Off The Top Of My Head

With all the ongoing consternation over the Edmonton Oilers as we wind down another coulda-shoulda-woulda season, I was going to risk being called a water-carrier and a fart-catcher for the team by breaking things up and touching on a few of the silver-linings from another lost season today.

I’ll still get to that, but on the eve of Fan Appreciation Night with the Dallas Stars visiting Rogers Place, the juxtaposition between FAN and an item about Ryan Strome that highlights how badly fired GM Peter Chiarelli shat the sheets during his time here, and how difficult it’ll be to remove that stain from the managerial linen this off-season, is difficult to ignore.

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Watching Strome, who’d grown into a fit as a third-line centre here, shine with the New York Rangers after Chiarelli decided to deal him to Manhattan for Ryan Spooner serves as yet another kick in the pills for Oilers’ fans, who’ve been doubled over for far too long already. Strome was finding his niche here and he’s obviously moved on to do the same with the Rangers.

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Mar 29, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Strome (18) warms up against the Vancouver Canucks Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

That bit of handiwork started with Chiarelli sending Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders for Strome in a salary dump. It was a deal in which Chiarelli never did make use of the dollars he saved but that had a chance of at least working out OK because it seemed Strome was finally finding a fit here. But nooooooooooooo. Out goes Strome. In comes Spooner.

It’s yet another reason, as Jason Gregor and others have pointed out, why it’s unlikely Chiarelli will ever work as a GM in the NHL again. Maybe Chiarelli will get a job with old pal Doug Armstrong, who he has been hanging out with in St. Louis, but beyond that, I can’t see another big chair job in the cards for him, given the mess he made with the Oilers.

Let’s be real. On his own, Strome likely wasn’t going to be the difference between the Oilers making the playoffs and missing them yet again, but suggesting so falls far closer to the mark than the ridiculous foot-in-mouth moment made in reference toTobias Rieder a week or so ago by CEO Bob Nicholson, who is charged with finding Chiarelli’s replacement.

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My guess is fans would happily trade tonight’s FAN for a promise, and action, from Nicholson he’s going to get the GM search – and an overhaul of a pro scouting staff that played a part in Chiarelli’s abysmal acquisition record right this time. Skip the “Thank You” messages on the scoreboard and whatever else is planned and start with that.


  • Like many of you, I had some pretty serious doubts that Andrej Sekera could return to anything approaching his former level of play after significant injuries – he had knee surgery and then tore his Achilles tendon – but he’s looked very good so far. I’m still not sure he gets back to being the player he was, but I’m happy to see him get the nod as the team’s nominee for the Masterton Trophy.
  • The heater Leon Draisaitl has been on has been duly documented as he faces Dallas with 99 points. That’s not a number I expected at any point in his career, let along this early along. Yes, scoring in the NHL is up this season, but I never envisioned Draisaitl pushing for 50 goals and reaching 100 points. His transition from being a pass-first guy to more of a shooter has been fun to watch.
  • In a season when over-achievers have been few and far between on a roster that lacks scoring depth, I’m not trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins unless somebody offers me a hair-on-fire, run-to-the-registry overpay. With career highs in goals (28) and points (64), I don’t see anybody on the NHL roster or in the system replacing that production next year.
  • Pending UFA Alex Chiasson has career highs in goals (21) and points (36). His previous season highs were 13 goals and 35 points. What are your numbers for salary and max term to re-sign him?

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Towers-of-dub

    2 yrs @ $1.9MM for Chiasson. If he keeps this level of production for 2 years he’ll be able get set up pretty well long term after that wherever he wants to go.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I think the Oilers could have had Chaisson on a cheaper deal during the season at say 1.5 range but they failed to do anything and no they risk losing him to another team or having to pay him around 2 to 2.5 range. Yest Koskinen only one a handful of games and they gave him 3.5 for 3 years. Its bizarre and they have done nothing with Chaisson and the guy wants to play here…the Mgmt of this team does some stupid things and yet they thought bringing in Manning was a good idea…wow

