Monday Mailbag – November 24th

Mail

Another dreadful Oilers week is in the books, and now you’re all seeking answers. Whether or not the answers in the mailbag will apply? That’s another question. If you have something you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and waste as much company time as possible. Have a good week, everybody.

Scouts

1) Woogie63 asks – If you don’t count our three first overall draft picks, have the pro scouts or amateur scouts made any contribution to the rebuild?

Robin Brownlee:

Tough to say with the amateur scouts during the time frame — the rebuild — you use. We don’t know what kids taken in the last two or three years (like Nurse) are going to be yet. If you take out the three first overall picks then you’re talking about a considerable drop-off to prospects taken in the second and later rounds. I am interested to see if they uncovered a gem in Bogdan Yakimov.

As for the pro scouts, their performance has left so much to be desired you could fill volumes talking about it. So many misses that weren’t even close to being worthwhile. Most lately, I’d like to know who thought it would be a good idea to offer Benoit Pouliot the dollars and term he got.

Jason Gregor:

Martin Marincin and Klefbom. However, expecting the Oilers to win with more youth in lineup is a losing proposition. The Oilers need some players like Pitlick, Hamilton, Chase, Moroz, etc to develop, but the major weakness was that there was no depth drafted from 2004-2009…other than Petry. Usually picks outside of 1st round take five years to develop. Had they developed any during that time then the Oilers would have been better off.

Lowetide:

Yes. Among the draft picks who are contributing now: Jeff Petry, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Martin Marincin. The pipeline has names like Oscar Klefbom. A player like Steve Pinizzotto was acquired for Ryan Martindale, so there are acquisitions contributing via trades made with assets from the draft.

Pro scouting found Iiro Pakarinen, Mark Arcobello, Brad Hunt, etc. 

Jonathan Willis:

Jordan Eberle, Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin.

Jeanshorts:

In terms of amateur scouting, obviously guys like Marincin and Klefbom look to be finally starting to hit their stride, and Maraincin in particular should be a full-time regular next season and beyond, along with Nurse and Draisaitl, who are also going to be big factors going forward. Then there are guys like Mitch Moroz and Greg Chase and Jujhar Khaira that have shown flashes of what could be some pro potential, but haven’t quite found their gear in pro hockey yet (Or in Chase’s case are still in junior). And then there’s a murders row of guys who we’ll never hear from again. Again these things take time to fully reveal themselves but I’m not super confident in our prospect depth. They still seem to be stuck in the “LOOK HOW BIG THAT GUY IS” mentality, which unfortunately hasn’t really worked for the Oilers since some time in the 90s. 

As far as pro scouting, I think up until this season it’s been even worse. When you’re picking up guys like Will Acton, Mark Fraser and Keith Aulie pretty much solely based on the fact that they have prior experience with the current coach, there’s a problem there. It doesn’t help that most of the guys we’ve picked up have had to play way over their heads (Ference) or have just been plain busts (Nikitin) but the track record so far leaves even more to be desired. I think Purcell and Pouliot have been fine so far, but oddly enough neither one of those guys is a 2nd line centre nor a first pairing D-man! And I know neither of those things are easy to come by, but when you’ve had the same glaring holes for years and they STILL aren’t being filled, something isn’t working. 

Baggedmilk:

I think the scouts nailed it with Jordan Eberle as a mid/late first round pick. I also think they found a solid defenceman in Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin.  As for the pro scouts, I think they made a really safe bet in bringing in Mark Fayne. Unfortunately, Fayne isn’t playing enough minutes.

DoNotWant

2) Steveland Cleamer asks – Do you think that the abundance of NMC/NTC in the NHL right now is hampering losing teams (Buffalo, Florida, EDMONTON, etc.) from league parity due to the fact, that these teams cannot trade for proven winner/NHL veterans to come to their teams to help aid in their rebuilds? Even if opposing GM’s wanted to make a trade of Eberle + picks for say Chara (players used as examples only, not a serious trade consideration) these NTC would prohibit the trade.

Robin Brownlee:

Of course it hampering bottom-feeder teams. Too many players have them.

Jason Gregor:

I hate them. I’d limit them to two or three per team. It won’t happen, but that is what I’d do.

Lowetide:

Sure, but there are always issues no matter the era. I don’t think this can be used as an excuse for poor performance in any market. If the Oilers were better, fewer players would have them on their no trade list. 

Jonathan Willis:

Certainly no-move clauses impact the ability of teams to add players via trade, but I actually think the salary cap hurts more. We see big moves frequently in the summer because that’s the one time teams have some salary flexibility. Things freeze up in-season because everybody is dancing so close to the salary cap. 

