Peter Chiarelli was the Edmonton Oilers’ general manager for four polarizing years. The highlight of his time was making the 2017 playoffs, after missing 10 consecutive seasons. However, overall, there seems to be a stank attitude towards him. Is it justified? Let’s explore based on his five biggest trades.
What did he do? Love him or hate him, Cam Talbot was a big part of the Oilers ending their playoff drought. In 2016-17, he had a shiny record of 42-22-8 in 73 games. After that run, his play quickly declined. That’s part of why he’s no longer on the team. In the next two seasons, he had a 41-46-6 record and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers by interim GM Keith Gretzky.
What did it cost? The Oilers gave up a second, third and seventh-round pick to the New York Rangers and got a seventh-round pick and Talbot back. Those picks resulted in zero NHL games. So, actually, it only cost the Oilers potential NHL players.
Since Gretzky traded him, Talbot has gone from the Flyers to the Calgary Flames. His time as a Flyer wasn’t great but he has found his stride again as a Flame, (from ‘Forged in fire: Five reasons why the Flames are now rolling,’ Montreal Gazette, 12/11/2019).
What did he do? Kassian is still around. He is making his living on the top line with the best players in the NHL, and he’s on pace for his best statistical year. Not too shabby. He has been a physical force his entire career and gives Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl plenty of room to keep up their elite production.
What did it cost? Not much. The Oilers got Kassian in a straight trade for Ben Scrivens from the Montreal Canadiens – and he didn’t stick around there too long. After Montreal, Scrivens bounced around the American Hockey League and then the Kontinental Hockey League. Scrivens was starting for Edmonton in a rough time, but clearly this trade has been a big win for the Oilers, as Kassian continues to be a force. He has even been labeled the NHL’s most underrated and most improved player by the Edmonton Journal (from ‘NHL’s best bargain, most improved and under-rated player? How about Zack Kassian,’ Edmonton Journal, 11/19/2019)
What did he do? Adam Larsson is also still an Oiler. He is a good, but not great defenseman. At the time of this trade, Chiarelli thought that getting a top-four defenseman was the most important step to stabilize his team’s blue line.
What did it cost? Everything! This is one of the worst trades in a long time. It was a one-for-one Larsson for Taylor Hall trade with the New Jersey Devils. Since then, both teams have made the playoffs once, but from an individual performance perspective, Hall runs away with it with his 2017-18 Hart Trophy win.
It looks like much more than rumors that Hall is being shopped right now, and odds are that the New Jersey Devils will be receiving much more than a top-four defenseman. Just to be clear, this trade was a big, big loss for the Oilers. It dwarfs the two previous trades that I called wins, by a lot.
What did he do? Ryan Strome was not a great fit for the Oilers. He put up 36 points in exactly 100 games in his season and a quarter. Not bad, not good either. I understand Chiarelli’s mentality to try and flip him while he still could.
What did it cost? Jordan Eberle in a one-for-one trade with the New York Islanders. Ouch. In Chiarelli’s defense though, Eberle’s production had dipped two years in a row, and in the playoffs, he only had two assists and a minus-6 over 13 games. This trade is a loss, but it isn’t the worst part of this trade because…
What did he do? Ryan Spooner was another one-for-one trade involving Strome. Spooner didn’t work out for the Rangers, then the Oilers, then the Canucks, and then the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
What did it cost? So Edmonton had Eberle, gave him up for Strome, then gave Strome up for Spooner. This trade makes you feel like a kid watching your dad lose money at Three Card Monte. You tried to talk him into walking away but he insisted he could get it this time, and you had to helplessly watch him lose again. So yeah, another loss for Chiarelli.
Overall Chiarelli’s trades were bad. Yes, Kassian is a great asset to the Oilers, but that doesn’t come close to justifying dropping Hall, Eberle then Strome. Additionally, he made some terrible free agent signings. In particular, he did a monumentally bad signing of Milan Lucic, who is a shadow of himself.
Chiarelli does get credit for drafting McDavid, but in reality, anyone in his shoes would have. It was a no brainer. Outside of McDavid, Chiarelli left the Oilers worse off than he found them. He had a lot of attachment to former Boston Bruins players that he had previously managed, but just because you worked with them, doesn’t mean they work in Edmonton. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that no NHL team has picked him up since his firing, proves that he made bold moves, but not good moves in Edmonton.