Edmonton’s Crude Oil Reality

As a huge legal and moral battle is going on between the province of British Columbia and Alberta over the construction of a pipeline, the Edmonton Oilers seem to be pedaling in oil sands, and they appear to be closer to a spill catastrophe than on their way to up their production… and unlike the pipeline dilemma, not even Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Government can buy them a solution. Much like Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Peter Chiarelli‘s popularity is rapidly fading away and by the end of May, we could very well see some new blood in both positions, trying to fix the mess left behind by their counterparts.

But how can a franchise with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as their cornerstones be in such a mess year in, year out? It’s a combination of things, really, but the main one appears to be poor scouting, drafting and/or player development. I mean, it’s not like the Oilers didn’t get their chances to turn things around over recent years!

Connor McDavid

Since 2007, the Oilers have drafted 88 players. 15 of those players were drafted in the first round alone and to make matters worse, only twice have them picked further than 20th overall, when they selected 22nd in 2008 and 2017)!

In those 12 years, they had 10 Top-10 overall selections. Six (6) of those picks were in the Top-5 including four (4) first overall picks! No other team in the NHL has come anywhere close to having so many quality picks in that time span.

YEARNAMEOVERALL
2007Sam Gagner6th
Alex Plante15th
Riley Nash21st
2008Jordan Eberle22nd
2009Magnus Paajarvi10th
2010Taylor Hall1st
2011Ryan Nugent-Hopkins1st
Oscar Klefbom19th
2012Nail Yakupov1st
2013Darnell Nurse7th
2014Leon Draisaitl3rd
2015Connor McDavid1st
2016Jesse Puljujarvi4th
2017Kailer Yamamoto22nd
2018Evan Bouchard10th

But there is more than the poor choices in their first round picks. When a team finishes so low in the standings, it also means that they often get to select early in each round there after. But ff the 73 other picks from rounds 2-7, only eight (8) have played 100 NHL games or more.

  • *Anton Lander (215)
  • Brandon Davidson (161)
  • *Martin Marincin (185)
  • *Tyler Pitlick (177)
  • Tobias Rieder (342)
  • Erik Gustafsson (118)
  • Jujhar Khaira (133)
  • Anton Slepyshev (102)

*Second round picks

Peter Chiarelli has completed several trades but force is to admit that very few had a positive impact on the Oilers.

YEARINOUT
2015Griffin ReinhartMartin Marincin
Cam TalbotBrad Ross
Eric GrybaTravis Ewanyk
Lauri KorpikoskiBoyd Gordon
Anders NilssonLiam Coughlin
Zack KassianBen Scrivens
2016Niklas LundstromPhilip Larsen
Patrick MaroonJustin Schultz
Adam LarssonTeddy Purcell
Zach PochiroAnders Nilsson
Martin Gernat
Taylor Hall
Nail Yakupov
2017Henrik SamuelssonMitchell Moroz
David DesharnaisBrandon Davidson
Justin FontaineTaylor Beck
Ryan StromeJordan Eberle
Michael CammalleriJussi Jokinen
Greg Chase
2018Al MontoyaBrandon Davidson
Pontus AbergMark Letestu
J.D. DudekPatrick Maroon
Cooper MarodyJakub Jerabek
Nolan VeseyRyan Strome
Ryan Spooner
Chris Wideman

In addition to the trades he’s made, Chiarelli has had several free agents’ signing. Some have been pleasant surprises, most have been disappointments.

YEARPLAYERCONTRACT
2015Andrej Sekera6 year $33M
Mark Letestu3 year $5.4M
Anders Nilsson1 year $1M
Justin Schultz1 year $3.9M
Tyler Pitlick1 year $761K
Brandon Davidson1 year $585K
2016Milan Lucic7 year $42M
Jonas Gustavsson1 year $800K
Kris Russell1 year $3.1M
Eric Gryba1 year $950K
2017Ryan Stanton2 year $1.4M
Ty Rattie1 year $700K
Brad Malone2 year $1.3M
Jussi Jokinen1 year $1.1M
2018Tobia Reider2 year $2.3M
Kyle Brodziak2 year 2.3M
Ryan Strome2 year $6.2M
Jason Garrison1 year $650K
Alex Chiasson1 year $650K

Now remember folks… this team has McDavid and Draisaitl as a draw and unlike the Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby, the Oilers have yet to draw key free agents to Edmonton. They are still questionable in net, they still have some gaping holes on defense, and their secondary scoring is pretty much inexistant. How is that even possible?

Peter Chiarelli might be running out of time and options in Edmonton.

Peter Chiarelli lost his job as the Boston Bruins’ General Manager mostly because he painted himself in a corner, tying his own hands, by mis-managing the team’s salary cap. In three years, he seems to have done the same with the Oilers.

