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? 

  • The future never comes

    We already know the answer to this, we see at least 30+ comments on every article now with people saying they are scared to death with Chia making a trade. This has become rhetorical at this point, you could have saved yourself the effort.

  • Elgando

    I can’t believe this is a serious question…Ok, no. For all the reasons you’ve listed in this article, i.e. the mismanagement of the cap, the overpay for players a,b,c&d, the underwhelming return on the Taylor Hall deal, the Manning fiasco, my god…have we forgotten Korpikoski? Reinhart? Eberle? ?where does it end. This is a pattern of stupid trades and acquisitions dating back four year, and nothing has changed. As for Howson, MacT, 6 rings…Nikitin, Faye, mismanaging Schultz, mismanaging Dubnyk, etc, etc. I’d keep Chia him as a high paid scout, which he seems capable of doing. Just don’t give him the final say, and certainly don’t go backwards. Give K. Gretzky the keys for the rest of the year and see how he does..

  • Big Nuggets

    Don’t tell me the last player he added on a PTO was an astute move by Chiarelli. He got lucky on that one, credit to Chiasson for putting it together this season.

    • The future never comes

      Exactly, that was luck. Chiasson is having an outlier year, signed last minute by Chia before the season started to minimum salary. That’s not astute.

      • Odanada

        Chiasson works hard and stands up for his teammates, and that is character more than luck. He would likely be a good mentor for younger players as well.
        The question is: how much do you sign him for? It would be a very bitter pill if the Spooner-Manning contracts ate up cap space and they lost AC.

    • Chia’s Son wasn’t even Chiarelli’s idea. Gulutzan coached him two seasons ago in Calgary and made the suggestion to bring him in on a PTO, otherwise, why wouldn’t have the terrible pro scouts done their job and told Chiarelli about him? All Chiarelli did was eventually approve a cheap no risk contract–Keith Gretzky probably did all the paper work.

      Now can you imagine how much worse the team would be in the standings without Chiasson?

      Caggiula is an undrafted player from the NCAA. He had a lot of potential and showed sparks of quality and was able to fill many spots on the roster when needed. Chiarelli, not patient enough with a young player, pulls the trigger on him.

      Strome? Solid 3rd line centre defensively, but he only scored one goal, so trade him for a non-defensive bottom six guy who sits in the pressbox.

      I can’t take this anymore.

      Rieder, Spooner, and Manning aren’t assets. You can’t even package any combination of them together. At the deadline, Chiarelli won’t be able to get a rental and isn’t going to get 5-7th round picks for them either. What sucks is Gravel is a good asset and he’s probably the best shot for a rental. He’s better than Manning.

      Their only assets are in the AHL, yet none are even ranked in the top 50 prospects (although Button contradicts himself month to month).

  • Axe

    I can’t believe we are asking this question.. Hell no Chiarelli should have been fired at the latest after the manning trade, if not last off season. If we are being generous to Chiarelli and we don’t judge him on the hall, Eberle or Reinhart deal just look at how he is judging himself.. He brought in Wideman and then moved him out brought in Spooner and now word is he trying to move him out. Even he knows these moves are failures… If the first round pick and a young prospect are waisted on a bad trade there is no recovering for this team for a long time!

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Serious Gord

    Firing chia during the allstar break makes sense except it interferes with the happy-time of the event and people like Katz and Nicholson don’t want to upset the establishment.

    The team is too lousy and the competition too stiff to sell young developing assets/prospects to try and get eliminated in the first round.

    Keep chia on, ban him from trades without authorization and start looking for his off-season replacement only after you have fired the entire group of fok and fog.

  • 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.

