Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

WWYDW(FE): Giving Pistol Pete the Keys

The trade deadline is on the horizon and the Oilers are thoroughly in the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Given what we know about the organization’s overwhelming desire to ensure a playoff appearance, the Oilers would have to put together a monumental collapse over the next 15 games prior to the deadline in order for the team to become sellers.

The team has a burning need for help up front as only four players on the team are scoring goals. They could also use some help on the blueline, particularly in the realm of defencemen who can move the puck and drive offence. Complicating matters, though, is a tight cap situation that doesn’t allow for much wiggle room.

Peter Chiarelli has guided this organization to a difficult place. In the fourth year of his tenure (and Connor McDavid’s career), the Oilers are nowhere near Stanley Cup contention and are grinding hard just to make it into the dance. The team is devoid of depth, still lacking top defenders, and is bogged down by bad contracts. Chiarelli, while fair at drafting and finding diamonds in the rough like Alex Chiasson and Mikko Koskinen, has routinely spilled value from the team in virtually all of the deals he’s made.

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We’ve beaten The Trade Is One For One and The Trade Is One For One Pt. 2 to death already. But most recently, he’s put together a head-scratching series of moves, downgrading from the underwhelming-but-effective Ryan Strome to the watches-from-the-pressbox Ryan Spooner. He then dealt Drake Caggiula, one of the team’s few wingers who can put the puck in the net, for Brandon Manning, a carbon copy of Eric Gryba, a player he bought out during the off-season.

These moves — the death by a thousand cuts — are perfectly emblematic of Chiarelli’s time guiding the ship in Edmonton. These types of moves are why the Oilers aren’t a contender four years into McDavid’s career. These types of moves are why the team is leaning so hard on just a handful of players. These types of moves are why an injury to one defenceman can sewer the team’s blueline.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. Do you give Chiarelli the keys to the ship leading up to the trade deadline? Does he deserve a chance to push his team into the playoffs? Or has he done enough damage at this point that him making any more moves is a genuine risk to the long-term outlook of the organization? 

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With Edmonton’s 10-day break set to begin after next Tuesday’s game at home against the Red Wings, the organization will have time to step back and think about their short- and long-term strategy. Like I said earlier, only some kind of massive implosion would result in the Oilers selling rather than buying at the deadline. From a business perspective, it’s critical for the team to make the playoffs and to give season ticket holders a reason to renew their pricey investments.

The Oilers have multiple former general managers floating around their offices — Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson, and Kevin Lowe — and while firing Chiarelli and bringing in either of the three would be hilarious, all with an interim tag would be less likely to make a panic move than a general manager trying to save his job. Hey, maybe K. Lowe can rekindle his 2006 deadline magic!

On the surface, it might seem like the right thing to do to allow Chiarelli to see out his plan, at the very least, until the end of this season. But, as the Spooner and Manning deals indicate, there’s a lot of potential damage to be done to the long-term health of the team if Chiarelli handles this deadline poorly. In acquiring those two aforementioned players, Chiarelli has added $5.45 million against the 2019-20 salary cap for two guys who are rotating in and out of the press box.

One thing we’ve praised Chiarelli for is his ability to tinker the roster and find good under-the-radar acquisitions. Alex Chiasson and Mikko Koskinen are examples of this, as was Patrick Maroon. The last time the Oilers were in a position to buy at the deadline, he flipped Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais, which was a solid move. In Boston, he did enough at the deadline in 2011 to lift the Bruins to a Stanley Cup, giving up Blake Wheeler, a first, and two second-round picks for Rich Peverley, Tomas Kaberle, and Chris Kelly. He also acquired Jaromir Jagr as a rental in 2013, helping the Bruins to the Cup Final.

What say you, Nation? Do you want Pistol Pete behind the wheel for the deadline? Or is it best to cut ties before any more damage can be done? 

  • Moneyball

    One thing should be clear, the oilers are not in this situation because of Chiarelli. They are here because of years of poor drafting that has resulted in no depth in the minors. To his credit Chiarelli has been resolving this issue.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Bob Nicholson has already stated he is safe if they make the playoffs, so there is no point saying to fire him with only weeks to go before the Trade Deadline. No organization is going to fire their GM just before the busiest time of the year (while teams are playing).
    Either he makes a few nice moves that help for the short term AND at least a few years past AND they make the playoffs, or else he is gone.

