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Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Should Peter Chiarelli go all in?

Despite dropping two straight games, the Edmonton Oilers are in a very nice spot. A combination of their strong start to the season and a rather weak Pacific Division has put them in a position where the playoffs are a very realistic goal.

Given the team’s current situation, some are already starting to think ahead to the trade deadline and wonder if the Oilers could actually be buyers when the time comes, or maybe earlier.

As trade talk begins to swirl around Oilersnation, there is a section of the media/fanbase who point to the Oilers forward depth and say that Peter Chiarelli doesn’t need to bring in any more bodies because the Oilers are already having a tough time getting everybody into the lineup.

I don’t agree with that line of thinking. Do the Oilers have lots of depth? Sure they do, but I don’t think you could say that they wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a legitimate top-six winger. The depth they have largely belongs in their bottom six.

Drake Caggiula is playing some good hockey alongside Connor McDavid right now, but he isn’t a full time top-six winger. Alex Chiasson has six goals this season, but he’s done it with a 46.2% shooting percentage. It’s obvious that number won’t hold up.

Ty Rattie is healthy and could probably take his spot back on the top line, but I would still like to see Chiarelli go out and get an established right winger. The Oilers have put themselves in a spot where it’s realistic to expect them to make the playoffs and once you’re in the playoffs anything can happen, so why not go all in?

Traditionally, impact trades don’t happen this early in the season. Last year, we saw the Senators, Avalanche, and Predators link up for a big 3-way deal on November 17th that involved Matt Duchene going to Ottawa, Kyle Turris going to Nashville, and a package of prospects/picks going to Colorado.

That isn’t the norm. Usually, we have to wait a little longer to see an ‘impact’ trade in the NHL.

In 2016/17, the first big trade didn’t come until the new year. Same thing in 2015/16 when we didn’t see a notable trade until January 6th when the Blue Jackets and Predators swapped Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones. On that same day, the Flyers send Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to the LA Kings for Jordan Weal and a 3rd round pick.

In 2014/15, Dallas acquired Jason Demers and a draft pick from the San Jose Sharks for Brendan Dillon on November 21st.

So while November deals do happen, they’re rare, but I can see why competing teams would push to get deals done earlier. If the Oilers were going to pay for a pending UFA like Mats Zuccarello, then it makes sense that they would want to get it done earlier in the year to get more of a bang for their buck.

That brings me to my next point, is there a fit out there for the Oilers? I won’t spend a lot of time on this because the trade market hasn’t fully developed itself yet so this is just me speculating, but here are some names I found interesting.

MATS ZUCCARELLO (pending UFA @ $4.5m) – He’s just shy of a point per game pace so far this year, so the price may be high, but I think he would be a perfect fit on the right side. He can score goals and can still skate pretty well. The Rangers would probably have to retain here as well. He shoots left, which wouldn’t help the left/right balance on their top powerplay, so he isn’t a perfect fit, but there’s no denying he can play with skill.

GUSTAV NYQUIST (pending UFA @ $4.75m) – He’s scored 20 goals three times in his career, but only has one in 14 games this year. Right now he’s playing LW in Detroit, but he can play both sides. Like Zuccarello, he shoots left, which wouldn’t help the Oilers powerplay, but I think he could bring them some value at even strength.

WAYNE SIMMONDS (pending UFA @ $3.97m) – Oilers fans have been thrown this name around a lot over the past five years, but this might be the only time I think acquiring him is even slightly realistic. He’s #15 on Frank Seravalli’s ‘Trade Bait Board’ at TSN and the sense is Philly might move him if he can’t get a new deal done. As of right now, the Flyers are battling for a playoff spot, so I can’t see them moving Simmonds until the deadline, if they do at all. Worth a mention though.

RICHARD PANIK (pending UFA @ $2.8m) – He only has four points this year with the Coyotes, but he’s only a year removed from a 20 goal campaign with the Hawks. He isn’t the sexiest name out there, and isn’t really an ‘all in’ move, but he’s a right winger with skill. If Arizona falls out of the race, he might be a cheap rental.

That list of names will only grow as the season continues on and teams keep falling out of playoff contention, but it’s an interesting start. If they wanted to make a move early in the year and jump the market, Zuccarello and Nyquist are probably the only two of the four names that would work.

The added benefit of finding a trade partner sooner rather than later is that it would allow the organization to comfortably send both of Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto to the minors, where they could properly develop. That should be factored into the decision.

The next area to look at is what type of assets could the Oilers realistically give up? That depends on your idea of ‘all in’. They still need to be cognizant of the future, which is why I wouldn’t give up Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, or Ethan Bear. Every other prospect could probably be had for the right offer.

