Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

At Random: Lame Duck

To borrow a page from Captain Obvious, there’s absolutely no doubt the Edmonton Oilers aren’t good enough to be anything more than fringe playoff contenders this season unless they make personnel changes. It’s just as obvious, at least from where I sit, GM Pete Chiarelli isn’t the man to make those changes. That’s not a new take from me or anybody else paying attention.

That’s what makes the all-star break and bye week after the Oilers take on the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday the best possible in-season time to make a change for both the short-term and long-term benefit of the team. The Oilers don’t need a desperation move, mortgaging the future, just to sneak in for one round of post-season – I have no confidence that Chiarelli can pull that off, let alone map-out what this team should look like beyond that.

The latest bits of evidence added to a towering pile of it that points to Chiarelli’s utter failure as GM here just landed with a thud in back-to-back games – a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames and Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers weren’t close against the Flames, who have rebuilt quicker and better, or the Hurricanes, who outclassed them to the point of embarrassment in the first 11 minutes before coasting to the win.

The loss dropped the Oilers to 23-23-3 for 49 points, three points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers would be out of contention already if the other teams in wildcard contention could put together a decent streak, as I suspect they eventually will. As it stands, the Oilers are on the outside looking in, needing every possible point just to stay close. The bar has to be set higher than that, no?

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Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, speaks at a season ending press conference.

I understand the need to win now. With the last dozen years fans around here have endured, winning matters. The people who pay the bills deserve another chance to show up for a playoff game. Success is important to the players as well. Nobody, no matter how much they are paid, plays to lose. So, yes, maybe making a move or two for the short term, makes some sense – be it moving a draft pick or a young player, maybe somebody like Jesse Puljujarvi.

I don’t trust Chiarelli to make a short-term move. First, he’s dealing from a position of weakness (as any GM would be in this position), and it’s a position of weakness he created. Second, Puljujarvi’s value is about as low as it could possibly be right now. I’m not sure the best GM in the business – Chiarelli is not that – could command a reasonable return right now. Somebody will happily throw Chiarelli an anchor, but he’s not going to get many offers that make sense. Would he even recognize one?

The Oilers placed Ryan Spooner and Ty Rattie on waivers this morning, but that’s not going to move the needle in what remains of this season – unless it’s a precursor to a significantly bigger move. Again, I don’t trust Chiarelli, who has now turned Jordan Eberle into Ryan Strome into waiver fodder in Spooner, to make that move.

As for the long term, how can anybody look at Chiarelli’s overall record of acquisitions and feel confident he even has a vision that makes sense, let alone the ability to make it happen? Not me, and I’m guessing not you either. And, if Oilers’ management is operating under some sort of unspoken committee format, where Chiarelli is limited to what he can do without approval from above (as opposed to consultation) – as many believe is the case – then he’s a lame duck and the wrong guy for the job.

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So, here we are. There’s one game before the break and the Oilers are on pace for 82 points this season, which won’t get them into the playoffs. They’re playing the wheels off Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse. Too many players are playing too high in the line-up and getting more minutes than they can reasonably be expected to handle. Adam Larsson is in the ditch. The return of Oscar Klefbom is just around the corner, but that won’t mitigate all the issues. That won’t make this team more than a fringe contender for a playoff spot.

The Oilers, who called a team meeting for this morning, have 10 days off after the game against the Red Wings. They won’t make everything right in those 10 days, but they can make a move to stop getting it wrong at almost every turn. Anybody who hasn’t seen enough isn’t paying attention. I’m not willing to leave what’s next, here and now and down the road, to Chiarelli. We can only hope those who call the shots feel the same way.

Fire Chiarelli.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Serious Gord

    I think that Katz and Nicholson are reluctant to fire Chia during the All Star break to avoid the loss of face and more importantly distract from the League’s corporate showcase. I expect that he will be terminated sometime during the bye week.

    • Axe

      We don’t have to wait till all star break.. How about tomorrow morning? Afternoon? Evening? I just checked my schedule and yeah anytime Wednesday is also good for me as I am sure it’s good for most oiler fans!!

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Gotta love Oilers management right now. Instead of doing the easy thing, and the thing we ALL want, they do lateral moves at best. Yeah like losing Spooner, Rattie and Jones is gonna help

  • polarcap

    Chia has become the master of the down skill. Take Hall for Larsen, Give away Shultz and Petry for distant drafts picks, Eberle for Strome and Strome for spooner and spooner for nothing. Player movement aside, cap management is worse. Lucic contract is fixed for 7 years. A bunch of Ahl pick ups for millions (manning, Cave) limits flexibility in making changes needed to improve.

    No prospects in top 50. Although I believe Boucard is in there

    No vision about how to make things better.

    Nicholson, don’t continue PC’s knee-jerk tendencies — Think, think Think

  • Mr.Snrub

    Not a word about God Emperor Lowe or the OBC shadow cabinet waiting to take over and officially kick off Decade of Darkness 2.0? Why do so many mainstream media guys protect these turkeys? I’m sure personally they’re a fun bunch to be around and they picked up many a bar tab at Goose Loonies back in the day but enough is enough! #FIRETHEMALL

  • CMG30

    Preaching to the choir Robin! If Katz is serious about wanted to have a winning team anytime in the next century, he’s going to have to choose between keeping his buddies on the payroll and what’s actually good for the team.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Too late – he already signed Kost-a-lot-iken for 4.5 Million x 3 years!! We need to fire him before he does more damage. Fire the lot of them. Start over, start fresh. Do NOT do any more damage. We are putting our hockey team YEARS behind in this rebuild every move, every trade Chiarelli (or the old boys’ club) makes. Brandon Manning’s salary, etc. only puts us farther and farther behind the salary cap every day Chiarelli is in charge until all these deals are off the books with contracts nobody wants. We are in serious long-term trouble if this doesn’t change – NOW!

  • Florescent Oil Orange

    Just throwing this out there.

    Ron hextall is not employed right now and has a history of digging teams out of cap difficulties, retooling on the fly and building prospects.

    Not saying he is the one they add, but certainly should be interveiwed