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?


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.


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

  • Rufio Barcoli

    There is absolutely no reason for Oilers to fire Chiarelli.
    The insiders and experts that are calling for him to be fired are just clueless and ignorant.
    Realistically they really don’t know what the Oilers and Chiarelli’s plan is. They, as is tradition, like to speak on things that don’t exist and use behindsight to further their irrelevant point.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    So if the Oilers fire Chiarelli: Draisailt will stop committing turnovers, Nurse will stop playing with an intensity of a wet fart and stop shooting wristers from the blue line on the PP?
    I assume if Chiarelli is fired then the Oilers will stopping getting injured as well?
    Is fair to assume that with Chiarelli fired Talbot’s attitude and performance will become professional as well?

  • Oilers_1978

    BLH has a rumor..oilers shopping Drai…

    i hate the idea…

    the perception of Drai can’t play away from McD is pure BS..

    with all due respect to mcD he always have drai or nuge on his wings…

    and everyone expect drai to produce 100 with fringe wingers…

  • IRONman

    Sh@t hit the fan today. Jones his a helluva good prospect. Kelfbom has huge impact on the pp. he can hold the line. I believe Parayko would be an ideal fit, but would you trade Nurse or Larsson? Seattle f@ck up this season coz can only protect 7 forwards 3 defence and 1 goal. Extend Hitchcock and Koskinen. Fix the D. I still believe in McDavid and a Good GM can turn this team in to a Cup

  • The Immortal

    Apparently you didn’t see Burke on HNIC when he empathically said don’t move JP, 30 other teams wanted him, and to wait on him, he’s 21 ffs…and yet our management and media seem to think its acceptable.

  • 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!!

  • 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

  • Drinking my Oilers problems away...

    This is what happens when you let a guy like Katz buy a team for $200 M just so he can hang out with Gretzky here and there. Idiot could have saved himself a lot of money by paying $15,000 to go to Wayne’s fantasy camp.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves here, it’s been nothing but garbage since he’s taken possession of this team (save for one year) the one good thing that’s come from being garbage this long is landing McDavid and of course we are wasting him.

    Next to Katz being a terrible owner, Bobby Nicks needs to be fired ASAP. Why this guy got credit at all for team Canada’s success is beyond me. What exactly has he done for this team? Put his name on a gross, over priced burger? Let Chia drive a team into the ground? Be an arrogant human being to fans on national tv?

    This team sucks

    • Oiler Al

      Drink… totally agree it has to start with trurfing Bobby Burger.The guy who acts and looks like an aged “Howddy Doody” was a gate opener for National teams and not a builder.
      The team needed building .Top guys are running a burger stand and the other guy raking in royalties from the 99 lounge.