Monday Mailbag – May 12th

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It’s your favourite time of the week! The mailbag is back with the answers to all the questions you’ve always been wondering about.  If you want to submit a question, just email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter.  As a thank you, I’ll send everyone that submits a question a sticker package from the Nation.  Questions don’t all have to be Oilers related, so be creative.

It’s your time to shine, Nation. Enjoy.

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1) @CraigSmallwood1 asks – The Oilers have missed the playoffs for 8 straight seasons.  6 of those have been since Daryl Katz has owned them.  Has the ownership change factored into the teams struggles or is that purely coincidental?

Jonathan Willis

I don’t think it’s been the deciding factor, but it has certainly been a factor. Katz has the authority to remove Kevin Lowe, and had the authority to remove Steve Tambellini much earlier in the process. He has not in the case of the former and did not in the case of the latter.

Lowetide

In about January 2010, Mr. Katz suggested a rebuild. He’s a business man, and so went about the work of looking long term. The problem is that rebuild needs to have an endgame, and Steve Tambellini didn’t have the vision to see his role in the process. You can’t just collect assets, they need to have form and support. We are here. MacTavish’s arrival as GM is late in the game, but I suspect not too late for a successful rebuild.

Jason Strudwick

The owner is the top of the food chain. They get some of the credit or negativity depending on their teams results. I think it is just a coincidence. As a player on the team when he bought it I can say he treated the team very well.

Jason Gregor

He has been a part of it. If he could take his negotiations skills from getting a new rink and put them into negotiating building a winning team that would be great, however, they are very different skill sets.

Brian Sutherby

New ownership allowed the team to spend more money so you would think the on ice product would improve. Poor management choices, poor player development in my opinion and the Yakupov pick (Katz pick) if true, is a scary thing. Maybe they were headed in this direction with or without him but the owner is in charge of putting the right people in place to make these decisions.

baggedmilk

One thing I miss about EIG was their ability to not threaten to move the team to Seattle. That was cool… *remembers*

BrandonDubinsky

2) Taylor Smith asks – To me, Brandon Dubinsky is the ideal player for the Oilers second line centre. Do the Oilers have anything the Jackets would want for Dubinsky? He played first line minutes for CBJ in the playoffs, so it’s probably a pipe dream to see him in Edmonton. Do you think there are any other Dubinsky-types that the Oilers could target for the 2C role?

Jonathan Willis

Everything I’ve read out of Columbus suggests that Dubinsky is considered a core piece. The Oilers might have better luck with Artem Anisimov if they’re shopping for help from the Blue Jackets.

Lowetide

I like your suggestion, and suspect that CBJ will be a target team. Young Willis had something up on this recently. As for other targets, I like Paul Stastny and the Russian Grabovski. 

Jason Strudwick

I always liked Dubinsky as a player. He is very aggressive and just cocky enough to not care who he runs over. I don’t think he would be a player they would trade. Could Mike Richards be a guy?

Jason Gregor

What do the Oilers have to offer that they would be willing to trade to acquire Dubinsky? CBJ loves Dubinsky, I don’t see him being moved. There aren’t many players like Dubinsky, so I don’t see a trade happening for a 2C who is physical and skilled. I doubt Kesler would waive NMC to come here.

Brian Sutherby

I agree with you that is the type of player they need in the 2-hole. Guys that play big minutes and have an edge don’t grow on trees, often you have to find these guys in the draft.

baggedmilk

I think Brandon Dubinsky would be awesome in an Oilers uni, but there’s no way CBJ is giving a guy like that up without costing a fortune.  The problem with talking about hypothetical trades is that we’re only setting ourselves up for disappointment.  If anything, I expect the Oilers to back the Brinks truck up for Paul Statsny this summer. Whether he would even sign here is another story.

Yakupov

3) Sevenseven asks – Anton Belov left to go sign in the KHL. More money, less games, and playing in his home country. Do the oilers worry about Yakupov doing the same thing after next season? Should they be working to sign him during the season? Trade him? How can they prevent losing him for nothing?

Jonathan Willis

In his public interviews Yakupov has consistently maintained that his goal is to play in the NHL. If he’s saying the same things privately, I don’t know that this is really a concern.

Lowetide

Nah. Nail Yakupov’s brain doesn’t work like that, I expect. A huge tell was Larionov asking for a trade. Yak City isn’t wired to run from the problem.

Jason Strudwick

The KHL is a very real competitor for the NHL when is comes to Russian players. The money they make at home is way more then they would make in the NHL and they are at home. As a player who played 3 different times in Europe I can understand how much easier it is to be in your own country. Do I think Yak would leave the Oilers after next year? Anything is possible. The Oilers want to build his game and the entire teams game so that he is excited about the future here in Edmonton. That is true for all players on the team though, except I don’t think North Americans look at the KHL the same way as Yakupov might.

