The Nielson Ratings (Part 2) – An Offseason Review

With the exception of a new deal for Darnell Nurse, it is safe to assume that over the last couple of days Oilers President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli has put the final touches on his off-season. A PTO for Scottie Upshall and a one-year deal for Jakub Jerabek appear to have filled up the last couple of spots on the roster.

Part 1 of the Nielson Ratings was released on June 12th and at that point, this long offseason was off to a pretty good start for the Oilers.


  • Trading for Cooper Marody: B+
  • Jay Woodcroft to Bakersfield: B
  • Signing Mikko Koskinen: C+
  • Signing Joel Persson: B
  • Introducing new Coaching Staff: A



Since the mid-point of June the Oilers have taken care of some house keeping, brought in some new faces and a had a right-shot offensive defenseman fall into their lap in Dallas.

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June 19th – Oilers Sign Benning To A Two-Year Contract Extension

This seemed like an easy deal to get done for both sides. Benning ends up with a near four million dollar commitment from the Oilers while the team gets a bottom pairing d-man, with upside, for less than a two million dollar cap hit.



June 21st – Oilers Buy Out Gryba

“We just figured that he wouldn’t be in our lineup next year and it would clear up a contract,” is what Chiarelli had to say about the decision. In the end the Oilers got rid of a contract and saved about $300,000 in cap space. The bottom line is there was no room for Gryba in the NHL or the AHL.



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June 22nd – Oilers Draft Evan Bouchard

Patience paid off for the Oilers when Evan Bouchard, among others, were still on the board when the 10th overall pick arrived in Dallas.

The Oilers had been searching for a player like Evan Bouchard for a long, long time. Now they have him and they didn’t have to give up anything to get him. He may be ready, he may not, we won’t know until he takes the ice in the pre-season. It was suggested to me by a source I trust that the Oilers would have had to part with Jesse Puljujarvi and the 10th overall pick to get Colton Parayko out of St. Louis. It wouldn’t have been the worst trade ever but if Bouchard and Puljujarvi reach their potential Oilers fans will be happy they held on to them.



July 1st – Oilers Sign Kevin Gravel

The Oilers went into July 1st with a number of specific needs and a 7th defenseman was one of them. They opted to go with a guy who is on the verge of proving himself as an NHL regular. Gravel has 4 pro seasons under his belt and comes with a very reasonable price tag of $700,000. He wasn’t the perfect player for this situation but I do like the manageable cap hit.



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July 1st – Oilers Sign Tobias Rieder

I’m still not sure how Chiarelli managed to get Tobias Rieder on a one-year deal for less than what most of us were expecting. The only way the Oilers were going to be able to afford Rieder was if he came to town with a cap hit of $2,000,000, which he did. Not only did the Oilers get a versatile player for the upcoming season they now also have him under control next July. Chiarelli’s best move of the off-season.



July 1st – Oilers Sign Kyle Brodziak

Brodziak should give the Oilers exactly what they are looking for on the 4th line. He can kill penalties, win draws, provide leadership and most importantly he’s only going to cost them $1,150,000 for each of the next two seasons.



July 6th – Oilers Sign Ryan Strome to a Two-Year Extension

Apr 2, 2018; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Strome (18) carries the puck up ice during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Strome ended up getting exactly what most of thought he would command on a two-year contract. As a third line center at $3,100,000 per season all you really need from Strome is around 35 points to be satisfied. Another positive, he’ll still be an RFA when this new deal expires.



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July 18th – Oilers Sign Josh Currie

Currie is a 25-year old whose job will once again be to provide offense in the American Hockey League. He is coming off back-to-back 20 goal campaigns in Bakersfield. I do think there is an outside chance he actually see’s spot duty with the Oilers this season.



August 19th – Oilers Sign Scottie Upshall To A PTO

Dec 27, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Scottie Upshall (9) skates the puck up the ice against Nashville Predators defenseman Yannick Weber (7)during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the fact the Oilers are still pinching their pennies a PTO for Scottie Upshall makes all the sense in the world. If he makes the team, which I suspect he will, he could join Brodziak in providing leadership and experience in the bottom six. In mostly a fourth line roll last year Upshall actually produced very well offensively. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a former Fort McMurray Oil Baron, I spent two years calling Barons games, he’s a legend up there.



