Kowalchuk and Laing: Evaluating Peter Chiarelli and his transactions


This morning on Twitter, I had seen a Montreal Canadiens writer sharing the team’s roster changes from the beginning of the year, to this point in the season. With the Oilers having already flipped nearly half their roster over from the beginning of the year, I thought we should take a look at the Oilers opening day roster and compare it to today’s.

Oddly enough, BLH’s Micah Kowalchuk drafted a similar article without me realizing that looked at all of Chiarelli’s acquisitions. I included his thoughts and whether we liked, or disliked the move. His thoughts will be italicized. The thoughts I had on the new acquisitions are through my write up, and Micah and I’s analysis.

Season Opener vs. the Blues, Oct. 8, 2015

Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Teddy Purcell
Taylor Hall – Connor McDavid – Anton Slepyshev
Lauri Korpikoski – Anton Lander – Nail Yakupov
Matt Hendricks – Mark Letestu – Luke Gazdic

Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
Andrej Sekera – Mark Fayne
Griffin Reinhart – Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot
Anders Nilsson

Scratches: Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Davidson, Jordan Eberle (inj.)

Off the opening day roster, Teddy Purcell, Justin Schultz and Anders Nilsson have all been traded. Anton Slepyshev, Luke Gazdic, Rob Klinkhammer and Griffin Reinhart ended up back in Bakersfield despite the fact Gazdic is now with the Oilers sitting in the press box.

Oscar Klefbom was lost in early December and that was a huge loss for the Oilers. Brandon Davidson, who was healthy scratched at the time, has since been the Oilers most consistent defender all year. Now he has fallen ill with the injury bug.

Jordan Eberle was injured to start the year.

Take note of two rookies missing…

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How Many Oilers Have Left the Opening Night Group?


Oilers vs. Jets, Mar. 6, 2016

Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Patrick Maroon
Nail Yakupov – Connor McDavid – Jordan Eberle
Zack Kassian – Mark Letestu – Lauri Korpikoski
Matt Hendricks – Anton Lander – Adam Cracknell

Andrej Sekera – Mark Fayne
Adam Pardy – Brandon Davidson
Darnell Nurse – Adam Clendening

Cam Talbot
Laurent Brossoit

Scratches: Nikita Nikitin, Iiro Pakarinen, Luke Gazdic

How Many Oilers Have Been Added to the Lineup Since the Opening Night group?


What a difference. First off, the two rookies missing from the day one roster were Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. They both narrowly missed the cut to join the opening day roster but soon joined the roster after each playing six American League games.. Both have since not been sent back down, and have both played very well in their first full seasons.

Injuries to guys like Klefbom, Nugent-Hopkins and now Benoit Pouliot have given the Oilers the chance to look at some different bodies.

On the wings, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Adam Cracknell have been welcome additions to the club. The size each player brings has allowed for more space for others on the ice. Maroon has been a star, despite playing only three games.

With four points, a fight and a plus four rating it will be interesting to see where his play goes from here. It is clear that he is able to play in a top six role and seems to be a solid fit alongside Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl. While his foot-speed is a bit of a concern, it doesn’t appear to be limiting him in any way. His play down low with the puck has been fantastic, and his willingness to stand up for his teammates has already made him a fan favorite.

Kassian is still a bit of a question mark. In 22 games this season he only has scored six points and he seems to have hit a wall in Edmonton. Call it what you will about his time in Edmonton, but I see the Oilers resigning him this offseason. Kassian has a very low PDO rating which could be means for why his possession numbers have been sub 50 per cent during his time in Edmonton. I’m optimistic for him.

The defensive moves the Oilers have made thus far haven’t hurt the team, which is what we are looking for. The loss of Oscar Klefbom severely impacted the team and forced the strain to be put on players who may not have been ready for it.

The acquisition of Pardy has again been one I am a fan of. As I noted in my tweet above, his ES TOI has risen and so have his possession numbers. He hasn’t really looked out of place and could be an option to resign over the summer if the team feels he brings more to the table than Eric Gryba. Although I like the move, I am still apprehensive about him playing 20 minutes a night long term. I think he is still a bit of an unknown and we will have a better idea the more we see.

I am still really unsure of what the team has in Adam Clendening, but I think there is more to his game than what we have seen.

