Monday Mailbag – September 1st

WhatsInTheMail

Whether you’re reading this tonight, or you waited to read it on company time I welcome you to another edition of Mailbag Monday.  This feature is all about you guys, if you have a question you’d like ask just email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com. Sit back, relax, and learn something.  Enjoy!

DraftDay

1) Chris Fung asks – I may be biased by the Oilers performance over the past decade, but there seems to be an even bigger spotlight on drafted players than ever before. How much impact, if any, has this increased scrutiny had on player development within the Oilers, and throughout the league, when compared to the past (eg 1990’s) when the draft wasn’t such a big media extravaganza?

Robin Brownlee: 

The Oilers have been in the spotlight more because they’ve had six consecutive picks in the top 10, including three first overall picks. Increased scrutiny by fans has no impact on player development with the Oilers or any other team. Teams have increased staffing in player development over the last decade because that’s how hockey-ops has evolved — roving/organizational coaches etc. I see no connection.

Jonathan Willis: 

There’s no question that Edmonton has had a first-class seat to the rise of the draft, but I don’t think it’s something that Oilers fans are imagining. Increasingly, hockey is a 12 months/year obsession, with prospects and the draft rising in importance as a direct result of that change in cycle. But I’m not convinced that’s changing the way hockey teams operate – I think the increased focus on the draft is a direct result of teams having way more money (the players only get 50% of HRR, the lowest total in years and years) and the salary cap forcing them to spend it unconventional ways.

Jason Strudwick: 

There is 100 percent much more pressure and spotlight on these kids. The media is a young players worst enemy. I get so frustrated when I see an “expert” say player X needs 1.5 years in the minors and he will be an NHLer. It is as if he is going to NAIT to get a degree. If a prospect buys into that he won’t do the work necessary to make that next jump.

Lowetide: 

It’s always been important. The difference now is that there are more dweebs like me following it, and we can yell and scream and act like lunatics when things don’t work out. That’s about it. Seriously, teams are much better at drafting now because the teams cross check more and there’s more consensus. NHL scouts are damn good at their jobs though, the cream is gone by No. 100 pretty much every year (aside from the wonky years when Russians were taken 250th overall and then came over 5 years later). 

Jason Gregor: 

More scouting, more money and more focus on the draft has forced teams to ensure their first round picks pan out. No team will ever be perfect, because the draft is still a major wildcard. You are drafting 17, 18 and 19 year old kids, so a lot can change before they make it to the NHL.

Brian Sutherby: 

I think it’s definitely heightened the pressure/scrutiny. The scrutiny was always there I’m sure, but players likely didn’t hear it or feel it like they do now. If you didn’t read a newspaper or listen to John Short Sportstalk you could probably get away from it. You can’t now, and have to be very strong mentally as a young player breaking into the league.

baggedmilk:

I think TV is one of the biggest reasons for the draft being as popular as it is.  TV has basically turned the NHL draft into a month long event.  Before anyone even steps up to the podium, you’ve got the draft lottery, the pre-draft rankings, mock drafts, etc… It’s amazing that sports websites/radio/TV are able to generate so much content from a two day event, and it’s only going to get bigger.

Europe

2) Garth asks – Do you think the NHL should/would ever add teams in Europe?

Robin Brownlee: 

No. There are better markets available here — Las Vegas and/or Seattle come to mind. Why add the expense of flying across the Atlantic when you can roll the expansion dice in Sin City?

Jonathan Willis: 

Eventually, yes, but we’re talking long-term, decades down the line.

Jason Strudwick: 

Very good question. The biggest issue would be the time change. It would be so hard on the players to go back and forth. They would all suffer from Dead Legs!

Lowetide: 

Sure. Why not? You could have the NHL NA and NHL Europe, and the winners meet for the Bettman Trophy.

Jason Gregor: 

If they want to grow the league globally, you bet. They’d have to expand with an entire division or the travel would be too much for one or two teams. Money talks, and eventually it will happen. One of the four major pro leagues will try it, and I’d bet hockey or basketball will attempt it first.

Brian Sutherby: 

I know the NFL wants to do it, but no. I just don’t see how the travel would ever work. Teams in North America have a hard enough time as it is. 

baggedmilk:

Why? So the Oilers can suck on two continents? I don’t like it.  

IappreciateYou

3) Craig asks – Who is the most under appreciated Oiler of all time?

Robin Brownlee: 

Rob Schremp. I keed. Rem Murray would get some votes from me because of his versatility on some mediocre teams. Todd Marchant drew a lot of tough defensive assignments without putting up great numbers, save for his last season here. For the Stanley Cup teams, Charlie Huddy was the unheralded anchor, though I wouldn’t call him under-appreciated.

