Welcome back to Part 2. Here is Part 1 in case you missed it.
Quick summary: firing Chia is great but the problem is much deeper than him alone. It is systematic and goes all the way to Nicholson.
There were 2 things that really stood out to me after the firing. First, was Nicholson saying there was no such things as an Old Boys Club. He said Chiarelli was in charge. Within seconds of saying that he also stated that the Koskinen signing was a group decision. So who’s in that group?
Secondly, according to Burke, there was a lot of ‘internal pressure’ to get Reinhart. Burke is a friend of Chia’s. What I wish he had said was who is the ‘internal pressure’? To me, it’s the OBC and Nicholson/Howson.
It is worth repeating that there are no former Oiler’s in head coaching, assistant GM or GM positions anywhere in the NHL. Former Oiler’s only get put in power by other former Oilers in Edmonton. I have not once read an article from an opposing team saying they need one. For instance, Ron Hextall was fired (he’d be excellent here) and there has not even been one mention of ‘we need Kevin Lowe, Howson, Tambellini or MacT to fill his shoes’. The 80s Oilers were amazing at winning hockey games and cups. As management, they’ve accomplished almost nothing in the last decade collectively and are in zero demand and high supply.
As far as Nicholson. His great contribution to the game is being allowed to assemble all star teams for short tournaments. Let me be clear. Picking 20 guys out of a pool of 100 NHL All Stars is challenging but not that challenging. That job requires no salary caps, development, drafting and involves deciding if you’d rather have PK Subban or Brent Burns as your 7th defenseman. The hardest part is the intense scrutiny you face no matter what you do. You could make 5 mistakes and still win gold. Now, if Nicholson can take the current roster of Czech players and win Gold consistently THEN I’ll consider him a Hall of Famer and a truly phenomenal assessor of talent. To me, Nicholson came across as every bit the ‘used car salesman’ that Chia did. He is the next guy I’d like to see fired. Everything about him reminds me of Lowe and Chiarelli.
I’m also still trying to figure out why they had to fire Chia during the second intermission. Why not tell him earlier in the day, let him leave in peace and then announce it? He had about 20 minutes to get the hell out of the building. That’s about as elegant as firing a guy on Skype! There is a reason qualified people don’t line up to join the Oil. I’ve heard a lot of people say we should get Yzerman here. He’s no fool. I think he’d politely say ‘no’ and then put the phone down and laugh his ass off. ‘Honey, they want me to be the next puppet GM!’
So now what? We need a lot more than a new GM.
After 2016/17 I felt we were a few moves away from being a consistent contender. Now we are about a dozen moves away. Here is our cap situation. Here are some problems I see going forward. I realize all these things can’t be fixed at once or ever. Just a random list of things I see:
- We need to move Cam and get something useful back with less salary.
- Who is the new backup when Cam is gone? Montoya? Starrett? Please be prepared to see Cam excel somewhere else. He is our next Justin Schultz.
- What are we supposed to do with all those 6/7/AHL D? Petrovic, Manning and Benning are worth over 6 million dollars. Manning and Benning are already counting 4 million against next years cap. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that they can’t easily be replaced by Gravel (UFA) and Jones who make 1.5 million combined. Or an incoming Bouchard or a more seasoned Bear. We only need 2 of those 4 (Bear, Bouchard, Gravel and Jones) to fill in the bottom pair next season for a lot less money and no drop off in quality. Persson and Lageson might be close as well? My point? We need to ditch a lot of our 6/7 guys and not keep acquiring more. That position is easily filled internally for considerably less money.
- Oiler’s Math will have you believe that 6/7 guys add up to replace Top 4 guys. There is a big difference between a Top 4 guy and a bottom pair guy. We can sign 20 of the best 6/7 guys in the world. In no way does that solve our Top 4 problem. It’s like asking the custodian in the kitchen to cook the main course. You need a chef! Solve our Top 4 problem by adding another guy and I guarantee scoring goes up, wins pile up and save percentages go down.
- From the looks of it. Chia fully expected our lineup to look like this today: Reinhart/Klefbom, Larsson/Sekera and Nurse/Russel. If Reinhart had matched his pedigree and become a legit Top 2 Dman then we’d be set for a cup right now. Currently, for next season, I see this: ???/Klefbom, Larsson/Nurse, Russel/Sekera. Fill in the ‘???’ and we’re good to go. We’d still have Jones, Bouchard, Persson, Bear, Benning and Manning to fill in for injuries. We literally need to get rid of about 5 dmen.
