The Edmonton Oilers hired Keith Gretzky on August 2, 2016. The first time I heard anything about it came from my friend Guy Flaming the afternoon before:
Rumor du jour: a non-Oiler source suggests that Keith Gretzky could/will be a new AGM for the #Oilers.
— Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) August 1, 2016
In the year+ Peter Chiarelli worked for the Oilers without Gretzky, his major moves were trading for Cam Talbot, Griffin Reinhart, Adam Larsson, plus signing Andrej Sekera and Milan Lucic. Has Keith Gretzky helped settle Peter Chiarelli, or did Chiarelli run out of money and assets?
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- New Lowetide: If Evan Bouchard makes the team, who is on the outside?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2013 draft: Two NHL players and one crazy trade.
- Lowetide: No. 19 prospect—John Marino
- Jonathan Willis: No. 20 prospect—Tyler Vesel
- New Scott Wheeler: The top 50 NHL drafted prospects (Oilers content)
- Lowetide: Top 20 prospects: Forwards outside the top 20
- Jonathan Willis: Are Hayden Hawkey and Phil Kemp underrated gems?
- Lowetide: Tracking Oilers training camp six weeks out.
- Lowetide: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Jonathan Willis: Predicting the winners in the top 6 and top 9 forwards.
- Lowetide: The news is out: Youth shall be served.
- Lowetide: Cap decisions of 2017 may continue to hamper 2019 decisions
- Jonathan Willis: Analyzing the Oilers 2018-19 depth chart (including additions)
- Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors could be best Oilers AHL team in ages
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- On the draft: “When you have the job, it’s your list. When we put our list together, all the scouts have worked all year. They’ve gone to 200 games in a year, if a player is on our list it’s because we want him, nobody else.”
More than previous Oilers drafts, the two Gretzky seasons aren’t spending any time taking major risks. Inside the first three rounds of these two drafts, there are zero risk selections using the McKenzie bible. None!
One other item: The early picks are all skill picks. Edmonton is drafting from a far better list now than in previous seasons. What does that mean? A far better chance of posting a strong draft. The best draft of this decade was 2011, two first rounders (Nuge, Klefbom) plus a later-round gem (Tobias Rieder).
The Chiarelli-Gretzky free agent signings
- 2017: Ty Rattie, Jussi Jokinen, Yohann Auvitu
- 2018: Tobias Rieder, Kyle Brodziak, Kevin Gravel, Mikko Koskinen
Smaller signings, but astute additions even if they didn’t work out. A ufa signing of $1 million can be buried if things go sideways. The Oilers weren’t big players in free agency before the cap era and haven’t learned how to use it properly now that they can play in the deep end of the pool. Luck, necessity or Gretzky? Which is it?
The Chiarelli-Gretzky trades
- Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais
- Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome
- Jussi Jokinen for Mike Cammalleri
- Mark Letestu for Pontus Aberg
- Patrick Maroon for pick used on Cooper Marody
Some trades in this group were viewed as negative, my own take is that dealing Davidson for Desharnais at the deadline for playoff help is exactly what you want from the general manager.
The Eberle trade is the one I have an issue with, because Edmonton didn’t have (and still doesn’t have) a replacement talent for the hole created. I get the idea of trading two seasons of Eberle for what will probably be five or more seasons of Strome, but another shoe had to drop (signing Thomas Vanek, etc).
The other three trades look like good bets to me, expiring deals for something possibly useful either in-season or in the years to come.
I’m not one of those observers of the team who is actively agitating for the replacement of general manager or coach. I’m also not one of those people who obsess over past trades, although it is important to recognize the transactions that got us here and the author of those moves.
I do think it’s fair to suggest 2019-20 is not promised to either Peter Chiarelli or Todd McLellan. That isn’t breaking news, suspect both men are aware of their situations. Should ownership decide to move on from Peter Chiarelli, I think Keith Gretzky would be a prominent candidate.
From what we can tell about his work, and of course it’s impossible to do a thorough assessment from the outside, Gretzky appears to be a good judge of talent on and off the ice. We’ll discuss the coaching situation in the coming days.