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Oilers Midseason Roundtable: Part 3

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On players, coaches, and management: What happens if it all goes sideways?

2017 NHL Draft - Round One
A constant concern.
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

We’re just a little bit past the halfway mark of the 2017-18 Oilers season, and things haven’t quite gone as planned. The Oilers have nineteen wins in forty-five games, and they’re all but mathematically eliminated from the second season. Is there any relief in sight?

Fortunately, our experts here at Copper and Blue Industries are here to help get to the bottom of it all. Featured in this midseason roundtable are Matt, Patrick, Shona, Corey, and Derek B.

This is the final part of a three part roundtable.

  • Yesterday, we talked about the Oiler who has been the biggest surprise of the season. Who’s been the biggest disappointment? Why?

Matt: Talbot has been very not good enough, but it has kind of exposed how reliant this roster is on high level goaltending. That’s on Pete. In year three of McDavid’s career, the situation he inherited should have turned the Oilers into a President’s Cup threat by now. Get a real top four RHD and some better depth and that’s a 50 win team this year. Instead, they have a legitimate shot at winning the lottery, again, and I mean how do these guys sleep at night?! How can Chiarelli consider himself a smart man and not know what he’s done to the Oilers?!

Patrick: I said in our opening season round table that Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot, and Oscar Klefbom would dictate how the season goes. Two of the three have been under-performing. I’ll give this one to Klefbom because he was so good last year, and looked even better on the first game of the season. Since, he’s been pretty mediocre and we’ve no learned that he’s going to have an injured shoulder for the rest of his life. I still think he can be a lot better than this, but so far this year, there is a lot left to be desired. If I were just judging the last 10 games, Adam Larsson has been terrible.

Shona: I’m tempted to say Talbot because his regression has really hurt the Oilers. However, I can’t because this rocky season is more in keeping with his results previous to now than last year’s outstanding one. Likewise, Klefbom has regressed, but so has much of the Oilers defense. I think overall, I am most disappointed in Chiarelli because his actions in the off season were shortsighted.

Corey: I’ve been disappointed that Maroon’s been such a negative in terms of penalty differential. I knew last year’s shooting % wouldn’t last. His positive impact on shot-rates from last year was too good to be true as well. It’s hard to be disappointed in a player who outperformed expectations by so much last year. Still, his penalty rates have made it hard to justify playing him top minutes. That is a little disappointing.

Derek B: Peter Chiarelli. His continued downgrading of skill and then having no idea what’s happened is terrifying and should have cost him his job. And it’s not like he’s just had a run of things that were reasonable that didn’t turn out, he’s been doing this for a long time now. It seems like anytime he tries to trade skill, he loses horribly. He’s left a lot of cap space on the table (even after factoring in bonuses) and that’s unforgivable at this point in time. Connor’s ELC was a huge opportunity for this team to do something special this year. Now Chiarelli has to fix the holes on this team while paying 4 of his forwards a total of $34 mil against the cap... at least one of whom most likely won’t be worth his hit in a couple of years.

  • If the Oilers miss the playoffs on Connor McDavid’s last year of his entry level contract, does Peter Chiarelli get fired? Does Todd McLellan get fired? Does anyone get fired?

Matt: Who knows, but I think we very much need to assume that the Oilers will probably pooch any subsequent hirings, so I’ll save my judgement for after the presser where they unveil Keith Gretzky as the new GM and I light myself on fire.

Patrick: Peter Chiarelli made the team worse over the summer, and Todd McLellan is getting about 60% out of this roster. I can imagine Chiarelli retaining his job, but I’d be really surprised if Todd makes it through the week. McLellan is a really good coach. He’s set up a good transition and break out, his neutral zone scheme is reasonable, if not too predictable, I think he’s left the next coach something good on which to build. His offensive-zone scheme is awful, and again, those special teams are a fireable offense, alone. There’s no reason to throw the perfectly good bathwater out when you’re just trying to rid yourself of the crying baby, I don’t think firing a coach is starting from scratch, it’s just adding to what works.

Chiarelli? Well, you can’t just waltz down to the NHL executive store and pick out a new one. His Pro-Scouting is some of the worst in the league, Duane Sutter isn’t adding anything of value and it’s definitely time to move on from him. Bill Scott is in charge of Cap Management and Contract Negotiation, so he’s got to go as well. If Chiarelli is worth anything, he’ll make changes to his staff between now and November. It’s hard to get good staff prior to the draft, so nothing is going to happen immediately. If he plans to comes back next season with the exact same staff and pro-scouts, he should definitely be fired first.

Shona: I hope that someone gets fired, but I don’t think anyone will this year. There seems to be this idea that change at this point would only make things worse. I believe that concept will be capitalized on to justify not changing the Oilers management and coaching structure for at least one more year.

Corey: I certainly hope Chiarelli gets fired. he’s got to be the worst GM in the league, and that’s saying something. I can’t believe that one man could have traded away Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and (essentially) Matt Barzal in less than a decade and still have a job in the league.

Those first four guys would be playing in the Olympics this February if NHLers were going. I know the Kessel trade led to the pick of Seguin, but that took a lot of luck, and he still managed to get fleeced for Seguin. That’s a double hat trick of fireable offense trades. It took three strikes to get fired in Boston. He’s already got another three strikes here, without including bad signings. I’ll put his track record of poor asset management again any modern GM.

As for McLellan, I really don’t care. He’s probably an average coach at best, but Chiarelli had the building blocks for a dynasty, and he turned the team into a laughing stock by the end of a generational talent’s final year of his ELC. That’s outstanding incompetence. Getting him out of Edmonton needs to be priority #1.

Derek B: Chiarelli should get fired, he’s done so much potential long term damage to this team that I’d rather bring someone in to try and fix it now, rather than wait until things like the Lucic and Russell contracts really start to look bad.. McLellan needs to find answers for what the hell is happening on his PK. The system is broken and he needs to come up with solutions to fix it. It’s really hard to bring in a new GM and not let him make his mark by picking the coach he wants. You are just potentially hand cuffing him. I’d bring in a new GM and let him decide the fate of the coaching staff.

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The Edmonton Oilers are in Las Vegas to take on the Golden Knights tonight.

Thanks to our staff for their answers!