Opinion

Chiarelli Says Relax, Don’t Do It

Everyone, myself included, is getting excited about what lies ahead over the next month and a half. The Oilers are in a full blown playoff chase and the club is positioned to be a buyer come the trade deadline on March 1. Over the next 14 days, the rumors will pick up and the dramatically high prices should fall as sellers get desperate.

Well, we better hope the prices come down, because if they don’t, then the Oilers could be paying a premium for only a few extra games come the middle of April. Yes, I would love to see Edmonton make the playoffs and possibly win a round, but I would not be mortgaging the future to try and make a full-blown run this spring.

Yes, the Oilers could use a third line center like Brian Boyle or Martin Hanzal. Of course the club could use a puck-moving defender like Kevin Shattenkirk or a scorer like Thomas Vanek or Radim Vrbata, but the asking prices are, according to some, through the roof right now.

If the Oilers could acquire these pieces for prospects or mid-range picks, the usual cost for a rental player on an expiring contract, then fine. Moving a piece like the team’s upcoming first round pick or top prospects like Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula or Matt Benning? Yeah, that’s a big damn no-no if you ask me.

We talked about Boyle previously here, and I stated that he makes a lot of sense for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s a perfect fit for the Chiarelli/McLellan template and he’s a natural center who has plenty of big game experience. Some aren’t high on Boyle, but I believe he’d be a strong 3C option for the stretch drive. I’d even be willing to move Brandon Davidson for him.

Now this, this is too much. While Boyle is a good hockey player, he’s also 32 years old and is starting to hit that point in his career where he is declining. Would I give up a first round pick for a player that won’t help past April, May or God forbid June? Not right now, the Oilers aren’t at that stage yet. (Note: Tyler isn’t saying the Oilers will be the team that moves a first, just that it seems to be the price.)

The Oilers are also looking at Martin Hanzal (as per Jim Matheson here), which makes a lot of sense. Hanzal is a better and younger fit than Boyle and could be a contributing piece with the club past this season if Edmonton were to re-sign him this summer.

Once again, however, price becomes an issue. It had previously been reported that Arizona was looking for a first round pick and a top prospect for Hanzal, asking Montreal for big forward Michael McCarron in addition to a top draft choice.

If that were Edmonton? The asking price would likely be the team’s first round pick in 2017 and a young player like Drake Caggiula or Matthew Benning. Would you be wiling to cough up two big young assets for a player that may walk away in short order? I certainly wouldn’t.

I’m also not keen on going into this June’s draft without a first and second round selection, especially considering the barren prospect cupboard the organization has right now.

Thomas Vanek’s price will likely be high too, although we have yet to hear any truly credible rumors with him thus far. That said, the Chicago Blackhawks have been linked to him and that’s a team not afraid to pay a premium for a rental player. They, however, are clearly at a different level than the Oilers right now.

The Oilers are going to be buyers at the start of March, as they should be. This is likely a playoff team and Peter Chiarelli should be giving his team the best possible chance to compete in the postseason. That said, Chiarelli shouldn’t be mortgaging the future and paying unfathomable prices for rental players that won’t live up to the asking price.

Brian Boyle for a first? Relax Peter, don’t do it.

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