Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Edmonton Oilers fire Peter Chiarelli

After a disastrous loss to the Detroit Red Wings made it three straight stinkers for the Oilers, ownership and upper management finally decided that it was time for a new direction. According to Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers have fired Peter Chiarelli.

Can you remember the day when Peter Chiarelli was announced as the new General Manager and President of Hockey Operations? Do you remember how you felt? I remember thinking that the Oilers had just brought in a manager with experience and one that had won a Stanley Cup, and maybe, just maybe he could be the fresh set of eyes and ideas that the team needed to take the next step. Despite what I knew of his time in Boston, I remember being open to giving him a chance to succeed, thinking that there was no way he hadn’t learned from the mistakes that got him fired by the Bruins. Sure, I was nervous about the way he had traded Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin before they had really turned into anything yet and that those trades were disasters on his resume, but there was no way in hell that he’d be window-licking crazy enough to do that again. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so wrong.

Back in December, Jason Gregor wrote about Chiarelli’s work as GM and it seems fitting to revisit on the night he was fired.

On April 18th, 2015 the Edmonton Oilers organization won the 2015 draft lottery and, most importantly, the opportunity to draft Connor McDavid first overall.

Six days later Peter Chiarelli was hired and named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. When he took the job Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and McDavid (essentially) were part of the team.

Then the collarbone injury happened.

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Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Connor McDavid’s now teammate, Brandon Manning (I still can’t believe that’s a real thing btw), hadn’t broken his collarbone, effectively ruining his rookie season. What could the Oilers have been like had their future captain been given more time in the lineup alongside Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle? Would it have been enough to prevent the atrocities that were to come? Could they have gotten over the “culture issues” and made something of themselves? Did you know that the whole gang only got 32 games together in 2015-16 before Peter Chiarelli got to work dismantling the group? Less than half of a season. That’s all it took for him to decide that the players that were here weren’t good enough to win. It’s almost unbelievable to think back on.

Then again, we probably should have known better, shouldn’t we? On what was basically the most important day of his tenure as GM, Connor McDavid’s draft day, Peter Chiarelli ended up throwing a grenade at himself less than an hour after drafting the best player on the planet. After reading on a napkin on the flight into Edmonton that the Oilers needed help on defence, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a deal that sent the 16th and 33rd overall picks to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, a guy that’s currently playing in the AHL for the Golden Knights’ farm team. That trade was the first pinhole in the dinghy and one that we probably should have paid more attention to in hindsight. Had we not been blinded by the beauty of Connor McDavid in an Oilers jersey then maybe we could have done something sooner.

Dusty Nielson summed up that trade last week:

If a GM was ever going to be fired after making one trade this deal could have very much been the one. There aren’t many trades in the history of the National Hockey League where you immediately identify one team being fleeced, but this certainly fits the bill.

I don’t even care who the Oilers were or weren’t going to pick this was embarrassing from the beginning. I know everyone talks about Barzal but the real story is that the Oilers were also going to take Joel Eriksson Ek over the likes of Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser.

To think that the Griffin Reinhart trade was only the first of many horrible deals to follow, it’s hard to believe that he was able to last this long without anyone wrestling the keys away. From Taylor Hall to Jordan Eberle to Ryan Strome to Ryan Spooner to Drake Caggiula and every trade in between, it’s hard to imagine a scenario at the OEG offices where they looked at the sell-low deals that were going on and approving of both the direction and results. Then again, Bob Nicholson told us that Pete had a plan he believed in so maybe destroying their chances to win anything was all part of the blueprint. Maybe those ‘Chiarelli is a double agent’ theories aren’t so crazy after all? Of course, I’m kidding (or am I?) but it’s definitely going take some time to try and figure out how he got so far away from the original objective.

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Do you remember his early to-do list?

Back to Gregor:

Chiarelli has the most dynamic player in the NHL. He didn’t need to add big names to the roster he inherited, he just needed to revamp it, but he hasn’t come close to making the rest of the roster any better than the one his predecessor, Craig MacTavish, built. The sad part for Oilersnation is I don’t see a quick fix coming. Unless McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH manage to carry the team on their back for 40 games, and play at an even higher level than they currently are, this team isn’t making the playoffs and they simply don’t have the depth to compete if they do make the postseason.

This isn’t the players’ fault. The GM’s job is to build the roster and make the team competitive. The results are proof Chiarelli has failed.

By almost every measure possible, Peter Chiarelli has failed in his role as GM of the Edmonton Oilers so it’s no surprise that he got fired because he certainly deserved to be. The only problem is that the organization waited this long to do it and I hope that it’s not too late. I don’t know why they thought giving him the playoffs as a finish line while maintaining the authority to make personnel decisions was a good idea, but we just went through two months of pointless trades that actually cost the team assets and cap space without making them any better. Now they’re strapped with even more dead weight on the roster for the next guy to fix, and just who that might be is a bridge we haven’t even begun to cross yet. Tomorrow, we can argue about what comes next but for now, we say goodbye to the man who will, in my opinion, go down as one of the worst general managers in franchise history. Tonight, we welcome the beginning of a new era.

