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Background Checks

If you want to bring in players, maaaaybe take a look at their performance history first.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline coming, we know the Oilers will be moving pieces like Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz with an eye to the future.  I'm expecting the Oilers to acquire picks and prospects, and clear up as much cap space as possible to add pieces to the defence core during the off season.

This is definitely a concern I have with GM Peter Chiarelli. He has made some reasonable bets adding Cam Talbot and Andrej Sekera who have both done well in their respective positions. But he has also made an investment in forwards Lauri Korpikoski and Mark Letestu, who have both been dreadful at even-strength this season. What's even more troubling is that both players had a history of crumbling offensive numbers, which appear to have been largely ignored by Oilers management before acquiring them.

Lauri Korpikoski

Chiarelli acquired Korpikoski by trade last summer, sending away center Boyd Gordon, who had one year remaining on his contract. The Oilers took on a forward who had two years remaining on his contract at $2.5 million per season, which the Coyotes were probably thrilled to shed as Korpikoski had fallen out of favor with the coaching staff.

As we see below, Korpikoski had a history of being a drag on his team, with Arizona often doing better when it came to shot attempts, scoring chances and goals when Korpikoski was on the bench. He didn't have a single season of being a positive player, and we've seen this trend continue here in Edmonton.

And when it came to actual point production, Korpikoski has been pretty streaky, with the numbers pretty much declining since he signed his four year deal with Arizona. He currently ranks near the bottom of the Oilers roster when it comes to point production, just ahead of Pakarinen, Hendricks and Letestu.

Mark Letestu

Letestu is similar to Korpikoski in that he has a history of declining production numbers and stats relative to teammates. But that didn't stop Chiarelli from investing $5.4 million into the forward for three years on the first day of free agency last summer. Here we see that over the past number of years, the teams Letestu plays for tend to do better when it comes to shot attempts, scoring chances and goals when he's on the bench. What's noteworth is how his numbers tend to get worse and worse year by year. And like Korpikoski, he's seen his numbers continue to decline as a member of the Oilers.

And when it comes to point production, Letestu has been declining for a while now. He currently ranks only ahead of Anton Lander when it comes to this metric at even-strength. Despite that, he has seen his minutes climb drastically as Nugent-Hopkins was out of the line up for an extended time.


However Chiarleli is assessing players, it doesn't appear he relies too heavily on historical numbers. There were clear red flags with both of these forwards, yet deals were still made with the hope that things would just work out. Instead, the Oilers have iced probably their worst set of bottom six forwards in a long time, with maybe Matt Hendricks being the only standout. On top of that, there are dollars and term invested in players like Letestu and Korpikoski, both of which have had a negative impact on goals and possession. It's these types of deals that have me a little concerned about Chiarelli's next move, which should be coming up in the next week or so.