Jonathan Willis: 

All-time is really tough and I’m just not old enough to really comment on the glory days teams, or even really the late-90’s teams. I will say that Mike Peca doesn’t get enough credit for his work in the 2006 Cup run. He had a lousy regular season – I wish we had underlying numbers for 2005-06 because I wonder what they’d show about him – but he was money in the playoffs. One thing people don’t realize is that only two forwards – Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff – played more minutes overall during that playoff run. Peca was playing more than 4:00 per game on the PK – he was the glue on that unit – and at evens only Horcoff averaged more than Peca’s ~14/game. In a very real sense (minutes played) it was Peca rather than Stoll who was the No. 2 centre for that team, but he kind of gets forgotten when we talk about the team.

Jason Strudwick: 

Wayne Gretzky. He was that good.

Lowetide: 

Hmmm. GREAT question. I’ll say Charlie Huddy. A brilliant player for a long time, wide range of skills and never, ever got recognition. 

Jason Gregor: 

Great question. As a player, Kevin Lowe should get some votes, even though many of the young generation dislike him as a GM and due to that have started to believe he just rode the coattails of the HOFamers. Not the case.

Lowe would be close, but my pick would be Charlie Huddy. He was on all five Stanley Cup teams, and was underrated both defensively and offensively. He was a solid all around player.

Brian Sutherby: 

In my days of growing up in Edmonton it was Kelly Buchberger. I know he was named captain and in some peoples minds overstayed his welcome on the bench, so that may mean he wasn’t underappreciated, but for me there wasn’t a more selfless player willing to do absolutely anything for his teammates or fans to help win a hockey game. He did all the unsung things many players don’t want to do and others don’t appreciate. 

baggedmilk:

Todd Harvey. I give Todd Harvey’s dirty pornstache all the credit for the Oilers’ Cup run in 2006. It’s about time that we finally get to recognize him for it.

Skills

4) Ryan Kieser asks – Excluding the glory days Oilers, who was the most skilled player you ever played against, or watched?

Robin Brownlee: 

Doug Weight. Ales Hemsky.

Jonathan Willis: 

That’s a tough one, but I’m tempted to say Mario Lemieux is the best player I’ve ever watched (if we’re nixing Gretzky). I really got into watching hockey around 1999, and I remember being blown away by Lemieux’s brain when I watched his Pittsburgh comeback – the guy had this incredible ability to control the things going on around him.

Jason Strudwick: 

Peter Forsberg/Eric Lindros. Both big and strong, so skilled. 

Lowetide: 

Most skilled player I ever watched? Bobby Orr. No question.

Jason Gregor: 

Pavel Bure. He could do things at top speed that no one else could. Ridiculous skill.

Brian Sutherby: 

Most skilled: Alex Semin. 

Best Player: Mario Lemieux. 

baggedmilk:

That’s an easy one… Mario Lemieux was a very special hockey player. Can you imagine how many points he would have ended up with had he not battled illness and injuries?  The guy had the puck on a string, and was amazing to watch.

nerds

5) Baresnake asks – With all the talk about “Fancy stats” and “Stats Nerds,” in the news lately, I feel that regular nerds have been overlooked. who is the biggest “NERD” at Oilersnation?

Robin Brownlee: 

Strudwick by a landslide because of his wardrobe alone.

Jonathan Willis: 

Boringly studious and lacking in social skill? Well, says the guy who looked up the dictionary definition of nerd before answering, I don’t think anyone on this site qualifies.

Jason Strudwick: 

We all have an inner Nerd deep inside us.

Lowetide: 

Me or Willis. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. Unless Brownlee has a train set. Maybe Wanye, he’s got 4,000 things going so he might have a collection of ceramic elephants or some such. Sutherby and Gregor are pretty normal, near as I can tell. If we ever had a contest, I’d start by listing off the entire Montreal Expos starting lineup for their first game ever, mention the winning pitcher (Dan McGinn) and win within 2 minutes. My only concern is Willis might have something even more strange to pull out.

Jason Gregor: 

Too many view the term Nerd in a negative light, I don’t. I’d pick Wanye because he knows how to write code to develop the site. Smart and funny dude.

Brian Sutherby: 

Wanye, and it’s not even close.

baggedmilk:

ME! I’d put my stamp and coin collections up against anyone’s. Besides, they say that nerds shall inherit the earth, and I could do a lot with that kind of power.

  • 4) Ryan Kieser asks – Excluding the glory days Oilers, who was the most skilled player you ever played against, or watched?

