Keith Gretzky takes over Oilers GM role for now

Alex Pietrangelo and Cam Talbot

Edmonton Oilers fire general manager Peter Chiarelli: reports

Peter Chiarelli has been fired as general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, according to multiple media reports.

"We've got some real good staff", Oilers' CEO Bob Nicholson told reporters on Wednesday.

It is expected that assistant general manager Keith Gretzky, Wayne's younger brother, will assume some of the GM responsibilities.

The shakeup comes hours after the club stumbled into the All-Star break with a third consecutive defeat on home ice.

The Oilers fired head coach Todd McLellan earlier this season just 20 games in and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock, but still felt the need to make further changes.

In the end, the Oilers lost 3-2 to the last place Red Wings.

Moves made by Chiarelli along the way contributed to the Oilers struggling for much of the first four seasons of McDavid's career.

It will be just as urgent to get the GM hire right, given that captain Connor McDavid, who has won the Art Ross Trophy as National Hockey League scoring champion the past two seasons, is entering his prime at 22.

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Since then, Edmonton's inability to capitalize on landing a generational talent - qualifying for the playoffs just once in McDavid's first three seasons and now standing at risk of missing out once again - has largely been attributed to roster decisions made by Chiarelli. "We can be a real good team, but we haven't shown that consistently". Hall won the Hart Trophy with the Devils past year.

"There's something in the water here in Edmonton that we don't have right", Nicholson said at the news conference.

Zuccarello, 31, is having a nice season for NY, and through 35 games he has 24 points, including eight goals and 16 assists.

"We're not trading away our first (round) pick", Nicholson promised.

There is a new leadership group for the Edmonton Oilers.

Chiarelli, a native of Nepean, Ont., was hired by the Oilers in August 2015 after he was sacked by the Boston Bruins, who he guided to the Stanley Cup in 2011.

"I want to clearly give the message, I know there's people out there that believe this team can't make the playoffs", Nicholson said.

Last summer, Chiarelli did little to improve the roster around McDavid. Beyond the Strome for Spooner deal, Chiarelli sent 24-year-old forward Drake Caggiula to Chicago for bottom-pairing defenseman Brandon Manning. He can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and the Oilers signed goalie Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5 million contract Monday.

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