The Edmonton Oilers may not have a lot of recent experience with conducting a playoff run, but the good news is, their general manager does.
So Peter Chiarelli’s words spoke volumes on Tuesday morning about where he sees his team on the arc towards one day being a Stanley Cup champion.
“I don’t think we’re ready to contend for the Cup,” he said, in the context of how active he’ll be at the March 1 trade deadline. “You never know — I know it happened here in 2006. (But) I just don’t see us being big players, from that regard.”
Here is Chiarelli, two weeks out from the deadline, on his team, his plan, and the evolution of big build in Edmonton:
On his team:
“If you were to have asked me at the beginning of the year if we (would be happy to be in contention) at this point, I’d be happy.”
“We’re in a decent spot. We’ve got some work to do.”
Does he plan to seek deadline help from the rental market:
“I really don’t want to delve into that market. I think there are areas we can tinker with; I think the team deserves it. We wanted to be in the conversation. We are.
“(But) we’ve made a lot of moves in the summer, and they’re coming around. I’d rather see those play out…(Deals) fall in your lap … but I don’t see being heavily involved in that market.
“I don’t think it’s the right time for this team, but having said that … once you get into the playoffs, you never know.”
On acquiring a backup for Cam Talbot:
“I haven’t given up on L.B. (Laurent Brossoit). He’s going to get a chance.”
“I don’t think we’re ready to contend for the Cup. You never know — I know it happened here in 2006. (But) I just don’t see us being big players, from that regard.”
On scoring droughts by Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, and Benoit Pouliot:
“I’ll talk about secondary scoring. We need to be better at it. We put pucks on net. We don’t really get those garbage goals off rebounds. I think we’re shooting well… We overpass at times.
“It goes in cycles. It’ll come.”
On getting a power play defenceman:
“I’m happy with our D, when everyone is playing. And we’re going to be getting a pretty good D-man back … Darnell (Nurse) will be back shortly. It would be nice to have a pure power play D-man. I’ve been satisfied with Reggie (Andrej Sekera) and Klef (Oscar Klefbom) on their respective units. It’s certainly not on my shopping list at this trading deadline.”
Is that an expensive get at the deadline?
“Yes. You saw what it took to get a Top 4 right-handed D (Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall). You can extrapolate from there.”
The team has made a lot of progress. How are they handling that?
“We’re in the dog days now. The real grind. I think they’re enjoying it. I get that sense, just being with them away from the rink. I think they’re feeling the pressure a bit — that’s part of why you’re seeing the scoring dry up a little bit.
“We’re in the conversation. I hope we stay there.”
On Kris Russell:
“Not withstanding the analytics firestorm around him, I think he’s been a real good addition for us. We tend to struggle when he’s out; he’s a very calming influence on our group. He helps (Sekera). He’s a real competitive guy and he brings some leadership.”
On Jesse Puljujarvi:
(Chiarelli recently saw two Bakersfield games v. Stockton.)
“He’s getting a lot of touches. You can see his confidence is coming back. The defensive side of the game is getting better. He’s made a lot of progress down there, played a lot of minutes. He’s going to be in the conversation (for a call-up) come the deadline. He’s far and away the most dangerous player the two games I saw down there. I was happy with what I saw.”
On Griffin Reinhart:
“I had a good meeting with him when I was down there. He’s very assertive. He’s moving the puck. He’s putting up points, joining the rush… He’s made a lot of strides.
“I thought he had a disappointing training camp, and we told him, ‘You’ve got to go down and work on your game.’ And he’s done it.”
On where they are:
“I’m satisfied with where we are. I haven’t liked the last little bit, but it’s a long season. I wanted to be in the conversation? We are.
“If we make the playoffs I’d be ecstatic, because it really helps the development of these players. The fact that they are competing and feeling the pressure, that’s very positive for their development. But of course I’d like to make the playoffs.”