There’s a lot of angst in comments, dm’s, emails and shouts across the fence into my in box this weekend. A lot of people wanted the Oilers to buy out someone and we’re halfway through the process with no announcement in sight. As I mentioned yesterday there’s every chance no buy out occurs if Peter Chiarelli believes a trade is preferable (this has been Bob Stauffer’s pov for some time now and it makes sense). That COULD change if the market changes, but we shouldn’t be anxious about today.
So far this spring and summer, PC has shown himself to be aggressive while also being able to read the market. It’s important not only to acquire the right players but also to get them at the right price. The acquisitions of Andrej Sekera, Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba are part of the progression but there’s miles to go and we should expect an upgrade.
The question is, when? Well, the NY Islanders acquired Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk right at the end of the pre-season, at the exact moment teams needed to become cap compliant. That’s the ‘last chance Texaco’ for teams trying to get under their cap, and the clubs who are still in difficulty (Chicago and Tampa Bay are over, while Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and San Jose have little wiggle room) have some nice defensive options (Seabrook, Coburn, Carle, etc) that may come available.
That’s likely the next opportunity—the compliance window—but even after that the Oilers will have opportunities. We’re used to inert managing by the Oilers because the in-season work has been negligible. Kevin Lowe famously did nothing with his goaltending in 2005-06 despite an obvious area of need, addressing it only as the team got close to the deadline. Chiarelli? No. If he manages in Edmonton as he did in Boston, we’re going to see a lot of October-February activity. Consider his first season (defense only) in Boston.
First, we have to agree on something: When Chiarelli took over Boston, there was a deal in place between the Bruins and the Ottawa Senators.
- Associated Press: Per the agreement between Boston and Ottawa, Chiarelli — who does not officially take over the Bruins until July 15 — wasn’t allowed to advise Boston about any of the Senators free agents.
You can choose to believe Chiarelli spent those weeks talking about 28 other teams, while also recusing himself from the room when talk of Chara arrived on the agenda, but I don’t feel that’s realistic. For me, the Chiarelli blue transactions in year one go like this:
- June 26, 2006: Bruins trade D Nick Boynton and a fourth-round pick to Phoenix for Paul Mara and a third-round pick. Gorton from the Bruins side: “The trade enabled us to get somebody who is more offensive and more capable on the power play. I think it will blend well with what we already have and we are looking forward to Paul coming here and wanting to be a part of the turnaround.” Source
- July 1, 2006: Bruins sign D Zdeno Chara. A franchise altering transaction.
- February 10, 2007: Bruins trade D Brad Stuart and F Wayne Primeau to the Calgary Flames for D Andrew Ference and F Chuck Kobasew. Chiarelli: “It became evident that when I wasn’t having success signing Brad that I was going to have to trade Brad. Part of what we have to do is preserve the assets of players that are unrestricted. Chuck is 24 and Andrew is 27. They add some youth and energy, which we want to add to this team.”
- February 27, 2007: Bruins trade D Paul Mara to the NY Rangers for D Aaron Ward.
- February 27, 2007: Bruins trade D Brad Boyes to St. Louis for D Dennis Wideman.
- Chiarelli on the February trades: “Part of the rationale in the [Brad Stuart] deal and these two deals was to have players who can help us now, in the short term and the mid term. I feel we have the depth, both in unsigned draft choices and in Providence. For example, David Krejci came up, and game to game, he played better. So that’s just the glimpse of the depth we have.”
I think Peter Chiarelli hasn’t made a trade for that No. 1 D because the opportunity hasn’t made itself available. If we go through today with no movement, it means there’s nothing shaking that a buyout would aid in the transaction. Bottom line: Sekera, Reinhart and Gryba are extremely unlikely to be the only additions to the NHL team. Also, a player like Gryba, a free agent next summer, may not be here a long time so don’t get too attached. The world won’t end today if there’s no buy out. Promise.
A lot of talk last night about the AHL team and prospects bubbling under. It’s important to grab as much information as possible on prospects but the NHL doesn’t make it easy. TOI totals would be most helpful and Eric Rodgers did some outstanding work for Barons and Oilers fans this year. It reall helps us when looking at prospects. Two examples:
- Bogdan Yakimov: 57GP, 12-16-28 16:11 TOI (estimate). Points-per-60: 1.82. NOTE: Eric estimates that Yakimov was playing just 12:06 a night before Lander’s recall, and then 19:48 afterward. We should expect a big season in Bakersfield.
- Dillon Simpson: 71GP, 3-14-17 16:18 TOI (estimate). Points-per-60: 0.88. The takeaway here (and with Yakimov) is that Edmonton did in fact play their best young prospects in the AHL last season. That hasn’t always been the case, and it was decidedly not the case with Mitch Moroz, but credit where due these young men flew many pro sorties last year.