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Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Sucker Deals and Chiarelli

I’ve got absolutely no doubt that Pete Chiarelli’s cell phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since well before he jumped a jet to Dallas for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. And, really, why wouldn’t everybody and his dog be calling the Edmonton Oilers GM to see if there’s a deal to be made? Anybody who isn’t on him like sportswriters on a free buffet isn’t doing his job.

Chiarelli has already made it be known he is willing to talk about moving the 10th pick the Oilers have in the first round if the “right player” is available — he’s already had conversations to that end. We already know that he’d love to bolster his blueline, namely with somebody who can play the right side and help run the power play. We’ve heard names like Colton Parayko, Dougie Hamilton and on and on . . .

Correct me if I’m wrong, but what we’ve got in Chiarelli is a GM with an, ahem, questionable trading record coming off a season in which his team fell miserably short of expectations who has made it known he’s willing to make a deal. Is that about right? That said, rather than asking what could go wrong, a better question might be what could go right? Like I said, any general manager who hasn’t called Chiarelli to offer help should probably lose his job.

Framed in that, maybe the best-case scenario is that Chiarelli does nothing more in Big D than walk to the podium and announce who the Oilers are proud to select with that 10th pick. Not because the Oilers don’t need help – they do — in other areas that will have to be addressed at some point, but because I don’t trust Chiarelli, given his trading track record since arriving in Edmonton and the Oilers’ circumstances, to get it right.

AN EASY MARK

Edmonton Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli speaks at year end Press Conference

From where I sit, it’s not unreasonable to think there’s a level of desperation involved in what Chiarelli is setting out to do this off-season. Of course he wants to make the Oilers better, address needs and get the team headed back in the direction it was headed before the wheels fell off this season. You’d have to be naïve not to think wanting to keep his job plays into things as well.

How long does the vote of confidence Chiarelli received this off-season when Todd McLellan’s assistants took the fall last if things don’t turn around this coming season? Not very long, I’d suggest – and that’s as it should be. Chiarelli isn’t dealing from a position of strength, and every single one of his peers knows that when any conversation begins. Who’s got the hammer when Chiarelli makes a call or takes a call about Parayko or Hamilton or whoever?

Chiarelli isn’t going to get the players he needs simply by offering up that 10th pick. Not a chance. So who else goes into getting that first-pairing D-man or a guy who can make a real difference on the power play? The question isn’t if Chiarelli will over pay for what the Oilers need, the question is how much will he over pay? What is the ask for Parayko by Doug Armstrong? I can’t imagine why Armstrong would want to move Parayko anyway, but everything and everyone is for sale if the price is right.

When we hear from connected reporters like TSN’s Ryan Rishaug that Chiarelli is “aggressively” looking for immediate help on the blueline, how do you see that playing out? When you’re talking about coming off a collapse of a season like the Oilers just had with a year of Connor McDavid’s tenure wasted and fans rightly pissed that it’s gone sideways yet again, my take is you can safely substitute “desperately” for “aggressively.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Maybe I’ve got it wrong. Maybe Chiarelli can somehow make the moves that need to be made without getting suckered in Dallas by those who’ll be calling to see how they can “help.” Maybe, and this seems more likely, Chiarelli makes a minor move rather than a big splash, that adds a useful player he can use next season. Maybe he just selects Evan Bouchard or Barrett Hayton with the 10th pick and calls it good for now.

We’ll find out what happens later today and tomorrow. There is, after all, the rest of the summer to take a step back, contemplate and make deals that make sense. Short of taking a drive through Dealey Plaza in a drop top Lincoln, I can’t imagine Chiarelli being an easier target than he’ll be in the next two days if desperation gets the better of him.

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  • Moneyball

    What leads you to the conclusion that Chiarelli and “Sucker Deals” should be the focus of articles?
    Hall was traded for Larsson and I really didn’t like that deal, but it did address a glaring need on the Team and as a result of the improved defence the Oilers went to the playoffs for the firs time in 10 years. Not a great trade but it was all that was out there and it worked.

