Peter Chiarelli needs to make the playoffs to save his job, Daryl Katz clearly wants to get another year of that sweet, sweet playoff revenue, and, to an extent, an Oiler’s playoff berth would save Bob Nicholson’s reputation around Edmonton.
There’s a lot on the line. We’ve known that for a while.
Peter Chiarelli has been very active this season and we kind of expected that. We’ve known his job is on the line for quite some time but up to this point, he’s really only made minor moves. Small trades for depth players and waiver claims. As far as in-season moves are concerned, he hasn’t done anything that really moves the needle.
I get the sense that he’s looking to change that and in order to get a significant piece for the current roster, you need to move a significant future asset.
This team’s forward group is simply not good enough. I know this graphic is a few days old now, but the fact that the Oilers have the worst supporting cast in the NHL has not.
Point totals for everyone on the team except the top 5 scorers 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/eDIGA8OBqG
— Zain (@ZainL96) December 31, 2018
Trades for depth pieces and continuing to work the waiver wire simply will not change that. You could argue that bringing in just one top-six winger probably doesn’t change things too much either, but I think it would go a long way in trying to get this team to the playoffs.
It’s kind of old news now, but earlier in the week Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Jesse Puljujarvi’s future is in question. Friedman is obviously very well connected and he doesn’t just throw names out there for the fun of it. If he’s saying it, I believe there’s some substance to it.
Apart from Puljujarvi, the Oilers don’t have a lot of other ‘A’ level assets to dangle. They have their first round pick this upcoming season and if Peter Chiarelli really wanted to gamble, he could move the draft choice without lottery protecting it, which would no doubt boost its value. Their second round pick would hold some value as well as would their early picks in the 2020 draft.
They really just have a bunch of ‘B’ level assets either. I really like Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones, so I would be hesitant to move them. I think their value outside the organization doesn’t line up with their potential. I would say the same with Tyler Benson, I really like him. There are names like Ethan Bear, Ostap Safin, and Cooper Marody, who I would move in a package, but those players likely wouldn’t have very much value to other organizations either.
Another potential benefit of potentially parting ways with one or two big assets is maybe getting some cap relief along with it. If the Oilers dangle Jesse Puljujarvi or the 2019 first rounder in a deal or package both, and it means they can convince a team to take the contract of Ryan Spooner or even Andrej Sekera, I think it makes the idea of selling one of their quality assets a little easier to stomach.
I’m not talking about straight up trading Puljujarvi or the pick in a straight up salary dump. That makes no sense, but what if the deal starts with something like this:
Oilers deal a ‘Grade A’ asset to a team for a top-six winger and then to make the money work, the Oilers throw in a contract.
It may diminish what they get a little, but it would still improve the team this season, which the GM needs to do, and it would make life a little easier in the offseason as well. I’m not saying this deal is out there or that it would be a guaranteed win, but I think it’s something the team would likely entertain.
The bottom line: if Peter Chiarelli wants to beef up this forward core for a run at the playoffs, he’ll have to part ways with a significant asset.
The thought of that should absolutely scare Oilers fans. Peter Chiarelli loses big trades, it’s that simple. But the reality of the situation is that this is a desperate organization.
The silver lining in all of this for Oilers fans is that regardless of which way this season goes, there will be a positive to pull from it. If the Oilers make the playoffs, then you’ll get a taste of playoff action for just the second time in over a decade. If they fall out of the race and miss things, then it’s almost a sure thing that Peter Chiarelli will lose his job, which most of you are rightfully clamouring for.