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.

2020 NHL UFA Top 30: Dustin Byfuglien and Wayne Simmonds

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.

With the No. 14 pick, the Oilers select... Dylan Holloway?

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:

  • wiseguy

    Without Talbot, and Larsson on d the playoffs in 2017 would not have happened. The do nothing lineup would’ve continued the trend of Tambi and MacT where patience would’ve been preached and we would be at 13 years and counting of no playoffs. The softer lineup without Kassian / Lucic would’ve been blamed for injuries to Hall / Nuge / Ebs. Fans would be frustrated and upset. The new incoming GM would be tasked to improve the defence and goaltending. There’s this guy who built a Stanley Cup champion in Boston that is now unemployed, but knew how to build tough, competitive teams that had good defensemen and goaltending. The OBC would come up with Chiarelli as their man in 2019. He would then take 3.5 years to downgrade and destroy the team. The year is now 2023…

    Did you like that alternative time line any better?

    • CityofWhat

      I would rather not have made the playoffs in 16/17 and have Hall, Eberle, 2015 16 and 32 picks.
      I didn’t like Chiarelli from the beginning, I knew Hall was gonna be gone soon as he was hired, I don’t care what people think of Hall for me he could play and was a star. I think everyone knows you build around your core players not trade them away. In a league where few if not any star players would prefer a warmer climate and less media stress Hall for one wanted to be here. The Chia hiring was welcomed by vast majority of fans and organization because he had previous experience, won a cup and wasn’t a hire from outside the OBC and people loved it because the previous GM’s didn’t know how to build a team that’s where they lost sight thinking this guy won a cup and on and on and not looking at what a horrible GM he was in Boston. He inherited most of the players in Boston and made bad trade after bad trade and ran the team into a cap hell so Boston was smart enough to realize it but Edmonton was dumb enough to fall in the trap.

      • wiseguy

        I agree that the Chia hiring was bad. However, if we had done nothing as the article suggests, the same guy – Nicholson – would today be in charge of hiring a GM and there’s a pretty good chance that after 3 years of failure, he would’ve made the same bad choice and the results would be just as or more disastrous.

    • 50 Flex

      Dude, this article isn’t actually suggesting Chia should have done nothing. It’s just pointing out how amazingly bad Chiarelli was that nothing would have done better than him.

    • MrBung

      The Oilers are destroyed and maybe competitive next generation. What else to talk about except when Connor is getting traded, next season or the one after when he sees this rebuild will be a slow go.

  • 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.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Look, I can play this game too.

    If we didn’t have Marc-Andre Bergeron, we would’ve won the cup in ‘06, if the whole Pronger situation happened, we wouldn’t be in this mess, and if Darryl Katz wasn’t owner, maybe we would’ve better off!

    • 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.

    • 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,

  • 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.

    • Rufio Barcoli

      This goofy @$$ reporter should not be allowed anywhere near the Oilers.
      He probably gets no respect from the players, management and probably even his peers.

      • Randomfan

        @Rufio: what was wrong with the article? He just stated the facts. English is not my first language and i had no problem comprehending the article. He clearly said the entire org is shyt..shyt as is stinky stuff you know..nothing wrong with being honest. It may not win you many friends but at the end of it all you will have inner peace.

      • MrBung

        He is goofy because he speaks the truth? Chia has destroyed this team and some people still living in fantasy land. The bucket of cold water will come when Connor wants to move to a contender. It will happen.

        “When Ray Shero was the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, he used to say that having a once-in-a-generation player such as Sidney Crosby on the roster was more than a gift — it was a responsibility”

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    I always thought that the Oilers would have been better off using EA Sports to make the decisions on trades & let Chis make the phone call. He would have been better off using that software as a consultant… Something to think about for Nicholson…

  • 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.

  • McDude

    I’ve read a lot of these posts lately, and sorry, just not a fan of them. There are so many variables that cannot be accounted for in an exercise like this that it makes it meaningless. Unless you can turn back time and make different choices, it’s pointless.

    • Gravis82

      Incorrect. Every move was a bad one. Literally every one. Sure all of them could have worked out, but what is the realistic chance that they were going to? Low.

      Everything in the last 4 years was more likely to not work out than work out. And here we are

      • McDude

        We can argue about what moves worked or didn’t, what percentage did or didn’t, and what should have been done instead until we’re blue in the face. For the record, I don’t disagree that Chiarelli’s time here was largely a dumpster fire other than the possible exception of the drafting and procurement of future assets. That was not the point of my comment. My point was that these what-if scenarios are stupid and useless and assume the team is in a vacuum. The real world doesn’t work that way.

        • Gravis82

          What if scenarios are the only way we can assess anything. The ‘what would have happened had we done something different’, question. We never know, but we can come close, and that is how decisions are made. Its full of errors, but its what we have to do because we don’t have the luxury of an alternate reality. Well, maybe we do. I feel we are sometimes as fans of this team

          • McDude

            Then we’ll agree to disagree. What-if scenarios are fine, but I find no benefit in imagining a scenario where a GM comes in and does nothing as it’s unrealistic. If you do then more power to you. I find articles that talk about the future, who they could hire to replace Chiarelli, and scenarios which discuss some possible ways to move forward much more interesting and informative.

    • KootenayDan

      Get informed and check out his contract. It is bonus laden and it would be nearly impossible to trade him. The team can’t even buy him out even if it wanted to. We have to get used to the fact he is here to stay no matter what his contribution is. I like Looch the players play braver with him on the team so what that he’s overpaid good for him nothing that can be done about it now.

      • Reinman

        That is crap. We have enough guys that can and will throw em that Looch is not really adding much anywhere on the ice. I mean not for $6 million, at $2-3 million, he might be a welcome addition.


    I agree to the most of this , he could have not traded any assets like pics and just signed UFA like sekera and been better off.
    They fast tracked it and messed up the plan and process.
    Keep Yamo pujv and jones in the farm. Bring Rattie back up for the top 6 and hopefully klef and sekera can help sooner than later ? Klefbom ready after Alstar break could be massive for us with 3 points out of a playoff spot.