August 20th – Oilers Sign Jakub Jerabek

Let me correct the headline above. Oilers sign Stanley Cup Champion Jakub Jerabek. The moment Andrej Sekera’s Achilles went pop Chiarelli was on the horn looking to replace him. Is Jarabek the answer? I like him more than Kevin Gravel and would have no problem seeing him in their third pairing for the majority of the season.




We continue to wait for a Darnell Nurse deal to get done but I wouldn’t freak out about things unless nothing is on paper come mid to late September.



Peter Chiarelli didn’t have much wiggle room but I do think he did a very good job with what he had to work with. The only move I really didn’t like was the Koskinen cap hit but he could still very well come in a prove he’s worth it. Chiarelli didn’t suck this off-season, that’s a good thing.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • TruthHurts98

      I don’t hate him, I just don’t like how he got us into cap hell with bad trades and bad signings. He does fine with smaller signings and the drafting is way way better. Defense flat out is not good enough for a playoff team unless Klefbom is healthy the whole season, Larsson returns to form and Nurse gets signed and has a breakout year. Benning is fine for a bottom pairing but beyond that it’s bleak. Once injuries hit it’ll be tough. Koskinen was a massive overpay unless he ends up being a miracle on ice, but that’s a big if. Reider signing was his best move this summer and I love that one. Brodziak is also a good signing. I hope he doesn’t make a stupid trade for a top 4 dman, we have no depth on the wings. As a lifetime fan I would rather management look at the big picture and plan for the future. Even if we miss the playoffs but develop Bouchard, McLeod, Bear and Yamamoto properly this team will be a force soon enough. KEEP the NUGE!!! With Connor anything is possible so if he’s predicting the playoffs and sick of losing, that alone might be enough. Leon had a concussion last year so if he’s healthy and Looch can be decent this team does have a chance to make it to the show. But a lot has to go right. Talbot will bounce back too I think.

    • daryl

      The only trade Peter made that I will never forgive is Reinhart everything else was a hockey trade that can be debated. Lucic was a risk but the type of player you want in the playoffs if he can get 35 points on the third line it will be OK just means the NHL has evolved

  • NewPants

    The key phrase is: with what he had to work with.

    The team doesn’t look better then last year but looks as good as two years ago. The biggest improvement is the coaching staff. If coaching can win some games we have a good chance of seeing some playoff hockey in Edmonton.

      • OilerForLife

        Realistically, how much better could he have done – with the cash that was left. Win or lose -1 more year will come off the really bad contracts. I don’t want to wait another 3- years, for things to look better but can you tell me what other options are available.

      • jesse says yep

        This defense was good enough to get to the second round two years ago, so why not now? Minus Sekera but Nurse is plus another year of experience, Benning needs to come through this year in a big way. But all in all, IMO it isn’t the defense that will be the concern but scoring throughout the middle 6. If lines 2 &3 come through, this team is playoff bound.

        • daryl

          Sekera was maybe not going to be as good as he was after watching end of last year so a expensive third line + dman that would have not impact the team as in the past. We have a D core that is one year older and better and have a lot of options on D coming into camp lets wait and see if we need to go to the trade market at opening night.

      • TKB2677

        This same defense was good enough to get 103pt, almost win the division and get screwed out of making the Western final. That was with Nurse not having a lot of experience and being a train wreck defensively at times and that was with Benning in his first season. Nurse is a way better dman than he was 2 seasons ago, he’s bigger, stronger, faster and more defensively sounds. Benning will be better just because of more experience. Klefbom is healthy and should be better because of experience as he didn’t have a lot of time in the NHL. Even Larsson should be at least the same if not a little better just because he has more experience.

  • Realist1

    As always, Chia does well on the small deals but drops the ball on the big ones. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of small deals to make up for his big blunders…. but if he can stick to fringe trades we are, hopefully, good.

  • “A-“? What?

    You missed the Koskinen contract.
    Oilers must be vastly improved over last season, right?
    And saying Chiarelli did the best with what dollars he had doesn’t make sense since he created the problem!
    Drafting Bouchard was a no-brainer.

    Looking at the current roster:
    Rieder is an improvement over Cammalleri, so give it a B.
    Brodziak is an improvement over Letestu, so give it a C+
    Upshall should be an improvement over Caggiula, but Caggiula is still here, so give it a C.
    Gravel or Jerabek is not really an improvement over Auvitu, so give this a C-.
    Is Koskinen really an improvement over Montoya? Give it a C.

