a trade. There is not a GM is pro sports who would have said anything more..
    8. Perhaps BM would have liked a McT type answer saying ML is done as an NHLer and we will trade him a la McT on Hemmer and Horcoff.
    9, What else would you expect a GM to say about a player that he just signed?
    10. Again what else would you expect a GM t say? He might say they want a bridge deal or a long term, but again that is McT bravado, not what a professional GM does.
    11. Perhaps you wanted PC to pull Trump and state that the Hart is a bogus award and I don’t get what the fuss is about.

    I get the idea BM wants PC to do some kind of mea culpa and commit hairy cairy at these pressers.

  • CMG30

    You’re right. The Hall trade had nothing to do with Larrson. He’s a fine player who will help the Oilers for years to come. That doesn’t mean Chirelli shouldn’t have lost his job for making that trade. The Hall haters will never admit it, but this trade will feature prominently on top 10 most lopsided trades lists for years to come. Especially now that Lucic, (the real reason Hall had to go) seems to have lost his heart and asked for a trade.

    As for the #10, I wouldn’t mind a trade down. More kicks at the can are never a bad idea and with a likely expansion draft in the next few years, protected players will be all the more valuable.

  • madjam

    To Oilers Habs nbr.3 pick (Tkachuk?) , Pacioretti and Shea Weber . To Habs Oilers NBR.10 , Drysaital, Klefbom and Lucic . To Winnipeg Puljujarvi and 4th round pick for J.Trouba .

  • Hockey123

    Chiarelli on any other team would be gone.
    Overpays Russell, Leon D. Some back up goalie from Europe, Lucic deal. Now he crys about the Cap problems for a bottom team

    His trades to get Reinhart will go down as one of the worst ever. Hall , Eberle. He has been a disaster . He is a horrible GM.
    He created the Cap problems and having weaknesses all over the team.
    Don’t know how he can look himself in the mirror and sell this hope to the fans.

      • btrain

        That’s the thing, GM of the year is inherently based on a tiny sample size. Any GM having Connor McDavid land on their lap has a giant leg up on their competition. It takes a special GM to fall out of playoff contention only a year later with the best player on the planet playing every game for him. Not to mention all the areas that they lacked, were directly impacted by the gambles he took. I’m not saying he hasn’t done anything good as GM, but his body of work in Edmonton has been extremely disappointing. I expected better than a guy who couldn’t resist putting his own stamp on this team as quickly as possible at whatever cost.

        • DoubleOhhStoned

          so there’s been a learning curve. fair enough. some players regressed last year, when he thought they’d improve. He backed his players, and they let him down. Should he not trust them this year? Everyone else in the league saw how they regressed, so who is lining up to acquire them now?