Monday Mailbag – April 28th


Tell your boss you’re taking a break because the mailbag is back once again. As always, I take your questions and send them out to our writers. If you want to submit a question, you can tweet it to me or you can email me at [email protected] Send one question or send 200, we will get to you. 


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1) The Weiner asks – Why are people already trading Gagner if we have no one to replace him with? If you cannot get a #1 D-man or #2 centre for him, why not keep him?


It may come down to keeping him, but MacT’s goal is to improve this team up the middle. Gagner is a fine offensive player, but his coverage gaps are a big issue and it’s likely he will move to wing. This is not a developing player, this is a young veteran. Sam’s skill set is duplicated on the roster and his play without the puck contributes to Edmonton’s poor coverage.

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He may move to wing, but I doubt he’s an Oiler center in the fall.

Robin Brownlee:

Not answering a question asked by anybody who calls himself “The Weiner.”



Jonathan Willis: 

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I think you can blame Mark Arcobello for that. Arcobello, the dirt-cheap minor-league journeyman, was a better player on merit than Gagner in 2013-14 at a fraction of the price. Arcobello’s coming back, so even if you can’t replace Gagner (and my expectation is that they will with the No. 3 draft pick this year) there’s an internal candidate who can fill the hole, and the odds aren’t bad that Gagner can bring back somebody more useful to Edmonton, even if he also comes with a lousy contract (i.e. a Viktor Stalberg type).

Jason Strudwick: 

That is what MacT must figure out. I don’t think Arcobello can handle 2C so then who takes it over? Gordon? A draft pick? A free Agent? Who is going to come to a team that has had little success unless there is extra money in the offer? So then he is left with a trade.

Jason Gregor: 

First off, the Oilers won’t get a #1 D-man or #2 centre straight up for Gagner, so let’s be realistic about his trade value. MacTavish won’t trade him unless he has other pieces in place, but keeping him means they go into another season hoping he can be consistent. At the very least I’d expect MacTavish to bring in some other centres, preferably ones with NHL experience to compete for jobs. It is a major, major risk to move Gagner and expect Arcobello to be better.

Brian Sutherby:

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People are trading him because his d-zone is incredibly poor and his size adds no balance to this team. There is no chance you get a #1 D-man or a number 2 center just for Gagner at this point.

That being said, as horrid defensively as he can be, I think it would be silly to just throw away a 40-50 point guy. I don’t think he should be playing center anymore but I’d try him on the wing right out of camp for a long period of time, even on the 3rd line if you can’t get something decent in return by the fall. He can still play PP and can slide into the top 6 if needed. Good teams have great depth. If he knows he needs to work on the wing, maybe he can play there and ease his defensive responsibilities until a suitable trade arises.


If they’re going to keep Gagner I think they should move him to the wing. God bless him, but after 7 years we’re still wondering why he can’t figure out the defensive end. If you have to ask the question… as MacT would say.

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2) @csadoway asks – Is there a double standard in terms of asking questions to players and coaches? It seems as though the players get asked tougher questions, at times, and coaches/management get the softballs? Is it just that we’re missing out on some of what is said?


I don’t interview the players after the games.

Robin Brownlee: 

No, there is not a double standard. You’re missing out on a lot of what is said.

Jonathan Willis: 

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. What I would say is that generally players are being asked about individual games, coaches/managers are getting asked about longer-term trends.

Jason Strudwick: 

I have never been a coach.

Jason Gregor: 

I don’t know anyone who has said I’m going to ask coach/GM easy questions, but ask the players hard ones. What you deem tough others deem easy. I feel I ask fair questions, but more important I try to ask a question that will garner a good response.

Brian Sutherby: 

I don’t know


When I get my press pass I promise that I will ask all the tough questions. 

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3) @krazie94 asks – How much do you think fan anger had to do with Mike Gillis being let go?


I’m not sure. For Canucks’ fans sake, I hope the answer is ‘not a lot’ because knee jerk reactions from ownership are a bad indicator of future success.

