Did Chiarelli Make The Right Moves?
The Edmonton Oilers are just past the half-way point of the 2015-16 season in a familiar position in the standings, 28th overall and vying for what could ultimately be their fifth 1st overall selection in seven years. The Oilers made drastic moves last spring bringing in a new General Manager and Head Coach in Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan to replace the incumbent Craig MacTavish and much loved interim Todd Nelson.
Still the Oilers hold a 17-23-3 record for 37 points in a weak Pacific Division that sees them seven points out of a playoff spot (at the time of this posting). This is an evaluation year by Chiarelli to see what he has in Edmonton, who’s expendable and who’s a building piece? So far Chiarelli has gone out of his way to acquire now a possible six players in seven deals (if you include Zack Kassian’s eventual move from the AHL to the NHL).
Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson replace the duo of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth in goal which has improved the team’s overall goals against average (GAA) from 3.37 to 2.95. Much like the rest of the Oilers this is still a work in progress. Lauri Korpikoski and Eric Gryba have been serviceable depth players for the team and Griffin Reinhart has ultimately needed more time in the AHL much to Chiarelli’s chagrin.
All things considered the moves the Oilers have made have addressed the issues of the roster, but the team is still without a No.1 defenseman, still needs to shore up its depth and find a way to be competitive when injuries ravage the roster. This is a promising group but we haven’t seen the Oilers play yet with their best possible hands with everyone in the lineup at the same time.
Edmonton paid a heavy price in acquiring Cam Talbot and Griffin Reinhart having given up a 1st, two 2nds, a 3rd and a 7th round pick. Sure most of those picks might not pan out but one of them may come back to bite them in WHL Seattle Thunderbirds forward Mathew Barzal who played for Canada at the World Junior Championships.
They also gave away Martin Marincin for essentially nothing.
Kassian will address some depth issues with giving the Oilers a big body bruiser they have sorely been lacking to protect their young guns.
Overall the team is better, it’s the injuries that have hurt this team from being higher in the standings. So how has Chiarelli done so far?
At the halfway point of 2015-16 here is an in depth analysis of every Oilers trade since the 2015 NHL Draft in June.
RW Zack Kassian
G Ben Scrivens
Trade Analysis: In a nut shell these were two teams just trading two guys that had zero future with their current organizations. Scrivens lost his No.1 job with the Oilers this off-season when they brought in Cam Talbot and then the No.2 backup spot to newcomer Nilsson. Laurent Brossoit is the organization’s top goaltending prospect so the Oilers had Scrivens fall to the No.4 spot in the organization for $2.3M.
Kassian on the other side was traded by Vancouver for Brandon Prust due to some off-ice issues and just never realizing the potential of his draft status as a 13th overall pick in 2009. From being drafted in Buffalo and subsequently traded to Vancouver, Montreal and now Edmonton the soon to be 25-year-old is running out of chances. He never played for the Canadiens due to being enrolled in the NHL Substance Abuse program but the Oilers are getting a motivated player looking to make the most of what could be his last chance in the NHL.
Related: Oilers Hand Zack Kassian A Lifeline
Winner: Tied, both teams get a guy that can help them in the short-term with no commitment. Scrivens (2 GP 3.64 GAA 0.885 SV%) can play No.2 in Montreal behind Mike Condon while Carey Price is injured. Kassian is working his way up through AHL Bakersfield where he has 1 goal in 4 games and hoping to be in Edmonton very soon.
G Anders Nilsson
C Liam Coughlin
Trade Analysis: When this trade happened it was two organizations swapping two players that didn’t have a future with their teams. Coughlin was a 2014 5th round pick by the Oilers who was finishing up with the BCHL Vernon Vipers and elected to go the NCAA route and join the University of Vermont. The Oilers on the flip side wanted Coughlin to turn pro, hence he became available. Coughlin has 8 points in 21 games this season.
On the flip side the Blackhawks had Nilsson buried in their system as a goalie playing in the KHL. Nilsson decided to come back for an NHL backup spot. The Blackhawks already had their goaltending set with Corey Crawford and Scott Darling. Edmonton swooped in and picked up Nilsson quickly signing him to a $1M/1YR deal.
Related: Who is Anders Nilsson?
Winner: Edmonton, they got a decent backup goalie while the jury is still out on Coughlin as a prospect. Nilsson outbattled Ben Scrivens (last season’s No.1) for the backup job and now splits starts with Cam Talbot. Nilsson has a 2.91 GAA and 0.908 SV% this season.
LW Lauri Korpikoski
C Boyd Gordon
Trade Analysis: The Oilers needed to improve their special teams and at the same time start moving out some of the bad contracts the previous regime had set in place. Paying Gordon $3M to be their No.4 center was ridiculous. Gordon is playing 11:59 TOI in Arizona down from the 13:19 TOI in Edmonton last year and has just 2 points in 37 games.