Jason Gregor

The KHL is a factor when players don’t have contracts, but Yakupov has said many times he wants to play in the NHL. They would trade him before he goes back to KHL, but I don’t see him going home right away. I suspect he will get a new deal before the end of next season, but there is no major rush. I don’t see him in the same boat at Belov.

Brian Sutherby

Put him in the best possible situations to succeed. The problem is, it may cost you wins and do people want to start winning or to continue the rebuild next year? He doesn’t deserve to be on the first line in my opinion and maybe even the second, but because he was rushed to the NHL you have no choice. He’s supposed to be an offensive player so he needs to get offensive minutes, even if he doesn’t deserve them. You need to coddle this player now and build him back up.

You can’t trade him now and get any value, you have to ride him out. To me Yakupov came over in Junior so he could play in the NHL. It’s an obvious concern given Kovalchuk recently, but I have to believe he wants to play in the NHL.

baggedmilk

How dare you even suggest my beloved Yakupov would commit such a heinous act?  I think he’s in for a bounce back year and all the haters will be scrambling to delete tweets where they wanted him traded.

WhoAmI

4) Jonathan Milroy asks – What team identity do you think will MacT & Eakins are building towards? (ex: 2 way hockey club, or a lunch bucket group, a puck possession minded team, defence first, high flying offence, etc.) Does it look like they even have a plan?

Jonathan Willis

The comments I’ve heard from both suggest that they see the Oilers evolving into a puck possession team. But I’d also argue that “identity”, like “culture” gets overused: the secret here is to have good players and employ them in areas where they can succeed more than it is to have a single defining narrative for the team.

Lowetide

I think they’re trying to go in a puck possession route, but remain convinced that enforcers are needed. A possession team needs an enforcer like a fish needs a bicycle.

Jason Strudwick

Mac T has a plan. Look at the players he has brought in during his time. I like all the additions. He is trying to at dependable players that compete. Getting more of these types of players will eliminate the ups and downs we saw from this team.

Jason Gregor

They want to be a possession team that attacks and is built on puck moving D-men. It helps when you have different types of players to play that style. You can’t have all the same size and types of players and expect to win.

Brian Sutherby 

It’s obvious they want more grit and character sprinkled throughout the lineup. Other than that I have absolutely no idea. This team has no identity at the moment and until additions this summer, I couldn’t even guess at what this teams identity is.

baggedmilk

I think they’re going for the “Undo What Tambellini Did” identity.  I almost feel bad for MacT, because he took over a team with so many holes that it’s nearly impossible to turn things around in less than another decade.  I look forward to another summer filled with MacT keywords – Grit, Character, Progress

MoMoney

5) BobbyCanuck123 asks – A friend and I are having an argument… He says free agents will be banging down the door to play for the Oilers because of the new arena and our collection of talented budding stars. I say, all free agents care about is one or a combo of the following: Stanley Cup contender/close to family/money… Who is right?

Jonathan Willis

I always get a kick out of people talking about the new arena the way they used to talk about the rebuild or the new CBA. The new arena is going to be a nice place to watch hockey, and it’s going to make Daryl Katz piles and piles of money; I doubt very much it has a significant impact on team-building. As to the main thrust of your question: I don’t think there’s a blanket rule for free agents. Some like hockey markets and a depth chart that affords opportunity and coming back home to play (all of those favour the Oilers). Others like winning hockey games, playing in a major centre and enjoying mild winters (all of those favour other teams). It all depends on the individual.

Lowetide

I try not to talk a lot about the Glory Days, because it’s a jerk thing to do in light of what young Oiler fans are experiencing. However, rest assured that when this team was really good, Edmonton had no troubles acquiring veterans (mostly via trade at that time). It’ll happen again.

Jason Strudwick 

For top free agents the money will be the same everywhere pretty much, they want to go where they can play and win. For the remaining free agents money does play a part as does opportunity. If they have a family they may like to be closer to home for support. I truly believe ultimately the biggest factor will be opportunity to win.

Jason Gregor

The Oilers need to win, until that happens they won’t get many big name free agents, but very few winning teams are built around free agency. Much of your core has to come through the draft, and then you need to make some good trades, get a bit lucky and sign quality free agents. Look at this year’s free agents and in previous seasons, the best players rarely make it to free agency anymore. Free agents won’t solve the Oilers problems, and a new arena won’t be the reason players sign here. It won’t be in the top-5 of any player’s “must have” list. Winning is what matters, the rest, new rink, is white noise.

Brian Sutherby

No player cares about the rink one bit. If the young Oilers finished on the cusp of the playoffs this year and were trending up, players may want to be apart of that.

You are right here, just look at the Redwings.

baggedmilk

If what Sutherby and Strudwick are saying is true, and that free agents want to sign with a potential winner – we’re screwed.  The Oiler are closer to finding Sasquatch than they are at being a contender. *cries*