Monday Mailbag – August 18th


The mailbag is back after a 1 week hiatus, and our writers are here to teach you a few things.  If you’ve got a question you want answered, email it to me at and I’ll get it posted as soon as possible. Sit back, enjoy, and kill as much work time as possible.


1) Arien asks – Which centre would you play Yakupov with? Does a combo of Draisaitl and Yak have disaster written all over it?

Jason Gregor: 

It would be a challenge on the road when the opposing team gets last change, but at home Eakins could give them soft minutes and better match ups. I’d play Yakupov with Perron and Arcobello to start the season and have Pouliot, Purcell as veteran wingers with Draisaitl. Line combos will change throughout the year, but if the roster looks the same now as opening night, I’d start Yak with Arcobello.

Brian Sutherby: 

I guess it would be Arcobello. I wouldn’t have him and Draisaitl together in fear of defensive zone disasters, and I wouldn’t put him with Gordon because it will hurt his offensive game.

Jonathan Willis: 

Given the current roster, there seems very little choice but to play Yakupov with Draisaitl. They’re going to be getting butter-soft minutes, so it’s probably workable, and they’ll have a veteran (my money is on Pouliot) on the line. Ideally, of course, the Oilers bring somebody else in and have Draisaitl make the team only if he’s impossible to keep off it. If they manage to do that, of course, than Arcobello might get paired with Yak, and he seems a pretty good fit in terms of having a complementary skillset. 


Hmmmm. I’ll say Leon Draisaitl, but ideally a veteran like Horcoff (who did the time with Hall-Eberle early on). Nail is a talented but raw player, needs a mentor.

Jason Strudwick: 

I expect Yak to be a lot more attentive to details this season with playing a more complete game. I won’t expect him to ever be a great two way player but he must earn the trust of the coaching staff and his team mates again. Outside of Gordon there is not a centre on the Oilers that can carry his own and Yak’s defensive responsibilities at this point in their careers. So you have to protect him with who he plays against. I don’t put he and Leon together but I would hope to be able to in a few years. Offensively I really think there could be chemistry.


Putting a rookie on a line with a guy that can’t play defence? WHAT COULD GO WRONG! Eventually, I think this is a pairing we’ll see a lot of. Once Drai and Yak can find their way in the league, it makes perfect sense to have a pass and a shooter on the same line.


2) Mark Drebert asks – Are trades ever made that look lopsided to fans, but the reason is because one of the guys involved is awful in the dressing room?

Jason Gregor: 

Players have been dealt who don’t fit in, that is for sure, but off the top of my head I can’t think of an example. The Neal/Niskanen for Goligoski trade was incredibly lopsided, but Goligoski was not considered a bad seed, it was just a bad trade.

Brian Sutherby: 


Jonathan Willis: 

Probably. The question that follows is whether the rationale of adding a good in the room guy – or subtracting a bad in the room guy – is worth the cost of making a bad hockey trade.


I’m sure that’s true, the Flyers sent away Carter and Richards with that kind of rumor surrounding both deals. Shayne Corson would be an Oiler example.

Jason Strudwick: 

Absolutely! A player that is a big problem in the dressing room can drag down a whole team.


You’d have to think so. Guys aren’t going to want to battle for each other if they don’t respect one another. 



3) Shane Shoemaker asks – Last season Marc Arcobello replaced Gagner and posted okay numbers. Are we really so bad off with Arco as the 2C?

Jason Gregor: 

Long term they are, but for one year it is okay. Gagner hadn’t shown much improvement in his two-way play, so I don’t see Arcobello as a major downgrade in that department. Arco might not get as many points, but his defensive zone play is better. Ideally Draisaitl becomes the 2nd line C next year.

Brian Sutherby: 

Based on Arcobello’s early season play last year I would say no, but the start of the season is always the easiest as well. It would have been nice to gauge him for a longer period mid-season in that role. It’s also tough to get much worse than the Oilers last year. Oilers 2C is still a gaping hole for a winning team.

