It has been roughly nine months since the Edmonton Oilers decided to hand the title of general manager to Peter Chiarelli. While the expectation was for the 51-year old to come in and help clean up an organization that had been spinning its wheels for the better part of a decade, everyone knew there wasn’t going to be a quick fix. In inheriting the roster he did, this was always going to be about the 2016-17 season and beyond and not the here and now.
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With that said, Chiarelli has wasted little time in leaving his mark on what this lineup will look like in the very near future. Yes, he was essentially handed the core pieces of this rebuild in the form of Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse but that has not stopped the one-time player agent from bringing in guys he sees as “potential” core pieces moving forward.
Cam Talbot 3-year breakdown $4.15 (includes $1 mill bonus on July 1), $4.15, $4.2. No-move for 1st two years and modified no-move in yr 3
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) January 17, 2016
After announcing the club had signed Cam Talbot to a three-year/$12.5 million extension on Sunday morning, it looks as though we can safely say the former Boston Bruins general manager has added three more names to that list. The 28-year old netminder joins veteran rearguard Andrej Sekera and youngster Griffin Reinhart as the three pieces Chiarelli is banking on being impact players over the next number of seasons. A risky move for sure but one he seems rather comfortable making.
Sekera and Talbot Were Solid Additions
While few could take issue with what we have seen from Sekera through his first 46 games in Orange and Blue, Talbot’s body of work has been filled with a mixture of highs and lows. However, he has been among the very best goaltenders in the league over the last month…posting a 5-5-2 record with an absurd 1.99 GAA and .937 SV% during that stretch. Now does that make him a good bet to live up to his $4.17 million yearly price tag? Not necessarily but considering he will be the 24th highest paid goalie in the NHL next season, hoping for much less may have been nothing more than wishful thinking.
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Regardless of how you feel about either signing, Chiarelli did address what had arguably been the two biggest holes in this lineup by adding an experienced top-end defenceman and a goalie entering the prime years of his career. Again, one cannot lose sight of the fact his job was to not only lead this franchise into the future but also help steer it back on course. Bringing in the likes of a Sekera and Talbot has allowed this group to start doing just that…even though it may not look like it in the standings.
Where some have taken issue with Chiarelli was his decision to part with a pair of draft picks in exchange for Reinhart at last summer’s Entry Draft in Florida. While it is awfully early to call the former Edmonton Oil Kings captain a “bust”, one can’t help but wonder why the move was made when the Oilers already had three left-handed shooting defencemen in key roles and absolutely zero depth on the right-side.
Obviously, giving up the No. 16 and No. 33 selections in a deep draft was a steep price to pay but when you consider the organization already had Klefbom and Nurse in-house and their sights were clearly set on acquiring Sekera, it becomes much more of a head scratcher. Add to that Chiarelli’s insistence that Reinhart is ready for regular NHL duty and not surprisingly, the detractors of the deal are growing louder by the minute. At the end of the day, it could end being a decision that comes back to haunt the franchise but there is no point in losing sleep over it now.
As of this moment, the focus falls squarely on rounding out the rest of this lineup prior to the start of next season. Be it via trade, free agency or a combination of the two, it is up to Peter Chiarelli to find a way to get the job done. To his credit, he has managed to add two key ingredients during his first nine months in charge but should he not be able to close the deal this summer…it will all be for not and that is simply not an option.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.