So long, Peter, we probably won’t miss you, though, we do hope you get a new GM job somewhere else very soon.

Source: Ryan Rishaug, Verified Account, 1/23/2018 – 12:00 am MT

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Effective immediately: Nurse’s shooting accuracy and hockey will improve, Draisailt will stop committing all those dumb passes and turnovers.
    Everyone rejoice. It’s up from here.
    Kassian will stop skating randomly around the ice, Nuge will finally be able to lead his own line.
    Every is good now.
    Tune is and see for yourself.
    And if it doesn’t take affect immediately, just be patient again and make excuse for the truth the you see on the ice.

    • Gravis82

      Nurse is a good #4/5 defensemen. His shooting percentage is not his strength and we should not expect it to ever improve. We need to play him in a better spot and find someone else

      Drai has the puck all the time, that is why he turns it over all the time

      Kassian should not be on the team, he is not a good player

      Nuge is a 2C who needs good wingers

      You cant expect players to be anything but what they are. They need to add around this core

      • Rufio Barcoli

        Nurse is 23 years old and making over 3 million dollars a year. That is an overpay for a #5 defense man, no?
        At 23 why don’t have expectations for his shooting and game to improve? Why are you so content?
        If he is going to play for another 10+ years, I sure as heck hope he improves. Why don’t you?

        Draisailt having the puck all the time is not the reason he turns it over all the time.
        Draisailt’s constant no look passes and him no moving his feet is the biggest reason for the turnovers and the dead plays.

        Nuge has good wingers. The problem is the fact that Nuge is a good center. He will never leave up to the media expectations and he will never leave up to it. The lie will be carried way longer than it was with Eberle and Hall.

        What core is that?
        Is the #5 defense man part of your core?
        Is Nuge part of your core? How good of wingers does he need?

        • Gravis82

          Yes, nurse in an overpay. He is not that great defensively and playing too high in the lineup. But the oilers are trying to make him into something he is not. Just like old times.

          I dont know the future, I only know the present. All I know is that Nurse is what is he is now. Betting on anything more than that is a fools game. I hope for nothing. I plan based on current data. The best predictor of the future is the present. At present, nurse is a 5. At some point in every players career they plateau. Any year could be nurses plateau, and you must always assume and plan going forward that this was it.

          Hoping has nothing to do with it. Planning smartly has everything to do with it. He is an overpaid and overplayed #5 right now. I hope he improves, but that is irrelevant to the decisions that need to be made now. That kind of thinking is what got your and your management team into this mess to begin with.

          Draisaitl is an 100 point player. Frankly I dont care what he does. Anyone who questions what he brings to the team instantly lacks credibility. A few no look passes? So what. No player is perfect. What, trade him for another #4 defenseman who will get 10 points, giving up 90 points in the process? Oh but them no looks, we don’t have those anymore. Fair trade. Cup here we come. Ridiculous.

          Nuge is an above average center that everyone has. He has no wingers to play with. No one on this team outside of Drai is a top 6 forward and there is no one else even close. Nuge is an above average 2C that needs dynamic wingers to be successful. This is why he was good with Hall and Eberle, they had two things he did not. That was always a great line.

          The core is McDavid, Drai, Nuge, Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse. That, sadly is it. Technically its 3 1st line players (even though they will never all be on one line), A 1st pairing d man, a #4 and a #5. Yikes.

          No one else has proven anything. Nor should we expect them to. If they do, great, sign them. If they dont, cut them loose. No hoping and planning. Just find players, keep the best ones, cut bait on the rest.

      • Rufio Barcoli

        No, we shouldn’t have kept Chiarelli.
        But its ridiculous to assume that him being the GM is the reason that the team has lost the last three games. Even worse to blame him while avoiding the poor play of the team as a whole and many players as individuals.
        We as fans, and the management, need to hold the right players accountable and let them know when they are not performing.
        Instead we avoid the obvious because we, and them, hold the player is some perceived light/hope.

        • All Ice

          The oil have the worst production outside their top three in the nhl and not a good enough defence to keep the puck out of the net. This after trading first round draft picks in both the pick and player form. The worst kind of oil fans have always blamed the top of the classes we’ve had. Instead of improving by upgrading the bottom of the team. This has worked out how? You’re right in a way that the players at the bottom aren’t to blame in that they simply don’t have the talent to do what’s needed of them. Never did. That these are the players assembled is on the management group and no one else

        • Gravis82

          The GM is the reason we lost because he put bad players on the ice. Players can’t be better, they just play. If they are not playing good enough blaming them for not begin good enough is not going to make the team better. What will make the team better is finding better players who play better, more often.

          • Reinman

            And certainly, the problem is not that the players are underachieving, as you mention, our players are playing within their ability. They just aren’t good enough to begin with. When you are putting 3 and 4th liners into your top 6, you are not good enough. When guys being paid top 6 money are playing in your bottom 6, this is also a big problem.

        • grumpyKoala

          While you are making it a hard case to like your post, still did, because there is some truth there, individuals not living to bare minimum expectations. If the guys were paid by the results and effort, the oils would still have a lot of cap room. I personally can live with guys like looch where the results are not there but you cannot question the effort. That also what I gets from Hitch.