      People say Sekera ought to get traded, I dont see why, the guys moves the pucks he makes plays he isnt afriad to shoot and he makes a deifferance in the Oilers end, people say Benning is playing better, yeah because of Sekera. Normally Benning is a tire fire, but since Sekera has come back Benning is a little more calmer on the ice and he isnt under as much pressure. As for Strome I think the west is way tougher in play than the east and the travel isnt for everyone and this is where I think it effected Strome, travel is way eaiser in the east, less miles notyy a lot of time zone changes a lot of those guys can be back in their own beds at night instead of a hotel. Playinng a better system style or more stable linemates will also help. When have the Oilers had a consistent line that stayed together all season? They havent it has been the blender all season

  • Abagofpucks

    I had drai somewhere between 80 to 90 myself but over 100 i didn’t think he would get that many. Hopefully he’s not just over achieving and will continue being over 90 points as a norm.

  • Abagofpucks

    I didn’t like pc trading strome away at the time. I too thought he was finding a role here, then good ole petey has to trade him away for somebody else’s mistake.

  • The Ghost of Alex Plante

    I don’t think you can go much over 1.5 for 2 years for Chiasson. Guy’s coming off 2 consecutive PTO’s and is having a career year based on power play production and a high shooting %.

    Chiasson to his credit has fit well on the PP and has preformed well, so kudos to him, but I still think expecting anything more than 10-15 goals from Chiasson next season would be foolish. Best predictor of future production is past performance. Chiasson’s a good story, but he’s a 10-15 goal player. If he’s getting top 6 minutes next season, the Oilers are in the same position they are in now: out of the playoffs and looking for goal scorers.

    I’d gladly take Chiasson back, but paying him like a 20 goal guy would be a mistake IMO.

  • WheatiesHockey

    I was against the Oilers trading away Strome and Caggiula. Strome was good in the dressing room much like Matt Hendricks and never really hurt the team. Never got much of a chance to play with McDavid and Leon. Oilers wound up with no third line for their troubles. Those missing goals BN referred to at the season ticket holder meetings. It is difficult to say if all the bad trades and personnel decisions were exclusively the work of PC. Someone had to take the fall and it was him. It is too late now to fix another lost and disappointing season. The new incoming GM won’t be picked until after the draft and free agency season starts. Nice to be optimistic about next season, but new GM will be starting next season with a bunch of players he never picked.

  • CMG30

    As much as I gave Chirelli grief for the LD overpay, I have to admit he is producing. That being said, a big reason he’s pushing 100 points this season is because the Oilers have a player in RNH who can handle the 2nd line center duties and allow LD to move alongside McDavid to create the most dangerous duo in the NHL. I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying the Oilers would be absolutely crazy to move RNH for anything less than a bonkers overpay.

  • Derzie

    When a team plays in garbage season (contrary to the we’re still in it narrative), player evals need to be VERY cautious. In garbage season, teams play their backup against you and don’t get too fired up to play you. Players are loose because it’s easier to play without stress/pressure. The guys who are playing for jobs tend to get a points bump that’s not sustainable in a competitive season, where teams actually take you seriously. Many a player has been given an overpayment based on inflated garbage season stats. When looking to renew, look at the performance when the season was not yet lost. That’s more likely to be real. Anyone ‘lighting it up’ now is likely a mirage.

  • toprightcorner

    Chiasson, I would give him 3 years at $1.5 per year. give him the extra year to reduce the cap hit. for a guy with tree 1-year deals and two PTO’s in the past three years, he would definitely appreciate the security. I prefer that to a 2 year with a $2 mill cap hit.

    He will score 10-15 goals and be a right shot on the PP. Even if he declines a bit in the 3rd year, he can still play 4th line or be sent to the AHL with only $500k on the books.

  • Eberle:
    74 gp, 17g + 18a = 35 pts = 0.47 ppg
    Trending to: 37 pts, $6m : $162k per point value

    68 gp, 21g + 15a = 36 pts = 0.53 ppg
    Trending to: 39 pts, $650k : $17k per point value

    Essentially, this season, Chiasson is almost 10 times more valuable than Eberle.

    • slats-west

      I would add …….Ebs doesn’t play as hard as Chiasson, he Emphasizes Skill over Effort and Rarely makes others better. Move along people nothing to see here with Eberle.