Peter Chiarelli’s Oilers are going to be bullet fast, based on the changes he’s made so far this summer. Coming in are Connor McDavid, Lauri Korpikoski and Mark Letestu—all faster and quicker than their predecessors (Derek Roy, Matt Fraser and Boyd Gordon). He also added a mobile defender in Andrej Sekera, who should help Oscar Klefbom and Mark Fayne in cutting down on chaos in the important moments of the game.
Todd McLellan’s job will involve bringing some semblance of structure to the roster, something that has been an issue at times over the last several seasons. Has Peter Chiarelli given McLellan enough?
- Elliotte Friedman: The Oilers filed for arbitration with Justin Schultz, although no one would be surprised if an agreement is reached beforehand. What this does is it allows the team another buyout window and speculation is Nikita Nikitin could be a victim. The team doesn’t need the cap room now, so doesn’t it make sense to keep him for his final year instead of wasting $1.5 million next season when you might need the space? Source
I think Mr. Friedman’s wording frames the issue perfectly. When he writes ‘the team doesn’t need the cap room now’ he’s absolutely correct. Chiarelli opted to open the window in case an opportunity arises, which goes with his methods from the Boston years. Chiarelli is aggressive in-season and likes veteran options. Back in May, I wrote the following about his time with the Bruins:
- Faced with a large roster problem, Chiarelli preferred veteran options all down the line in Boston. In the last five years, with a contender, he overpaid for Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Tomas Kaberle, Joe Corvo, Brian Rolston, Loui Eriksson, Andrej Meszaros, Brett Connolly. While it’s true he was looking to remain a Stanley Cup contender, it’s also true he liked veterans long before the Bruins were winning. I believe he’ll keep the golden kids but we’re going to see picks and lesser prospects sent away this summer. The Oilers will be better in goal, on defense and more veteran up front in that middle area, in that 3line slot. Candidates to satisfy the incoming assets include Martin Marincin (poor bugger), the pick at No. 33 and cap room. It’s been a wild five weeks, and the next six may be just as crazy. The summer of Connor is non-stop action. As they used to say in the old monster-truck radio commercials, they’ll sell you the whole seat but you’ll only need the edge. Source
So, we could see Chiarelli’s summer, but what about the rest of the year? Well, based on his in-season activity as a new GM in Boston, I can’t see him resting with this defensive group. No way. The only thing that might change his mind? McLellan’s touch, McLellan’s opinion.
- Todd McLellan: “As a coach I believe most of us are wired to show the players ‘how’, but I don’t think we take the time to get them to understand ‘why’.” Source
We simply don’t know what kind of impact Todd McLellan will have on this team. That’s the next step in the process, with the understanding that Peter Chiarelli is back at base trying to find that veteran option. You and I may not like the solution, Brent Seabrook (as an example) is going to be expensive, Brent Burns too. I don’t know how many Seabrook’s are out there, know even less about when or how they’ll come available. So far, Peter Chiarelli has been aggressive once the market reveals something of value. Suspect we’ll see that again when another option makes itself available.
I think Friedman’s comments are on target. The buyout window could mean something, or nothing. It’s all based on when that elusive top drawer blue comes on the market. I bet we get our three-for-one, same day.