Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Catching Up

Happy New Year Oilersnation!! The Spengler Cup was amazing but it is nice to be back. So what did I miss? Any questionable deals or losing streaks that you all had to deal with? Yes, I know, things have been messy. I’ve got a bunch of random thoughts on pretty much everything I missed. Here we go.


Jan 2, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) carries the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning (26) and goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) defend during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This deal doesn’t make any sense to me and pretty much never will. The Hawks would have done anything to move Manning for NOTHING and yet they land a capable bottom six forward in Drake Caggiula. Adding to the misery Klefbom hasn’t even returned to the line up yet and Manning has already been healthy scratched.

This story is actually even more ridiculous than it sounds. I do believe it’s been mentioned that Chiarelli has always had Manning on his radar but how about this little tidbit: I’ve been told by a very reliable source that at one point over the last two years Chiarelli actually had a deal in place to acquire Manning. He was ready to pull the trigger but his coaching staff told him not to do it. I don’t know what that deal was but I find it fascinating he has wanted Manning for so long and was told by his last coaching staff the player wasn’t worth picking up. Looks like they were right.

I also snagged this quote from an NHL Scout shortly after the Manning deal was made. “I have no idea what Peter is hoping to accomplish with Manning. He’s a fringe bottom pairing d-man on his best day.”

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Petrovic to the Oilers has been suggested more times than I can remember over the past couple of seasons. I would have felt better about this deal if it was a fourth round pick but I don’t hate it. Petrovic should be able to fight for third pairing minutes even when this blue line is healthy.

Seriously though. What does this blue line look like when it’s healthy? Is Sekera ever going to be ready to play?

Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Petrovic
Manning – Benning

Is that what they are looking at pre-Sekera? I like what I’ve seen from Caleb Jones but I’m still thinking he heads back to the AHL when they are healthy.

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Maybe Jones can go back to Bako until one of the other d-men is moved for a forward. Why was the Caggiula trade made again?


Samorukov plays a physical game and has offensive potential. (Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Oilers fans should be very excited about what’s on the way on the backend. The World Juniors provided a pretty good glimpse of the future on the blue line. Evan Bouchard, as expected, was more than steady for the Canadians. Dmitri Samorukov was a workhorse for the Russian’s and is starting to trend towards having legit NHL potential.

The real surprise continues to be Philip Kemp, a seventh round pick in 2017. A pro career is now in the cards for Kemp. I’m not yet ready to say he will eventually make a significant impact on the Oilers but he’s a solid defender who will most certainly get an opportunity to develop in the American Hockey League when he is ready.

I wonder if the continued emergence of these three kids means Ethan Bear will now be in play prior to the trade deadline as Chiarelli continues his search for secondary scoring.


I’d like to see Hitchcock go back to Nugent-Hopkins between Jujhar and Jesse. I tweeted this same thing early in the game against the Ducks and I do believe we saw it a couple of times on Sunday night.

The Khaira-Nuge-Puljujarvi trio was probably the best second line the Oilers have managed to put together this season and it was only broken up due to Khaira’s suspension. I’m actually surprised Hitch hasn’t gone back to it yet. If they are going to try and run with three centers I’d say those two guys are the best bet with Nuge.

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While I was overseas I had a number of people tweet me asking if there was anyone at that tournament who could help the Oilers. Zac Dalpe is a player I find intriguing but he’s currently under contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dalpe has played just one game for the Blue Jackets this season but did have an assist in that game. He is putting up some excellent numbers in the American Hockey League with 15 goals and 28 points in 30 games. He’s 6’2, has decent speed and a very good shot. I get an Alex Chiasson vibe from him. He’s a player I think the Oilers should keep tabs on.

I’d also like to see an NHL team give Denis Godla a chance between the pipes. Godla was the MVP of the 2015 World Juniors and was brilliant in the Spengler Cup Final against Canada. He’s a member of the Slovakian National Team and is currently playing for Sami Kapanen in Finland. Kapanen told me Godla is good enough to play in the NHL right now. The only downside is that he’s just 5’11 but the guy is an absolute stud. He’s just 23-years-old and told our TSN crew that all he wants is a chance in North America. I hope he gets it.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

    • Hemmercules

      It’s absolutely amazing that Chia keeps his job after making moves like this. It has to be a record or something. Most terrible moves before getting fired. Pissing away assets for gambles left and right. Too hard to fire your friends, they need to start hiring guys they don’t know so personally.

        • Hemmercules

          Honestly man, the faith I have in the upper management/owner to hire the right guy is about as good as the faith I have in Chia. Even if they fire Chia they probably hire some goof they can puppet anyway. Getting to playoffs is a big win, they can still fire Chia and Bob when they get eliminated.

          Any available GM’s out there these days?? Im not sure of any decent ones out there ready to be hired. Anything is better than Pete I guess.

