That’s a wrap folks! It appears the Free Agent frenzy has come to an end and Peter Chiarelli is done for the day. He made three minor (but important) moves and we’re starting to get a look at what our opening lineup could look like come October.
After signing Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Rieder, and Kevin Gravel, Peter Chiarelli stood in front of the Edmonton media to discuss his moves and his outlook going forward. You can watch the full presser here, but if you want a quick recap you don’t have to worry, I’ll feed you baby birds. Let’s get into it!
Overall thoughts on the day
I thought it was a pretty productive day. With having the lesser cap space, you have to be a little more direct in your strategy, you have to prepare in a different way which I thought we did. I thought we added speed. We added to the PK, we added size and leadership, we added faceoff skill. They fit some needs that we had, and they were coming in at a good time for us as far as cap goes and as far as opportunity goes for them.
Peter Chiarelli seemed very pleased with the work that got done today. There were a few main areas he aimed to improved, and he did so in all of them. The penalty kill, face offs, and speed were all covered with his acquisitions of Brodziak and Rieder.
He’s coming off maybe an average or below average year. He’s a motivated, young individual. The one year deal is a good fit in general but if he hits it out of the park, we’ll be paying for him next year. But it gives him a platform. He’s a fast, quick player who closes in on pucks quick. We are looking for speed up and down the lineup, and he fits that. We were in on a couple other players.. .and we acted on that one. We are happy to get him.
After hearing Chiarelli’s thoughts on it, I’m very happy with the Rieder signing. They got him for a lot less money than I was expecting, and due to his poor performance last season, he will get an opportunity to rebound. If it doesn’t work out? Who cares! He will be back on the market in no time.
We did some analytics on Brodziak… and he was ranked 19th amongst penalty killer sin the league [Chia spoke about an analytic they watch for based on having sticks in lanes and stick touches]. Combined that with his faceoff success, and we’re headed in the right direction.
Pete went on more about Kyle’s size and speed. It was very important for him to add some forward depth to the team, and he did just that.
Peter Chiarelli actually never really spoke about Kevin Gravel believe it or not. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We feel we have a player in Bouchard who will fill that need. It may not be right away. He’s a very heavy, skilled player who’s ready to compete. He’s a tremendous fit for us.
Peter Chiarelli was thrilled to talk about Evan Bouchard. You can tell he’s very proud of his pick and really looking forward to Bouchard potentially cracking the lineup. He was careful to say that Bouchard may not be ready to make the lineup this year, but he will try out at training camp and go through the normal processes. Chia’s confident Bouchard will fit perfectly in our lineup one day.
Chia was also asked if Bouchard fits the bill in terms of the defenseman that we’ve been seeking oh-so-long for. His response?
What I can tell you is as of right now, I am not searching for a high-end offensive defenceman.
Nurse and Strome
As you all know, Darnell Nurse and Ryan Strome are due for contract extensions this summer. When asked about them, Peter Chiarelli had no hesitation about them getting done. He’s very confident that it will be happening.
Those are things that we’ve been picking away at and we expect them to be done.
Thoughts moving forward
I’m comfortable going in [to the season] with the mix of forwards that we have. It will be ideal to have a line that has three bonified stars. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way… but there’s a level of skill that we added today that we feel can compliment our lines. We’re happy with the upgraded skill level in general.
This response was regarding the question about his right wing depth and how he feels about it. Although he is much happier with how the team is looking, Peter Chiarelli still says he’s not satisfied, and as a GM you’re never comfortable with your team. Chia says that he can’t assure us that this is the same roster we will be looking at come the Fall.
It’s possible we could add another forward. We were close on a couple of things today, including a trade. We could possibly add a center at the depth position.
Now that the draft and Free Agent Frenzy is over, we can now focus more on the upcoming season and how we will be projected to perform. Of course, nearly everyone on the team had an off year so Pete was asked if he’s still relying on the hope that guys will bounce back from last season.
You can’t rely solely on these players having dramatic improvements this year, but we’re expecting some of them to. We’re always looking to improve our roster, and who knows what will happen between now and training camp.
Now, do you guys think we’re officially a better team than we were last year? I believe so, and Peter Chiarelli believes so too.
I think we’ve improved our team, we’ve improved our goaltending, with Koskinen, we’ve improved our team speed, and we’ve improved our veteran presence. I believe we’re headed in the right direction. I don’t know if we’ll be as good as we will be two years ago, we’re going to be better. I can assure you that a good number of [players] will be better as well.
Overall Chia spoke very confidently and proudly in this Free Agent Frenzy media availability. After the mistakes he has made in the past, I really had no idea what to expect as we approached this off season. He didn’t have much cap space to work with but overall I’m satisfied from what we saw from him during the draft and today.
How did you guys think Pete did today? Were you expecting more from him? Expecting less? Let me know in the comments.