“We’re not going to dismantle this team,” Chiarelli said at his year-end news conference on Wednesday. “We have areas that we have to fill, and we have areas off the ice that we have to look at.
“There are things that we have to address immediately. I’m not ruling out a trade either, but by no means are we going to dismantle this team. I expect this team to be in the playoffs next year.”
Listen below: The full end-of-season press conference with Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli
The Oilers would love to add a right-shot, puck-moving defenceman. They could use more speed in the lineup. A proven back-up goalie remains on the wish list. Getting something often involves giving something up. Could a potential trade involve Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? He just tied a career-high with 24 goals despite missing 20 games.
Chiarelli was asked if he can definitely say that he would like to keep Nugent-Hopkins as a member of the core of the team.
“Yeah. I would say that,” replied Chiarelli.
So Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t appear to be in play. That makes the Oilers first round draft pick a potential trading chip.
“I would put that pick in the play. It would have to make sense. There’s a whole cluster of D that I like,” Chiarelli said.
Watch below: Chiarelli says the first round pick could be in play ahead of the NHL draft.
On the other hand, Chiarelli did indicate he’d be less likely to trade the pick if the Oilers win one of the lotteries and move up to the top three. Otherwise, they’ll have a first round pick between ninth and twelfth.
The Oilers coaching staff has been together for the past three seasons. In his end-of-season news conference on Monday, Todd McLellan didn’t commit to his assistants returning. Chiarelli also didn’t provide any assurances.
“They’re under close scrutinization. I have to look really close at it, and I have to dig deep,” Chiarelli said. “On the surface, you would think, yes, I have to make changes. I’ll leave it at that. I want to make sure we look at every facet of the coaching staff. I think Todd is a very good coach, but we’re in a period of evaluation right now with him and his staff.”
Watch below: Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said there will be a period of evaluation surrounding the coaching staff and everyone is under scrutiny.
A recurring theme throughout the season was the Oilers inability to play an up-tempo game. Chiarelli said the Oilers may need faster players, but also felt the Oilers didn’t think and execute sharply enough.
“We weren’t a slow team last year. I think a lot of it is mental, too,” said Chiarelli. “Personnel aside, you have to look at how you play the game. We have to break the puck out better. Generally, I wasn’t happy with their execution this year. That starts with passing. That has to be better. And support. I don’t think we supported well. Without support on the breakout, without support on the neutral zone forecheck, without support on the cycle game, you’re not playing a fast game. There’s individuals’ performances. That’s what it looks like, and that’s what I saw a lot.”
Watch below: Chiarelli said generally, he wasn’t happy with the team’s execution this year and in order to get better, the team has to play at a higher pace.
Chiarelli added that he believes Milan Lucic can bounce back from a tough season that saw him score just one goal in the last 46 games.
Watch below: Chiarelli ‘confident’ Lucic can get back to where expectations are for him
Winger Ty Rattie had nine points in the final 12 games after being called up from Bakersfield. Chiarelli said they’ve had discussions about bringing Rattie back next season.
Watch below: Edmonton Oilers players, head coach Todd McLellan discuss non-playoff season for the team