    The forwards are a little better–and a little more expensive.
    But the defense isn’t any better–it’s more expensive.
    Unproven backup goalie is a risk and expensive.
    Prospects in the farm are an improvement, but little to no impact on NHL team just yet.

    There’s still huge holes on top six right-wing and right-defense.

    I’d give this off-season a C+, maybe a B at best.

  • Abagofpucks

    Were going to just have to wait and see how all the new changes fit, new coaches new players and all.
    Get nurse signed Petey, and are you done dealing or is there another deal out there yet?

  • ed from edmonton

    The Reider signing has been PCs high point this off season to be sure. Everything else has been middle of the road stuff, about what was expected. His off season will be made or broken if he can use the $4M cap space now available to shore up the loss of Sekera or perhaps bolster the wings. If he leaves cap $ on the table like last year he is not doing his job.

    • ed from edmonton

      I should mention the gamble PC has taken with Koskinnen. At $2.5M he has to be a 1B quality goalie or it is a waste of cap space. How Koskinnen pans out will go a long way to determine what kind of off season PC had had.

      • LAKID

        Right now Koskinen’s 2.5M contract is a bargain compared to 4.2M for a pretend starter, if all goes to plan Koskinen will be making 4.2M while Talbot can backup for 1.5M for the 2019-2020 season.

        • Derian Hatcher

          yup…I think most teams can say that about their starter. Our friends down the road are hoping Smith stays healthy, We all saw how Rinne played in the playoffs the last couple of seasons. If Anderson in the center of the universe does not have a very good season, it won’t matter how many goals the leaf forwards get. Etc Etc. I am confident the the team, including Talbot will bounce back this year. I feel the addition of the new asst. coaches will make a significant difference in the pace the Oilers play at as well as special teams. Let’s face it, most of us who comment on here cold design a better power play than we saw last year. It was torture to watch. Here’s hoping that the boys turn it around this year. Otherwise….wooo – don’t go to the grocery store or out for dinner if you are an Oiler player…those are mean streets out there if there is another season like last year.


    So let me get this straight we signed cheap solid dependable players for our bottom 6 that were better than years past, have possibly the best 2 young centres locked up for the next 8 years, NUGE, Klef and Lars and people talk about cap hell?
    We have Yamamoto and Possibly PJ have a breakout year, Rattie, Aberg, Rieder to add to the young core ? People stop complaining this team is the best it’s looked since the 80s and we have a flood of prospects in every position. In 2 years Sekera and Russell will be gone (maybe sooner) and the prospects from the farm will take over and pretty smoothly I imagine. Why do you think we got Brodz and Upshall for so cheap? Because they see this team as a serious threat of speed and youth ready to do damage on th league.
    I give an A and Chia has rounded out the bottom of the team well by being patient and not trading anything at the draft.

    • HOCKEY83

      You got Brodz and Upshall cheap because they had nowhere else to go and as soon as guys like Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Rattie and Bouchard need to get paid they will have to go somewhere else to get the money cause The Oil won’t be able to afford them. It will be a constant revolving door for 10 seasons.


    Chia has to wait till Sept before he can put Sekera on iR or he doesn’t get the extra cap. then the Nurse deal will get done and possibly another signing or player.

  • Serious Gord

    Overall the grading should be broken down 3 ways:

    Cap management (both now AND in the future)

    How well has he addressed the needs of the team.

    Is the team better going into this season than it was this past season.

    Assuming chia makes no more moves before the start of the season O would give grade him D, C and C respectively – an average of C-

  • TKB2677

    For anyone who think the Oilers can’t make the playoffs with their defense, who are the norris winners on Vegas who got to the cup finals? Derek Engelland who’s been a journeyman, 3rd pairing at best dman his whole career played in their top 4. Theodore had 34 NHL games under his belt. Nate Schmidt played 3rd pairing mins in Washington. So did McNabb for the Kings. Sbisa has been a mediocre 3rd pairing guy for years.

    If you could make a championship defense, is anyone picking any of those guys that Vegas had? Would it help to have a stud dman on your team? Sure but Vegas beat the Kings with a norris dman in Doughty, they beat the Sharks with a Norris dman in Burns and they beat the Jets who have a very good defense with a bunch of 4, 5, 6 dmen.