    No, I don’t think Doug Weight or Ales Hemsky are the most skilled players I ever watched, but I think they’re the most skilled Oilers from the non-glory days. That’s the question, no?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    RB’s answer to the last question reminds me of this classic Gene moment:

    http://youtu.be/zlTrTxCbIpA

    Somehow I imagine Struds watching that vid and wondering what all the fuss is about, because in his mind, that’s a great jacket (not to mention, a superb shirt and jacket combo).

  • ubermiguel

    Dare I say if he had remained healthy Lemieux would be considered the greatest of all time, not Gretzky. Gretzky benefited from an amazing team and playing in the high-scoring early 80s. Lemieux was outscoring Gretzky when the game getting clutchy and grabby. I won’t get into the “by eye” factor except to say Lemieux made me say “wow” with his pure skill more often than Gretzky.

    • It is apparent you could not be old enough to remember or you were a Flames fan to make a comment like that. Gretzky was just out of this world and Mario became who he was learning from the great one when they played together in the Canada cup. Wayne was truly amazing I was lucky to see him play.

      • ubermiguel

        I saw them both play; I remember that amazing 87 Canada Cup where Mario ended up a mere 3 points behind Gretzky and was only 21 years old. Obviously my opinion is not a popular one to voice on an Oilers fan site. Everyone who watched hockey in that era were lucky to see two of the greatest ever go head-to-head and play together on occasion. Now don’t get me started on Bourque v. Coffey!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^Gretzky’s linemates his first season when he tied for the league lead in scoring with 137 points were Blair McDonald and Brett Calligan and the team basically sucked being more or less an expansion team with castoff players other teams didn’t want….hardly an “amazing” team for the first few years Gretz played! and Gretzky DEFINITELY made me go WOW more times than i can remember! can’t say Mario ever did that for me as often, but his skill level was likely as close to Gretzky’s as you’ll ever see.

    • Reg Dunlop

      For individual skill it’s tough to argue against Lemieux. Or Orr. Or even Jagr. However, early in his career Gretz displayed just as much sizzle as Lemieux and he learned to use his teammates, like nobody else EVER, in later years. It is a team sport after all. He was the best, without equal. The best player I ever faced was Stacy Wakabyashi. Called Stacy Walking right by me, he burned up junior but was too small for the bigs, I guess.

      Because hockey is a team sport my vote for best forward line ever goes to those dirty commies,Larionov Krutov and Makarov.

      As for under appreciated Oiler, my vote goes to Randy Gregg.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        Well colour me surprised…

        You always say that you were a fan during the cup runs. But here you are, saying you liked Lemieux more. You’re entitled to your opinion Gord, but it’s hard to believe you even followed the Oilers back then. Sounds like more of the same.

        • Serious Gord

          What the hell does thinking Lemieux is better than Gretzky have to do with my being a fan of the oil?

          Surely you have the ability to admire great hockey players regardless of who they play for…

          I think Orr was the greatest ever – does that make me a bruins fan?

          Ps- it’s a crying shame that we never got to see peter stastny play a full career – not in the nhl until he was 24. Living in NL/Ontario at the time I probably got to see more him play more games than westerners. He was sensational – a force of nature on the ice.

          • Serious Gord

            Maybe. Maybe not. That that is even debatable says a lot about how loaded a team the oil was back then. Was there ever a team that had as high a top five or six players on one team? I don’t think so.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            Orr was the greatest ever and Lemieux is better than Gretzky….it doesn’t make you a Bruins or Pens fan but it seems like the typical Eastern mentality of the time that some carry with them to this day….rather Orr/Lemieux be crowned the best ever than give it up for a player who played out West in Edmonton. but you are entitled to your opinion.

          • ubermiguel

            I’m a die hard Oilers fan, lifelong Albertan too and I brought up the topic that Lemieux might have been better (barring injuries). The thing about Gretzky/Lemieux is their careers overlapped enough it’s easier to compare the two rather than comparing them to Orr or Richard or Howe. Different eras makes it tough. Anyways, debates like these (real debates, not name calling and insults) make being a sports fan a lot of fun. Lots of great things to ponder (e.g.: Gretzky’s linemates, Stasny’s early career, Russians we never got to see play often enough).

          • ubermiguel

            A quick look through the record book leaves zero debatvas to who the best player of all time was. Whether its his assists goals or total points (season and career) he is light years ahead of anyone EVER.

            Lemieux is my alltime favourite player and with Gretz cemented at the greatest ever I think the real debate is who was second best..

            Only a fool would think otherwise

          • ubermiguel

            My favourite is that if Gretzky never scored a single goal in the NHL he would still be the alltime leader in points.

