Cap Situation Reveals Chiarelli Isn’t Done Yet – UPDATED

It was hard not to expect a deal of some kind today after the painful effort put forth against SJ yesterday. Chiarelli has acquired defenceman Alex Petrovic from Florida for Chris Wideman and a conditional 3rd round pick. The acquisition cost was certainly right. Wideman cost Edmonton a conditional low round pick, and the Oilers had a 3rd round pick to spare in the upcoming draft. Petrovic will provide some stability to a back-end that sorely needs it because of some key injuries. The Oilers have allowed at least 4 goals in each of the last 5 games, which were all losses.

With rumours of Chiarelli’s demise running rampant, a deal had to made.

Here is a look at the current cap situation after the Petrovic deal, and the call-up of Kailer Yamamoto:

Draisaitl ($8.5M) McDavid ($12.5M) Rattie ($0.8M)
Caggiula ($1.5M) Nuge ($6M) Puljujarvi ($0.925M)
Rieder ($2M) Brodziak ($1.15M) Kassian ($1.95M)
Lucic ($6M) Khaira ($0.675M) Yamamoto ($0.925M)
Spooner ($3.1M)

Nurse ($3.2M) Larsson ($4.17M)
Gravel ($0.7M) Petrovic ($1.95M)
Jones ($0.72M) Benning ($1.9M)
Garrison ($0.65M)

Talbot ($4.17M)
Koskinen ($2.5M)

Chiasson ($0.65M)- IR
Klefbom ($4.17M)- IR
Russell ($4M)- IR
Sekera ($5.5M)- LTIR

Total Cap Hit = $80.305 million
Buyouts: Pouliot – $1.33 million, Gryba- $0.3 million
Buried: Montoya- $37,500

Total: $81.9725 million
Space with $79.5 million cap: -$2.4725 million

Thank goodness for LTIR relief. There was a sense that Sekera would be ready to head down to the AHL in early January for a conditioning stint, which would’ve been an indication that he is close to a return. However, it now appears that Sekera will not be able to return until early February now. The clarity on a time line for Sekera’s return is important because activating Sekera means that the Oilers would have to get under the salary cap. At Christmas, it would’ve been as simple as sending someone to the AHL. Now, a trade will have to be made in order for the Oilers to get under the cap once Sekera comes back. Now that we know Sekera will be back before the trade deadline, it makes more sense to use some of the LTIR relief for immediate help because Chiarelli will still be able to shed cap space via trade at that point.

If Sekera were to come back after the trade deadline, then the only way to shed cap space would be to send players down to the AHL. That’s why it didn’t make sense to use a significant amount of the LTIR space until there was more clarity on Sekera’s time line for a return. Sending $2.4725 million worth of salary to the AHL would likely leave your roster short-handed.

What I’m saying is based on the cap situation, I GUARANTEE that the Oilers WILL make AT LEAST one more trade before Sekera returns in early February. The fact that the Oilers’ playoff hopes are disappearing rapidly with this losing streak and the fact that Chiarelli’s job is on the line only increases the likelihood of more trades being made.

The only question now is who will be traded, and for whom will he be traded?

Chiarelli just made a move to stabilize the defence in the short-term. Russell is expected to be back tomorrow against Winnipeg. The defence will be MUCH improved tomorrow. With Klefbom and Sekera due back in early January, the defence will be even better at that time. Here is how the defence would look at full health:

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Sekera-Benning
Gravel-Petrovic
Jones-Garrison

Garrison is as good as gone once the Oilers are healthy once again. He will almost certainly be put on waivers in early February. The order of the rest of the bottom of the group is debatable. Petrovic might be better than Benning. Jones might be better than both of them. We will see over the 3 weeks. Chiarelli could trade one of Petrovic or Benning. Moving either would open up just shy of $2 million in cap space.

The bigger problem for the Oilers right now is the astonishing drop in production from the supporting cast of the Oilers forwards from last year to this year. There are too many forwards that aren’t contributing to the offence. In my Christmas Check-In article from last week, I suggested that Spooner and Kassian would be likely candidates to be moved based on their lack of production and their cap hits. Spooner has a $3.1 million cap hit and is barely being used by Hitchcock. That would be the quickest way to get under the cap. Kassian is on pace for 7 points this season, and his cap hit is $1.95 million. That would also be a big help to the cap situation.