    I personally have a feeling he will shut the critics up and pull off some sort of move that won’t handcuff the team and they make a wildcard spot. Getting Klefbom and potentially Sekera will be a major boost to the back end and hopefully push Benning and Manning into the pressbox where they belong.

    Only way Nuge gets moved is if it is for a Tarasenko type player. Which I would completely be on board for. RNH and 1st rounder for Tarasenko….maybe some spare parts??

    • Randaman

      I wonder when people are going to realize that Sekera isn’t coming back this year! Two forces at work here. Did you all notice how fast the rumours died about his conditioning stint a couple days after it started? PC doesn’t want him back. No Cap…

    • Towers-of-dub

      you’d trade Nuge and his 44 points and -1 rating for Tarasenko and his 29 points and -14 rating, and throw in another first rounder to make it happen? and you’re complaining about the current GM?

      • Cowbell_Feva

        Yes. For a perennial 40 goal sniper absolutely.
        Since you can work Google take a look at their career work, not just 2 stats from 42 games. Seeing as Tarasenko is only $1.5 million per year more, and has term, that is very appealing.

        Also. I said I think Chiarelli will make a few moves that could hush the critics.
        He has made some bad moves for sure, but also inherited an absolute tire fire of a team, and turned it into what should have been in the West finals 2 years ago. He didn’t empty the cupboards. He didn’t draft poorly for a decade. Again. He made bad moves, but many people think he is the reason the Oilers have been bad for over a decade.

        • If transaction were to be completed by some miracle, it would take less than half a season to turn him into a perennial 3 goal scorer. This is where rookie talent comes to die, and vets come for the unaccountable paycheque. Even if he does not have a NMC, I imagine he would bolt overseas before reporting to this disaster. Remember when we thought we had Nylander Senior? Wife’s reaction (which was recorded) “I would rather go to Siberia ” No way in hell we are going to that franchise”.

  • hockeyartist

    If Chiarelli did absolutely nothing and just sat their collecting a paycheck the top 6 would look something like this.
    McDavid Draisaitl Pujujarvi
    Hall Barzal RNH
    Speed baby speed
    What a shame
    I suspect PC is taking direction from above otherwise he would have already been fired before he does more damage.

  • Zav19

    Chiarelli is a total screw up and it is def true that letting Howson or Mac T oversee the trades would be huge mistake but Lowe actually made a lot of good moves when he was GM not like the other three clowns.

    • Serious Gord

      Lowe offersheeted Vanek – had it happened we would have had a huge contract on an underperforming player and lost a ton of draft picks. Lowe was lucky that his panic/stupidity didn’t cost him

      • McRaj

        Actually Vanek averaged 70 points per 82 games for the 7 years of that contract. The picks we would have given up were pick #12 in 08 (Tyler Myers – which we still gave up due to Penner signing), #43 in 08 (justin schultz – again we gave this pick up due to penner signing), #73 in 08 (no namer drafted – again penner signing), and pick #10 in 09 (we used this to draft MPS – doubt we pick 10th if we had Vanek who had 40 goals and 64 points in 73 games that year, and Oilers finished with 85 points which was 7 points below the playoff cutoff). That Vanek deal was a great bet by Lowe that would have paid off.

    • Zav19

      The Oilers have to finally get this right and that means Mac t, Howson, Nicholson and Scwartz all have to go. That means acually firing someone instead of just giving them a new title. It is crazy to think we are going to let Chiarelli make more trades when he had already made several of the worst trades in Oilers history!!

      • Randaman

        Agreed but I have given up hope that any of the OBC will be let go in my lifetime. The Katz curse will continue into the distant future folks. Bobby Nicks burgers for everyone…

      • GK1980

        It’s not a question of how bad Chia’s trades have been it’s how many has he actually won? He lost all of his “bold” trades. Larsson is a decent defensemen but he is not a 1 for 1 for hall and we all know this. Eberle should not have been a 1 for 1 for Strome clearly two losses. He just doesn’t win trades often. His record looks like the Oilers win-loss record the last 12 years.