In his two summers as Edmonton’s general manager, Peter Chiarelli has addressed some major needs. Goalie Cam Talbot, defenders Andrej Sekera and Adam Larsson, along with some nice forwards including Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon. Additionally, I think his two drafts (with Bob Green) have shown balance and imagination.
The downside? His big trades cost the absolute moon. Griffin Reinhart was a tough negotiation, requiring two valuable picks. Adam Larsson cost Taylor Hall, at least partly because the organization telegraphed the need with its roster.
Another downside? In both seasons, the secondary solutions appeared weak on the day of procurement—and unnecessarily so. The summer of 2015 saw him choose Lauri Korpikoski as the Pisani—and that was not a good idea. This summer, his choice for backup goalie is Jonas Gustavsson, and I cannot see the logic and reason in this deal. Those secondary choices are a very big item, because today’s backup might be tomorrow’s starter.
CHIARELLI’S MAIN LIST
Top-pairing RHD(Two-way skills—Adam Larsson) Find a replacement for Taylor Hall(Milan Lucic)
- Second-pairing RHD (Offensive defenseman)
- Acquire RHC with some skill
Backup goalie(Jonas Gustavsson)
- Peter Chiarelli: “We have to improve our defence, which we did. And we have to get bigger and heavier, with skill, which we did. I felt we’ve improved the team significantly. The proof will be in the pudding.” Source
I think Chiarelli has improved the team’s defense, and that has tremendous value. I think he hurt a very strong forward group and is taking a risk in changing out Taylor Hall for Milan Lucic. This team was no screaming hell offensively with Hall, it could be a train wreck without No. 4 on one line and the wonder McDavid on another.
His other main solution—Jonas Gustavsson—is not a strong option in my mind. What’s more, starter Cam Talbot is not among the 15 best options at even-strength save percentage (he ranks No. 20 among goalies who started 40 or more games, .920). Gustavsson’s even-strength save percentage was .914, ranking him No. 44 among those goalies who started 20 or more games.
I don’t think Chiarelli did a strong job addressing goaltending this summer. Calgary grabbed two goalies for a low cost (Brian Elliott had a .934 SP in 38 starts, Chad Johnson had a .926 SP in 40 starts) after going to to the draft looking for solutions.
If the goaltending ruptures again this fall, I do think we will look back on this summer and wonder what Edmonton was thinking. My guess? Laurent Brossoit. I believe Edmonton went mid-level in free agency because there was a feeling that Brossoit is ready and merely needs a little competition. Some may look at this as a strong read on a bona fide prospect, but I think it is a damned risky bet that was avoidable. Hope I am wrong. We wait.
THE CHIARELLI EXTENDED PLAY LIST
- Add a “Pisani” who can mentor, score 15, and play a two-way role up and down the lineup.
Re-stock the shelves via the draft(Puljujarvi and the entire draft) Improve overall team speed(Puljujarvi) Offload Lauri Korpikoski(Bought out) Improve goaltending depth(added Nick Ellis, Gustavsson—not enough). Improve AHL quality(Caggiula, Russell, Ellis, Gustavsson, Fraser).
- Cull the LHD herd (have, in fact, added to the LHD group).
Chiarelli may have a chance to address the Pisani, depending how difficult negotiations are going between the Arizona Coyotes and Tobias Rieder. The youngster would be a splendid addition to Edmonton’s third line and offer both the Pisani mentorship plus some cover on right wing if Jesse Puljujarvi and Nail Yakupov both falter.
THE ASSETS LIST
- Cap space*
- Benoit Pouliot
- 2017 1st round selection
- Nail Yakupov
- Mark Fayne
- Griffin Reinhart
The hope at this point (for me) is that the futures portion of this list (2017 picks, LHD, et cetera) would be the big part of assets gone or going. I think they need a RHD, a Pisani and am still concerned about the goalie. A lot of this summer has been spent on venomous comments in regard to the Hall—Larsson, but another major point is this: Peter Chiarelli is repeating last season’s mistakes, adding subpar solutions to real problems. I don’t know if this team, as currently constructed, is going to climb very far in the standings. And that represents a great opportunity lost. If the Oilers finish 25th overall, and draft No. 6 next summer, is there a change in management? A coaching shuffle? All of these moves are important, and some of the procurement this summer is shy, in my opinion.