Jeanshorts:

I’d say so, yes. As we’ve seen with the free agent market players aren’t exactly knocking down the door to come play for our terrible team (unless Katz drives a dump truck full of money to their house). I don’t necessarily think we’d see more blockbuster trades or anything, but rather than having scenarios where guys like Kesler are handcuffing their team by only giving them two options to be traded to, forcing their own team to deal from a position of weakness and getting less than fair market value, we’d see more straight across trades. Or maybe we’d see more 6 players for 1 trade like we used to in the 90s! THOSE WERE AWESOME! 

Baggedmilk:

No-move clauses suck.  So many players have them now that it makes it difficult to go out and get a veteran guy to help your team.  The Oilers are awful right now, and I’m sure that their name comes up on most guys’ no-move lists.  Until the Oilers get better the veterans players won’t come. Until the Oilers can get better players, they won’t get better. Chicken and the egg.

Contract

3) Tileguy asks – What is the lowdown on Petry? Are we going to resign him or lose him for draft picks? Is it possible to get a “quality” warm body for him, if so when is the best time to make a deal? What would you do?

Robin Brownlee:

I’m not as big on moving Petry as some people are, but that horse might have already left the barn with the way the last negotiations went. Petry would be nuts not to test the FA waters. The Oilers won’t get close to value for him any time between now and the trade deadline.

Jason Gregor:

I’d sign him. Highly doubt they get fair value in a trade.

Lowetide:

I think you get a pick for him, not a player. Oilers crushed his value with that one-year deal. I’ve been saying forever the club should sign Petry, so you can imagine how thrilled I’d be with a contract. 

Jonathan Willis:

I’d re-sign him. I expect the Oilers will end up dealing him for picks or a lesser player sometime in the next few months.

Jeanshorts:

In a perfect world the Oilers resign him to a long term contract where he makes somewhere between 5 and 5.5 mil per season. HOWEVER, this being the Oilers I wouldn’t be surprised if now that they’ve spent all these years developing and he’s finally hit his stride they get embroiled in a bitter contract negotiation, he walks to free-agency and then signs with a contender and wins a couple Stanley Cups before the Oilers even make the playoffs again. OH MAN I CAN’T WAIT! *never stops crying* 

Baggedmilk:

Jeff Petry is a very good defenceman. The problem with Petry is that he’s fighting above his weight class right now. Ideally, you would see Petry as a 2nd pairing guy, but the Oilers have him playing tougher minutes than that. That’s management’s fault, not Petry’s. Unfortunately, we’ll probably see him traded for some week old sandwich at the deadline. Pennies on the dollar.

FirstYoureLAst

4) Jason Reynolds asks – What do you make of Dallas Eakins finishing 30th on the coaching rankings from ESPN?

Robin Brownlee:

Not much. Why would a raw rookie NHL coach like Eakins going to a lousy team be rated 22nd in the same poll the season before? If “experts” thought he was better than seven other coaches in that situation, does it matter if they rank him 30th or 101st now?

Jason Gregor:

Not much. Put Mike Babcock in Edmonton and the Oilers still aren’t a playoff team. They’d be better, no doubt, but they wouldn’t be a playoff contender. The one difference Babcock would make is that he likely would have told MacT to wake the H up when he told him his plan to come to camp with only two NHL centres.

Lowetide:

It would be impossible to rank him high. Eakins isn’t proven and his teams are losing. I don’t think it’s a reflection of his ability as opposed to his track record. 

Jonathan Willis:

Nothing. Those rankings tend to weigh two items heavily: recent results and reputation. Eakins has no NHL track record to give him a reputation bump, and he’s coaching a bad team; that makes it really easy to slot him dead last. I don’t think it’s an objective and deeply-researched measure of coaching strategy.

Jeanshorts:

I mean, is anyone surprised by this? When that list came out he was just over 100 games into his NHL coaching career, and coming off a losing season. He hasn’t even won 40 games in the NHL yet. It may not necessarily be fair but by that metric alone how do you put him ahead of ANY other coach in the league? 

Baggedmilk:

I don’t really put much stock into this aside from it being hilariously predictable.  The Oilers are in 29th place in the league – WHERE ELSE WAS HE GOING TO GO? Sure, Buffalo is in last place and Ted Nolan could arguably have finished last, but at the end of the day who cares? The only rankings anyone should be caring about are the NHL standings.  

Money

5) Kyle Dawes asks – Hockey is one of the most expensive sports to play. What can be done to give more kids an opportunity to play? Can anything be done?

