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.

The Oilers plan to invite 2019 first-round pick Philip Broberg to Phase 3 camp

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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Edmonton Oilers Kevin Lowe, Ken Holland named to the Hockey Hall of Fame

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

  • tkfisher

    I posted this about a week ago. It needs to be said once again:
    If instead of hiring our current GM, if we replaced MacT January 2015, with a google home speaker and simply used Bob Mckenzies Draft List each year, the following would have happened. This assumes zero trades and zero free agent signing since 2015 (aka a GM doing nothing). Nothing smart, just doing nothing.

    Draft 2015
    1st 1st
    1st 16th (Team D is zero so the speaker leans towards D)
    Barzal or Thomas Chabot D (Most likely)
    2nd (33rd)
    Daniel Sprong RW or Oliver Kylington D (Most Likely)

    Draft 2016
    1st (4th)
    Jesse Puljujarvi (no change)
    2nd (32nd)
    Alex Debrincat RW (Most Likely because BM draft rank shows great value, plus McDavid link) or Dennis Cholowski D

    1st (22nd)
    Kristian Vesalainen LW or Nicolas Hague LHD
    2nd (53rd Pick to Boston for PC)
    Jack Studnicka C or Josh Brook D

    1st (10th)
    Bouchard D (no change, great value from BM list)
    2nd (40th)
    Ryan McLeod C (no change, great value from BM list)

    Todays Roster

    RNH 6 – McDavid 12.5 – Eberle 6
    Hall 6 – Draisaitl 8.5 – Alex Debrincat 800k
    Benoit Pouliot 4- ? ? ?- Puljujarvi 925k
    M. Hendricks 700k – Khaira 675 – T. Pitlick 1
    Total 47.1 cap

    (assumes the google speaker would have done the obvious and not traded/let our only decent Dman leave mid 15, unlike MacT)

    Klefbom 4.16 – Jeff Petry 5.5
    Nurse 3.2 – Justin Schultz 5.5
    Oliver Kylington 730k – Thomas Chabot 863k
    Total 19.95 cap

    67.05 Used
    79.5 2018-2018 Cap Limit
    12.45 in CAP Space
    Need 3C (3 mill), a 13F (1 mill), 7D (1 mill) and goalie 1 (5 mill) , goalie 2 (2 mill) = (12 mill)
    Cap hit 79 million with 500k room

    Full Team, Cap Compliant and Good. All by doing literally nothing to the roster and using Bob McKenzies List and assuming no draft picks rounds 3-7 dating back to 2015 and all players current NHL salaries.
    Face Palm. What a debacle.

    Side Note lesser known draft picks current seasons:
    Vesalainen – 6’4” 207lb pt/gm in AHL and 12pts in 18 games (KHL). OR
    Hague 6’6” 215lb LHD playing great in AHL 17pt in 39 games plus 18.
    Jack Studnicka 6’2” 180lbs pt/GM in OHL and 5 pts in 5 AHL game stint OR
    Josh Brook 6’1” 192lbs 39pts/30 games RHD in WHL.

    Plus Bouchard and McLeod in the pipe.

  • Gravis82

    I have a feeling he wasn’t making decisions starting somewhere around the time the brought in Paul Coffey as a skills coach. Was canned to appease the fans.

  • Johnnymaced

    Gawddamn. I knkw its long road back. He screwed us for years to come. However it cant better until this change happened. So we rbfsr behind but we have a fresh start. 2-3 years we will be back. However i believe he was hated. Who knows maybe we go on a run!

  • Die Hard Oiler Fan

    Thank God. Finally !!!!!!
    A very nice summary of Chia’s “work”. Given what we heard out of Boston prior to the Bruins firing him, I still think should have been fired shortly after the Reinhart trade. Of course, Chia had barely sat down in the Oiler GM chair by this point. Can’t believe it took nearly this long, and this much damage to the roster, but at least he’s gone. The entire Oiler management “committee” must have been in agreement on this one in order to force Bobby Nichs to finally do the deed (wonder if he shouldn’t be going too ???).
    The team is in a sad state at present, but Chia’s firing is certainly making my day a little (make that a lot) brighter. Excuse me, need to go and do some cart-wheels.

  • polarcap

    Mr Nicholsen, PC is on you. Next one is on you. Mess it up the next one is you. So possible criteria in your search.
    Vision – You can’t be it if you can’t see it. The GM’s vision will signal to coaches, players where they fit in and fans.
    Communication – Manage expectations. Shultz, Petry, Eberle where run out of town because of bloated expectations. Under state expectations and over deliver.
    Succession – NHL GM’s are part of an old boys club. Having a GM who is respected in this club is important. This part should be paired with a techie who understand analytics, cap management and contract law
    Accessibility – the new GM should be accessible to the media sending signals of impending events
    Edmonton based – He needs to be part of the community
    Hockey sense – Shanahan, Yserman, Linden, et. al. where respected for their knowledge of what it takes to win. They did it on the ice and were respected by players and management

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers have the following contracts on the books for next season:
    Lucic – 6MM
    Spooner – 3.1MM
    Kassian – 1.95MM
    Brodziak – 1.15MM
    Manning – 2.25MM
    Koskinen – 4.5MM
    Pouliot buyout – 1.33MM
    Gryba buyout – 0.3MM
    20.5MM on guys we could replace with AHL call-ups.