We also have to consider the fact that a trade can’t deplete the roster in the middle of a playoff race. If Chiarelli is going to subtract from the forward group, he will need to bring in someone that can score. That player will likely be a rental, which is perfectly fine for the situation that the club is in. Spooner and Kassian add up to $5.05 million. An upgrade in scoring will cost $3-5 million… at least. What I’m getting at is if Chiarelli wants to upgrade the forward group, there will likely be multiple trades involved to get the money to work. He has LTIR relief until Sekera comes back, so he can add comfortably until early February; but he will have to subtract at some point.

I would hope that more trades happen sooner rather than later. The Oilers are still in the playoff picture, but they are falling out of it rapidly. Chiarelli can’t afford to wait because his job is on the line. He’s made one move already. There are certainly more to come. Sit back and let the fireworks happen Oilers fans, because January should be a busy month for Chiarelli.

UPDATE: Well, that happened fast! I figured that Chiarelli had more trades coming, but I didn’t expect the second trade of the day. The Oilers traded Drake Caggiula and Jason Garrison to Chicago for Brandon Manning and prospect Robin Nurell.

Caggiula was one of three Oilers forwards not named McDavid, Draisaitl, or Nugent-Hopkins to increase his production this season. Trading one of the few players making a contribution offensively on a team starving for secondary scoring is a bit questionable, especially since the principle piece coming back the other way was Manning. Yes, the very same Manning that broke McDavid’s collar bone in his rookie season. Today’s trades made it quite clear that the depth defencemen that the Oilers have acquired since the start of the season haven’t been good enough, and that adding defence to get the team through this next month was a priority over the lack of secondary scoring.

The Oilers recalled Joseph Gambardella from Bakersfield as well today. Here is the updated salary cap breakdown of the Oilers roster:

Draisaitl ($8.5M) McDavid ($12.5M) Rattie ($0.8M)
Spooner ($3.1M) Nuge ($6M) Puljujarvi ($0.925M)
Rieder ($2M) Brodziak ($1.15M) Kassian ($1.95M)
Lucic ($6M) Khaira ($0.675M) Yamamoto ($0.925M)
Gambardella ($0.725M)

Nurse ($3.2M) Larsson ($4.17M)
Gravel ($0.7M) Petrovic ($1.95M)
Jones ($0.72M) Benning ($1.9M)
Manning ($2.25M)

Talbot ($4.17M)
Koskinen ($2.5M)

Chiasson ($0.65M)- IR
Klefbom ($4.17M)- IR
Russell ($4M)- IR
Sekera ($5.5M)- LTIR

Total Cap Hit = $81.13 million
Buyouts: Pouliot – $1.33 million, Gryba- $0.3 million
Buried: Montoya- $37,500

Total: $82.7975 million
Space with $79.5 million cap: -$3.2975 million

Since the active roster is currently at 22 players, the Oilers can activate Kris Russell from the IR tomorrow without having to make another roster move.

As you’re well aware by now, the Oilers will have to get under the cap once Sekera comes back. They are $3.2975 million over the cap at the time of my writing this piece. For all of the people that wanted Chiarelli to use the LTIR space to bolster the defence upon Sekera being placed on LTIR, you’ve got your wish. While Petrovic and Manning may not be all-stars, they can’t possibly be as bad as Garrison and Wideman were in Edmonton. They are not massive upgrades, but they are upgrades nonetheless.

Once Sekera and Klefbom return in early February, there will be 10 healthy defencemen (knock on wood). A 23-man NHL roster has 2 goalies and either 13 F and 8 D, or 14 F and 7 D. Simple logic dictates that at least 2 of the 10 will be moved between now and when Sekera and Klefbom return from injury. One of those could be simply returning Jones to Bakersfield. Regardless, there will be at least one trade involving a defenceman.

Chiarelli has loaded up on one of the most desirable assets of contending teams leading up to the trade deadline: depth defencemen. The asking price for these types of players at the deadline is usually picks and prospects. The Oilers need scoring. Using one of Petrovic, Manning, Benning, or Gravel won’t get the Oilers a real upgrade in scoring; but flipping the potential return of picks and prospects could land the Oilers a rental scoring forward. The Oilers could also package those picks and prospects with under-achieving forwards like Spooner or Kassian in exchange for a rental scoring winger.

My point is that the trades made today signify the beginning of what will be a series of moves for the Oilers. Being $3.2975 million over the cap with the impending return Sekera and the surplus of defencemen are why the Oilers will be forced to make more trades. The lack of secondary scoring and the fact that Chiarelli’s job is on the line is even more reason for more trades over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned Edmonton.

admin :

Comments are closed.