Now that the Oilers have a more tradition NHL GM, there are all kinds of possibilities that weren’t out there before. In-season trades to address current weakness (like a goalie or center last fall), minor league player for NHL player, that kind of thing. It also means we should be on the lookout for a pump and dump.
This is Chuck Arnason. Flin Flin Bomber. In junior hockey he was a tremendous scorer, popped 79 goals in his draft season and was chosen No. 7 overall in the 1971 draft. The problem? Montreal took him. At the 1971-72 training camp, Arnason’s competition on RW would have been:
- Yvan Cournoyer (who would score 47 goals on the top line in 1971-72)
- Guy Lafleur (No. 1 overall in 1971, and the next Beliveau)
- Rejean Houle (probably the most underrated Hab of the 70’s; it’s him or Pierre Mondou)
- Claude LaRose (a veteran two-way winger, scored 20 and played a rugged game)
- Phil Roberto (Two years older, wider range of skills than Arnason)
In other words, this was an insane depth chart and Arnason was going to have a difficult time making the grade. There IS a job there though, if you follow “Sam Pollock Logic” to its conclusion. Cournoyer was 27 that season and in Pollock land lots of forwards went missing after 30. Now Cournoyer was a freak (imagine Pavel Bure with a French name) of nature in terms of foot speed, but Pollock was always planning for a replacement and Arnason’s opportunity was right there (maybe No. 2 RW after Lafleur) but about three years away.
Arnason played 17 games in 1971 (three goals), added another 19 in 1972-73 and was off to Atlanta for a first-round pick in May 1973. He would score 20 goals a year for pretty much the rest of the decade and often on poor teams. In the fall of 1973, age 22, Arnason was out as a Montreal Canadien. That fall, Montreal’s RW depth chart (Cournoyer, Lafleur, LaRose) did have a 1971 draft pick in the group—but it was fleet Murray Wilson, who had grabbed employment from Arnason in 1972-73. Don’t feel bad Chuck Arnason, that was an impossible task in 1971-73.
Peter Chiarelli is going to move people. Signings and trades and releases and minor leagues and on it goes. If you think he’s finished, look again at what he did off-season and IN-SEASON during year one in Boston.
- 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.”
Bottom line? Yes they’ll probably look to deal Scrivens and Nikitin and Ference and Purcell during the season, but those are the easy ones—and all bets are off of the names who are performing well if Edmonton is in contention. It’s the second group—the Arnason group—I’m more interested in.
Peter Chiarelli’s name is on Cam Talbot, Andrej Sekera, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart, Connor McDavid, Mark Letestu and Lauri Koprpikosi. He is unlikely to deal quality performers from the McDavid or Hall clusters but there’s a lot of talent outside those zones.
- Nail Yakupov: In reality, he isn’t far from Arnason, save for the competition being less severe. If he can’t displace Purcell, what does that tell Peter Chiarelli? The weird thing is this: A pump and dump (lots of playing time on a feature line) and a genuine attempt to see the young man flourish (lots of playing time on a feature line) are identical. I honestly don’t believe he makes it. Seriously.
- Justin Schultz: Last chance Texaco. He has substantial talent but it may not fit in Edmonton—this club’s overall weakness matches the player and that’s a bad, bad thing. McLellan has had success with young defensemen, and chances are Schultz’s TOI will be reduced in a big way—thus allowing him to slow the game down and build confidence and traction. I honestly don’t think he makes it. Seriously.
- Anton Lander: I am so happy for him and hope he comes in and delivers across the board (he has a wide range of skills and can do some things offensively). There are dangers here—Letestu duplicates his skills and if anything has more gears—and the one coach who ever gave him some rope in the NHL is down the line. I honestly think he makes it and in a very big way as an Oilers player. Seriously.
They could be here for a decade or gone by Valentine’s. There’s a new man behind the big oak desk and he’s not attached to any of these kids beyond performance and winning. Life as the Oilers knew it is over. It’s a good thing, but there will be pain along the way.