NHL News & Notes: Chiarelli, Gardiner & More

In today’s News & Notes, the Edmton Oilers  have fired Peter Chiarelli from his role as general manager, Jake Gardiner is a game-time decision for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Arizona Coyotes will be without Oliver Ekman-Larsson due to a knee injury.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Perry, Eaves & More

Chiarelli Fired By Oilers

After spending three-plus seasons as the general manager of the Oilers, Chiarelli has been relieved of his duties. This was an expected firing and actually reportedly took place during the second intermission of the Oilers’ loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night, according to Chris Johnston.

General manager Peter Chiarelli
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 23: General manager Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers speaks onstage during Round One of the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chiarelli joined the Oilers in 2015 after being fired by the Boston Bruins. Fortunately for Chiarelli, he was inheriting a team that was destined to draft Connor McDavid first overall just a few months into his tenure. In addition to McDavid, the team also featured players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and even 2012 first-overall selection Nail Yakupov.

Though there was a solid base of players on the team that could have been used to build the Oilers into a Stanley Cup contender, Chiarelli often found himself on the wrong end of bad trades that saw him trade away star players for under market value, high draft picks for prospects and the like. In addition to this bad asset management, Chiarelli also found himself in a hole with regards to the salary cap. He found himself in a similar situation during his time in Boston.

The Oilers have missed the playoffs 12 times in their last seasons. The one appearance, however, did come under Chiarelli’s watch.

Gardiner Could Return Wednesday

After missing the Maple Leafs game Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes, Gardiner is a game-time decision for the team’s game against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

Despite the concern of Maple Leafs fans regarding Gardiner as far as his play is concerned, there shouldn’t be a question that he is one of the most capable blueliners on their team; a team in desperate need of defensive help.

Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Gardiner, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dec. 12, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 47 games this season, Gardiner has scored two goals and 24 points. He scored a career-high 52 points in 82 games last season and has been a mainstay on the Maple Leafs’ blue-line since the 2013-14 season, though he did play 75 games with the team in 2011-12 and split the 2012-23 season between the Maple Leafs and the Toronto Marlies in the AHL.

Mark Masters reported that Gardiner would be returning to the Maple Leafs lineup Wednesday, though coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t confirm that he was a lock to play. If Gardiner can’t play, expect Martin Marincin to play. Gardiner’s presence on the blue-line alongside Nikita Zaitsev at practice should be a good sign nonetheless though.

Ekman-Larsson to Have Tests on Knee

The Coyotes will be short-handed Wednesday when they take on the Montreal Canadiens as Ekman-Larsson will have tests on his knee Thursday. The team has ruled him out of action against the Canadiens Wednesday as the captain of the Coyotes was injured when colliding into the boards during the second period of their victory against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

In 49 games this season, Ekman Larsson has six goals and 26 points. If these tests on his knee come back with positive results, it’s entirely possible that Ekman-Larsson can finish the season with double-digit goals once again for the seventh time in his nine seasons in the NHL.