Not sure what has me motivated to write about this circus club today. Perhaps it’s frustration from having to sacrifice yet another evening to diligent note taking over a terrible hockey game. Perhaps it’s frustration from watching the Oilers sacrifice another season of Connor McDavid’s career. Perhaps. It’s just. Frustration.
In this brief little piece I’ll be taking a top-down look at every single move Chiarelli has made during his tenure with the Oilers. Sure, I might miss one or two of no consequence, but I’ll be looking at the assets in against the assets out. I’m not sure how this is going to come together yet but I’m in a mood and I’m feeling saucy. Let’s see where we end up.
Cam Talbot, 2015 7th
Niklas Lundstrum, 2016 5th
Zach Pochiro, 2017 3rd*
J.D Dudek, 2019 3rd
2015 1st, 2nd
2015 2nd, 3rd, 7th
Martin Gernat, 2016 4th
In 2015, the Oilers gave up premium assets to ultimately come away with the man who would tend their goal the next three + seasons. They signed Andrej Sekera which was about as good as Chiarelli could do at the time, but left both Mat Barzal and Kyle Connor (among others) on the draft board in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, who would be out of the league for good just over a year later.
In season, the Oilers managed to get Kassian for Scrivens and found Pat Maroon to be excellent value considering the cost of acquisition. Perhaps, maybe, things will work out and that Reinhart deal was just a one-off. They also dealt Justin Schultz for a middling draft pick, and he’s since gone on to win two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh. So, also, maybe not.
And as we all know, it wasn’t. In summer 2016, Peter Chiarelli made one of the worst trades in NHL history. Taylor Hall was dealt - one for one - for Adam Larsson. Larsson is a fine player. Just fine. He’s not bad, he’s not great. He’s fine. He’s exactly the type of player you covet for a decent prospect or draft pick. He is decidedly not the type you trade a superstar on a cost-controlled contract for.
In season, the Oilers cut bait on Nail Yakupov and Brandon Davidson. They recouped only David Desharnais at the NHL level to help with their playoff push. Even saying that now is hilarious. So between June and October the Oilers traded two former first overall picks for Adam Larsson and David Desharnais. Jesus.
In the summer of 2017 we saw Chiarelli again overreact and trade Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome. Again, straight across. Again, a clear loss that the Oilers were happy to volunteer for.
Last season, we saw the Oilers tumble back down to earth after a one-season peak of 100+ points and a playoff series win. Less than 80 points. They bled NHL assets again and could only manage to recover Cooper Marody now that Aberg is scoring 5x more goals than Milan Lucic in Anaheim for 1/10th the cap hit.
This year? Well, news is breaking that the Oilers - currently scoring less than 40% of the goals when McDavid is off the ice - are throwing Draisaitl back on that line in yet another example of how to create a new problem by trying the wrong thing to fix the original problem. To boot? Drake Caggiula gets the other wing work.
Look at this lineup right now:
What a mess.
I’d hoped that this would provide some more context as to just how bad Chiarelli has been at his job but I’m not sure it has. I think it would require some more context about these specific deals but I’m not feeling that saucy. I just think it’s worth considering the systematic dismantling of this team at the NHL level over the past three seasons. I think it’s a fair point that the Oilers’ prospect depth is as good as its been in some time, but it’s come at the very real cost of their first team at a time when they really cannot afford to sacrifice it. McDavid’s fast approaching his prime and the Oilers are approaching full-blown irrelevance at the same speed. I’m not sure what else can be said at this point. The things we saw coming years ago have come, and are now shitting in our collective corn flakes. The only course of action is to fire everyone from Bob down but, let’s be honest, that’s not happening any time soon.
And until it does? There’s no hope here.