Peter Chiarelli was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer a bit earlier this afternoon and, while he didn’t really give us much substance, it is the dog days of summer and many of us are starving for Oilers new . So, here is a very quick summary:
1) To the surprise of no one, being the most important piece of unfinished business, the Nurse contract negotiations were brought up by Stauffer. Chiarelli simply mentioned that they will get Nurse signed and that these types of players take a little longer as there are lots of different leverage points.
OP Thoughts: I’m not really sure what “these types of players” and “lots of different leverage points” means but I do believe Nurse will be signed well in advance of camp. I won’t start to get worried unless Nurse remains unsigned in September. Let’s not forget, Leon Draisaitl didn’t sign until well into August last year. As an aside, I am concerned that the bridge deal will be in the $3.5M to $4M range as opposed to the $3M to $3.5M range that is should come in at (or the $2.5M range that Mr. Olsen believes it should come in at).
2) On Koskinen, Chiarelli mentioned that they viewed him multiple times last season and that he matured at a later age. Chiarelli revealed that lots of teams were pursuing him and he even had contract offers of multiple years but that the Oilers were attractive to Koskinen because most Oiler goalies are at the end of their contracts.
OP Thoughts: I’ve been very critical of this contract and I will remain critical. I am OK with the bet on the player but I can’t wrap my head around the cap hit. To me, Koskinen went with the one-year deal because of the stacks of cash Chiarelli threw at him to sign it. There is no reasonable comparison for this contract. I’m more than happy to chat about this in the comments section as my rant here could take pages.
3) When asked about the Summer Showcase and if it’s a good place to assess the prospects, Chiarelli said they really don’t read too much in to it. He did go on to say that Bouchard had a good camp and they’ll see where he is at when rookie camp starts.
OP Thoughts: I agree with Chiarelli that very little should be gleaned from a short showcase in the middle of the summer. Bouchard was fantastic in one game and quite poor in the other. For me, Bouchard getting beat off the rush a few times in a game in August is meaningless. Bouchard also struggled to transition the puck in that game and that is his best asset, I’m quite certain this does not mean that Bouchard will struggle to transition the puck moving forward.
4) Stauffer asked about how Europe will affect training camp and Chiarelli acknowledged that it would change camp a bit as they will try and get a little bit ahead in terms of the roster. While they do want to pare down the roster early they are allowed to keep a bit of an extended roster while overseas.
OP Thoughts: For me, there aren’t too many battles for roster spots to be had at camp but, aside from a couple of positions with set players, most of the line combination are still up in the air. Last year, McLellan and his staff were experimenting with line combinations for the entirety of camp and it’s important that combinations are essentially set earlier this year in order to hit the season running.
5) When asked if Bouchard falling to them at the draft changed their plan of adding to the defense, Chiarelli replied that, while it did temper their plans a bit, it didn’t stop the search for a d-man and that, in fact, they are still looking to improve on the back-end. Further, Chiarelli acknowledged there are still some question marks in regards to the defense.
OP Thoughts: I don’t imagine we’ll see any material acquisition to the defensive group prior to the season but it is comforting to know that management does acknowledge the defense is still a work in progress.
6) Stauffer mentioned that right wing is a bit of a question mark and asked about the potential of a PTO (Player Try Out) and Chiarelli mentioned that they have talked to a number of players about a PTO and that they will also look at waivers as well. He did go on to say that they will take it slow as there are players that will compete and could win a job at camp. He acknowledged that the 14th forward is still up in the air.
OP Thoughts: This is great news for me as I am of the opinion that they need to add another veteran established NHL forward to put another body between the NHL and a guy like Brad Malone (or a raw prospect like Cooper Marody). Subject to Yamamoto making the team, the Oilers are one injury away from a guy like Malone being on the roster and that is not an adequate result.
7) Lastly, Stauffer brought up Jesse Puljujarvi and Chiarelli was extremely positive on Jesse. Chiarelli mentioned that he believes lots of people put expectations on Jesse due to where he was drafted but that he has come a long way and has matured alot. He said “this kid is a horse and he can score and he’s still learning” and “he will be there in the end and I think you’ll see big things from him this year!”.
OP Thoughts: Once again, music to my ears. Puljujarvi establishing himself as a legit top 6 winger would go a long way to solidifying the forward group and I’m confident he will be able to do that this year. NHL history is littered with prospects out of Europe drafted in the first round solidifying themselves in the NHL in their draft plus 3 year. Recent examples include William Nylander, David Pastrnak and Mikko Rantanen, each of whom spent parts of their draft plus two years in the AHL, just like Puljujarvi. I look forward to nice offensive spike from Jesse this year.