Jonathan Willis: 

Yes, and I’ll explain why. Arcobello isn’t a proven, long-term solution. He did very well in spot duty, but that doesn’t mean he’ll hold up when given the job full-time. It’s a big risk, and teams need to be risk-averse, which means plugging a guy like Arcobello in the No. 13 forward slot, or at right wing on the fourth line, or whatever until we have a better idea of what he is. Now, he may well turn out – he did absolutely everything he could do last year, and the team would be better off this year if the Oilers had left him in the role – but it’s a risk that a team with playoff aspirations can’t afford to take. 


I don’t believe Arcobello would be a disaster. He’ll have very good wingers with him, and he can pass the puck very well and mark his man. The concern I have is his shot and inability to score goals. It’s a thing.

Jason Strudwick: 

Yes. If the Oilers were taking on the Ducks in the first round of the playoff would you feel comfortable with Nuge and Arco going against Getzlaf and Kesler for seven games? Same on you Shane.


I’d like to see a big sample size of success from Arcobello before handing him the job, but I’m open to seeing if he can do it.  He plays much bigger than his size would suggest, and he’s smart as they come – I’m pulling for him.


4) Gordon Reynan asks – With analytics becoming more and more important, which are the most important advanced stats for goaltenders? If there is none, which fancy stats would you like to see for goalies?

Jason Gregor: 

SV% is the most important, but it has been around for decades. I’d like to see one that focuses on scoring chances, not just shots. It would be difficult because most of us will have a different standard for what is a scoring chance, but I’m sure they could establish something.

Brian Sutherby: 

Save percentage as always is big of course, and anything that tracks quality scoring chances against versus just a shot on goal that isn’t really a scoring opportunity. Some teams rarely give up grade A opportunities, others give up 10 a game and you might just see a 34-28 shot hockey game in the box score.

Jonathan Willis: 

At this point, even-strength save percentage. As for what I’d like to see, I think Chris Boyle is on the right track with his work.


I always look at even-strength save percentage. That’s the most important thing. If it isn’t available, save percentage is fine. Beyond that, I don’t pay any attention to goals-against average or wins. They’re not important. Seriously.

Jason Strudwick: 

I track scoring chances. Not every shot is a scoring chance. After that I would cross reference if I like a goalies’ mask with if I like his tape job too, plug that input into a quadratic equation and then multiply by pi to see if he will win the game that evening.


The most important stat for goalies is save% but beyond that I’m not even sure what guys will be able to come up with.  We shall see.


5) Jayson Grennan asks – The Florida Panthers got rid of their cheerleading team. What about Octane?

Jason Gregor: 

San Jose added a dance/cheer team this year. Teams try different things. I wouldn’t copy anything Florida does off the ice. They don’t draw many fans. I don’t have an issue with Octane. They don’t distract me from the game.

Brian Sutherby: 

Didn’t Wanye make the Octane this year?

Jonathan Willis: 

Frankly, I think it’s a little embarrassing for any hockey team to have a cheer team. It says ‘we’re not a conventional market with real fans, and we have to do something to keep them interested.’ It’s tacky.


I can say with authority that the games are not enhanced for me by the Octane presence. However, that’s not a reflection on the specific women who fill those roles, but on the roles they are filling. Perhaps it’s a generation gap, I’m old and a Dad to a teenage daughter, but suspect these are very intelligent women who could do impressive things given another avenue by the team. 

Jason Strudwick: 

Of all the eight sided shapes the Octagon is by far my favourite.


I’m not as opposed to Octane as some other people are. I’m into watching babes dance, and it’s not like they’re doing it during the play. I don’t see a big deal with it.

  • I support the Octane team and wish them well. Only thing is I would hope they start to take fitness a bit more seriously because I WANT to be distracted by cheer teams.*

    *Of course I’m single and not worried about my wife/GF trolling the ON comments section so I can say what I really think. Heh heh.

  • Dan 1919

    Brian Sutherby:

    “Based on Arcobello’s early season play last year I would say no, but the start of the season is always the easiest as well… It’s also tough to get much worse than the Oilers last year. Oilers 2C is still a gaping hole for a winning team.”

    Well said, it seems Oiler fans are so use to losing over the last 7 years that they forget how far we have to climb. Just because Arco was, and likely will be more effective than Gagner does not make him a suitable 2C.

    If the Oilers take a solid step forward next year, they are still a very bad NHL team.

