It may have taken a lot longer than many had hoped but the Edmonton Oilers Peter Chiarelli is officially on the hot-seat. Though the goal of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains the same, the organization has little choice but to place limitations on the kinds of moves they can allow their general manager to make over the coming months.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) November 21, 2018
From the moment the news of Todd McLellan’s firing and Ken Hitchcock’s hiring broke, the so-called spotlight has shifted squarely onto Chiarelli and rightfully so. With a plethora of questionable decisions already on his Oilers resume and the club continuing to struggle to find any traction in the standings, the attention should be on the mastermind who put this roster together.
Chiarelli Cannot Be Trusted
Unfortunately, when most sports executives start to feel the heat, their decision-making abilities tend to suffer. In this particular case, we have an individual who has already made his fair share of blunders along the way and the organization can ill-afford to have that trend continue. So the question then becomes, to what degree should the reins be pulled in?
If you ask me, it is rather simple. Anyone who is already part of the organization and viewed as a potential core piece of the puzzle, be it as a player or valuable trade chip, has to be given an “off limits” tag. One would guess that is unlikely to sit well with Chiarelli but that is of little to no consequence at this stage of the game.
In other words, if he wants to tinker along edges and bring in the likes of a Chris Wideman from the Ottawa Senators, who has shown repeatedly to be a limited player at this level, go for it. As long as we are talking about nothing of real consequence going back the other way and the club not taking on any extra term on the cap, it doesn’t really matter.
Wideman Trade is Template to Use
However, there is one catch. If the plan is to move a secondary piece off the current roster, like a Ryan Strome, perhaps having an actual replacement to take over said role would be of some benefit. Though we are still in the early days of the Strome for Ryan Spooner swap, in which the latter has yet to show much of anything, the biggest issue with the trade has been the hole it created on the roster.
There is no question Strome struggled mightily to create offence centering the third line and it was hurting the club on many an evening. With that said, he had turned himself into a defensively responsible player and was being used in a key role on the Oilers penalty kill. By trading him when he did and not having a suitable replacement on hand, the argument could be made that Chiarelli actually made his team worse.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s by no means a “make or break” kind of move but it is a further illustration of what can happen when management starts to feel the pressure of the moment. Instead of thinking things through, they make knee-jerk decisions and more often than not, it comes back to bite them. From an organizational standpoint, that simply can’t be allowed to happen with legitimate assets.
Related: Oilers’ Chiarelli Gets It All Wrong
Again, if we are talking about shuffling deck chairs in hopes catching lightning in a bottle and finding something that can help the Edmonton Oilers get over the hump and back into the playoffs, so be it. With that said, there needs to be a clear line drawn in the sand as to what Peter Chiarelli can and cannot do. If that isn’t part of the equation, what is already going to be a difficult fix, will likely become that much harder.
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.