            How does anyone argue with figures like that

    • Craig1981

      In 1988-89 his first season with the Kings after LA had gone 30-42-8 the year before Gretz scored 168 points. I think that fact refutes your comments.

      And Mario had JAGR as a linemate. I think it could be argued either way if Jagr or Kurri would be a better linemate

      Also in the last 10 years of waynes career he won the Art Ross 2 times to Mario’s 3, so I think he did just fine in that era.

      In the end they were both great players

    • Zarny

      For what it’s worth, Gretzky has said many times Lemieux is the best player ever.

      The problem with any GOAT debate is everyone has a slightly different take or criteria. You can never eliminate personal bias from the debate.

      If the GOAT was simply a skills competition Lemieux might be the consensus. No denying Mario’s skill was off the charts. He looked prettier Gretz too. Lots of players did which I think some use as a knock against Wayne.

      To me though, the GOAT is simply about who was the most effective on the ice and separation from their peers. And nobody touches Gretz.

      Between 80-81 and 88-89 Grezky’s points per game were 2.05, 2.65, 2.45, 2.77, 2.60, 2.69, 2.32, 2.33 and 2.15 (his 1st yr in LA). From 81-82 to 86-87 Gretzky won the Art Ross by margins of 65, 72, 79, 73, 74 and 75 PT.

      From 85-86 to 93-94 Lemieux’s points per game were 1.78, 1.70, 2.18, 2.62, 2.08, 1.73, 2.05, 2.67 and 1.68. His high-water marks of 2.62 and 2.67 ppg compare to Gretzky’s 2.65, 2.77, 2.60 and 2.69 while in the same era but he reached that level only twice compared to Gretzky’s four. And his down years were significantly lower than Gretzky’s. If you don’t count Gretzky, Lemieux won his Art Ross trophies by only 37, 44, 8, 28, 12 and 13 PTS.

      Gretzky was simply better and more consistent, for longer.

  • Prudham's

    Even though Huddy was part of the glory years, he’s a good example of something that I find interesting. If you say someone is underrated enough times, at what point do they become ‘rated’ enough?
    Saying someone is underrated is a direct compliment to their skill, so if it’s said all the time about a player, then they’ve essentially been praised a lot, and you can’t call them underrated anymore. Ask anyone who watched the Oilers in the glory years what the number one comment about Charlie Huddy was. A lot will say that “he was underrated” was the most frequent statement made about him. So basically a lot of people were often saying he was a great player, which he was. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that about him. I remember reading a program at the game where he was pictured under the heading “most underrated Oiler”, and my dad pointed that out. (There’s a Canada cup game where I thought he was the best player on the ice. Amazing defense.)

    I’d say guys like Damphousse, Nicholls and Marchant were somewhat underrated in the true sense of being underrated.

  • Serious Gord

    Time to come clean everyone, I have been masquerading myself as ‘Serious’ so you would all take me… well, serious. I am really a 26 year old statistics and analytics major at SAIT. I’m a Sagittarius who loves to play D&D and hang out in mom’s basement (I just can’t get enough of her cooking). So that’s my condensed Bio, don’t judge me, we all need to be ‘serious’ every once in a blue moon 🙂 ? ? ?

  • Reg Dunlop

    Jason Strudwick wrote:

    There is 100 percent much more pressure and spotlight on these kids. The media is a young players worst enemy. I get so frustrated when I see an “expert” say player X needs 1.5 years in the minors and he will be an NHLer. It is as if he is going to NAIT to get a degree. If a prospect buys into that he won’t do the work necessary to make that next jump.

    Um, Jason, isn’t this EXACTLY what you have been saying about Draisaitl in your previous articles, on the NHL network,and on the radio?

    All this without seeing him play a single exhibition game, much less a regular season game?

    Time to take a look in the mirror…you can’t have the opinion you so strongly stated above AND be able to justify your view on Draisaitl going back to Junior for a year before he even steps on the ice in an Oiler uniform, so which is it? Because what I’ve been hearing from you sounds a whole lot like the media “expert” you describe in your answer to this question…just sayin’…

    • Serious Gord

      I found it interesting that Robin seems to have had the exact opposite opinion on media pressure: “Increased scrutiny by fans has no impact on player development with the Oilers or any other team.”

      1. I think it very much does pressure a team to rush a player in a hockey mad market versus a backwater one.

      2. Pressure on the player can also have an impact especially a younger one. Naturally it depends on the player. Rory mcilroy blew up at masters a few years back – probably from the pressure, but he did bounce back and today seems none the worse for wear.