Robin Brownlee: 

Fan anger? Like setting cars on fire and smashing windows and stuff? Ownership and management should always try to measure the pulse of the paying public. That’s just good business. Nothing fans say or do, short of staying away from games, has a significant impact on decisions. An owner isn’t going to keep a GM he doesn’t want even if fans hold him in high regard. Conversely, he’s not going to fire a GM he wants to keep because fans want him gone.

Jonathan Willis: 

Lots. If season ticket numbers were solid, I doubt the Canucks would have canned him.

Jason Strudwick: 

If I were an owner I wouldn’t let the fans frustration influence what I think is the best for the future of my club. I know of a gm who read papers and listened to talk radio in his market. He starting making odd moves. If you are the GM of a NHL club you shouldn’t listen to outside noises.

Jason Gregor: 

The Canucks missed the playoffs once in six years. If the fans were that upset, I’d say they are a bit too sensitive. The fact he botched his goaltending situation to the degree he did is why he was fired. The Canucks went from having two #1 goalies to having none. I’d hope that was the reason more than worrying about a few vocal fans.

Brian Sutherby: 

The “Fire Gillis” chants in the 60% full building came 2 days before season ticket renewals were being sent out. He was fired the next day. The half empty seats had more to do with it, but I have to believe it played a big part.


Fan anger had nothing to do with it. In my opinion, ownership was offended by that atrocious neck beard thing he had going.


4) Rob asks – Jordan Staal has been having a tough go in Carolina, would it make sense for the Oilers to make a pitch for him? If so, what do you think it would take?


I like Staal as a player, but he’s expensive and signed for a very long time. If the asking price were reasonable, the Oilers would be wise to have a look at it. Carolina may want young, inexpensive forwards in return, and despite the Oilers youth, they don’t have a lot of those player types.

Robin Brownlee: 

Having a tough go doesn’t mean the Hurricanes are willing to move Staal. Not big on playing the what-if game.

Jonathan Willis: 

I’d be very surprised if Carolina were willing to move him. If they were willing, doubtless they’d expect something along the lines of what they paid for him (a solid top-nine forward, a first rate prospect, the eighth overall pick).

Jason Strudwick: 

Very long deal. Not sure he can score. I do like his size and defensive game. He has a no movement clause. End of story.

Jason Gregor: 

Staal is interesting because he really only had one off year. In the lockout he scored 31 points in 48 games, which equals 52 in 82 games and that would have been a career high. He only had 40 points this past season, so you might be able to buy low. He’s never going to be a big point producer, but he would be a strong 2nd line centre, and with the skilled wingers in Edmonton he likely could score 50 points. The risk is that he has a contract at $6mill/year for the next 9 years. That could work out great, or did he peak in Pittsburgh. He was traded for Brandon Sutter, the 8th overall pick (Derrick Pouliot) and Brian Dumoulin (51st pick in 2009). The Oilers would have to offer up something similar to get him. Gagner might, I repeat might, work into the equation, but then you’d have to include Marincin or Klefbom and probably another prospect.

Brian Sutherby: 

I’m not a huge fan of hypothetical trades but I think it makes sense for the Oilers to go after any center that’s big enough to help the Nuge and allow him to not have to play against the Thornton’s, Getzlaf’s, Kopitars, Benn’s, Backes’, Kesler’s of the West. Gagner and his 4.5 would have to go in any deal with money coming back, along with other parts I’m sure.


Jordan Staal is signed until the end of time and the Oilers have zero of his brothers in the organization.

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5) @dronnord asks – MacT seems to have greatly improved the goaltending so my question is how important is goalie confidence to the rest of the team?


I think it’s huge. For me, it’s like having a closer in baseball blow saves: The rest of the roster work so hard to get into position for a win, and then the guy you need to close it out can’t get it done. Goalie is a high pressure job, and if you don’t have it then the rest of the roster can never fulfill it’s potential.

So yes, huge.

