'He has a plan': Peter Chiarelli to return next season as Oilers president and GM
Owner Daryl Katz 'disappointed,' and 'angered' and 'wants us to get it right,' says CEO Bob Nicholson
Though his team missed the playoffs and badly underachieved this year, Peter Chiarelli will be back next season as president and general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, the team's CEO and vice-chairman said at a news conference on Thursday.
No decisions have been made about the future of the coaching staff, Bob Nicholson said at the team's third news conference this week.
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Hired as CEO in April 2015, within days Nicholson brought in Chiarelli as GM, and soon afterward Chiarelli hired Todd McLellan as the new head coach.
That June, the Oilers used the No. 1 draft pick — the team's fourth first-overall pick in six years — to select generational talent Connor McDavid.
For fans starving for more wins and some playoff games, the future seemed brighter than it had in a very long time.
In the first season of the new Nicholson-Chiarelli-McLellan era, with McDavid out of half the year with a broken collarbone, the Oilers compiled a record of 31-43-8 and finished with 70 points.
In year two under that leadership team, the Oilers improved dramatically and finished the season 47-26-9 for 103 points.
Fans went nuts throughout April 2017 as the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in a decade, won a first-round series against San Jose and pushed the Anaheim Ducks to the brink in the second round.
Owner 'disappointed' and 'angered'
But after that big step forward, the Oilers faltered this season and finished 17 points of the out of the playoffs.
Nicholson said has heard from team owner Daryl Katz, and described him as "disappointed" and "angered."
Katz, he said, "wants us to get it right."
The CEO said he is also well-aware that thousands of season ticket holders are angry as well.
Nicholson said he and the GM will now evaluate the coaches and the players and decide what changes need to be made before next season.
"We have very, very good pieces," he said about the team's roster, led my McDavid, who won the league scoring title for the second straight season.
Though reporters pressed him for more specifics, Nicholson had none to offer.
'He has a plan'
"I came in here three years ago as the CEO," he said. "I hired Peter Chiarelli. I've seen his plans of what he's done. A lot of it, you don't see what he's done with the scouting component of this organization. Yes, we had a down year, but I really believe, when I talk to Peter, he has a plan to get us back in the playoffs next year."
Asked what specifically he likes about Chiarelli's plan for the future, Nicholson expanded on his answer.
"I really believe that he understands where our gaps were this year. And making those changes aren't easy, as you all know in this room. Peter Chiarelli has got a very good relationship with other general managers in this league to make those trades or exchanges easier than someone who doesn't have those great relationships."
Nicholson said he believes the team has enough space under the salary cap to make moves to add players to the team.
He wouldn't say whether next season would be a make-or-break year for Chiarelli if the team fails to return to the playoffs.