Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Doing nothing would have been better than following Chiarelli’s plan

Peter Chiarelli has come and gone. Peter Chiarelli has done his damage. Peter Chiarelli has left this organization in a very difficult position.

What if Peter Chiarelli never existed? What if Bob Nicholson came out in 2015 and said the following:

“We are not going to hire a General Manager and we are not going to make any trades. Instead, we are simply going to resign all of our own players to contracts and simply draft the best player available on Bob McKenzie’s Draft List at TSN.”

I’ve decided to take a look at what this roster would look like if Chiarelli never existed and nobody made a change to this roster over the past three years, eight months and 29 days. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.

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  1. All players who were UNDER OILERS CONTROL will have remained under Oilers control. For this exercise, I will give all the players what their current cap hit is today.
  2. For all draft picks in the first two rounds I went with the BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE on Bob McKenzie’s final draft list.


Dec 13, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) look on during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports


Leon Draisaitl (8.5) – Connor McDavid (12.5) – Jordan Eberle (6)


Taylor Hall (6) – Matthew Barzal (0.863) – Jesse Puljujarvi (.925)


Benoit Pouliot (4) – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (6) – Kristian Vesalainen (.894)


Anton Slepyshev (.808) – Jujhar Khaira (.675) – Tyler Pitlick (1)

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Nail Yakupov (.875)


Eberle: After a frustrating playoff appearance Eberle was shipped to the Islanders for Ryan Strome. You know the rest.

Hall: The biggest piece that Chiarelli moved out should have brought back more of a return than Larsson and his $6,000,000 cap hit looks like a steal in this non-Chiarelli lineup.

Barzal: We have been told the Oilers weren’t going to draft Barzal but by sticking to my criteria he was the best player available with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft. I know a number of people point out players like Sebastien Aho who they could have taken in the second round but by my best player available standards, they would have landed Paul Bittner.

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Pouliot: He would have been in the final year of his $4,000,000 contract. He scored 13 goals with the Sabres last season and is currently a free agent.

Vesalainen: This big Finn would have been the best player selected with the Yamamoto pick. He started the year in North America with eight points in eight AHL contests and one point in five NHL games. Now he’s developing overseas with Jokerit.

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Slepyshev: He has 11 goals in the KHL so far this season and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he were on your 4th line in the NHL. He scored three playoff goals in 2017.

Pitlick: Pitlick managed to finally stay healthy last season and scored 14 goals in 80 games with the Stars. He has six in 43 games with Dallas this season. He left the Oilers as a group 6 UFA. He very much could have been controlled by Chiarelli.

Yakupov: He has 16 goals in 36 games with St. Petersburg this season. I’m using $875,00 as his salary because that was his final cap hit in the NHL but even if it was in the $3,000,000 range the Oilers could still fit him in.


Mar 18, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) skates with the puck during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Klefbom (4.167) – Justin Schultz (5.5)
Darnell Nurse (3.2) – Noah Dobson (.925)
Martin Marincin (.800) – Brandon Davidson (.65)

Libor Hajek (.72)


Schultz: Chiarelli retained half of his salary and traded him to Pittsburgh where he would win a Stanley Cup the following season.

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Dobson: According to McKenzie’s rankings Dobson was actually the best player available at 10th overall this season. There may not be a lot separating Dobson and Bouchard when it’s all said and done.

Marincin: He’s now 26-years old and has actually played 9 games for the Leafs this season so he’d pretty much fit in just fine on the Oilers blueline.

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Davidson: Now in the American Hockey League for the Blackhawks. I’m not sure where his game is at right now but I can confirm he’s an absolute beauty.

Hajek: Who the hell is this, right? Well he was the best player available on the McKenzie list when the Oilers drafted Tyler Benson. He was actually drafted by the Lightning and is a rookie in the AHL this season.


Dec 9, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit (1) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Laurent Brossoit (.650)

Ben Scrivens (lol) – Seriously, I’m not even sure what else they would have done here. I’m not sure if Skinner or Wells would have been the best player available at their draft position because I just didn’t feel like doing that deep of dive.



So that’s what the Oilers would look like if they didn’t have a GM and just drafted off a list for the past four years. How much better is it than what Chiarelli has left them with right now?