Robin Brownlee: 

If you’re talking about the team having confidence in its goaltending, then I think it’s significant. Near the end of Devan Dubnyk’s tenure, you could sense the lack of confidence and it played itself out in several losses. Nothings builds confidence like winning and goaltending is obviously a big part of that. Nothing destroys confidence like losing and a bad goal against here and there can turn close games into losses even when the team has played reasonably well. That weighs heavily when it happens with regularity.

Jonathan Willis: 

Not as important as not being down 1-0 or 2-0 off soft shots is.

Jason Strudwick: 

It feels good to know your goalie will stop the ones he should and some he shouldn’t.

Jason Gregor: 

It can help, no doubt, but the players need to perform. Confidence can dip or heighten very quickly, so when your goalie struggles the team needs to be good enough to overcome those dips, and right now this team isn’t good enough to win without stellar goaltending.

Brian Sutherby: 

It’s important. Players have to believe in their goalie or you spend the entire game worried about every little mistake and if it’s going to end up in the back of your net instead of just playing. I like what Mac T has done in the pipes.


For the first part of the season the Oilers would have been better off pulling the goalie and playing with 6 skaters. The milk went bad in the worst way…

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Love the Mailbag!

    Although I have to admit, I’m guilty of only reading Struds’ and Suds’ replies. I’m a huge fan boy. Even though Struds must have been late for something while answering today’s questions.

  • 1979

    Brownlee were you having a cranky day when these questions came your way?? 🙂 Little light on the answers… however, you weren’t the only one and these were by far the least entertaining set of questions posted yet… I better put my money where my mouth is and think up some good ones for next mailbag…

    P.S. Love this new mailbag, it was a great idea!

  • Positive Ray of Sunshine

    Jason Gregor: “First off, the Oilers won’t get a #1 D-man or #2 centre straight up for Gagner, so let’s be realistic about his trade value.”

    As an Oiler fan, realism is inversely proportional to happiness. That’s where “Gagner for Weber – straight up” comments come from. It could also be why Brownlee is grumpy.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I admit that when I first read about the Staal rumors I got a little caught up in it.

    Then reality set in – we don’t have Omark to trade away anymore.


    The life an Oiler fan.

  • 50 in 39

    Just move Gagner for anything you can get.

    His 40-50 points mean nothing when offset by the defensive lack of competence. A more responsible but lower scoring player is not an ideal match for 2C in the NHL, but it is still an upgrade to Gagner overall.

    There is no room for a 4.5 million/year small one-way game third line winger on the Oilers.

    With his contract in a salary cap world he has little to no value. A Horcoff type deal would be fine here.

  • CaptainLander

    @Sutherby – “Oilers to go after any center that’s big enough to help the Nuge and allow him to not have to play against the Thornton’s, Getzlaf’s, Kopitars, Benn’s, Backes’, Kesler’s of the West.”

    Have to disagree with this comment, if the Nuge is going to the player we all hope he will be then that means playing against the other teams best. Size never hurt Datsyuk, he found other ways to contribute defensively. If the Nuge is our number one center then he has to compete with these guys. Now he could maybe use some help in this regard.

    • Brian Sutherby

      Do the Sedins match up every night against the other teams big boys or is it Kesler?

      In Phoenix is it Ribeiro against the big boys or is it Hanzal more often?

      Does Duchene usually play against those guys or is Landeskog the better matchup?

      Just because everyone wants to appoint Nugent-Hopkins number 1 doesn’t mean it’s the best way to win hockey games in the West right now.

      You can have a 1A, 1B or your “number 2” handle those minutes. With his stature they would be much better off finding someone to help with those match ups imo.

      Datsyuk is 5’11 200 pounds as well. Much bigger and stronger than Nuge right now.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I’d be more interested in Eric Staal than Jordan.

    Gagner + 2015 1st + Klefbom/Marincin + 2015 2nd

    Would not give up the lottery pick for a 30 year old player.

