The Edmonton Oilers had a busy Friday, at least in terms of their front office. They shuffled the deck significantly, hiring former Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli as their general manager and president of hockey operations.
This required the moving of Kevin Lowe outside of the hockey operations department and the shifting of Craig MacTavish out of his position of general manager. MacTavish’s role isn’t clear at this point and time, while Lowe is still the vice chair of the Oilers Entertainment Group. Peter LaForge, president and chief operating officer of the Oilers Entertainment Group, resigned.
“Peter is going to lead this group,” Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson said. “He’s going to be president of hockey operations and general manager. He’s going to make sure that he has strong people around him, and I know that we’re going to get this organization headed in the right direction.”
Chiarelli was fired by the Bruins on April 15 and you have to think he was immediately on the Oilers’ radar. His team missed the playoffs in 2015 after finishing two points back of the Penguins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston won a Stanley Cup in 2011 and returned to the Cup Final in 2013.
“We were going to make announcements when we were ready, but when Peter Chiarelli was made available to talk to us, that really sped this up,” Nicholson said. “A person of Peter Chiarelli’s calibre does not come around very often.”
Chiarelli was hired by the Bruins in 2006 and spent nine seasons with the club. Prior to that he began his National Hockey League career as an assistant general manager with the Ottawa Senators. He’ll have a good kick at the can to start with the Oilers, as his new team gets to pick first in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and that more than likely means landing Connor McDavid.
“That pick certainly wasn’t a deal-maker; the group here with Bob, Kevin and Daryl, the relationships there really helped out,” Chiarelli said. “That pick is a tremendous pick. To try and move up from three or four in normal circumstances to get that pick, you couldn’t do it. Especially with the calibre of player that is available. It was a huge cherry on top to have that, but the decision wouldn’t have been any different.”
Chiarelli will also have to make the call on a new head coach for the Oilers. Todd Nelson took over after the firing of Dallas Eakins. There’s nothing immediate in the works and Chiarelli has a lot to do leading into the draft, but one has to expect that Nelson will still be part of the conversation at least temporarily.