The forward group is absolutely insane, the blue line leaves something to be desired but that’s how I’d describe the current group of defensemen anyway.

Brossoit between the pipes, basically by himself, would need to play as well with the Oilers as he is in Winnipeg this season.

What would be more attractive to the next general manager — the team Chiarelli has left behind or the group of players I’ve laid out above? Remember, the group above is coming in at a cap hit of $66,397,000 which means a new GM would have over $15,000,000 in cap space for upgrades this off-season, and that doesn’t take into account Pouliot’s $4,000,000 finally coming off the books.

So, in conclusion, the Oilers would have been better off having no general manager for the past four years than Peter Chiarelli. Is that a bad thing?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • RJ

    I think whoever does their pro evaluations also need to be shown the door. Anyone remember Nikitin? Brutal signing. I wasn’t an Eberle fan, but Eberle to Strome to the recently waived Spooner shows this weakness is still there.

  • The Off Ice

    I think the Oilers problems run deeper than Chiarelli. The tentacles of the 80’s, and an owner enamored with the boys of the 80’s, are culpable as well.

    • gr8haluschak

      what a stupid comment, yes a guy who spends to the cap and spends lavishly on the team in all reality is the same as a guy who was notoriously cheap.

    • Alfonso

      How is it even possible for a team that had a twelve game losing streak like the Ducks to be ahead of the hapless Oil who had seven recent top seven picks including four first overalls … ?

    • Spaceman Spiff

      Oh honey, no, no, no. Great Bearded Jesus, no.

      If you’re comparing Katz to Harold Effing Ballard, then you are way too young to remember Harold Effing Ballard.

      Ballard was bat-crap-crazy.

      Ballard once fired Roger Neilson, mid-season. A few days later, when he realized he couldn’t find a coach to come work for him, he hired Neilson back. But … in a fit of lunacy, he actually planned to have Neilson walk out to the bench, before the game, with a PAPER BAG ON HIS HEAD and then, after some sort of fanfare, remove the bag to reveal the mystery coach. The plan was scuttled after Neilson refused, but it was touch-and-go right up until the pre-game warmup, legend has it.

      To sell more beer and pop, Ballard had the arena attendants turn up the heat at Maple Leaf Gardens during games and concerts. And, just in case that didn’t work, he had the concession stand vendors add extra salt to the popcorn.

      And that’s just the stuff that’s printable and shareable on a blogsite. Go Google him for his more crazy stuff.

      Katz just likes to hire and retain his heroes of the past. Ballard was BAT … CRAP … CRAZY.

  • They have to get rid of Lowe, Gretzky, McTavish and the rest of the Oilers old boys network of advisers as they are useless. I laughed when I heard Nicholson say that they value Lowes leadership, to what another lottery pick. This team needs to hire some hockey men and don’t have those old fools constantly looking over their shoulder. Send those 80’s Oilers stars to the old timer box to shake hands and tell stories of the good old days and stay out of hockey operations.

  • Spydyr

    I do not have my finger on the pulse of the up and coming GM’s but my choice would be Mark Hunter but in Nicholson’s position and let him clean house and allow him to bring in his own people.

    • Odanada

      Nicholson won’t clean house.
      He’ll drink wine with the OBC and they’ll regale one another with glorious tales of hills conquered and championships won, convincing themselves that they have that magic mojo that will surely return them to the winner’s circle once again.

  • KootenayDan

    I am not going to defend Chiarelli I wanted him held accountable too but GM’s across the league are not dictatorships they all rely on a support system. With that being said he is ultimatley responsible for the teams situation having the final say. The OBC is not going anywhere so let’s get over it already. I would like to see someone like Kelly McCrimmon get his shot and before you trash me do a little research on Kelly.

  • Beut

    It does show that Bob Nicholson should probably step down as well. He hired Chiarelli and watched him damage the team and yet he still believed in his plan. All the while it was completely obvious what was happening to even the casual fan.

  • camdog

    Bob Green and Kevin Lowe are in print stating their love for Griffin Reinhart after the trade. They were talking like he was a nicer version of Pronger. It didn’t matter who the GM was, that trade was getting made regardless, because that’s what the Old Boys wanted Griffin badly.