Robin Brownlee:

A good place to start is with organizations like Sports Central which help provide used but perfectly good equipment to kids. 

Jason Gregor:

Cost to run rinks is what makes it so expensive as well as equipment costs. I don’t see either going down moving forward. The one way would be to have more outdoor practices and games, but it seems our society is a tad too soft for that nowadays.

Lowetide:

This is a tough one because it falls to parents (mostly) to pay for that equipment and when you have more than one child it can be doubly expensive or unfair. It isn’t a good situation, I have a very good idea to solve it but gave it to Willis because he was upset at not having one. 🙂 

Jonathan Willis:

I think we’ve already seen hockey transition into more of a rich kids sport; I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.

Jeanshorts:

Maybe Hockey Canada could start a program where it’s kind of like a pick-up league for kids who aren’t quite sure if they want to jump full bore into organized hockey, or for parents who can’t make the time commitment to get their kids to every game/practice. Have equipment available to rent every game for a small fee. Have some volunteers to coach/supervise. I’m not even sure if any of that is feasible but I’m just spitballing here. 

Baggedmilk:

I remember when I first started playing hockey, my dad would take me to Totem Outdoor Outfitters to get my equipment.  You can get really decent used hockey equipment for a fraction of the cost.  There’s also places like Sports Central that will take used gear and pass them along to the less fortunate.  If you have used equipment laying around, you should look at donating it – Hockey registration fees are ridiculous enough without having to buy all new gear. How do we get registration fees down? That’s going to take someone smarter than me to figure out. 

  • The Future Never Comes

    “Most lately, I’d like to know who thought it would be a good idea to offer Benoit Pouliot the dollars and term he got”…..Pouliot is a Corsi King. My guess is that the fancy stats guys won the day, not the people who actually watch the game.

  • Craig1981

    I can’t believe replacing the DJ this season didn’t fix this team.

    …..I’m almost as surprised as when firing Sparky and the equipment people didn’t work

  • The Future Never Comes

    Perhaps we should ask the question “who has the potential to improve to NHL caliber”? A) the team B) McT or C) Eakins the idiot?

    My money is on anyone including the parking lot attendants other than Eakins …..

  • The Soup Fascist

    Judging by those answers on Petry I would say this is another classic example of mngt. screwing up again. I thought MacT might of been the right guy, but his moves just keep on getting worse. Clean house.

  • tealyn

    Another knee jerk reaction by the management of this failure to fire the lowest guy on the totem pole, not even the balls to fire the coach. Just goes to show that this joke of a management team will do whatever it takes to keep their jobs…
    RIP Pat Quinn. I felt bad for him at first about him getting fired, but I’m sure that it didn’t bother him as it was obviously a problem rooted into the culture here.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Didn’t they just give Chabot a new contract? Why did they not skid him last year when everybody and their dog could see he was a negative influence and had improved absolutely zero goaltenders – ever?

    Are Oilers Management decisions based on a Ouija Board, Wind Direction, Dart Board or Magic 8-ball? So hard to tell.

  • Doctor Smashy

    As a follow up to the last question…do any of you have an idea what might make the cost of ice lower? Is it simply supply and demand? Management costs (salaries etc.)? Keeping the ice as…ice? Do you think there is something antiquated about how rinks are designed that makes them more expensive to maintain than they should be? Are there lessons to be learned from the many arenas in Edmonton in terms of operating costs? I think making hockey affordable (as possible) is important.

  • tealyn

    I’ve got two boys playing minor hockey, in Tom Thumb and in Novice in the local area.

    Yes, equipment is expensive. Mostly for skates which are $100 and up for a decent new pair, and you need them basically yearly at this stage. And with the “advancements” in skates, everybody for the most part gets a top brand, gets the kids feet sized and fitted, then the skates are heat formed (baked) and then the skate blades are adjusted based on their stance. So basically off the shelf skates are a thing of the past for most minor league players. Then you add the cost for sticks and hockey bag (these bags nowadays are $100 for a basic duffle and the new “locker type” are $150++). So yes, equipment is expensive.

    Then you add on the cost for registration, and any extra skating courses (most kids I know have been through at least a powerskating course or even hockey camp by the time they’ve hit Novice). Which adds significant dollars.

    Then you add on the cost of extra things “which all the other kids have!” like pictures and team pictures, embroidered toques, hoodies, track suits, jackets, practice jersey’s etc.

