Hey everyone, long time no see.
I might expand on this in a more detailed explanation in the next couple of days, but wanted to get something out there before the moves start happening which I believe might be as soon as today.
Looking at the current state of the Oilers and the items that are out there, there is some good news and some bad news for fans...
The good news: Pete Chiarelli typically plays his cards very close to his vest so there's a real chance that most of the moves being discussed are pure speculation and not real possibilities.
The bad news: If any of the speculation is based on actual potential moves, the Oilers are set to make some pretty questionable moves in the next 10 days here.
Within the last week, here is just a sample of some of the things that have been reported about the Oilers:
- Trading Taylor Hall and/or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a package of lesser assets
- Trading Nail Yakupov for essentially nothing
- Signing Milan Lucic (who is a very good player) to a contract that may result in other good players having to be dealt or left exposed in the expansion draft
- Refusing to consider moving Darnell Nurse, even for a more experienced, proven, NHL top 4 Dman
- Considering re-signing Eric Gryba
- Considering trading Brandon Davidson who has the best value contract on the team outside of Connor McDavid
- Trading Mark Fayne for nothing and retaining a portion of his salary in order to get rid of him
That's not even an exhaustive list.
A few things for some perspective here. I don't believe Pete Chiarelli is an idiot. I've said since last year that most of the time (Reinhart deal being the obvious exception) he's a very good negotiator. This is proven by the Talbot trade, Kassian/Scrivens swap, and the Maroon deal. All excellent strategic moves where he negotiated a good deal.
My primary criticism of Chiarelli is that I think he's a poor talent evaluator. That is to say, I think he values the wrong things in players (much like his predecessors did) and targets the wrong players to acquire at times. This would be demonstrated by the Marincin/Gryba series of moves, the aforementioned Reinhart trade, the team's apparent lack of recognition of Mark Fayne's value, etc.
Basically I think Chiarelli is pretty decent at acquiring the players he wants, but I think he frequently wants the wrong things.
All of that said, I think the Oilers ARE trying to do a few smart things. I believe they have interest in some of the correct targets among defencemen. I'm sure they are trying to nab Travis Hamonic, Tyson Barrie, Kevin Shattenkirk and others...all of whom make sense to varying degrees. I also think they know they need to add a reasonable back-up goaltender and some depth on both the right wing and the right side of the blueline. I actually think they may accomplish a number of those things.
The question is how and what holes do they create in the process?
I think there is real reason to believe that a plausible outcome of the next 10 days is that the Oilers do a number of the following things:
- Sign Milan Lucic to a 6 year deal worth at least $6 per against the cap
- Trade Taylor Hall for a package that includes a legitimate top 4 right-shot Dman, but who is worth nowhere near the value of Taylor Hall
- Trade Nail Yakupov for either a mid-round pick or a mostly ineffective large winger like Dwight King from the LA Kings
- Retain salary to move Mark Fayne despite him being the only NHL right-handed defenceman currently in the organization
Ultimately, what I believe is likely to come out of this off-season is that the Oilers will make moves to make them immediately better, but that will damage the long-term goal of challenging for a Stanley Cup. The end result will be that the Oilers will compete for a wild card playoff spot deep into the 2016/17 season and Pete Chiarelli will be hailed as "the guy who finally fixed the Oilers" despite the fact that he may have actually hurt the odds of ever bringing a Stanley Cup championship back to Edmonton.
I'm happy to be proven wrong.