As we get down to the final stretch this season, it will be interesting to see how the Oilers players audition themselves for next season. After all, that is basically what the end of this season is for. Guys like Pardy, Clendening, Cracknell, Kassian and even Laurent Brossoit need to prove to the team they belong here, otherwise they will be forced to find new homes or play back in Bakersfield.

Break It Down Real Slow For Me.

A reminder from earlier, Micah’s thoughts are italicized below.

Andrej Sekera
MK: 67 games, 24 points, HERO Chart says he’s a solid 2nd pairing defenseman, has had to overachieve as a 1st pairing defenseman with Klefbom’s injury and has held up well.  Good move

ZL: After a bit of a slow start which was due to adjusting to a new team, Sekera has been everything we have hoped for. Good move

Eric Gryba
MK: 53 games, 6 points, HERO Chart says his goal production is bad, but he’s a very good 3rd pairing defenseman who can fill in on a second pairing and perform, as he did here when it was needed. Good move

ZL: I really have been pleased with what he has brought to the table. A solid 3rd pairing guy is something every team needs. Good move

Adam Clendening
MK: No HERO numbers due to limited games, has put up 2 points in 9 games for the Oilers, and is likely a 3rd pairing RHD at best, however the cost was right. Neutral move

ZL: Neutral move

Adam Pardy
MK: 4 games, 2 points, HERO Chart is all over the map, defensively at shot blocking and shot suppression he’s 1st pairing level, scoring-wise he’s been 3rd pairing at best in his career (making his 2 in 4 performance as an Oiler an aberration).  In theory, a pairing of Pardy-Gryba would be a very good 3rd pairing for the Oilers next year. Good move

ZL: Neutral move

Lauri Korpikoski
MK: 17 points in 57 games, HERO Chart says he is a 4th liner at best, and his CORSI numbers say 13th forward.  Although he has the occasional good game, stats-wise he’s a 4th liner on an expensive contract, consider this a miss for Chiarelli. Bad move

ZL: Korpi has been about everything I expected out of him. I think the plays a solid game, and he is basically a fourth-liner. The salary is too high, but the Oilers have the space to sit on a guy like Korpikoski. Being named to Team Finland as a part of the first 16 was a great booster for him. Good move

Mark Letestu:
MK: 17 points in 68 games, HERO Chart says he’s a high quality 4th line forward with some skill, he was signed to be the 4C, and he’s good value and performance if he could stay in that role.  Once he can go back to just being the 4C and not play out of his league as a 3C (and stop using him on the power play), he’ll be a solid player at a cheap price. Good move

ZL: Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mark and I don’t know how I feel about him. He seems to be quiet on the ice while not making any costly mistakes, and that isn’t a bad thing. Being a reliable faceoff guy is always a plus. Neutral move

Adam Cracknell:
MK: 0 points in his 3 games, no HERO numbers, career scoring totals indicate 4th line winger, doesn’t provide anything here to suggest keeping him, but he was a filler pickup off waivers. Neutral move

ZL: Neutral move

Patrick Maroon: 
MK: 4 points in 3 games as an Oiler, big man with skill.  HERO Chart says he’s a high end 2nd liner or low end 1st liner defensively, first liner for first assists, 3rd liner for goals, but all in all he can be considered a potential 2nd line forward who may trend to a first liner.  Considering Chiarelli gave up very little to get him. Good move

ZL: As I wrote earlier, Maroon has been awesome. I spoke with a former Anaheim Ducks writer who said this was going to be a very good move for the Oilers moving forward. So far he hasn’t disappointed. Super awesome good move

Zack Kassian: 
MK: 6 points in 22 games, HERO Chart says his Goals/60 is 1st line caliber, and primary points.  His first assist is 2nd line level, and his CORSI numbers are 3rd line to 2nd line level.  Call him as an elite 3rd line forward or a quality second line forward if he continues his trend, and he cost the Oilers their backup goalie. Good move

ZL: Neutral move

Cam Talbot:
MK: He’s the best goalie in the league since Dec. 21.  Took him a little bit to get used to the Oilers, since then he’s lived up to his billing and he’s proven to be a good puck control goalie. Good move

ZL: Talbot has been everything and more for the Oilers, and he appears to be our guy for at least the next three years. He has been critical for the Oilers this season. Good move

Anders Nilsson: 
MK: He was a swing and a miss at no real cost, and was moved on for what he was paid for. Neutral move

ZL: Hey, he helped the Oilers win some games earlier this year, and got us a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft. That is a-ok in my books. Good move

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