    For J. Staal, it’d be less:

    Gagner + 2015 1st + Musil

    Hall Nuge Eberle

    Perron Staal Yakupov

    • Why not both Staals??

      1C and 3C covered, Nuge to 2C and Gordon to 4C

      Yes I understand the crazy Staal contracts, the question now is:

      What is bold exactly?

      And, how much better up the middle we want to get?

      • I would prefer both Staal’s as well. Seeing the people trash my comment means they either think its overpaying (umm no) or underpaying (maybe)

        I would be prepared to give up:

        2014 and 2015 1sts + one of Klef or Marincin + Gagner + prospect not named Nurse + 2015 2nd

        That gives us:

        Hall Nuge Eberle

        Perron E. Staal Yakupov

        Kulemin (UFA) J. Staal Pitlick

        Winnik (UFA) Gordon Hendricks

        That is a playoff calibre forward core. Depending on those UFA signings, it would be under the cap as well when taking into account a decent Petry/Schultz raise.

  • Hardcore39

    Can’t wait to see the answer to the question:

    Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
    April 21 2014, 01:53PM
    Trash it!
    Hey Bagged Milk!

    A few weeks ago, I asked the question

    One question I would like to ask is ” why do the reporters in this town not make a BIGGER deal about the censorship that occurs in Rexall Place? In other barns they can wear bags on their heads, throw jerseys on the ice, chant Fire Wilson or Fire Gillis..or have signs that say the same thing…and there is no censorship or strong arm tactics. Do you not speak out stronger because you don’t consider yourselves Journalists…but just sports reporters? Doesn’t this muzzling of free speech anger you guys?” And, if it’s not the job of the sports reporter, can you not bring it up amongst you’re colleagues whose job it is?”

    I’m asking respectfully….not intended to call you out or embarrass you…but genuinely curious why this doesn’t cause more outrage amongst your profession.

    The question got 56 props

    You Replied:

    “Can you email the question please, so I can post it” that got 23 props.

    I emailed it to you … thanked me…..and ….NOTHING,

    Bagged Milk?! Have the Rexall Thought Police got to you too?!

      • Sounds good.

        I’m really just curious to know what they think, as frequenting customers of the Oilers Experience what they see and feel is the real situation here.

        We know already how “different” Canucks fans can be in terms of going over board with outrage (see 2011 Playoffs and the collapse of the Mike Gillis Era), but are we just a bit more reserved and beaten down at this point where we don’t show the same kind of “displays” that would require censorship?

        Besides the jersey tosses and a single fan who was told to “turn his jersey back out” (while under the influence) I really don’t know of many other big displays of outcry at games. Are the displays of anger actually being muzzled or are they just not going to occur anyway?

        Hoping they clear this up or some other comments can.

  • Spydyr

    Jonathan Willis:

    “Not as important as not being down 1-0 or 2-0 off soft shots is.”

    For the longest time you said soft goals don’t matter it is all about the save percentage.

    What finally changed your mind?

  • Re: Reporters asking players questions!

    I wish hockey broadcasters find better use of air time during the telecasts than reporters sticking a mike in a players face, sweating, trying to catch his breath as he comes off the ice, down 4 goals after the second period:
    Question: You havn’t beaten the Sharks in 3 games this year, what do you think you have to do in the third to get back into the game:
    Player, AH, we have to stick to our game plan , Ah,go hard to the net,Ah,close the gaps, and
    Ah,improve our forechecks.

    Same standard meaningless answers to dumb questions. Find someone else to talk to.

  • I am a diehard Oilers fan but it is almost May and the Oilers are out of the playoffs again as they have been for almost a decade. Do all you people not have anymore hobbies or do you even think about the Oilers in August. Sad

  • Hardcore39


    My dad has worked for the Oilers for over 15 years, he used to take me to the games and watch from press box for “take your kid to work day”. Awesome memories. Anyways, the security guards and everyone working at games have been told no paper bags and no signs with KLowe/organization bashing permitted in the building. There is a censorship going on at Rexall.