Korpikoski on the flip side has been a decent addition to the Oilers bottom six scoring 6 goals and 10 points in 34 games. He’s even played spot duty in the Oilers top six and playing PK minutes.
Winner: Edmonton, Korpikoski comes in at $2.5M with another year left on his deal but the main thing is utility. The Oilers got a guy who can move up and down the lineup while giving up a 32-year-old who is starting to slow down.
D Eric Gryba
C Travis Ewanyk
2015 4th Round Pick
(D Christian Wolanin)
Trade Analysis: The Oilers defense depth has struggled with getting solid third-pairing defenseman that were reliable, key word here. The defense has been missing a defensive defenseman with an edge. Insert Gryba.
The Senators had a fairly deep defense with Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci, Jared Cowen and Chris Phillips taking up spots. Patrick Wiercoich, Mark Borowiecki and Fredrik Claesson were all due for shots which made Gryba expendable.
Winner: Edmonton. Ewanyk has struggled in the AHL with just 5 points in 32 games, continuing a trend since turning pro. Gryba on the other hand has played 38 games for the Oilers playing on the third-pair averaging 17:32 TOI.
LW Brad Ross
2015 4th Round Pick
** Traded **
D Christian Wolanin
Toronto Maple Leafs
D Martin Marincin
Trade Analysis: Edmonton ended up in a situation where they had far too many left shot defenseman and running into a situation where they had now acquired Griffin Reinhart to go along with Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz as a young group. The acquisition of Reinhart made Marincin expendable.
Edmonton wanted a good return but the fact was that Marincin had more ups than downs in his final season with the Oilers, ultimately hurt his trade value.
Toronto saw Ross as a failed 2010 second round pick and a contract dump. He was an RFA and the Oilers never tendered a qualifying offer. The 4th round pick was eventually flipped to Ottawa as part of the Eric Gryba deal.
Winner: Tied. The reason this is a tie is a little complicated. With all the moving parts this deal was essentially Gryba and Ross for Ewanyk and Wolanin. The team that got the best player overall was Edmonton (Gryba). The team that got the only player in this small part of the big picture that still has rights to an NHL team is Toronto.
G Cam Talbot
2015 7th Round Pick
(D Ziyat Paigin)
New York Rangers
2015 2nd Round Pick
*** Traded ***
D Jonas Siegenthaler
2015 3rd Round Pick
(D Sergei Zborovskiy)
2015 7th Round Pick
(G Adam Huska)
Trade Analysis: After taking the reigns in 2014-15 as the Rangers No.1 while Henrik Lundqvist was out with injury Talbot solidified himself as a future starting goalie in waiting. The Rangers named their price and the bidding war saw Edmonton give up their 57th, 79th and 184th overall picks to get their guy.
Talbot started the year slow but has split starts with Nilsson at the halfway point of 2015-16. His stat line reads as 7 wins in 24 GP with a 2.75 GAA and 0.908 SV%.
Siegenthaler is a Swiss born defenseman playing in Switzerland this season who won’t put up a lot of points but has decent mobility. Zborovskiy is a Russian defenseman playing for the WHL Regina Pats and has 14 points in 35 games. Huska is a Slovakian goalie playing with the USHL Green Bay Gamblers and is having a solid season through 17 GP with a 1.65 GAA and 0.942 SV%
Winner: Edmonton. The jury is still out on the prospects the Rangers got, both defenseman might not become NHL players and there is still little known about the goaltender Huska who has a 6’3 190lbs frame. The Oilers got the best player in the trade and Talbot has kept the Oilers in games they haven’t deserved to be in. Talbot is a UFA at the end of the season.
D Griffin Reinhart
New York Islanders
2015 1st Round Pick
(C Mathew Barzal)
2015 2nd Round Pick
*** Traded ***
Tampa Bay Lightning
C Mitch Stephens
Trade Analysis: Edmonton paid a heavy price to get the former 4th overall pick from the NY Islanders. Breaking it down the Islanders got one of the three 1st round picks the Oilers had last year and used it on a dynamic forward in Mathew Barzal.
Barzal has 43 points in 25 games playing for the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds and had 3 points in 5 games at the WJC for Canada. The Islanders traded the 2nd + a 1st to the NY Rangers to grab LW Anthony Beauvillier of the QMJHL Shawinigan Cataractes.
Winner: NY Islanders. This is a close one, the Oilers paid a heavy price for a defenseman who was a late climber in his draft year drawing comparisons to Shea Weber. Reinhart might possible realistically be a No.3/4 defenseman at best but could easily fall to being a No.5/6, the jury is still out.
Barzal on the other hand hasn’t turned pro yet but his numbers look more promising as he could be a future No.2 center for the Islanders in years to come.
Also Beauvillier has 19 goals in 23 games this season and could be a steal for the Islanders.