  • MMAX

    Just remember, Pete is only a small piece of the problem. And before we start rejoicing too much, we better make damn certain he didn’t get promoted to some made-up position within this disaster of an organization.

  • everton fc

    Flames fan here, who pulled for the Oilers when they went to the Cup vs. the ‘Canes (I was living in Sherwood Park, back then). Never had the hatred many Flames fans do, for the Oilers. So I thought I’d post.

    I wonder how much influence Chiarelli had signing Koskinen? If the organization let him sign a 30 year old goalie for that term and cap hit, the issues are much deeper, than Chiarelli. Obviously.

    I wonder if Hitchcock becomes GM. I wonder if he’d be a decent GM, for the Oilers?

    I wonder how much it would cost to buyout Lucic? I don’t have those #s, but that needs to happen. Russell’s another buyout candidate, I think.

    I always brought up Jason Botterill as the next decent GM candidate out there, prior to his Sabres gig. The Oilers need a GM with hockey experience, and a university degree in business, like Botterill. Someone who can sort out the cap disaster the team’s in. To be only, what, 3 points out of a playoff spot with all these problems… Well, that’s where you start. You get some rest over the All-Star break from the media, and sort things out as bet you can. People say Keith Gretzky’s draft record is strong; I think Yamamoto was not the best pick, last draft.

    • Geowal

      You pretty much just described Chiarelli. He has a law degree from Princeton, hockey experience, both as a low-level player and GM (with a cup). For some reason he never managed to let what must be intelligence enough to get a law degree influence how he evaluated hockey decisions. Stuck in the past, from day one. I think people want a truly fresh face, not the last fired GM on the carousel.

  • A-co

    Hopefully he ends up in Seattle and wants to build a team that can compete in the Pacific division….we have some players he would be interested in… now to hire someone that can tune out the Red Wino’s and purge this team of all of Pistol Petes mistakes…. good luck to whoever takes this job on…she’s uphill on the round trip

  • rivid

    Did anyone see what Jeremy Roenick had to say about the Oilers, very harsh but as truthful as you get. He nailed it. The owner and all his buddies should be ashamed of what the Oilers have become. Absolute embarrassment!

  • Napoleon

    Why the FACK do Mac T and Klowe still have jobs, Pete was the puppet, until the entire management team is replaced it will not matter who the gm is. Who in their right mind would want the job.

      • VK63

        you don’t have to reduce this to the individual people in the c-suite . This is organizational incompetence that pervades everything, Bobby Nick points at the hockey team and blithers “culture” while the compass in his pocket has no needle.
        This franchise is BROKEN and that is the reality that they choose to ignore. They aren’t coming out of this mess with a new guy at GM. Thats laughable and roughly analogous to getting a new hair cut to cure your cancer.
        Until they generate some level of real self awareness the groupthink that put them here will keep them here, at best.

    • DannyGallivan

      Chia is gone. Rejoice. Now there are 2 choices to make with a team with no heart:

      1) Swap Teams. Keep McJesus, Draisaitl, RHN, Koski and Klefbom and move the entire rest of the team to Bakersfield. They will all clear waivers as no one will want players with no talent (not their fault) and no heart (definitely their fault). Though it won’t help the cap issue, at least the Bakersfield boys will play with heart.
      2) Rebuild. We have no trade bait left. Trade McJesus, Draisaitl, RHN and Klefbom (all 1st round drafts) for the next 10 years of first and second round draft picks and start again. There is no way this team gets to a cup in the next 5 years starting from where they are. Four years ago yes, but not now. That ship sailed when Chia and predecessors got rid of Hall (1st round), Ebs (1st round), Dubnyk (1st round), Schultz (2nd round) and Petrie (2nd round), for next to nothing.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Finally, holy ****. Regardless, the damage has been done. How long will it take a competent GM to somewhat right this ship? I’m gonna ballpark it that we’re 2 years away at least. Thanks for the memories Chia, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

  • blobbo

    The hot mess this guy left behind is unbelievable. What’s even more unbelievable is how long it has taken. Even if he was fired a month ago, there would have been less damage.

    They can hire the best GM ever and it will still be a minimum of two years before the team even resembles a team.

    Kill the season, send Puljujarvi and Yamamoto down and don’t even think of anymore trades. And don’t even think of bringing Bouchard up next year unless he’s absolutely ready. He will become Schultz the Second.

    Wow, am I glad to see Chiarelli gone.

  • KootenayDan

    It’s over! Finally. Now what? whomever the next gm is has a big task in front of him. After a decade of darkness and an additional 2 years of doom Oiler fans are left holding the bag. Another lottery pick nobody wanted good thing ole Pete didn’t trade for another bad contract. Really my question is now what?

  • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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

        • 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.

  • 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?