    I’ll have my fingers crossed for the stars to align with Draisaitl, Nurse and/or Klefbom having blowout rookie years and hope the Oil compete this year. But realistically, with this roster they are 1-2 key injuries away from another catastrophic finish.

  • The Soup Fascist

    “Jason Strudwick:

    Yes. If the Oilers were taking on the Ducks in the first round of the playoff would you feel comfortable with Nuge and Arco going against Getzlaf and Kesler for seven games? Same on you Shane”.

    Playoffs?! Don’t talk about playoffs! Are you kidding me? Playoffs?!

  • The Soup Fascist

    For goaltenders I would like to see rebounds included some how. If we had save% and rebounds per 100 shots or something then combine that, bang you have advanced stats for goaltenders.

  • CMG30

    It would be great to see the Oil pick up a tested #2C so that Arco or Drasitle wern’t virtual locks for the position but at what cost? I was pleasantly surprised with Arco’s admittedly brief cameo last year and I’m not convinced that anyone who’s left out there is significantly better. If we went the trade route, what would the Oilers have to give up to get that player?

    I believe that the Oilers will be much better next season and picking up a legit #2 will make them that much more so, BUT everyone knows that that 2C will only be a bridge till Drisitle is actually ready in a year or two. If the cost is Marincin, Petry or both is this not just a short-sighted move where we would rob Peter to pay Paul?

    I like many of the moves MacTavish has made so far and it’s a shame he couldn’t round up a 2C as well… but I also know that you can’t build Rome in a day. (Yes, I’m aware the Oilers are the worlds longest rebuild project) At the end of the day, I don’t yet see the Oilers as a playoff team even they had managed to acquire a shiny new 2C so if something shakes loose around the league, grab it. If not, let Arco run with the ball till someone else can take it away.

    • Dan 1919

      When Drisaitl is ready in a year or two as you mentioned, we will then be looking for a 3C as Gordon will be expired. Therefore the Oilers need a C now and in the future.

      There also seems to be this idea among fans that RNH and Draisaitl are guaranteed 1/2C’s. I hope Draisaitl pans out as much as the next guy but he’s not being drafted as Taylor Hall. Maybe he maxes out as a 2C best case scenario and would actually benefit from having another strong C below him. There’s more than a few teams in the league that would have Draisaitl as a 3C even in a year or two (assuming he doesn’t become an instant all-star).

      There’s nothing wrong with having 3 good centers in a year or two, especially if it’s the only way to bring meaning to this season… the losing needs to stop.

      Pick the D-men you want to stick with, develop them well, and trade 1 or 2 of the others for a young C this year (Couturier has been mentioned before).

    • Dan 1919

      And we all know there is probably some unspoken reliance that these Yakumov’s and such will pan out to be Centers. But relying on something like that at this point is 100% pure basement dweller mentality.

      At some point they need to commit to wining, accept the rebuild is over, and bring in the pieces needed to win.

      This continuous, “just one more year” mentality is not working. It’s time to move forward.

      • Spoils

        Exactly. The only thing that makes this current wave of prospects promising, is that they are young enough that they have not proven that they cannot play yet.

        Why are THESE kids going to make it?? Cause MacT picked them??

        I’ve been drinking the koolaid since Gelinas was going to be the next Messier, Chris Joseph was going to be the next Coffey, since they REALLY liked Teddy Peckman and had “an embarrasment of riches” on the blueline with the likes of Taylor Chorney in the system.

        It’s a joke!!! Every team has prospects, and for the last 15 years, every team has had better prospects. It drives me bat sh*t crazy when MacT says “we are adding another piece” in drafting Darnell Nurse! What did every other team do at the draft???

        All that being said, hopefully McT has the brains not to give away players like Glencross, Brodziak, and we can get back to respectability.

        But with our current blueline, and our center depth (worst in the history of the league?), it’s lottery time folks.

  • ubermiguel

    “With analytics becoming more and more important, which are the most important advanced stats for goaltenders? If there is none, which fancy stats would you like to see for goalies?”

    Didn’t David Staples try something that involved rating scoring chances against goalies (e.g.: Grade A, B & C chances/saves)? That would yield more info than straight up save%. My eye tells me Dubnyk let in way more Grade C chances than average, but I’d want to see some numbers to confirm it. I also suspect Scrivens stopped more Grade A chances than average, but the Oilers allowed so many Grade A chances his overall save% suffered. But again, I’d want to see the numbers to prove my theories.