The good news? One expects a slow start will not be tolerated and the acquisitions department will be aggressive this coming season in addressing areas of weakness. I know this blog has stated that before, but Peter Chiarelli has placed his imprint on this team—there are no ghosts to blame for the current roster.
ROSTER LOCKS (100 PERCENT) (19)
- Goal (1): Cam Talbot
- Defense (6): Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse
- Center (4): Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Mark Letestu
- Left Wing (4): Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot, Patrick Maroon, Matt Hendricks
- Right Wing (4): Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Zack Kassian, Iiro Pakarinen
- R Jesse Puljujarvi. 70 percent. It is probably higher in reality, but the surgery is a factor—as is the ability to send JP to the AHL for a time. We should watch for his performance on the power play—if he can emerge as a feature player there, he will play all 82.
- LD Jordan Oesterle. 70 percent. Oesterle is in a very good spot as it relates to the fall NHL roster—things could change, but at this point he projects as 7D or early callup. Can play RH side, has mobility and experience.
- G Jonas Gustavsson. 70 percent. A career .902 SP and with recent seasons of .907, .911 and .908, Gustavsson is a curious choice.
- C Anton Lander. 65 percent. Lander enters the final year of his current deal with a lot to prove—but I believe he has the edge in the race for 13F. Offense and speed are the main issues, but he has almost 200 NHL games experience and Edmonton needs more players who are established in the league. He does have the skill set to play a two-way role in the bottom six F.
- C Jujhar Khaira. 35 percent. He is in a very good spot entering training camp. Khaira is in a position to push several forwards (Lander, Hendricks) and may end up as a regular on the 4line by season’s end.
- G Laurent Brossoit. 30 percent. He posted .918 and .920 save percentages in his last two AHL seasons, and the Oilers clearly believe in him. I think it is unlikely LB wins the job outright this fall, but the decision to make Gustavsson the third option is a tell all the same.
- L Drake Caggiula. 12 percent. I moved up his chances since the first posting of this list, I think there is a very good chance he sees NHL time in the coming year. Edmonton has some power-play needs and Caggiula is a high skill player. Training camp is going to be interesting.
- LD David Musil. 12 percent. Musil is my No. 2 choice for 7D if there is an internal solution. He has one big advantage—because he requires waivers, Edmonton may keep him if the club values him in a big way. As you may recall, Brandon Davidson was the No. 8 defender last fall when the season began.
- LD Mark Fraser. 12 percent. I think this is probably a Bakersfield signing, but you never know and Edmonton clearly wants an intimidating aspect to the defense during the 2016-17 season.
- R Tyler Pitlick. 10 percent. Perennial candidate for an NHL job, Pitlick has been a pro hockey player since the fall of 2011. In the five years since then, he has played 27 NHL games and almost 200 AHL games—meaning he is averaging fewer than 50 pro games a year.
- R Taylor Beck. 6 percent. One of the truly difficult player-types to project, because we don’t really know him and yet he has NHL experience. The contract ($650,000 NHL and $250,000 AHL) has the look of the AHL side being important—suggesting Beck will spend time there.
- LD Griffin Reinhart. 5 percent. I would rank him higher save the bonus worry. Reinhart is in a strange spot on this roster, he could help himself in a big way with a strong training camp. My RE has him playing close to half a season, we will see.
- LD Dillon Simpson. 1 percent. He is near the end of the prospect pool at the pro level, but continues to improve a little each season. I think he may get his first cup of coffee in the NHL.
- R Patrick Russell. 1 percent. A real long shot—new pro, speed a concern—but he has size and is physical so has a chance.
- R Anton Slepyshev. 1 percent. Makes the list because there are many elements Edmonton looks for in a player—size, speed and skill. He did not show enough offense last year, and that is a concern.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. Grading Peter Chiarelli’s summer so far.
- Don Landry, CFL.ca. Week 4 begins tomorrow night and things are getting very interesting.
- Jesse Spector, The Sporting News. HR derby was sensational last night, All-Star game and who are his picks for playoffs at the AS break.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.