There has been an argument, who's voice has grown louder as we approach the beginning of the season, and that is if Chiarelli has done better than MacTavish. McDavid hype is still alive and well but drafting the 18 year old wunderkid was a task that a 6 year old could have accomplished.
To properly compare these two men, let's jump back to the end of the 2012-2013 season, when MacTavish relieved Tambellini of his duties. NOTE: I am only comparing summer acquisitions. Players like Scrivens who were acquired into the season will not be included here. This is the roster that he inherited.
Well that was... something. Still, with the shortened season, due to the lockout, this team actually managed to finish 3rd in the NW division. Here's a recap of that summer, and the changes MacTavish implemented.
Probably the biggest black mark against his tenure was the firing of Krueger and the subsequent hiring of Dallas Eakins. Eakins at the time was a highly sought after coach by multiple NHL clubs. He threw around words like compete and fitness, he took down memorabilia from the teams of old, he took away the donuts!!! Time's were a'changin in Edmonton...
Miraculously, MacTavish was able to trade Horcoff's bloated contract, freeing up a ton of cap space. Arguably this was the summer MacTavish made his best trade as a GM, trading a second round pick and Magnus Paajarvi for David Perron.
Free agency saw a whole bunch of new Oilers enter. Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Jason Labarbera, Will Acton, and Jesse Joensu are the biggest names worth mentioning. And Denis Grebeshkov of course.
Here was the roster that season
MacT added a top 6 winger in Perron, freed up cap space, brought in a mid pairing defenceman, a few low risk defencemen who could potentially be NHL players, a fourth line centre, a fourth line winger, and a backup goaltender.
Chiarelli has added a fourth line centre, a third line winger, a bottom pairing defenceman, a top pairing defenceman (though not a true #1), a young potential top 4 defenceman in Reinhart, and a potential #1 goaltender in Talbot. Chiarelli also made a coaching change, bringing in Todd McLellan.
So where does that leave us? Each GM had their own garbage to deal with, MacT had to try and clean up Tambellini's mess and now Chiarelli has to do the same with MacTavish's. MacT did a good job in his first summer filling in some holes; we needed a top 6 proven winger, he brought one in, the defence had little veteran presence and Ference was a good pick up (the contract is causing issues now however). MacT, like Tambellini spent too much time on looking for diamonds in the rough, Belov, Larsen, Grebeshkov while all low risk, didn't add much to the team.
Chiarelli's team is in a different place. It didn't need the same forward depth. Letestu and Korp are okay additions but these aren't new for Oil fans. Sekera and Talbot were both great pickups. Sekera, while not a true #1 can still play top pairing minutes comfortably against the opposing teams best. Talbot is a bit more of a risk, but his numbers point to one who is ready to be a starter. I don't think you will find anyone to argue in favor of Eakins over McLellan.
Bottom line, both GM's addressed some of the holes plaguing the roster, brought in some needed pieces, and players who have the potential to fill other ones. As MacTavish's first season progressed he had to address other issues; goaltending being the obvious one. We will have to see as this season begins what Chiarelli will do if the seams start to unravel.
Who is the btter GM? To soon to tell. I personally was one of the people defending MacT after his first year. He made some good additions and had to deal with a pretty big mess from his predecessor. Chiarelli has done the same in my eyes. It's what he does next that could make or break him
Thanks for reading!