As far as picks go, I would be fine if the Oilers dangled their second round pick as trade bait. They also have two selections in the third round (acquired the Islanders pick in the Davidson deal) and those could both hold value, especially if the Islanders cool off.

There’s also the first round pick. I’ll start by saying that I would be VERY hesitant to move that pick, but if the Oilers could bring back a young top six right winger who has more than a year left on his deal, I would strongly consider moving that pick.

The fit would have to be absolutely perfect and I’m not sure if that type of player is out there on the trade market right now.

The Oilers are in a good spot right now, despite the two consecutive losses, and while I think this team as it sits right now is good enough to make the playoffs in a weak Pacific division and possibly win a round, an added offensive weapon could go a long way.

They can’t go and sell the farm, but I believe Peter Chiarelli needs to go out and improve this team, even if it means betting some of the future.

    • Die Hard Oiler Fan

      ……or maybe that first and second could reacquire Reinhart from Vegas (he is still struggling somewhere in their farm system isn’t he ?)….note heavy sarcasm here…..I still say the original trade Chia made with NYI (#16 and #32 in the 2015 McDavid draft) to acquire Reinhart should have been his last as Oiler GM, even though he had only been in the role for a matter of weeks.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Craig McTavish had his heart set on Reinhart for some reason.
          He kept saying that when he was with the Oil Kings he saw all signs of him becoming a great defenseman. Win some, lose some. I don’t want to hear any more about it. We are past that as a team. We rarely even hear McTavish’s name anymore. Let’s look upward and onward, as we have come a long, long way from those days when you drill down & think about it. It seems like so long ago?

          • Spydyr

            You mean Assistant GM Craig McTavish. Is that the name you hardly hear anymore? He still have a influence on the team in his position regardless of the optics the team tries to put forth.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            McTavish is not at all anything GM.
            He’s Senior VP Hockey Ops…
            Very little to do with Personnel & HR, more to do with team travel, logistics, and general team operations and money.
            You are right, he does have an influence on the team, less now though.
            The Reinhart thing was just after Chia started with the Oilers & McT was in a recent GM role. Of course the “new guy” would listen to past management. Now though, Chia is well aware of the track record, he has seen it first hand. The majority of this team as it stands today is Chia’s. Very little McT finger-prints left.
            That’s why you never hear his name anymore.

      • Bills Bills

        Die Hard, you do realize that the Reinhart trade had MacT and Lowe written all over it don’t you? Reinhart is not PC type guy. Soft in the corners is not something I would use to describe any player PC has ever traded for part from Reinhart. Given the history that he had with the Oil Kings, I would say it is pretty clear who wanted that trade.

    • Jordan88

      Listen Buddy.

      We all know Chia only gets players from either Boston area or guys who were born locally. It doesn’t take a genius to see that your theory won’t pan ou-* notices Dion’s birth place *

      Mother of god……

  • Spydyr

    Keep your draft picks . Draft, develop and build a team from within. Trading draft picks for quick fixes should only be done when the team is ready to challenge for the Cup. Trading your future for the present is not the way to go. One of the biggest problems under the Katz era is worrying about today and not having a proper long range plan for the future.

    • Die Hard Oiler Fan

      Agreed 100%. We finally developing a farm system with some talent, that may include future NHL players. Maintain the present course (recent drafts under Keith Gretzky look promising), and charge Bakersfield with giving these young players lots of ice time and developing them properly. With the cap crunch Chia has managed to create, we will need all the low cost entry level talent we can manage. There will be a better time to go “all-in” down the road when we are actually a possible cup contender.

    • TruthHurts98

      This an even better draft coming up. So they need to keep the picks! No team wins in this salary cap era by mortgaging out the future. Ryan McLeod will be a 2nd round gem, so I for one would hate to see the 1st or 2nd round picks traded.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I don’t disagree Spydyr, however it seems the team is changing that “Katz Era” mentality you speak of. We have certainly come leaps & bounds over the last couple of years when you think about it. Bakersfield may actually win a few games and become viable? You couldn’t say that much in “the Katz Era”.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          It’s only for a few games to start the season. Showing them clearly what they will have to work on when they start playing heavy minutes going forward. We are in a good space right now. Whether or not they keep that up will determine if it’s still “the Katz Era”.
          I’m the first to say that I’m a little skeptical, but it seems to be trending in the right direction. the Katz Era would have traded some of these prospects for washed up Vets to supplement. I like where we are going.

