Edmonton Oilers: NHL Draft Day 2


Rome was not built in a day. Nor will be the Peter Chiarelli-era Edmonton Oilers.

But the new General Manager laid a solid foundation, this past weekend, for what is to come. Day 1 brought the generational talent that has renewed optimism in Oil Country, the promised one, The Connor McDavid. And while I will spend the majority of this column on the other pieces of the puzzle now in place, make no mistake about it: The Connor McDavid is more than just a good player, more than just a great player.

The Connor McDavid promise is franchise-changing. His looming presence alone had already started to point the franchise in a more positive direction. The McDavid draft sent a very powerful message to the people that run the Edmonton Oilers: Don’t screw this up, as this is a rare and precious resource that must not be wasted.

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His arrival also means the that Edmonton Oilers did not have to spend a valuable asset on another center. The most Chiarelli will dole out is free agent money. If Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander, Leon Draisaitl, Boyd Gordon and Bogdan Yakimov can not get it done, no more than a $1,000,000 will plug the hole (maybe Derek Roy).

Instead, Peter Chiarelli was able to rebuild part of his blue-line, which surely was the most pressing need. Can I guarantee that Griffin Reinhart will be a 3-4 defender for the next decade? No. But add him to Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom, and it increases your odds that at least one of them will pan out.

The shuffle that ultimately resulted in Martin Marincin to Toronto and Eric Gryba from Ottawa is divisive, in Oil Country. It is a win to me, because Gryba is NOT like all of the other defenders on the team. His toughness, grit and (frankly) his mean streak have not existed here since Andy Sutton. He will be hard to play against.

For those fans who complained long and hard last season about how soft the Edmonton Oilers defence was (and they were right), but then in the next breath whined about the Gryba-Marincin shuffle, for the love of god…give your heads a good, hard shake. Marincin was part of the problem. Get over it.

Make no mistake about it, though, this defense is NOT finished. At minimum, Chiarelli has to replace Jeff Petry‘s ablities with someone. Right now, the only D-man The Edmonton Oilers can run out there in any and all situations is Oscar Klefbom. Not good enough. And as much as I like Darnell Nurse, he’s just not there yet.

A trade is possible, primarily because the quality available in the UFA market is substantially lower than what is available on someone’s existing roster. Cody Franson and Andrej Sekera are good 2-way choices, young enough that an over-pay and term would not be the end of the world. Mike Green? Maybe. Paul Martin? Maybe not.

The only other pick I’ll talk about, because he’s the only other one likely to ever play an NHL game, is Ethan Bear. This was a dandy selection at #124. The Seattle Thunderbirds D-man is a 5’11, 200-pound 18 year old with excellent 2-way skills, and no pressure to arrive too soon in Edmonton. Arrows up. I’m genuinely excited about him.

Then, there is goaltending. Chiarelli got the most promising goaltender available, without giving up a 1st rounder or a significant existing asset. He deserves high marks for that. There is no guarantee that Cam Talbot is the second coming of Grant Fuhr, but his pedigree and sample-to-date are impressive. A good get.

I don’t think the Edmonton Oilers will get another goalie. Ben Scrivens is an excellent back-up in this league, perhaps even a 1B. And by the time his deal is up, Laurent Brossoit should be ready to challenge. Save the asset for Franson and the like. With Talbot aboard, the odds for success increase substantially.

Could the Edmonton Oilers use another Left-Wing with some grit & hands, ala Benoit Puliot? Sure. But I won’t be at all surprised if that roster spot is filled by Leon Draisaitl this Fall. Go back to the depth this franchise suddenly has at pivot. Big Leon has played wing, and is ok with the idea.

Peter Chiarelli was quoted, at the end of the draft weekend, as saying that even if he doesn’t achieve his UFA goals, he is happy where he is. That is not the truth, of course, and he knows it. There is one more, significant piece (the Petry replacement) needed, for this team to be competitive next season.

The real shame is…if the team had managed the Petry situation properly, Peter Chiarelli WOULD be “done”. But then, that very circumstance is the #1 reason why HE is the General Manager now.

Elmer Fudd once famously proclaimed “It’s Duck Hunting Season”!! Well, for the Edmonton Oilers, it’s now “1-3 D-Man Hunting Season”.

God speed, Peter Chiarelli. God speed.

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