  • tkfisher

    If Instead of hiring our current GM, if we replaced MacT with a google home speaker and simply used Bob Mckenzies Draft List each year, the following would have happened. This assumes zero trades and zero free agent signing since 2015 (aka a GM doing nothing)

    Draft 2015
    1st 1st
    1st 16th (Team D is zero so the speaker leans towards D)
    Barzal or Thomas Chabot D (Most likely)
    2nd (33rd)
    Daniel Sprong RW or Oliver Kylington D (Most Likely)

    Draft 2016
    1st (4th)
    Jesse Puljujarvi (no change)
    2nd (32nd)
    Alex Debrincat RW (Most Likely because BM draft rank shows great value, plus McDavid link) or Dennis Cholowski D

    1st (22nd)
    Kristian Vesalainen LW or Nicolas Hague LHD
    2nd (53rd Pick to Boston for PC)
    Jack Studnicka C or Josh Brook D

    1st (10th)
    Bouchard D (no change, great value from BM list)
    2nd (40th)
    Ryan McLeod C (no change, great value from BM list)

    Todays Roster

    RNH 6 – McDavid 12.5 – Eberle 6
    Hall 6 – Draisaitl 8.5 – Alex Debrincat 800k
    Benoit Pouliot 4- ? ? ?- Puljujarvi 925k
    M. Hendricks 700k – Khaira 675 – T. Pitlick 1
    Total 47.1 cap

    (assumes the google speaker would have done the obvious and not traded/let our only decent Dman leave mid 15, unlike MacT)

    Klefbom 4.16 – Jeff Petry 5.5
    Nurse 3.2 – Justin Schultz 5.5
    Oliver Kylington 730k – Thomas Chabot 863k
    Total 19.95 cap

    67.05 Used
    79.5 2018-2018 Cap Limit
    12.45 in CAP Space
    Need 3C (3 mill), a 13F (1 mill), 7D (1 mill) and goalie 1 (5 mill) , goalie 2 (2 mill) = (12 mill)
    Cap hit 79 million with 500k room

    Full Team, Cap Compliant and Good. All by doing literally nothing to the roster and using Bob McKenzies List and assuming no draft picks rounds 3-7 dating back to 2015 and all players current NHL salaries.
    Face Palm.

    Side Note lesser known draft picks current seasons:
    Vesalainen – 6’4” 207lb pt/gm in AHL and 12pts in 18 games (KHL). OR
    Hague 6’6” 215lb LHD playing great in AHL 17pt in 39 games plus 18.
    Jack Studnicka 6’2” 180lbs pt/GM in OHL and 5 pts in 5 AHL game stint OR
    Josh Brook 6’1” 192lbs 39pts/30 games RHD in WHL.

    Plus Bouchard and McLeod in the pipe.

    So no, Pistol Pete should not be allowed to do any further damage.

    • tkfisher

      I can barely look at this do nothing roster and not puke in my mouth. As tempting as it is to cherry pick and plug a Tkachuk into it as well. This is nothing more than taking the top rated McKenzie pick available at the time of the Oilers pick. Our management, and scouts currently hold negative value. Beyond frustrating and inexcusable.

      • Randaman

        I like the way you think. Please tell me that you have a connection to the OBC? Draft, develop, build from within. I am not getting why this is not the first three things taught in GM school. Oh, nevermind, most of them are lawyers. Nuff said.

    • rnj

      This reminds me of investing – the “best traders” routinely lose to index funds that do nothing but take a piece of the top performing companies. Traders bleed to death trying to get ahead fast and be smarter than the rest of the world. Smart people are patient, take the best available and build slowly.

      Great post tk… really disappointing to see it all there in black and white though.

    • This is an amazing post. Wouldn’t Sekera and Davidson still be on the team?

      Here’s the lineup prior to the Feb 2015 trade deadline:

      Hall – Draisaitl – Kassian
      Pouliot – McDavid – Eberle
      Hendricks – Letestu – Korpikoski
      Khaira – Lander – Yakupov

      Davidson – Oesterle
      Sekera – Fayne
      Nurse – Clendening


      • tkfisher

        No, I checked. Sekera signed with the Oilers July 1st, 2015. McDavid was drafted June 27, 2015. You could easily argue that Davidson would be on the team, and would be that guy filling the 7D slot for 1 million. Good catch on Davidson. He’s still better than our current number 5/6. So yes. The google home speaker wins out again.

