BALANCE VERSUS TALENT - WHICH SIDE DO YOU FALL? | - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Unless you take the position that Adam Larsson is not any better a defender than the Oilers have been icing the last three seasons, the Edmonton Oilers are a better hockey team today than they were just one week ago.

Think what you will about the fleecing of Chiarelli by New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade, Chiarelli set out with a clear objective - win now, balance out the roster and look to put together a competitive blueline that could stand the wear and tear of a nasty Pacific division.

Hopefully in trading Hall, Chiarelli didn't trade an elite level talent that would, by consequence, send Connor McDavid into such a state of discontent that he'll have to think twice before choosing to stay long term, but I believe the idea here was to show McDavid that the agenda is to win today, not tomorrow. Chiarelli's blueprint includes being bigger, meaner and more balanced. He's well on his way in his design, but; is doing so at the expense of overall talent.

Talent alone won't get you to the Stanley Cup or any major championship in professional sports. Look around any league and you'll see some of the most talented players are playing and showcasing their skills for some of the worst teams. In sport, as in life, talent gets you part way there, but dedication, hard work, sacrifice and a team-first mentality, mixed with talent, breeds winning. For too long the Oilers have been stockpiling talent, but finishing a lottery team, learning how to lose and not win.

Every summer, management has tinkered with small changes - insignificant pieces -  surrounding their talent with not enough muster to make any difference in the standings. Call it a culture change, call it a necessary evil, call it a GM having blind faith in the ceiling of an incoming player that has yet to prove his talent to match the asset he was traded for, Chiarelli is choosing team first, talented players second. He's filling positions of need, sacrificing positions of strength.

I've not heard one person, even those who love Adam Larsson as a player, suggest that Larsson is as talented or skilled as Taylor Hall. It's pretty clear that today, the New Jersey Devils got the better player in that trade. I've also not heard anyone say that the Oilers clearly didn't need to upgrade their defence.

The UFA market was bare, sans Jason Demers who visited the city, but ultimately chose Florida. Subban to Edmonton trade rumors monopolized the draft, but in the end, the asking price was deemed far too expensive for the Oilers to make that trade work. Chiarelli explored his options and in the end chose a path that has fans divided. It doesn't change the fact that Edmonton couldn't wait even one more summer before doing everything in their power to start winning now.

I hated the optics of the Taylor Hall trade. I'm sad to see him go. I also don't know enough about Adam Larsson to say he can't or won't turn into a great find for the Oilers. Everything Chiarelli is doing may work out, even though today it looks like the Oilers didn't receive fair value. One thing I do know, I'm more willing to watch fewer hockey games as an Oiler fan if the Oilers keep losing than if they trade a player I liked to watch. Taylor Hall or not, Edmonton needs to start making the playoffs.

If balance over talent is what makes that happen,onward and upward Mr. Chiarelli. I'm not completely confident in the path you're taking, but I see what you're going for and I agree with the methodology.

The rest of what Chiarelli does with his summer will tell us, if in fact, Chiarelli has lost his marbles. Can he find a puck-moving, powerplay specialist? Will he sacrifice talent for balance again? Can he swap talent for talent?

Make the playoffs Edmonton. Do it now. At the end of the day, what happens in five years is less of an issue to me.

But who really cares what I think right? In the meantime, I'll keep it shut until the next time I feel like spilling my guts.

For other Oil Spill articles by Jim Parsons, click here.

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