    • jesse says yep

      Is using one draft pick and a mediocre prospect really sacrificing the future? I would suggest that getting a winger to play along with Leon this season is the most important thing on Chia’s to do list right now. No one on Tyler’s list would be overly expensive prospects wise.

  • ARB

    We need to solidify the blue line with a 3rd pair that doesn’t require sheltered minutes. This would lighten the work load for the 1st and 2nd pairings. Obtaining a solid second pairing defenseman would push the current guys down the depth chart and have them playing where they should be.

  • slats-west

    I think Zuc is an interesting option and he skates well, competes hard, all would be good for team – Sather friendly options could help as well. Perhaps trading Cagiluia + 2nd rounder (with his current stats and low salary cap) maybe tempting for NYR. If it was Kassian that would be better but I doubt that can happen.

    My overall preference is we need to find a Dman as our biggest issue is keeping the puck out of our net. Nothing in your list for that. Penquins have lost 5 in a row and Rutherford seems to be looking for answers. Olesiak may be interesting given the Pens acquired him only for a Conditional in 2017. The Kings are in the basement and have Martinez who is not having a great season. Perhaps a Dman (Malone and pick here). NJD is also struggling mightily after their start may have some options for us in the D position.

    Time to earn your pay Peter…….

  • Oil9744

    Wayne Simmonds would be the best fit out of that group of forwards on the 2nd line with Draisaital, Zuccarello would be good to but if we could land Simmonds that would be huge.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    I think they Oil will target one of these guys….once they are comfortable that they are strongly in the playoff hunt. My guess as early as the beginning of December. After the seven games against the Pacific. Go 5-2 and they will be pretty good. Go 2-5 and well I think we see changes at a higher level then RW.

  • Peter Chairelli

    I really disappointed with my photo selection for these articles. Why do you guys always use a bad photo, where I look confused or foolish? I’m the GM, your fearless leader, the guy who brought the playoffs back to Edmonton, I deserve better.

    • A-co

      A good photo op for pistol pete would be to take some selfies with trudeau on a secluded island far far away. Maybe auntie Rachel could take the photos…don’t trust this guy to make any more significant moves to this team

  • HelpMeBabyJesus

    None of the players you suggest, and rightfully point out, would really impact the Oilers. The hole that needs to be filled is on defence. We have been and continue to leak bad goals. Package Nurse and or Klefbom before everyone realizes how truely average they are. Nurse has his bridge that will make him easier to trade and Klefbom has a good existing contract also. We desperately need a quarterback dman.

  • CMG30

    Should PC go all in? NO! As nice as this run has been we still have holes all over the roster. Not to mention that we’re up against the cap. At trade deadline if we’re still going strong then that’s the time to consider making a push. Until then don’t let a handful of good games lead you down the garden path…

    • Oilman99

      Totally agree, there is no cap room to bring in any top six wingers, or top dman that the team needs, there are good things brewing in the minor team and back in junior both at forward and defence. Patience is the only thing they have due to all the no-trade contracts that have handcuffed things.

  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    Oilers should look at Strome (+ something) for Kadri and Caggulia + other prospects for Burakovsky. Burakovsky is a proven scorer with McDavid is Erie (should have drafted DeBrincat over Benson). Burakovsky is struggling right now and on the outs in Washington, gives you are great chance for someone to consistently finish the countless opportunities McDavid makes. Kadri gives you an incredible 3rd center who can easily play top 6. This move might have to wait until the offseason when Nylander, Matthews and Marner need deals.
    Then spare change for Ho-Sang. Again, getting a low risk-high reward skilled player. Shouldn’t cost much and worst case scenario you send him down.

    -But number one on the list needs to be an offensive dman who can actually get the puck on net. Klefbom misses the net waaaay too much to be a pp1 dman. Maybe Bouchard or Bear will turn into that but damn.

    If none of this happens, go all out for Duchene.

    Nuge-McDavid-Burakovsky
    Reider-Drai-Ho-Sang
    Lucic-Kadri-Puljujarvi
    Kassian-Brodziak-Chaisson

    Will be interesting to see what happens with Sekera and Lucic. Is Sekera for sure going to return to his career again? or is he done? I am praying for another one of the compliance buyout periods to dump Lucic.