  • Frustrated Fan in Calgary

    I just hope that there is not someone in the Oilers organization above Chiarelli that has been influencing the moves made (horrible if so, but would explain years and years of problems) or approving the moves made (less horrible, but still a bad sign for the organization). Perhaps PC has not been alone at the wheel on this one. Scary thought.

  • Oilerz4life

    Lowe, MacTavish, Howson and Chiarelli get their new years pink slips.

    A legit GM come in, proceeds to clean up the circus act clown show sitting around the press box.

  • rnj

    The Wheeler trade was awful. I would never trade that much quality talent and future potential for a cup run even if it paid off. Contender for years to come or nothing. Enough of this go for it ever 10 years crap

      • Odanada

        I still maintain that Wayne muddies the managerial waters. If WG declares “that kid there, that’s the one we draft” the only one who might challenge him is Keith. Otherwise, they all nod because: he’s the “Great One”. (no disrespect to WG intended)

  • Abagofpucks

    HA this is just all a dream, Pc and the clowns will never be sent packing, and the fans will keep showing up and the season ticket waiting list will get longer. Then the price for beer and food will go up, and the fans will choke it back and complain and whine but still fork it out hand over fist. It will never end, its like a nightmare that never ends and you never wake up.

    The end.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Guys, in all seriousness, the content of this article is irrelevant, to me. I think the point of it is the comment section. It’s an open letter to the organization. They read this. They read Gregor. They read other blogs. You guys have reached a level of frustration such that it HAS to be given a platform, and this is it.

    I’m a Flames fan who chirps come game time but I don’t want to beat Edmonton in the playoffs. I want to beat GOOD Edmonton in the playoffs and fight for the Pacific with you all year, year after year (and win every time).

    You guys are a key component to getting him fired. Keep it up, and keep these articles coming.

  • Beer

    Strome was traded because TM wanted Spooner, and Gryba was bought out because TM didn’t want to play a tough defenceman, which played right into the Ducks hands during playoff run that saw Sek’s get injured. My question is who thought that hiring a coach and GM that couldn’t be more diametrically opposite was a good idea. The consensus crowd, that’s who.

  • 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??

    • 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”.

    • 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…

  • Abagofpucks

    Yes that keeps coming up how the place doesn’t get to excited, and i hear the ushers and so on try to curtail anything that involves being loud and proud. Never mind if some fans bring an infant to the game that section tends to be pretty silent not that i’m blaming having kids at games but, it’s like parents don’t want to let their kids to see them acting wild because they might grow up crazy or something.

    • Odanada

      I q­ui­­­t wo­­­rk­­­­ing m­­­y de­­s­k jo­­­b an­­d n­­o­w I ‘m m­­a­­k­­i­­n­­g $­­9­­7/H­­r w­­o­­r­­k­­i­­n­­g f­­r­­o­­m
      h­­o­­m­e b­­y writing positive posts for Peter Chiarelli. I e­­a­­r­­n $3500 a m­­o­­n­­t­­h b­­y trolling the ON. I r­­e­­c­­o­­m­­m­­e­­nd­­e­­d y­­o­­u t­­r­­y i­­t.

  • Spoils

    the only way I sleep at night is that I have convinced myself all of Chia’s moves need to be greenlit by some mysterious configuration Oiler braintrust AND that the braintrust has figured one thing out – THIS IS NOT THE YEAR AND WE SHOULD NOT TRADE ANY SIGNIFICANT PIECES FOR THIS YEAR – ie. the 1st in 2019; Jesse; Yammer are all off the table.

    so – trade a lower pick. trade a non-core prospect; get a rental that can add a little value – a david desharnais a patty maroon etc.

    the ryan strome trade was just pathetic. it was gross.

    that said, this team feels like it’s going to make the playoffs and from there. we’ll see.

    Flames Oilers first round preview Saturday night.