According to Capfriendly, Edmonton is the NHL’s team with the fourth highest cap only behind the Detroit Red Wings, the Washington Capitals and the Anaheim Ducks. Worse, they have no help in sight as they have $68.5M committed to 13 players in 2019-2020. Their only pending UFA’s are Alex Petrovic ($1.9M), Kevin Gravel ($700K), Alex Chiasson ($650K), as well as their two goaltenders, Cam Talbot ($4.2M) and Mikko Koskinen ($2.5M). Chiasson has 17 goals for the Oilers in 34 games so far, so he will require a substantial raise if Edmonton wants to retain his services. Gotta feel for those Oilers’ fans who are suffering through tough seasons year after year, only to see their team mismanaged to the point of wasting some key prime years of McDavid and Draisaitl.

HABS COMPARISON

Since Habs’ fans like to compare, let’s have a look at the draft history since 2007. The Canadiens have drafted 84 players in that time span. 12 of those were first round picks and only three (3) were Top-10, two (2) of which were Top-5 and none were first overall.

YEARNAMEOVERALL
2007Ryan McDonagh12th
Max Pacioretty22nd
2008No 1st round pick
2009Louis Leblanc18th
2010Jarred Tinordi22nd
2011Nathan Beaulieu17th
2012Alex Galchenyuk3rd
2013Michael McCarron25th
2014Nikita Scherbak26th
2015Noah Juulsen26th
2016Mikhail Sergachev9th
2017Ryan Poehling25th
2018Jesperi Kotkaniemi3rd

You will notice that Six (6) of those 12 first round picks were selected 22nd overall or later. Now off the 72 remaining picks from rounds 2-7, the Canadiens have drafted seven (7) players with more than 100 NHL games, with Victor Mete closing in on that mark with his 82 games.

  • Yannick Weber (431)
  • P.K. Subban (607)
  • Brendan Gallagher (450)
  • Charles Hudon (102)
  • Sven Andrighetto (177)
  • Artturi Lehkonen (183)
  • Jacob De la Rose (152)

Further, if you look into both teams’ pipelines, the Canadiens are well ahead of the Oilers with blue chip quality depth prospects. The future is bring in Montreal red… but there’s a lot of work to do before fans in Edmonton can wear their Oilers’ orange with pride. Go Habs Go!

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NHL General Managers On The Prowl

Late November, early December. Hunting season is drawing to an end and the lucky ones have a freezer full of game. Storefronts are getting a facelift with Christmas decorations. Cities put their colourful lights up for the season. We take our own decorations out of storage in anticipation, rearrange the living room to fit the tree, and we start making plans for the holiday season. Everywhere we go, we cannot escape it. Christmas is coming.

Hockey fans are looking at their favourite team. Some have already written the season off. Others are ecstatic with where they are in the standings. For most, they are hoping that Santa brings them a shiny new player or two in time to help them make the playoffs. And General Managers are working like elves at the North Pole to make it happen. The phones are buzzing, the conversations are dense and numerous. Will someone be willing to danse? 

For various reasons, some GMs are more active than others right now. Whether their team is performing well below expectations, whether they find themselves in a playoffs’ race, a position they didn’t really expect to be in, or whether some feel the heat from above and want to save their own job, the phones are hot. But who exactly will be tempted to shake things up at this time? Who cannot wait to the February trade deadline to make moves? Let’s try to be the fly on the wall. 

Eastern Conference

Columbus

GM: Jarmo Kekalainen

The Blue Jackets are up to a very good start to the season, sitting atop the Metropolitan division, four points ahead of the Stanley Cup champions Washington Capitals. They do, however, have two key pending unrestricted free agents in Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, and while there is no rush to make a decision on either of them, they likely don’t want this to become a distraction. It has been reported that Bobrovsky is seeking a deal similar to Carey Price and that is way too rich for Columbus’ blood. Rumours have also been swirling around Panarin and with so many teams looking at trading, it would be foolish to count out the Blue Jackets as a potential trade partner.

Toronto

GM: Kyle Dubas

The William Nylander saga is coming to an end and everyone in and out of Toronto will be happy about that. With or without him, the Leafs have a very potent offense and Frederik Andersen is performing at the elite level, keeping his team in most games. In spite of the stellar play of Morgan Rielly, they do have a dire need of defensive help if they want to compete against the likes of Tampa Bay and Washington in the playoffs. Sacrificing a bit of offense to round up their defense is a must for Dubas, who has yet to put his stamp on the team with a major trade.

Carolina

GM: Don Waddell

The Eastern Conference is tight… very tight. And the Hurricanes are right in the middle of a playoffs’ race, and should be until the end. They have tons of depth on defense and they need goals scoring. We have heard rumours of them going hard after William Nylander but even if they miss out on him, Waddell will (or should) keep focussing on improving his team’s offense. Too bad they gave away Jeff Skinner for practically free, isn’t it? 

Montreal

GM: Marc Bergevin

Bergevin has done, by all accounts, very well this summer in both getting his team younger and more competitive. The return of Shea Weber has been a shot in the arm for a defensive core in need of something, but it has also brought back to light the fact that while they have good depth at the blue line, they also don’t have anyone capable of eating big minutes as his defense partner. With Karl Alzner and Victor Mete in the minors, Bergevin must try to find someone to play with Weber. Will he resist paying the high price for a veteran or will he continue with his plan to get younger, quality players as he did with Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Joel Armia and company? And will he find a new home for Alzner?

