Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli made the media rounds for the second time this season on Monday, doing a number of one-on-one interviews with the Edmonton media big wigs. Chiarelli talked to 630 CHED’s Bob Stauffer, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet’s Mark Spector as the heat was turned up on his chair.
Just 24 hours later, Chiarelli’s Oilers lost their seventh game in eight tries, falling 2-1 to Nashville in a game where the Oil played quite well for forty minutes. As of this writing, the Oilers are eleven points back of Minnesota for the final playoff spot out west. For all intents and purposes, this season is over.
During Chiarelli’s media tour, he mentioned the direction of this hockey team. Specifically, when talking to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, Chiarelli discussed the upcoming trade deadline. Here is his quote, via Lowetide.
“I’m going to wait a little bit, we’ve got our pro meetings coming up next week. We’ve got a few games left here before that, and then we’ll have to make a decision. If we’re not significantly back to where we should be in that time, there is an element of margins here, we’ll have to make that decision in a week’s time.”
The decision has been made for Chiarelli and his staff. This season is dead in the water, the chance to save it long gone from the rear-view mirror. The General Manager made his bed, and now he will have to lay in it and deal with the consequences when/if they arrive.
Bottom line is this: The Oilers are double digit points away from a playoff spot and regardless of what you want to say about last year, they failed miserably this season. It starts with Peter Chiarelli and his baffling off-season, but extends to a stubborn coaching staff and some key players simply not playing good hockey.
That means it is time to scrap plan A. Chiarelli likely wanted to save cap space to load up come the deadline, but Edmonton is well out of it and that is simply no longer an option. Chiarelli’s plan backfired so badly it may (really it should) cost him his job.
Now, the direction is quite obvious for the Edmonton Oilers. It is time to go to plan B for the trade deadline. Adding rental players makes no sense. At this point, the Oilers should be looking to add draft choices, prospects or, if possible, AHL’ers close to making the jump to the NHL level.
It’s Time To Sell:
Chiarelli can say he wants to wait a bit all he wants, but the team’s horrid play has made the decision for him. It’s time to sell off assets to the highest bidder and try to recover some of the talent bled out over the last three summers. Edmonton has a handful of UFA’s and RFA’s that could be moved for a various amount of assets.
Patrick Maroon is the big-ticket item, as the pending UFA had a career year last season (27 goals) and has another nine goals this season. His stock has certainly gone down since the start of the season, and it is a no brainer to deal him if his contract demands haven’t lowered to this point. It’s a good bet that Maroon, in a decent spot and heading to free agency for the first time in his carer, will test the market.
In that case, you deal Maroon and hope to gain a second round pick or a decent prospect back. Power forwards with scoring ability will garner more in return than you may realize.
Veteran center Mark Letestu likely won’t bring a crazy good return, but teams will be interested in him and I think it is time for he and the Oilers to go their separate ways. Letestu has lost a step and isn’t the same player he was last year on the powerplay. He’s not a player I’d bring back for next season anyway.
Mike Cammalleri probably doesn’t have much of a market, but he’s another pending UFA that the Oilers should push hard to move out on deadline day. Same goes for Yohann Auvitu, who I highly doubt returns for a second season in Northern Alberta.
As for RFA’s, it is possible that both Drake Caggiula and Matt Benning could be on the market. Benning has struggled mightily on the backend this season and has been a healthy scratch a few times. As for Caggiula, well he is highly touted but he’s really been overrated in Edmonton. He’s yet to produce at a consistent level whatsoever in his NHL career.
This season absolutely sucks, and whatever side of the Oilers Twitter war you are on, I think we can all agree on that fact. I also think that we can all agree the biggest thing now is to make sure something like this never happens again. In order to achieve that, Edmonton must learn from its mistakes, be wiling to change the philosophy and be willing to make difficult decisions between now and October.
The first difficult decision should be to pull the plug on the 2017-18 season, admit you were wrong and change course. It’s time to sell off pending UFA’s and certain RFA’s and bring in picks or prospects. Edmonton has bled far too much talent over the last three summers and doesn’t have much left to trade with to replace those guys. Bringing in multiple assets to use will be huge for this organization.
The direction should be clear. It’s time to sell.