    The challenge also becomes defining what Grade A, B and C chances look like. But as long as all observers can be calibrated there might be something to this stat.

    Also situational save% has value; much likefor skaters, the 5v5 stats are probably more telling than anyhting that includes PP/PK.

    *Edit*: Just read the linked Chris Boyle article with the heat maps. That’s pretty much what I was talking about, except he seems to equate distance with a nod to deflections to difficulty. There are many other factors that increase diffculty.

  • ubermiguel

    I really enjoyed the linked article on advanced goalie statistics betwween price and rask. really well thought out and extremely interesting. thank you for sharing

  • Serious Gord

    All this talk of draisaitl and yak getting “soft” minutes.

    Who the heck is going to play all the tough ones at centre?

    A healthy NUGE maybe can handle 20 To 24 but at the high range he’s going to wear down from the trade deadline on – if he doesn’t get injured first.

    Gordon can take ten MAX and I think he too will wear down and I wonder if he has the speed to play even at the level he did last year. And the new face off rules could have a huge impact on his effectiveness at the dot. (It’s his style of taking faceoffs that the rule changes are meant to eliminate)

    Draisaitl can’t be expected to average more than eight soft minutes – if they can be found – no easy task especially on the road.

    That leaves 18 to twenty presumably for arcobello. 5’9″ 165 (hockeydb) Against big second line Centres. Yikes.

    And if any of these four get hurt MacT has depth that is not much stronger than my 12 yr old son.

    I wonder how many teams have gone the entire season with no injuries at centre. And what the average number of games lost to injuries is for centre. You can pretty much guarantee a loss for each and every one that the oil experience this season.

    • On Boyd Gordon:

      • He played 14:45 last season.
      • He played 15:00 for Phoenix in 2012-13.
      • He averaged 15:55 during the 2011-12 before for a Coyotes team that went to the WCF; he averaged 17:49 per game in the postseason.

      So “ten MAX” strikes me as ridiculous.

      On Leon Draisaitl:

      • RNH played 17:36 at centre as a rookie in 2011-12.
      • Think RNH is too good? Anton Lander averaged 10:36 per game as an NHL rookie in 11-12
      • 8:00 per game would put Draisaitl at eight seconds less per night than Will Acton played last season.

      So “can’t be expected to average more than eight soft minutes – if they can be found” also strikes me as ridiculous.

      Yeah, the depth isn’t all that good and going into 2014-15 counting on both Arcobello and Draisaitl to be top-nine centres is a lousy idea. But there’s no need to overstate things.

      • Serious Gord

        So I “overstate”.

        And you understate when you say “… The depth isn’t all that good…”

        It’s a fricken disaster. It is an abandonment of his post by MacT.

        And to expect Gordon to average 14:45 for 82 games is lunacy. As is to expect draisaitl to play 8 for all 82. And it was irresponsible to play lander for six let alone ten (and he didn’t do that for 82 either). I say all 82 because the depth on this team REQUIRES them all to play 82.

  • Serious Gord

    As for “octane”.

    They are an embarrassment. And everyone knows what I’m talking about. Either make them ‘competitive’ or get rid of them.

    Laforge should be fired for them and the rest of the $hitshow he permits to be the dreadful off-ice experience that is attending an oilers game.

  • Spoils

    would it be possible to have Gordon play 4th line and sub in on the 2nd line for 33% of the game. Sort of double shifting him.

    Perron – Gordon – Purcell

    Gazdic – Gordon – Hendricks

    then give Draisaitl 66% (skewing soft) minutes with Perron and Purcell.

    obvi getting a 2nd line center is better…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    While I agree with what Struds is saying about RNH and Arco against Getzlaf and Kesler, I just have to think of that Jim Mora video.

    One step at a time. If we make the playoffs and the reason we lose is because we are weak down the middle then we have to adjust, but at least we’d be making the playoffs. Plus having Draisatil coming up could be a nice internal adjustment.

    I never submitted a question, but here’s mine for the past 2 months. This team is 15 points out of the playoffs come the x-mas break. What does MacT do and how safe is he if this team ends up in the traditional lottery again?