The Edmonton Oilers have been a team that has languished in mediocrity the last couple of years until the team fired head coach Doug McLellan and replaced him with Ken Hitchock. Since then the team seems almost unbeatable as the Oilers have produced a 9-2-2 record under the veteran head coach. Much of that credit might fall to general manager Peter Chiarelli.
With the sudden success of the team, The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman (subcription required) interviewed Oilers’ CEO and vice-chair of Oilers Entertainment Group Bob Nicholson, who stated emphatically that if Edmonton makes the playoffs, Chiarelli’s job is safe.
“Yeah. There’s no question,” Nicholson. “I think there’s a lot of things that Peter hasn’t gotten credit for. He’s really started to build. You’re starting to see some of them come up now with the [Caleb] Joneses and the [Evan] Bouchards. We have a lot of assets, which this organization hadn’t had for a while. Peter deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Chiarelli has been highly criticized over the years after being hired in 2015, which included trading No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall to New Jersey for defenseman Adam Larsson. He also made a few questionable acquisitions, including signing Milan Lucic to a seven-year, $42MM deal, which already looks like an albatross of a contract as there are still five years remaining, while Lucic is playing more of a bottom-six role for the team. Chiarelli also traded the team’s first and second-round picks to the New York Islanders for defenseman Griffin Reinhart, who played just 29 NHL games and is mired in the AHL for the Vegas Golden Knights. That first-round pick turned out to be Mathew Barzal.
However, the addition of Hitchcock and the signing of goaltender Mikko Koskinen have looked like solid moves this season. If the Oilers can continue on their torrid pace, Chiarelli may have done enough to stay on for a while longer.
- While Vegas Golden Knights’ Erik Haula was listed as “month-to-month” a month ago, Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen reports that general manager George McPhee admitted that Haula actually had surgery in November after suffering the lower-body injury after being driven into the boards by Toronto Maple Leafs’ Patrick Marleau on Nov. 6. “He did have surgery,” McPhee said, who added that the injury was not an ACL injury. “It’s a unique injury.” McPhee has no timetable on Haula’s injury and wouldn’t even speculate as to whether last year’s 30-goal scorer would return for the regular season or even the playoffs. “It’s really hard to know,” McPhee said. “It’s going to be some months, but we don’t know because it’s just such a different injury than any of us have seen before.”
- It’s possible that the Vancouver Canucks have waited too long to move defenseman Chris Tanev as a trade chip. According to Harman Dayal in The Athletic (subscription required), Tanev’s value has fallen quite a bit in the last few weeks and may not be a tradeable asset anymore. It’s believed that his inability to stay healthy is one problem and even though Tanev has played in 29 games this year, there are rumors that he’s hurt now and isn’t playing at his usual level of play. Whether his underwhelming play is a result of playing injured or rapidly declining play, it’s unlikely that Tanev could bring in anything back in value at the moment.