          • Hemmercules

            I agree somewhat Trainreck. Chia was once a competent GM but I think that ship sailed before he left Boston. He might be a good GM when not under any pressure but there is constant pressure to win NOW in Edmonton. When they hired Chia I wish they would have realized you can’t build a team in a couple years through trades and free agent signings just because you have McD. Do it right, take it slow, if that means losing for the first 3 years of McD then so be it. Build a team that can last and had depth. You cant win making desperation moves constantly. You will have no depth or draft picks left. They never learned a single thing from the Hall era.

            Aside from Chia the team has never hired a competent and experienced GM so this is really their first try. And Im pretty sure lots of people would take the job. Get paid millions, even if you get fired, and have a chance to turn around the team. That guy will be a legend if they ever find him.

    • Odanada

      No the Manning story is not good, but to me it indicates that Bob Nicholson has “deer in the headlights” syndrome. He has frozen up, afraid to oust Chia, afraid to make a move. Either that or he has some delusional dedication to some “plan” and is so obtuse that he can’t see the Manning deal as the death throes of a GM that really does not know what he is doing. Either way, Nicholson looks lost and ineffective.

    • VK63

      But also……. so completely aligned with many other “collective decisions” made by this brain trust.
      Its groupthink writ large my man. Ironically, they think it a mastermind session. (in spite of all available evidence to dispute their competence)

      It’s quite the operation, future generations shall review and offer….. can you believe it? (gord miller voice)

  • Gravis82

    Who is Dmitri Samorukov? Is he even ours? Where was he drafted and what is his stats line? Same with kemp. I have never heard these two names

    Also, the purpose of prospects is to get as many as possible and keep them forever until they are too old to be prospects. It’s just stats, more players you have more likely an nhl player you will find. Why trade anyone? Oilers are not good enough to make the playoffs or complete for the cup anyway and every organization has a player like bear so there is no value there in a trade. Whoever we get back is not going to make a difference

    The only prospect we could get an impact player now for is Bouchard

    • El Cid

      Dmitri Samorukov
      Born: June 16, 1999
      Birthplace: Volgograd, RUS
      Shoots: Left
      Draft: 2017 EDM, 3rd rd, 22nd pk (84th overall)
      Philip Kemp
      Born: February 12, 1999
      Birthplace: Greenwich, CT, USA
      Shoots: Right
      Draft: 2017 EDM, 7th rd, 22nd pk (208th overall)

      Prospects we could get an impact player for besides Bouchard: Jones,Bear,Benson, Yamamoto.

      • Gravis82

        I doubt it. All teams have Jones, Bear type of players, they don’t need more. These are easy prospects to find. Not every team has a bouchard though. I am not at all saying trade him, but thinking you are going to get anything back for a late first or second round pick that has yet to play in the NHL is borderline Chiarelli.

    • Big Nuggets

      I know what you mean. Instead of trading away prospects might as well hold onto them and see which ones turn out. The good thing about when a prospect works out is you get a cheap roster player that often gives better value than a free agent or trade aquisition. It is especially good when lower ranked prospects make it to the show because their contracts stay cheaper for longer, generally speaking, thus you get a player further into their prime years without breaking the bank. This is why I don’t really like the idea of trading prospects, and I think GMs make this mistake too often.

      • Gravis82

        This is exactly what I said, except I included the evil word of stats and get downvoted to oblivion lol. Sometimes, I think as fans of this team, we are getting exactly what we deserve.

  • puckle-head

    I don’t get Chiarelli. I remember hearing about how Chia had asked McDavid last year when he had the chance to acquire Manning from Philly, and thought it was weird that he select this fringe 28 YO as a specific target. I understand a similar thing happened with Larrsson… It seems Chiarelli covets certain specific players, and other GMs are fairly adept at taking advantage of that. I wonder if there are similar stories about Strome, Spooner, Maroong (at least that one worked), or even Reinhart. We all blamed the old scouting staff for that one.

    I suspect item #1 on the new GMs agenda will be to overhaul the Oilers professional scouting department. At least Chiarelli improved our amateur scouting. I’ll give him credit for that.

  • TKB2677

    Can we not talk about Manning anymore please? I just want to pretend it never happened and just blindly hope that somehow it works out. Seriously, what else can an Oilers fan do really. At least in his first 2 games, Caggulia has no points.

  • Ty Guy

    is there some sort of weird oiler rule that makes them acquire any player (good or bad) that was born in a 200km radius of Edmonton? are they the only players willing to go to Edmonton or something? aside from maybe Toronto (where a boatload of guys come from anyway), i dont think i have seen a team collect as many locals as the oil.

  • OilTastic

    After the Petrovic and Manning trades, im getting the feeling that Chia is just as clueless as MacT and Tambo were! And Godla? I’d he’s NHL ready and wants a chance to play right now, that’s a good reason for him to sign elsewhere because Chia will have his head up his ass with this guy and he’ll sign with the damn Rangers or Hawks or someone else! ! #fireChia

  • Goaltender Interference

    I was on the bandwagon with keeping Chiarelli until the end of the season to give him a chance to save his job – but the Manning fiasco has convinced me that he’s gotta go. And the trigger has to be pulled before he can do any more damage at the trade deadline.

