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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Serious Gord

    I can’t just be chia that’s severed from this organization. There are lots more who need to be gone before this business can reach its potential.

  • percy

    Bye Bye PC. Often wondered why everyone entering Edt had a smile on their face, time to take the sign down. This mess is going to take a few years to fix, better find a comfortable chair. Question is where do we start. IMO this team has always lacked a Vet DEF to stabilize our young def core, especially with Bouchard and Jones coming into the mix. Also a backup goalie. Both moves are a positive step. Shedding a few contracts and adding a winger or too down the road. Finding a better goalie coach should also be addressed.

  • nijames

    It is totally unfair to hang that Griffin Reinhart trade on PC. That has Liwe and McIdiot written all over it. We need more old Oil Kings on our roster Peter. Make the deal say McIdiot

  • Derian Hatcher

    I hope at the availability some questions like these are asked:

    • Why did the executive wait so long to make this move when many would contend that there was ample evidence that this should have happened much earlier?

    • What would you response to those that say that it is the same people making the same decisions in the Oiler organization that have missed the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years?

    • Bob (nicks), it’s been reported that you will be taking a more active role in the hockey operations side of things. If so, could you outline what SPECIFIC qualifications do you have in talent evaluation, trades, development and cap management of and NHL hockey Club

    • There has been plan after plan after plan. It’s been reported that there were tickets available for $15 for last nights game. What will be done in the next 6 months to uplift fans confidence that things will turn around

    • Can you outline how the Koskinen extension, specifically the timing, was brought about, especially considering it was more than obvious that the GM was on very thin ice. More to the point, who made the decision on the timing, term and dollar amount for the contract. If it was a group decision, who are included in that group?

    Any of you suggest any other questions that should be asked? Not rude questions, not confrontational questions, but pointed, direct questions that deserve specific answers for the fans.

    • Anton CP

      I can give you a bs response from the ownership:

      “our staffs have faith in Mr. Chiarelli will be able to fix certain issues that we have from last season and bring us back into playoffs. It is with regret that ultimately we choose to part ways with Mr. Chiarelli due to the difference of philosophy of the team’s future progress. We wish Mr. Chiarelli luck on his future ventures.”

      “we can guaranteed you that our staffs have always working hard to deliever the best product on ice. With their knowledge and experiences in the hockey world that they are still able to provide their insights and expertise for a bright future.”

      “Mr. Katz offered me this prestigious position to oversee the entire OEG and I’m appreciate the trust of Mr. Katz given to me as the team will provide a great experience for all fans. It is unfortunate with many recent events that we missed a few good opportunities to advance further.:

      “we are ensuring that the entire OEG share the same frustrations of the team’s recent performances, however we are also promising the current and future staffs will always work hard on bring the Stanley Cup home once again.”

      “we have been talking to Mr. Chiarelli about the goaltending situation. We believed that extending Mr. Koskinen’s contract is the right choice. Koskinen has proven this season of his ability as a solid netminder and we believe that Koskinen will provide elite performances for the next three years.”

      You can ask as many questions as you want, but the answers will just be all over the place without getting into the point.

      • Derian Hatcher

        If that’s the case, it is up to those asking questions to press a little more. When players refuse to talk to the media, the media say that, by extension, the players are not talking to the fans as the media represent the fans in certain circumstances. Well, if that’s the case, I am confident that some in the media will press a little harder for non-canned responses as Gregor / Spec / Rishaug are more than aware of the frustration / anger of the fan base. A fan base that imo, has held up their end of the deal many times over. Just my opinion.

  • 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

  • Ben918

    THIS WAS LONG OVERDUE. They need to be creative to fix the problems Chia has left them with. I think this was too late, especially after the Kosk extension. If you are about to fire a GM, maybe stop him from giving a NTC and 4.5 mil to a guy that hasn’t even played half a year in the NHL and is already 30 yrs old.

  • Canoe Ride 27

    On a non-impact deal, here is what Pete invited into the room:

    “You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” McDavid said after Thursday’s game. “I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose.

