Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli met with the media for roughly 30 minutes Tuesday to discuss the 2016-17 season and issues to the roster moving forward. Here are three things to take from the presser, although there were plenty more to choose from. Read more topics in Inside the Oilers.
Video: RAW | Peter Chiarelli Press Conference
1. PLANNING FOR EXPANSION DRAFT
It is a unique off-season for Chiarelli and the Oilers as they have to plan for the expansion draft with Las Vegas coming into the League. Chiarelli commented on the event, which will take place June 21.
"Everyone has issues in the sense that they lose somebody," said Chiarelli. "We went through the expansion landscape mid-season and just recently in our pro meetings. Everyone knows who is most vulnerable. We're in the middle of the pack. We're going to lose a player and we have to decide who we want to protect. These are obvious statements. I'm not going to tell you who we want to protect but we're going to lose a player we'd prefer to keep.
"There are a number of teams that can afford to lose players - not afford - but there are players they lose them and go, 'you know what, we can replace them.' The guys that we might lose, there's a little more meaning for me based on the success we had and they were part of that success."
2. KEY SIGNINGS TO COME
In addition to contract extensions to the Oilers top two players under the age of 21 - Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl - Edmonton has a few more decisions to make as it pertains to contract signings this off-season.
One of those is pending free-agent defenceman Kris Russell, who Chiarelli says will have to wait until after the aforementioned pair.
"That's what I've told Kris," said Chiarelli. "I want to have Kris back. I thought he was really good for our team. I thought the way he approaches the game, the way he battles, his poise, his skating, I thought was a really good complement for our group."
Russell was third on the team amongst blueliners for average ice time this season, playing just over 21 minutes per game. He finished the season with 13 points in 68 games and averaged the most blocked shots per game on defence. He had 213 blocked shots this season, which also led the entire NHL.
3. STANLEY CUP WINDOW WIDE OPEN
When Chiarelli gave his thoughts on the season that was, his assessment was very positive. With Edmonton making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, there was plenty to be pleased with. Chiarelli even said the team exceeded his expectations.
Chiarelli said his original expectation was in the 85-point range. The Oilers finished the season with 103 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Moving forward, the Stanley Cup window is wide open.
"Yeah, absolutely. It wasn't closed," said Chiarelli. "I just don't know if we were quite ready for it and in hindsight if you look back, maybe we weren't…
"Once you get in, anything can happen. Look at Nashville. Look at Edmonton here 10 or 11 years ago. Look at a number of teams that have come in through the back door. Yes, the players have shown through the year resiliency and then I saw it prominently during the playoffs. That's the type of character, that's the type of glue, that's the type of make-up you want in a team. I was very happy with what I saw. I didn't like some of the ways we lost, but I liked some of the ways we won. Now you're into the next series and they're very close games. The window absolutely, we're in that spot."