    Simply put this guy cannot be trusted to make trades. Every single trade he’s made except for a couple notable cases have been weighted in the opposing teams favour.

    In his short stint here Chiarelli has gone from needing a better D but having an embarrassment of riches on offence to a situation of needing a better D and having no offensive depth. To give him credit, unlike the previous guy he didn’t just talk about making bold moves. Problem is that all the bold moves he made were eye-poppingly awful.

    Oilers Brass can’t feel confident moving into the deadline that the team will be better after Pete’s done… so why wait. End the pain and let’s get someone in there that doesn’t think bringing someone into the mix who has injured our star player in the past is a great move…

    Pete’s gotta go.

  • camdog

    The Oilers had Gryba… Why would a team with Gryba ever consider the need for Manning as well? If Jones keeps playing like he is, no way Hitch takes him out of the line up, especially for a Gravel or Petrovic. I don’t see Benning sticking around much longer. I’m sure there’s a deal in place for a forward with 2 million contract that should be playing in the AHL.

    • ed from edmonton

      Assuming all D guys (other than Sekera) are healthy one of Manning, Petrovic, Benning or Gravel will need to be put on waivers or traded. As long as the Oil have a shot at the playoffs they cannot afford to not play Jones. Of the above Petrovic, Benning and Gravel could get a mid to lower draft choice, maybe a but more at the deadline if someone is really looking for D depth. I question if Manning with get any return.

      Interesting thing about Sekera is that the Oil are “slow walking” his return this year. He has been skating for over a month now and has had full practice with the team since before Xmas, but they don’t think he will be playing games until “sometime if February”. Last year after coming off a more significant injury he played NHL games about 6 weeks after he started skating. Of course he shouldn’t have been played in the NHL at all last year as he was no where near NHL ready.

  • Oilfaninvan

    I’m surprised Schlemko cleared waivers – he was born in Edmonton and has a $2.1 million cap hit this year and next… I thought we were going after all the bottom pairing guys….

  • ed from edmonton


    If you had seen the SJ game here your question wouldn’t be why the RNH-JJ-JP line wasn’t reunited but why JP didn’t get dumped along with Cagullia. I know you are highly invested in JP, but I think even you would be having 2nd thoughts if you had seen his recent performance. A decent game, like in Anahiem, every 4 or 5 isn’t good enough.

  • Derian Hatcher

    How sad is it that passionate Oiler fans / commenters on this site know would make better decisions than Chia on player personnel. If Pete asked us about every potential move, we could, as a group, make better decisions than he could on a number of instances. It completely boggles the mind. It’s as if he thinks that healthy scratches from other teams (Spooner, Petrovic, Manning) will all of a sudden play much better when they become Oilers.

    Could you imagine if Pete put on here – “I’m thinking about trading picks #16 and #32 for Griffin Reinhart” EVERYONE on here know Griff was a bust – the evidence was there for all to see, yet maybe he’d magically improve as an Oiler. Absolutely unbelievable.

    • IRONman

      Pc gone. Take 2 seasons to dump the bad contracts. Except Lucic. His contract is built for him. Maybe dump to Seattle. If he could score 30 pts he could play but wow is he bad. Does not even protect 97

  • Odanada

    Although it is cruel to say it, it’s true:
    the Manning deal is proof that Chia is giving a Master’s Class in how to spectacularly fail as a GM in the cap era NHL. How this escapes Bob Nicholson is downright mystifying.

    • Hemmercules

      At this point, I imagine Chia has to run any move he does but the OBC. They approved that trade and Chia made it. Bob, Lowe, Mact, Howson and Katz should share the blame equally.

      Katz let this group of men run the team further into the ground and continues to let it happen. All hope is lost while Katz owns this team. Maybe his kid will get it right one day. I will either be dead or no longer an Oilers fan by then.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Put a Sutter in the GM Role. Actual smart Hockey men. Not sure which one but they know a thing or two about Winning. lol. But I am serious. I have no faith in Keith Gretzky , does he even talk ? Where is Bobby Nicks ? who really cares. Katz son could do a better job then Pete.

  • Darcy yaceyko

    I read this morning an article by Warsame A calling out Mac T’s interview on home town hockey. By the way that interview made me ?? when Craig mentioned that there is loyalty in the upper ranks. This writer called it nepotism. I agree and at least someone is finally calling it what it is. ??

    • Hemmercules

      I already heard if Chia is fired, Mact is the interim. Makes sense to bump the assistant GM up for the time being, other teams have done it. What doesn’t make sense is Mact even being part of this organization.

      I would actually laugh pretty hard if they made Mact GM going forward. Can you imagine the backlash from the fans. There would be riots. Billboards. Front page articles. Rogers place would get burned to the ground. The city would become lawless like MadMax.

  • GK1980

    I gave Cags a lot of love on this blog even when people were putting him down. He is a good player and to lose him like this is disturbing. The only thing that makes sense is that Chia has another agenda to sink the oilers. It’s the only explanation. Maybe Gretzky in the 80’s snubbed him at an autograph session or something but Chia is not for the Oilers, it’s obvious.