Pittsburgh

GM: Jim Rutherford

Although only a couple of points out of a playoffs’ spot, the Penguins have been very inconsistent so far this season. The reason for it is rather simple: they are in the bottom tier of the NHL for goals against per game. Rutherford’s contract was just renewed so he’s not going anywhere. His core of players however, while still performing well, is not getting any younger. While goaltending has been an issue in Pittsburgh, their defensive core, with the exception of Kris Letang, has nothing to instate the fear of God into any opponent. Rutherford could very well be on the prowl for defensemen and goaltending improvements. 

Philadelphia

GM: Vacant

The Flyers having recently fired Ron Hextall as their general manager and two days later, they also showed the door to assistant general manager Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy. They will certainly want to shake things up on ice as well and it’s not too farfetched to think that pending UFA Wayne Simmonds could be on the market in hope to get some much needed goaltending help. Only the Chicago Blackhawks and the Ottawa Senators have allowed more goals per game than the Flyers this season. While no replacement has been announced at the time to write this article, will team President Paul Holmgren, their former general manager, be tempted to step in to make some player personnel moves or is he still blacklisted by the NHL brotherhood of general managers? Either way, the Flyers need some change on ice too.

Florida

GM: Dale Tallon

Perhaps the biggest deception in the East, the Panthers have suffered a huge blow when Vincent Trochek shattered his ankle. Having lost goaltender Roberto Luongo for the first part of the season really exposed the team’s lack of depth at that position and we have even heard rumblings that they were interested in Canadiens’ prospect Charlie Lindgren. The Panthers are fourth from the bottom defensively, allowing a whooping 3.57 goals per game. Perhaps they could try finding an improvement behind the bench? Oh wait, they already tried that, sending Jack Adams Award winner Gerard Gallant home in a taxi a couple of years ago, gifting him to George McPhee and the Las Vegas Golden Knights! 

Western Conference

Edmonton

GM: Peter Chiarelli

If you look at the definition of “Pressure on a GM”, you’ll find a picture of Chiarelli. However, with a record of 3-1-1 since replacing Todd McLellan with Ken Hitchcock, Chiarelli might have bought himself some time. The team’s biggest need is on the blue line, although getting some speedy forwards with secondary scoring ability, most specifically on the wing, is also pointed as a high need. The problem for Chiarelli is finding someone to trade away, outside of the team’s core, players with enough trade value to bring in the help needed. For many, it feels like the Oilers are wasting some valuable Connor McDavid time to get back into the winning ways of olds. When Milan Lucic is your biggest UFA acquisition when you have a draw like McDavid, you’re doing something wrong.

Chicago

GM: Stan Bowman

Bowman is a good general manager. He has won some Stanley Cups with this core of players in the past. However, like any GM before him who have won Cups, he finds himself at a crossroad. That core of players is taking a lot of money on the cap and their production is diminishing and head coach Joel Quenneville paid the price a few weeks ago. Further, in order to keep under the cap, Bowman had to trade away some key role players over the years, and has traded some prospects and picks to get this team over the top… and he succeeded. He now finds himself in need of replenishing the cupboards of picks and quality prospects and you can’t do that unless you treat hockey as a business and leave feelings and loyalty behind. He may have to sacrifice some of his core players to do so.

St. Louis

GM: Doug Armstrong

With 19 points in 23 games so far, the Blues are tied with the L.A. Kings for dead last in the NHL’s standings. In the summer months, they traded for Ryan O’Reilly and they signed UFA’s Tyler Bozak, David Perron and Patrick Maroon. The expectations were high and saying that they are not living up to them would be a huge understatement. For a tem needing quality goaltending (Jake Allen 3.32 GAA .894 Sv%, Chad Johnson about the same), they let go of Carter Hutton (G) who is the starter in Buffalo now. So far, their solution to their problems has been to play yo-yo with Carl Gunnarsson, Chris Thorburn, Brian Flynn and Robby Fabbri all season. At some point, Armstrong will have to shake things up as it’s likely already too late for his team to make a push for a playoffs’ spot by now. 

Los Angeles

GM: Rob Blake

Ilya Kovalchuk

In spite of “winning” the Ilya Kovalchuk derby this summer, granting the UFA a three year deal with a $6.25 million cap hit on an over-35 contract, the russian star has been in the dog house with his 14 points in 25 games and his whooping minus – 13 differential. The troubles for the Kings continue from last season. After a coaching change that didn’t bring the expected results, Blake will have to come to realization that the problem is on the ice. Too slow as a team, he does have some assets of value to trade. Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez and/or Jake Muzzin could all fetch some quality youth in return. Everyone is expecting some action soon from the Kings, a team to keep an eye on before the December trade freeze.

As you can see, the phones are red hot and there are many willing teams in need to make some change. In a league with a hard salary cap however, trades are not easy to complete and sometimes, creativity is the name of the game when it comes to making it happen. We can expect some creativity to surface in the next few weeks, even the next few days and with any luck, the Canadiens could be involved as Bergevin has clearly shown not being adverse to changing things up and addressing his team’s needs. Stay tuned. Go Habs Go!