I don’t recall a week like this one. Ever. Being an Oilers fan is kind of like the sitcom Seinfeld: For each action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So, if the Oilers win Connor McDavid, a trap door instantly opens and flings Taylor Hall into outer space. Peter Chiarelli accepts the GM job, we step into an elevator shaft and fall 60 stories. This is us. Find $20 on the ground? Be certain the roof is leaking at home. We’re used to it, that’s why beer comes out of trees in our part of the world.
Today was a giddy day, although not without upset or sadness. It’s hard to take it all in, so let’s begin with a few quotes and discuss them before the elevator arrives on the 60th floor. All quotes from Bruce McCurdy, who is a good and decent man so you need to click here.
- Chiarelli: “I’ve seen the progression here in past years, in talking to MacT they’ve been trying to get bigger and heavier, and that’s certainly an area I want to improve.”
I’m all for a big, heavy team but let’s make sure they can skate and play hockey. Chiarelli was heading in that direction with the Bruins (even a few years ago his 4line was a bit of an Coke machine trio) before they let him go. I think we should assume he’s talking more Justin Williams than Colton Orr and am completely fine with it. Benoit Pouliot is a perfect example of the ideal in my opinion.
- Chiarelli: “There are teams that aren’t necessarily hard and heavy but they strip pucks. They’re hard on battles, they win more than their share of battles … they [can be] heavy but they’re not huge. A lot of that has to do with the coach, the philosophy of the organization, that’s part of what I hope to instill.”
Mike Babcock, come on down! Seriously, that sounds more like the Detroit Red Wings than the Boston Bruins and I’m very okay with it. I’m not one to even dream of getting Babcock, but this description fits the bill. Todd McLellan, Todd Nelson, Claude Julien, others? That’s a nice list, feel a little sorry for Nelson in this scenario but it appears the Oilers are moving into a new neighborhood.
- Chiarelli: “Here it’s about the next stage of their development, there are some young kids that need to be put in their proper places, either here or in other leagues.”
Music! THIS is a big deal. The Oilers made a lot of mistakes with this roster, but the biggest one (imo) came from using people who weren’t ready in feature roles, thus making the entire team weaker. Justin Schultz is the most obvious example but there are many going back forever (Laddy Smid in his early seasons being another one). Lots of players who weren’t ready. Lots.
- Chiarelli: “In Boston we had to add a lot of pieces, I don’t think that’s the case here.”
Also good news. If you’re looking at this reasonably, center (Nuge, McDavid, Leon) is solved by year three, probably earlier. You have Hall, Eberle, Pouliot, Yakupov as wingers and even if you deal off one of them it’s likely an easier fix than trying to get another center. The 4line is fine, which brings us to defense and then goalie. Lots of work there.
- Chiarelli: “In this business you can’t be afraid to make trades, the way that the parity is developing ,the way that the cap is closing in, the margins are really small. Those are ways to improve your team. I’m not afraid of doing it, but it has to be at the right moment.”
I like this quote. If we wake up one morning this summer and a deal has been made involving a member of the young cluster, it behooves one to look deeper at the reason behind the move and to see if full value has been returned. Cam Talbot has value, Brent Seabrook has value and maybe they’re available. If the Oilers go the free agent route, Antti Niemi, Andrej Sekera and Carl Soderberg should be attractive to Chiarelli.