    Eberle was traded for strome. Yep a downgrade and a salary dump but after Eberle’s playoff performance was it a bad move? Maybe but the space was cleared to cover Mcdavids Value contract (Which Chiarelli also signed for about 2.5 million less than market)
    Yep The Reinhart trade was a bad move but it could be understood as the Team was desperately trying to get a functional defence. The poor outcome of Reinhart led to the Hall Trade.

    Outside of that every other move that Chiarelli has made has been a smart upgrade on what we have. He has also improved the makeup of the organization from the farm team to the scouting. To the point where the Oilers actually get a few players out of the first round of a draft now.

    Overall the Oilers are a LOT better off today under Chiarelli than they were since Glen Sather left. I wouldn’t call Chiarelli a guy that makes sucker trades but he will make a deal when he needs to address a team need. He understands what he is doing, what the consequences are. If anything he is a calculated risk taker that often sees value that is overlooked by other teams. Just the kind of GM we need in Edmonton since we cant attract free agents we need to see hidden value and drafts well and low and behold that’s what we are doing so far.

      • oilerjed

        The only one of those trades that are undeniably horrible is the Reinhart trade. The others can be explained, whether you agree with that explanation is another story

        • Dr

          Revisionist history. How many Oiler fans made the same assumptions that Chiarrelli made at the start of the 2017-2018 season? How many fans thought that Caggiula, Talbot, Larsson, Benning, Kassian, Lucic, and Klefbom would play at least as well as they did last year? Most of us did.
          Plus, most of us were so disappointed with Eberle’s playoff performance that some people thought he should have been exposed in the expansion draft. Most people have also forgotten how Taylor Hall, as an Oiler, gave the puck away on most of his shifts, seemed to pout when he couldn’t make a play, and turned many a blind eye when his teammates were getting mauled in scrums. He was not the player he is now. I think he needed a wake up call.
          The Reinhart deal is a tough one to accept, but who knew that Barzal was as good as he is? He was dropping in the draft rankings due to character issues. Many first round picks don’t develop, so the Oilers opted for a known commodity. It didn’t work.
          So, focus on the trades to support your case, and ignore the good ones: Talbot, Maroon, Kassian. Chiarrelli isn’t totally stupid, and he’s not perfect. But, everyone in the Oilogosphere thinks they know better.

          • Svart kaffe

            Yeah, I remember writers and commenters for real believing the Oilers would compete for the cup this season. Hah! Even Todd McLellan said their challenge after the playoffs is to do it one more time.

            If Oilers Nation ran the team Eberle would have been exposed in the draft and lost for nothing.

      • 24_McClelland

        Chiarelli lost 3 trades and made a 7x$6mil signing.

        The trades were bets, you could see some semblance of logic in the Hall/Eberle deals, but no use was made of the cap space in selling Eberle low. The trade for Reinhart was mystifying even if Reinhart somehow made the team on the 3rd pairing, but instead he was lost for zippo to the expansion draft and doesn’t play in the NHL.

        The Lucic signing was meant to fill the 1LW hole to a degree, he’s a 3LW 2 years into the contract. Chiarelli has lost nearly every big bet he’s made here, and it’s crippling.

    • btrain

      What you describe is a flaw, not a strength. You suggest these moves as if they had to be made. There is nothing that says you can’t go into a season without addressing certain issues by any means necessary.

    • MrBung

      Chia? Is that you? Shouldn’t you actually be focusing on actually making this team better on draft day? Or have the couple of actual GM connections you have started to feel guilty for taking you too many times.

  • Moneyball

    Lets look at the Chiarelli tenor in the exact opposite light that occurs on Oilers nation and use the same thought process.

    Caggiula pickup for nothing – WIN
    Benning Pickup for nothing – WIN
    Kassian trade – Win
    Talbot trade – Win
    Maroon trade – Win
    Signing The best player in the NHL to a value contract of at least 2.5 million less than market – Huge Win

    Getting the Oilers to the playoffs for the first time in over 10 years WIN
    Drafting record is the best in 10+ years – WIN
    Attracting a big name free Agent in Lucic to Edmonton (when was the last time that happened? Pronger?) – WIN

    Maybe the Oilers do have a competent GM in contrast to the negativity that is fostered on Oilers nation. Might be worthwhile to step back from the ledge and let the management team run the team and us fans can stick to watching the games.