Edmonton Oilers Need To Put That Pick In Play

Austin Matthews
Austin Matthews /

The Edmonton Oilers, as a (slowly) maturing organization, is starting to near critical mass.

That is to say: It’s key, “core” players are at a stage in their contracts where winning needs to be imminent. Otherwise, the re-build of the Edmonton Oilers will require a re-build, thus extending the pain of this fan base anguish-filled years into the future.

Saturday, the organization will find out whether they will hold the right to pick anywhere from 1st to 5th, in this Spring’s NHL Amateur Draft. But no matter where Peter Chiarelli and a pair of lucky socks lands him, this weekend, the General Manager needs to then promptly put that pick in play.

Much has been written about what Chiarelli should do. Shockingly, much of the opinion would have the franchise repeat past errors, mistakes which have set back the team further and further from it’s first playoff berth in what has now been a decade. We’ve seen successive General Managers in Edmonton take that path and it needs to stop.

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In short, once that pick is in Peter Chiarelli‘s pocket, he needs to peddle it. That does not mean he MUST trade it. It means the G.M. must find out it’s real, relative value to the franchise, and then act accordingly. And not even 1st over-all and the prospect of Austin Matthews should dissuade him from that.


Because odds are that Austin Matthews will not be a game-changing, impact player in 2016-17. Nor is it likely that Patrick Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi will be. Fans need to understand that the 2015 draft was special, and that Connor McDavid was that rare bird, capable of busting a game open every shift.

While Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi are terrific young players, they are likely 2-3 years away from being impact NHL-ers. This doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t be superstars. It just means that “normal” phenom’s take that long to develop. We’re already seeing that in Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl.

In 2-3 years, Connor McDavid will be past his ELC, and making 10-12 million dollars per year. At that stage, Peter Chiarelli will have to make Chicago-like decisions, moving out salary in order to keep his core intact. Hard decisions will be made on Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins…the $6-Million Dollar Men.

This 2-3 year “gap” should force Peter Chiarelli to manage in the moment: He needs to understand that if he sacrifices these Pawns (like Hall, Eberle or Nugent-Hopkins) now, he’s never getting them back, allowing the opposition even closer to his King. The next check-mate for the Edmonton Oilers has to be one in it’s favor.

No, if Chiarelli is to win this chess game, he needs to calculate the exact return that this pick will attract, and decide if the return would give the Edmonton Oilers a chance at the playoffs faster that waiting for the results to develop. That probably would need to mean a Top-pairing (ideally) right-handed D-man.

This critical mass is imminent, with core assets from (in order of their draft years) Jordan Eberle to Connor McDavid able to be “real”, impact NHL-ers…NOW.

We all know the Oilers are missing at least a couple, high-end pieces. By trading that pick, Peter Chiarelli can potentially accelerate the progress of this franchise.

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If he does not (and he may not, if the value is not there), prepare for that long anticipated wait for the post-season to be extended.

Are YOU willing to wait?