      Eugenie Bouchard collapsed at Wimbledon and has yet to return to form looking very unconfident. Perhaps she too will recover. But the pressure certainly had an impact and the argument can be made to rose too far too fast for her best long term interests. under the circumstances it was unavoidable. In hockey it can be to a much larger degree. One wonders how yakupov would have been last year if he hadn’t had as big a year the year prior.

  • ubermiguel

    Seeing as our new Gm was hired to take us to next step , but instead took us backwards should we keep him if we falter early again ? Case can be made we end up even falling further this year despite what changes have been made .

    Poll : THE QUESTION BEING ASKED : If we falter badly early again should we get a new GM by Xmas vote Trash , if not vote cheers .

    Only about 9 days before rookie camp .

  • Serious Gord

    Best burger and fries used to be Clyde’s Eatery mushroom burger , best lasagna and baked spaghetti used to be Cronos (Stony Plain) and Bacco pizza . Best Pizza used to be the Chateau On The Hill in Beaumont . Best sauces used to be Between Friends . Best onion rings still the bloomin onion at Outbacks . Always got a good steak from the old Buffalo Bills and Yeomans . Best veal cutlets at Astros . Del Monicos was good for Italian , but their gone . Wel gotta go , getting hungry . P.S. – Gretzky the greatest because he also played here .

  • Sean17

    Rank these in the order you see as best players.

    2002 Rick Nash
    2003 Marc-Andre Fleury

    2004 Alexander Ovechkin
    2005 Sidney Crosby
    2006 Erik Johnson
    2007 Patrick Kane
    2008 Steven Stamkos
    2009 John Tavares
    2010 Taylor Hall
    2011 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
    2012 Nail Yakupov
    2013 Nathan MacKinnon

    Seems like we have some of the weaker #1’s…
    My rankings:
    2005 Sidney Crosby
    2004 Alexander Ovechkin
    2008 Steven Stamkos
    2007 Patrick Kane
    2009 John Tavares
    2010 Taylor Hall
    2002 Rick Nash
    2013 Nathan MacKinnon
    2011 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
    2003 Marc-Andre Fleury
    2006 Erik Johnson
    2012 Nail Yakupov

    And Ovie is falling….

    • ubermiguel

      Right you are. But injuries and cancer definitely knocked down Mario’s stats; his career points and goals per game are higher than Gretzky’s though.

      Zarny’s right about the GOAT debates, everyone has different criteria. I like the way he looks at the distance from the competition for those scoring titles.

      • Zarny

        Actually, Gretzky’s ppg is still higher than Lemieux’s (1.92 v 1.88). Both of your comments though emphasize the need for a frame of reference.

        Gretzky played 572 more NHL games than Lemieux. Just as Lemieux’s stats were effected by lost games due to injury and sickness; Gretzky’s per games totals were effected by playing until he was 38.

        With regards to goal scoring…it’s a young man’s endeavor. In the history of the NHL there have been 193 50 G seasons. Only 5 have been produced by players age 32 or older. Only 19 were produced by players age 30 or older.

        When talking about the GOAT I think you have to focus in on the time frame when the candidates were in their prime and truly the best players in the world. When you do this Lemieux’s goals per game is significantly lower than Gretzky’s.

        • ubermiguel

          Right you are on the points per game, I screwed up the numbers there, thanks for correcting me. Goal per game Lemieux surpasses Gretzky though (0.75 v. 0.6). We do have a different frame of reference.

  • Zarny

    Bobby Orr was amazing at all aspects of the game. He is credited with changing how the game was played. I was an Oiler season ticket holder since day one so I saw a lot of the great one (and the name is deserved) during his prime. The team he had around him allowed him to play very high in the defensive zone avoiding all the battles in the defensive zone. He could steal the puck on the back check better than anyone but he did not need to play a 200 ft fame. Bobby Orr played a 200 ft game, and like Gretzky made fans wonder what he was capable of doing next. He also was hampered with injuries that at the time could only be managed, not totally healed. Orr was not my favourite player, but compared to his peers, he was the best I ever saw. His ability to take over a game was amazing, and much like Gretzky, he made everyone on the ice a greater threat to score. If you bring up the win factor, just remember that Orr played against the Habs in the 70’s, who still owe the best record in one season and we’re constantly the dominate team for nearly ten years. He played against the best team in hockey (just ask the Russians).

  • Zarny

    I wonder how many points 66 would have gotten with Gretzkys health. I also wonder if Gretzky was 6’4″ 220 lbs if he may have gotten more points.

    In other words, a body swap.

    Wanye see what you can do with the “photoshop life-emulator creator’s function.”