    “He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly.

    “We can put the whole ‘he did it on purpose’ thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”

    • Glencontrolurstik

      It would certainly be entertaining for the rest of the season…
      Some, might tune in to whats going on with the Oilers again actually.
      Not really a terrible idea n many levels, most of all media clicks. It is a business after all.

  • 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.

  • So we are trusting the oilers to peters guy Keith. Well good luck to us i guess. Funny that the firing happened after jeremy roenick ripped the oilers on national tv in the united states. Seems that Katz is more concerned with what americans think about his team than what oiler fans think of this team. Congrats waynes brother on your deserved promotion. Here is to another rebuild thank OEG.

  • 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!

  • ed from edmonton

    The question going forward is what happens next. Reports state that some combination of Gretzky/Nicholson will be interim for the remainder of the season. I wonder if they will promise “bold moves”. However given that anyone qualified is employed at the moment and wouldn’t be available till the post season some kind of caretaker is the only option.

    Who ever takes over will have a tremendous challenge. I would think the Oil are at least 2 years away from clearing up the current situation. There have been plenty of reports of a massive drop off in season ticket and box renewals so the team will become financially challenged as well. The new guy will have his work cut out for him.

    • Ben918

      I think at this point you make the moves you can. They need to part with Sekeras, Russel and Lucic to start with. I think any of these three would be bold as they would have to keep salary or take a bad contract back. However the Oilers can easily play with these three out of the line up and do just as well IMO. They don’t need a return for them. They need to start undoing what Chiarelli has done so they can look to the FA market and add players to rebound. They are close to a playoff spot riding on a handful of players, there is a chance they could make it next year with a few character guys like Chaisson added.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      To be honest the GM job in Edm is probably one of the hardest in the league. UFAs done some here unless overpaid. Anyone on a NTC even a limited one has the Oil on their list. Tons of media and fan pressure. BUt regardless when tkfisher’s do nothing team looks better then this one the GM needs to do better.

  • Ben918

    TSN is suggesting that there is no clear options for a replacement. I think they are fine on that front. They have two former NHL GMs in Gretzky and MacT that are already under contract with the Oilers in other roles. Seems to me like MacT would be the obvious choice while they go into their All Star break meetings and find a long term GM.

    • Wince

      You’re right, they were so much better for the 90’s and 2000’s when they wore “Conservative blue” . Oh wait…no they weren’t! Way to politicize something that is not at all political, you Neanderthal.


    Iv’e got that song, “Dancin’ in the streets in my head” lol. I hope the Oilers don’t rush into finding our new GM. As for Lucic, what about enticing Seattle to take him and offer up someone or a package not in our core as a bonus? Lucic lives in Vancouver so Seattle would be great for him and his family.

    • Ben918

      Yeah, I think you have something here. Lucic and a draft pick might be enough to entice them as they will need to meet the league floor with salary. He has some ability but it will be a tougher sell if we can’t get rid of Sekeras/Russel as we should have a decent defender left open for them.

  • TheRock

    Chia will likely be promoted to some role with a title like “sr advisor to the development of hockey culture in the washrooms of Rogers place”. This promotion will be based on his excellent work of drafting Connor McDavid 4 years ago…

  • You just got LITT up!

    McDavid’s gone … book it! No way he puts up with / sticks around for this [email protected]! The next GM will need several years to clean up the mess Pete made. Connor will not waste several years of his career playing on a rebuilding / bottom feeder team.

  • Hemmercules

    How do give a goalie with like 30 NHL games under his belt almost 5 million dollars? Madness. Chia dealt the team one last dagger before getting shipped out. The problem is, his “superiors” likely approved the deal which doesn’t bode well for the future since they will remain in control and continue to puppet whoever they hire. At this point I’m just hoping they can make a playoff run once before Connor moves on to a respectable organization.

  • CactusJr

    I was at the draft in Florida when Pete thanked the “city” of Florida for their hospitality before selecting McDavid and I thought…..”We’re in trouble”