If Peter Chiarelli is still running the show come this off-season, which I believe is still the likely outcome even after this disastrous season, then he is going to have his work cut out for him. Edmonton needs to get faster and acquire more skill in order to bounce back next season and rejoin the group of teams above the playoff cutline.
The current group, a Chiarelli constructed group might I add, just isn’t quick enough and just isn’t good enough. The good news? The GM knows this, and made it abundantly clear in his pre-deadline and post-deadline press conferences that speed and puck movement will be areas of concern moving forward.
When this season finally comes to an end in April, I’ll post my annual shopping list for the GM. That list is based off of the needs I see for the organization, and is purely my opinion. I use no inside knowledge for that, I try to make the judgement on my own.
In the wake of the deadline, however, we may have an inside look into what that list looks like for the GM and his front office staff.
The Fourth Period wrapped up Edmonton’s deadline when the action halted earlier this week, and gave us a glimpse into the mind of Edmonton’s GM.
Chiarelli wants to obtain two scoring wingers to play on the club’s top-two lines and he’ll be on the lookout this off-season to find complimentary pieces for captain Connor McDavid and star Leon Draisaitl.
This obviously makes a ton of sense. With Patrick Maroon now gone, Edmonton has a severe lack of wingers that can contribute at the NHL level. Anton Slepyshev looks like a player, and Jesse Puljujarvi is coming along, but the club likely won’t be gambling on them to handle the load for a second year in a row. Ditto for Kailer Yamamoto, who will officially join the pro ranks next season.
Edmonton is in need of established top-six forwards who can help McDavid and Draisaitl. A player like Mike Hoffman or Max Pacioretty makes a ton of sense, both goal scoring left wingers, and I wouldn’t doubt that Edmonton looks at trade options like that come summer time. A veteran free agent like Maroon or Vegas’ David Perron make sense too as that secondary addition to the forward group.
That said, it appears at the top of Chiarelli’s list will be the addition of at least one scoring winger, ideally two. That’s perfect, because the Oilers absolutely need those types of players.
The Oilers received inquiries on defenceman Oscar Klefbom and centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, among others, this month, but nothing truly materialized and any major trades are expected to be made in the off-season around the NHL Draft in late-June.
Chiarelli told Oilers Now earlier this week that he doesn’t want to sell low on Klefbom, and that is exactly the right way to go about this. Klefbom is a very good young defender having a nightmare season, and trading him at his lowest value can only hurt this club. As for Nugent-Hopkins, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was dangled as trade bait to acquire one of those scoring wingers that Chiarelli covets.
Hoffman+ for RNH, due to the contract security of the Nuge, could make a lot of sense for both Ottawa and Edmonton come summer time. Something to ponder.
If Edmonton is going to turn things around next season, they are going to need to address their lack of wingers. The fact that this is high up on Chiarelli’s list is a good thing for Oiler fans in theory. In practice, Chiarelli has struggled mightily adding offensive pieces during his tenure in Edmonton. There is reason to be skeptical that he can fill these holes.
That said, Edmonton’s top priority is to add scoring wingers and players that can compliment the star duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. After a season where the supporting cast failed to contribute in a meaningful way, Chiarelli and his management team are dead on in pinpointing this as an area of need for the club.
Now, let’s see how the Oilers address these holes and proceed. It makes for a rather interesting summer.