    The cost of the extra’s is sometimes built into the Teams slush fund, which is used for Tournaments and extra ice time. This is normally a one time cash call of $200 per child at the start of the year. Then we ask for additional donations or if we are lucky, corporate donations to top up that fund. Our team has around $5000 based on parents and corporate donations. I heard of one Pee Wee team that has raised $18,000 in their slush fund!

    Lastly, the slush fund is used for many purposes to cover costs, but most times it is up to the parents to still pay for meals and lodging and gas etc to attend tournaments and games.

    Those are a summary of most of the costs for minor hockey. This does not include a time commitment which is usually 2 – 3 times to be at the rink per week. Also, in our rink, each family is responsible to either volunteer at the Food Concession which is 2 times per child for the year at around 4 hours per shift. If you don’t want to do the food concession, you can buy it out at $75 per shift. (another $150 per kid!)

    The above is just for the average parent. If you are also Coaching and or being the Manager for a team, you can tack on at least 6 hours per week (on ice, dressing room and doing papwerwork etc) which is all volunteer time. It also took me about 20 hours for Coaching and Safety courses at the start of the year.

    I should also mention that Parents are required to do Timekeeping and Scorecard duties during Games and Tournies as required.

    In a nutshell, it is a huge financial and time commitment for all involved.

    Contributing to your son or daughters development and enjoyment of hockey, along making new friends and helping others, makes it all worth it. IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT OR YOU HAVE THE TIME, that is!!

    • Doctor Smashy

      I coach a youth soccer team, that has a great chance
      too participate in the provincials championship tournament.

      We are running our team on $2000 fundraising (18 players)
      above the $450 registration fee. The season runs October to March.

  • Doctor Smashy

    Re: Hockey expense

    Way too much structured indoors practice times is driving
    the cost of hockey way too high and is really not
    needed for most players under 14.

    Arena winter soccer had more kids playing and has lower
    over costs (obviously) not counting equipment.

    Soccer practices in a gym for 90 minutes once a week and plays
    one 50 minute game a week.

    Soccer seems to have adpated to number of facilities provided
    and amateur hockey is cramming too much structure and that
    Is driving fhe cost of ice time way up.

    IMO

  • The Soup Fascist

    The cost of sports, music, scouts / brownies, etc. can be expensive – absolutely.

    The cost of NOT providing some of the opportunities for your kids, years down the road, can be catastrophic.

    There are financial limitations for some families, I get that, but people who can’t make TIME for their kids extra-curricular activities – I don’t buy it.

    Life is about choices.

  • BLAKPOO

    “The one way would be to have more outdoor practices and games, but it seems our society is a tad too soft for that nowadays.” – Gregor

    I don’t think it’s so much a matter of society being “soft” (when was the last time you practiced in an old rural rink at 6AM might I ask? -20C outside, -19C inside in some of those old barns; don’t tell me about being too “soft”) as it is communities not wanting to pony up the cash to keep their outdoor rinks in acceptable condition for outdoor practices and games. Dunno how things are where you live, but my local outdoor rinks frequently have bare patches of concrete exposed in the corners, and giant gouges in the ice at center, and don’t exactly have the greatest nets in the world.

    • Plenty of teams use outdoor practices now due to the difficulty in getting weeknight practice ice. I have been coaching my son’s teams the past 4 years and we have always incorporated a weeknight outdoor practice from late November into late February (weather permitting). The only time we are not out there is when it is too cold or if the ice conditions are too bad to play on. The kids have a blast, it is fun for us old guys coaching that grew up playing on outdoor or natural ice rinks, and the parents can stay warm inside the community league shacks/buildings.

      I do agree that you need to pick your outdoor practice rinks carefully, though. Luckily for us there are 3 community leagues close by that have good ice all winter long (the rink managers take pride in their outdoor ice).

      • I should have posted a caveat that I’m in Calgary, where a good chinook wind can ruin ice on an outdoor rink in just a few hours, so it isn’t exactly feasible to schedule practices outdoors, and definitely isn’t an option for league games. It only takes a few chinooks here for guys to give up on maintaining the ice for anything more than shinny. Still all goes back to my point that it isn’t a matter of kids being “soft” these days or whatever, but that it plain isn’t an option for a lot of people.

  • lostboys

    Watching and following the Oilers is comical and so predictable. When they were looking for new coach I predicted Steve Smith. Why? He was ex-oiler and he did score one of the biggest goals in Oilers history…I was wrong on that one….I also was speculating that management in running a scam. They pay big big contracts to bad players, they extend contracts, then fire and/or buy-out….maybe the big boys take a portion of the inflated salary to get the deal done!!! I new I was done with my season tickets when they didn’t re-sign Glencross. They were painful to watch then and worse now!!!!