- Note: This was written before Persson was signed. I think that is a great signing but would like to point out the leading scorer on his team is former Oiler Roman Horak. The team is also 9th in a 14 team league (which I assume Top 8 make playoffs). Their captain is former Oiler Liam Reddox. He is also 24 years old and weighs less than Kris Russel. There are only a handful of guys in the NHL succeeding on Defense at such a small size. Think the next Johan Auvitu or Jakub Jerabek.
- We have no wingers to help. I assume Chiason is in for a big raise and I’m not sure I like that. Then we’re back to HOPE. Will Jesse (also due for a raise) continue to contribute? Bensen? McLeod? Kailer going to be ready? That is a lot of pressure on a bunch of 20 year olds (give or take a year) to come in and fill big Top 6 spots. They’re cheap though! RNH, McDavid, Drai, Jesse, Kailer and Chiason? Is that our Top 6 next season? Or does Bensen take Chiason’s spot? Back to Lucic in Top 6? Oh, and of course we have to put in whoever we draft at #20 because he’ll be ‘NHL ready’ just like our last 3 first round picks Jesse, Kailer and Evan were.
- We have at least 10 guys that shouldn’t return next season.
- Lucic and his albatross of a contract. He needs to be a solid 20 goal, 30 assist guy to earn his keep. Can he do that anymore?
- We need a new GM. The idiot that hired our last GM is in charge of hiring our next one. Am I the only one completely offended by the fact that Nicholson, 4 years after being hired, is now going to look at how things are run? That’s something you say on your first day on the job, not something you say after 4 years.
- That new GM needs to hire his coach. Then he needs to give that coach a roster of legit NHL players.
- We are in cap hell. A good GM can work his way around these problems with buyouts, trades and demotions to the AHL. I’m totally okay with Connor/Leon/RNH eating up 26 million. You simply can’t replace Connor with anyone. A Leon replacement would cost in the same ballpark. RNH is a bargain in my opinion.
- Are there any free agents that can help us? Do we have money for them after, what I hope, is a yard sale at the deadline?
- We need to trade some contracts without taking back salary. Talbot (UFA), Spooner (1 more year), Kassian (1 more year), Benning (1 more year) and Petrovic (UFA) are taking up well over 12 million in space and can be replaced internally for a lot less than 12 million. Or, bury them in the AHL and keep them there. I honestly can’t see how our team would be worse if Kassian, Benning and Spooner didn’t suit up for us next season.
- Figure out the Sekera situation. Is he done? Is he coming back? This season or next? Retirement? Is there a doctor I can phone?
- We need to replace whatever role Reider is supposed to have.
- Same for Brodziak.
- Do we consider trading Russel when the Modified No Trade kicks in? I hated that contract but have grown to think it was a good signing and that my initial view was wrong.
- Do all this without trading Nurse, RNH, Larson, Klefbom, Drai and McDavid.
- Since I mentioned Klefbom. Look at his career. After 5 full season (not counting 2013) he is averaging less than 60 games a year and 20 points. Are all the injuries done? Is this the guy we continue to stick with as number 1? We were absolutely paralyzed when he went down. Shouldn’t we get another guy of his quality or better?
I’ve said before I’d like to see us pursue Parayko heavily. If we can’t get him, we should target Gudas as a gap filler for next season (3 mill a year and he’d be our number 4). These are the only types of trades I’d like to see. Leafs added a very good D without touching their core at all. Sharks added a Norris quality Dman without touching their core. 2 strong cup contenders. Salary dumps (eg. Spooner and a 3rd for a 7th round pick in 2074), draft picks (Kassian for a 3rd) and trade for useful players for the rest of the season and signed for a few more. Give the new GM a clean slate to work with. I’d like Hunter or Hextall as our next GM. I don’t think we’re even close to seeing that happen though. I think ‘exhaustive search’ is a bunch of texts between the OBC. In fact, I think they already know who it will be.
Ultimately, you can view the solutions/problems differently than I do. I’d love to hear everyone’s suggestions of how they’d fix this huge mess. We have the best building block in the entire league, a new building and are deep at C. For better or worse, we even have a starting goalie signed for the next 3 seasons. Our D is young and signed to reasonable contracts. Our best players are under 27 years old. That is a great start. I’d like to think a new GM could come in and do some cap magic (demote to AHL, buyout, trade away), make a good trade or two and right the ship.
My gut tells me that it doesn’t matter who the new GM is. Until we dump the water, we’ll see the same stupid moves that the previous GM’s were making. I don’t know who exactly runs the Oiler’s team but I don’t think it is entirely the GM and the coach.
Thank god we fired all the assistants in the offseason... that really righted the ship!
See you after the next 8 game segment...
The Good, the Bad and Fire Them All to be Safe! Part 1