  • Mitch92

    One of Chiarelli’s greatest errors in my estimation was not dumping Taylor Hall prior to McDavid’s arrival. That delay cost the Oilers at least one season of properly building the team around McDavid.

  • TKO

    would the Oilers trade chaisson for a good defensive prospect if its clear they are not making it? Flames could use a depth guy like chaisson to shore up the bottom 6? would they trade Lucic but retain 4 to 5 mil in salary? he could be useful also for the playoffs

        • cityofchampions

          Do you think Lucic would refuse a trade out of this mess? He’d probably agree to leave to at least 25 other teams, if not more. The problem is not lucic’s NMC, its that no other team wants him at that price. Oilers would have to swallow $4M to move him or take that much back in another bad contract plus toss in a sweetener.

    • Ben918

      They would trade Lucic in a heartbeat but not hold 80-90% of his salary. I am thinking they will have to keep 1 mil a year or take a bad contract the other way. Chaisson is good but I think only Nuge, Draisaitl and McDavid are not tradable at this point and I am not sure about the first two. The team needs to fill a ton of holes and Chiarelli left them with little room to do anything. IMO they don’t need more defensive prospects though. 5-6 dmen are about all they have and they have a ton of them.

      • percy

        I disagree, we are to soft down the center. I would trade either one in a heart beat. This club needs a complete overhaul. A center and a winger with push back and grit would be an move in the right direction. Finding a player of that calibre that would come to Edt might be tough.

      • TDM

        I think given chias history, you should just be looking for good trade value regardless of who the dance partner is. If making the team better is priority one, you need to be open to all suitors in trade talks. I want no part of lucid here in calgary, but I could see value in a chiasson on our bottom six. Considering you got him on a pro, an asset return in year you aren’t going to the playoffs wouldn’t be terrible would it?

  • Anton CP

    Let’s be fair and rational here for a moment (of course, that is the last thing of most of the fans on this board is capable of) and analyse Chiarelli’s job performances. I don’t know how many of you still remember that Chiarelli was nominated of top GM in the league back in 2016 by finally getting the Oilers into playoffs for the first time since 2006 and how everyone just celebrated his achievements but it all crashing down in just a few months later when reality strikes on everyone that 2016 was merely a mirage.

    Every moves since the disasterous Reinhart trade and every signing since now seem broken Sekera were all meant for one thing: get this team to playoffs asap. How many of you were actually wondering back in 2016 when the Oilers choke on game 7 of WCSF that maybe this team is badly build and that will be the only highlight for 3.5 seasons of Chiarelli’s reign? Since this website still kept records since 2015 then if anyone of you willing to look all the way back at what kind of reaction that people have back in 2016 (Dadbot was such a stupid nickname tbh).

    Chiarelli delievered to the fans about what kind of team that people want: a fringe playoffs team that will never go anywhere near the top (which, some of you still thinking playoffs. You got what you asked for, this is the team you deserve to have).

    • Gravis82

      we have 1/2 a team. That half is pretty darn good. The other 1/2 are not NHL players. 1/3 of that 1/2 can be found in free agency for reasonable deals. The rest must be drafted. We are 7 years away. Everyone will be in their prime and nuge will be 3rd line center. This is unfortunately where we are and we must accept it.

      oh wait…one problem. McDavid will reach free agency before then. Uh oh. As will Nuge.

      Oh shoot, another one. We have terrible contracts that will take 3 years to clear.

      Oh man, so we cant even sign some decent players in the interm? This is going to get worse before it gets better. Buckle up for another 10 year rebuild.

      If there is anyone but Yzerman leading this with everyone down to Hitch fired, it will fail.

      I suggest, just go find something else fun to do for a decade. Maybe even move to Winnipeg.


          • Anton CP

            Well, in a fantasy scenario, if the Oilers can cut out 20m in cap room then just dump gold bricks on Erik Karlsson…unrealistic yes…it is still some possible fantasy?

          • Harry2

            Listen, meathead. 7 years is an eternity in the NHL. In 7 years a kid who is in elementary school will be playing in the NHL. Bou hard will be 25. Draisaitl 30. And your telling me it will take 7 years?!

            Step back of the ledge. Go to bed

        • Gravis82

          how do you find 2 top pairing defensemen and a second line in less than 7 years?

          you just cant.

          Draft them all in the same year and your forwards will be mature and in their prime and your defensemen will just have arrived. Which wont happen. Hopefully Bouchard is one. So we still need one more, and three players who can score at least 20 goals

          Its not an eternity. Its how long it takes to draft and develop players.

          Sure we may be good prior to that, but we wont be a cup contender before that.

          There are too many holes on this team that need to be filled with drafted players, because the players we need are never traded by the teams that drafted them.

  • Anton CP

    I don’t know why people can actually be “happy” about it. I mean, yeah, sure, Chiarelli should be fired long ago but I don’t think “rejoice” would be the feeling to have considering this happened to MacT, Tambo, and Lowe…so, why this time would be any different?