Peter Chiarelli's tenure as Edmonton Oilers' GM has ended after the Oilers suffered a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, their third loss in a row heading into the All-Star break, as reported by SportsNet. The firing should officially be announced in a press conference on Wednesday.
Keith Gretzky will assume many of Chiarelli's duties in the next few week until a permanent replacement can be found.
The 54-year-old was quite successful as a GM with the Boston Bruins, winning a Stanley Cup within his nine seasons there. After getting fired in April of 2015, Chiarelli did not suffer unemployment for long as the Oilers snapped him up within the same month, giving him a five-year contract, which has now been cut short.
Is Chiarelli to blame for Oilers' struggles?
Chiarelli has been ridiculed for some terrible moves throughout his time in Edmonton, but a lot of fans have developed an actual hatred towards the former GM for wasting the talent of Connor McDavid by not building a solid team around him, reaching the playoffs only once.
Some of Chiarelli's worst moves include trading away the 2018 Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall back in 2016 to the New Jersey Devils in a one-for-one trade for defenseman Adam Larsson. Then trading Jordan Eberle away for Ryan Strome after one poor playoff. Dealing the 16th and 33rd overall picks of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft for defenseman Griffin Reinhart, who has mostly been playing in the AHL, with the 16th pick becoming Mathew Barzal.
Of course, the terrible Milan Lucic contract cannot be forgotten, as Lucic will continue to make $6M a year until 2023 and has a no-movement clause for another two seasons after this one.
Overall, it seems that Peter Chiarelli has done enough damage to the Oilers to keep them out of the playoffs. Of course, there have been issues outside of their control, such as Cam Talbot's surprising decline and Andrej Sekera's injuries, but these moves have almost certainly guaranteed that Chiarelli won't find himself as a GM with another team for a long time.
Can this season be salvaged?
The Oilers currently sit in seventh place, three points away from the second wild-card spot, which the Colorado Avalanche currently occupy. This may not seem like the worst position to be in for Edmonton, but the team has been on a run of bad form, losing their last three games, and with a lot of teams to pass in front of them.
Chiarelli continued to make interesting choices throughout this season, some considered good, such as the firing of Todd McLellan and convincing Ken Hitchcock to come out of retirement, but mostly poor ones. The bad decisions include trading away Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner, who has already been sent down or giving up Drake Caggiula and John Garrison for Brandon Manning and a prospect.
Chiarelli's last move will be signing Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5M deal. Koskinen has had a pretty good season behind a poor defense but still has played only half a season on the NHL level.
All that said, Connor McDavid still believes the players can turn the season around with enough belief, even though the fans' belief might be lacking. Here is what he told the assembled media at practice on Monday:
"We understand the fans are frustrated. We expect better out of ourselves, and they obviously expect better of us, so we need to be better. But the only people that seem to believe in us are the guys in the locker room, and we need to rally behind that," said McDavid.
"If you don't believe in this group and you're in the locker room, then you need to leave. I don't get that sense. I don't feel that way. I think that everyone in there believes in each other and believes we'll get it done."
Do you believe McDavid and company will turn the Oilers' season around? Let us know in the comments section below!