    • Serious Gord

      And any GM who takes the position without a guarantee that he can clean out those people is not a GM worth having. (I think it’s pretty clear that Chia was not allowed to get rid of them)

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    I don’t understand how people think the “do nothing” roster is so far ahead of this one. Hall, Jultz, and the picks are fine, I get it… But Marincin and Davidson? No goalie? Eberle, Poo, Yak, and Slep? Dobson playing immediately? Jesse on the 2nd line? I still only see two good lines (great if you move RNH up) a mostly garbage bottom 6 and a sub-par D.

    Make no mistake, Chiarelli performed poorly,

  • Prairiechicken

    The more I think about this, the more I think “upper management” (Old boys) were heavily influencing Petes moves.
    We all thought they had their fingerprints all over the Griffen trade.
    And they admitted they were all over re-upping Miko.
    But I bet they were laying the screws into him this year to do whatever to get into the playoffs. Which resulted in them if nothing else, supporting the spooner / manning / petro trades. As ridiculous as Pete was … I don’t even think he would have pulled off those incredibly short sighted trades if they weren’t applying huge pressure to get into the playoffs this year, even if it meant giving up on the future (because of all the expiring luxury suites etc etc).
    This isn’t meant to absolve him of blame at all. But more to acknowledge that, as many are suggesting … until we clean house, i really can’t see much changing.

  • Gravis82

    This is a great article actually. Most teams actually do function this way, only making big moves when it is a clear win or they are in a cup year.

    With the 15mill they could sign starting goaltender and 2 Adam Larsons, one to play with Schultz and one to play with Klefbomb.

    This organization is arrogant. They think they know best and try to enact a plan. Instead, the best approach is to recognize that you simply cannot predict stuff like this and collect as many draft picks and good players as you can. Never trade, never FA unless you are 300% sure its going to work out.

    This is what Winnipeg does, they seem fine.

    • camdog

      Only way Justin Schultz stays in Edmonton is if they keep Petry to buffer him from heavy minutes. Not signing Jeff Petry was the downfall of the entire rebuild.

    • 50 Flex

      That wasn’t the point of this article. It wasn’t to compare if MacT would do better than Chia. It’s comparing Chia to nothing. He should have been better than nothing. And he wasn’t.

  • Gravis82

    This is insane. How many people have been saying this since his first year. Every single media person, including you, held out going for the jugular until it was clear he was on the way out. Doing that before his firing was a sure thing would jeopardize your access. This is a problem. How do you propose to held the next GM accountable early in his tenure if we cannot trust our reporting to ask the tough questions because they are afraid of not getting invited to the party anymore?

    If you ever interview anyone, be ruthless in your questions. If they dont come back, we know who the problem is.

    Gregor always talks about being unbiased. That right here is the only bias that matters, not what team you cheer for.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    All due respect to Hitchcock but maybe a coach closer to the player’s dad’s age instead of their Grampa’s age would be better fit for this team. It’s time for Hitch & the old boys club to retire down in Del Boca Vista. Hearing Mark Hunter’s name in the conversation is very exciting. I think he’d be a good candidate for sure.

  • Towers-of-dub

    I think Edmonton is the kind of city where a marginal NHL player can make $3MM/yr, be treated like a star, spend his nights out on the town being a star, and end up being ineffective at work the next day. A hockey player is a big deal in Edmonton, but not so much a lot of other places. My belief it that a lot of players on the oilers put more of their energy into being stars off teh ice than on it.

    • Iron Mike Tython

      Ya there was an infographic on Instagram from bardown. No need for this article, bardown covered it in an easily digestible post.
      Either bardown didnt credit Nielsen or Nielsen gave no credit to Bardown. Either way ssomeones gotta show some integrity and give credit where credit is due.

  • Soccer Steve

    The mismanagement of the contracts would’ve been avoided had we just let a spreadsheet do it.
    Caggiula would’ve been paid less without term.
    No way we sign McDavid before Leon and probably save ourselves ~1 million in the process. Not saying Leon ain’t worth the money but we would’ve saved something.
    There’s others but whatever. He’s gone. I sure hope the media keeps looking for more heads. Especially after Bob lied through his teeth today about the OBC.