    • Peter Chairelli

      Duchene is a premadonna with poor character and attitude. There’s no way I’m bringing that back into the dressing room. *cough cough*Hallsy*cough cough*

  • btrain

    Should Bobby Nick go all in and fire Chiarelli sooner rather than later? The Oilers have been winning in spite of him, not because of him. You can talk about the prospect pool he has created, which he deserves some credit for, but I don’t think it makes up for his blunders and its not like the bar was set very high to begin with. Chiarelli through his conviction and prioritizing his check-list over reason, has only narrowed the window of success for this franchise. Success he will gladly take credit for, regardless of how much McDavid is responsible for it or how much more success could have been enjoyed.
    Here we are today, after trading the 16th/33rd draft picks, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and the team is still looking for top 6 wingers and have searched for an offensive minded right shot defensmen since they sent Schultz packing. The pieces given up only to still have 90% of the holes they were given up to address, is unforgivable. On top of that he has handcuffed himself against the cap with several overpays.
    I truly can’t imagine a GM who could have made a bigger mess with McDavid landing on their lap, a lot of cap space, and an inheritance of RNH, Dra, Hall, Eberle, Klefbom, Nurse & Schultz. Say what you will about Schultz but if placed in the right role, he would have helped this team over the long run.
    Anyway, thank god for McDavid, as the Oilers will always have a chance because of him. There are also plenty of reasons to remain optimistic on the season and the future ahead. An article with Chiarelli and trade talk was apparently a trigger for me. I apologize for my vent.

    • Here we go again, did you see Eberle play the playoffs? He was no longer in a slump he was absent. Schultz was on this team when we needed d-men that keep pucks out of the net. Pittsburgh was one of a few teams that aren’t hemmed in their own zone and he was a fit there. I hated to see Taylor go but he had value we needed a d-man . When the deal was done you could tell that it was needed.

      The same year we don’t progress like management thought Taylor wins the Hart and Everybody wants Pete’s head. D-men are not cheap. Hamonic? A 1st and 2 second rounders. I read trade Nurse, trade Klefbom?? Sorry for the rant and we are above 500. Smile

      • Gravis82

        Hall won the heart last year, but that was not the reason people were calling for a firing . Hall was pretty darn good e try other year and never once underpreformed based on his contract

  • Big Nuggets

    I’d rather add a defenseman than a winger. As for the wingers, once Arizona is firmly out of the playoffs Panik will be dirt cheap. Pulj and Yam should be sent down evwn without an addition.

  • Spoils

    Does anyone really think this incarnation of the Oilers can take on the Lightning? Was I watching a different game?

    The Oilers are surprising people right now because – guess what – their young players are a year older than last year. So without any changes, surprise surprise this team is a notch or two better. Now factor in parity in the league and some better luck and whammo we are looking better.

    But we got thoroughly beat down by a team that has a whole additional gear than we do. Yes McDavid dominated and created and that help us look better, but the Lightning are missing Hedman right now!

    The Oilers need more time. We need to develop more players from our farm (ideally that includes sending Yammer and JP down as well)…

    When we start getting the fruits of players like Benson, Bear, Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Marody etc. And when Nuge gets a bit better (he will), and Draisaitl gets better, and Nurse gets better, and Klefbom and Larsson, and so on.

    Then we can sacrifice future picks and sign FAs etc. Then we can go for it.

    For now, gain experience, enjoy watching McDavid, and pray that Chiarelli keeps our powder dry.

    • Leichs

      I am especially excited for McLeod, Benson and Jones. I feel like those guys will be replacing guys like Strome, Luc and Benning as soon as next year or year after. McLeod looked like he could have started this year with the big club the way he played in pre season. I see he is on pace this year to set a new career high. I am pumped on his kid. Anyone that has Smytty as their favourite player growing up has gotta be a keeper. Tons of speed and tenacity, would probably be an upgrade over Strome right now.

    • JariCurry

      Tampa schooled them on the back end of a back to back. In the meantime they have played well against Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington, Winnipeg and Boston. I’ve got nothing to complain about so far.

  • Gravis82

    The time to go all in was 2 years ago, now we are building for a cup in 7 years. We need those pics to fill in half of the top 6. And 3 defense slots and a goalie

  • jesse says yep

    I think the Oil are in a great position to make an impact add on a upcoming UFA and not need to break the bank on any of them. They have more than a few “B” level prospects on D and upfront that could be parted with for a winger who can point up points. Ufa rentals aren’t usually so expensive, unless they are extraordinary (no one yet seems to fit that bill), that this would even be an all in moment. But a solid top 6 add, even for just this year, would be great for sending players down for development while also help out this season on the big club with very little long term risk.

  • MrBung

    Problem is that it is relative. The Oilers are also a weak team that is part of the so called weaker division. The Oil will struggle mightily with the Flames, Canucks, and Sharks.