Now that Peter Chiarelli has been relieved of his duties as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, notes about his work are slowly starting to spill out. Elliotte Freidman mentioned in his 31 Thoughts article last week that Chiarelli was working on a blockbuster at the 2016 NHL draft that never came to be. A few days later, Larry Brooks confirmed what the rumour was.
According to Brooks, the Oilers and New York Rangers were working on a deal with the fourth-overall pick and defenceman Ryan McDonagh as the centrepieces. The Rangers would have selected the United States National Development Program standout Clayton Keller while the Oilers would have received the veteran defenceman they coveted. Brooks went on to say that there was more to the trade, but the pick and McDonagh were the focal points.
The Oilers would end up keeping their pick, which they used to select Jesse Puljujarvi after the Columbus Blue Jackets went off the board choosing Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third pick. A few days later, Chiarelli would pull the trigger on the infamous one-for-one deal — Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. With Taylor Hall out of the picture, Chiarelli threw a seven-year deal worth $6 million annually at Milan Lucic. At the time, the narrative was the Oilers effectively dealt Hall for Larsson, Puljujarvi, and Lucic.
Hindsight, of course, is 20:20, but this report further compounds the frustration with Chiarelli’s horrendous decisions and asset management. At the time, Puljujarvi, who had a historically-good World Junior showing, looked like a steal at No. 4 overall while McDonagh had just two years left on his deal worth $4,700,000. Still, it’s very puzzling to me that Chiarelli would be skeptical to give away a draft pick who could become a tantalizing talent in the NHL but then he went ahead and pulled the trigger on a deal that did send away a player who had proven to be exactly that.
Another thing I find jarring to think about is what other deals other general managers approached Chiarelli with involving defencemen. Which deals before he went ahead and pulled the trigger on the one-for-one sat there that he didn’t execute that led to a trade that set the Oilers back years?
If Chiarelli had taken this deal with the Rangers, the Oilers could have Hall and McDonagh rather than Puljujarvi, Lucic, and Larsson. The jury is still out on the 20-year-old Puljujarvi, but it’s very easy to see which combination of players is superior. It’s shocking that somebody employed to run an NHL team couldn’t see that.
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