Monday Mailbag – February 23rd

mailbag

It’s time for another edition of the (waste as much company time as you can) mailbag! As always, our writers are ready to answer your questions will all the expertise their lives can provide. This feature depends on your brains, and if you have a question you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now, grab a coffee and leave your work line off the hook – there’s learning to do.

Two

1) Rama Lama asks – Exactly how do you feel about MacT now that he has been on the job for two years, and made some moves? Is he really on it?

Matt Henderson:

Not a fan so far. He waffled on bold moves then he waffled on adding NHL bodies to his team. Gagner for Purcell, Perron for a pick, Marincin to the farm, 9 million to Nikita Nikitin, no goalies you can count on, Dallas Eakins over Krueger, no 2C to start the year. What is there to like? Fayne has been pretty good. Pouliot looks great while he’s shooting 20%. I’m not convinced he’s a good evaluator of talent and I don’t know what his plan is.

Jonathan Willis:

I think Craig MacTavish is a smart hockey man and an able head coach. However, his record as general manager has been at best a mixed bag, and his recent comments have outlined a plan that would seem to take the Oilers further away from competitiveness rather than toward it. At this point, I’d say the jury is very much out; if this team flat-lines next year it’s going to be very difficult to justify retaining him.

Lowetide:

I respect MacT’s track record as coach and was hopeful we’d see that kind of analytical thinking from him as GM. Although he has made some astute moves (Gordon, Pouliot, Perron trade) I think it’s fair to say it’s been a learning curve for him. The 2014-15 season has been a very poor one for him.

Jason Gregor:

I’m not sold at this point. I haven’t seen any improvement in the team in the standings. He clearly made an error hiring Eakins instead of Nelson two years ago. He has also traded too many proven NHL players, Horcoff, Hemsky, Perron and soon Petry and got nothing other than Klinkhammer that helps team immediately.

Jeanshorts:

I’ve started to lose pretty much all hope at this point. To his credit there is at least a fairly easy to see method to his madness so far; trying a defence by committee approach to try and cover for the lack of a high end D-man. Signing guys with great possession numbers to hopefully help drive the offence. Gambling on two backup goalies who looked ready to break out and land a legitimate starters gig. Obviously pretty much all of these moves have gone up in flames, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying at least. 

He has made some good moves (Hendricks trade, Gordon signing, Roy trade, Klinkhammer re-signing) but overall his tenure so far has been a dud. I’m not against giving him one more crack at it next year, but again, my hope has been stretched to it’s limits already.

Robin Brownlee:

I’ve always considered MacTavish a very sharp guy. I know him reasonably well and have always felt he had a feel for the game. That said, I’ve been surprised at how he’s handled several issues. Bringing in Dallas Eakins over Ralph Krueger stunned me. I understand how he might have made a move (when he said coaching wasn’t a problem) if an established coach with a proven track record had come along, but to gas Krueger for Eakins? Why go outside to hire an AHL coach when he had one with roughly the same credentials in the organization? Still don’t get that. 

I didn’t think Nikitin would be as terrible as he has been, so I can’t say I hated the move at the time. It hasn’t worked out. I laughed out loud at the Norris talk regarding Schultz. Didn’t see that coming. Way too hard of a sell for an unproven player. Personnel move I disliked most was the refusal to address the lack of depth at centre. It’s like he was the only guy who didn’t see the problems coming. Based on what I expected, MacT’s been a huge disappointment so far.

Baggedmilk:

MacT’s tenure as GM has been “interesting” to say the least. He does get some points for the PRV for Perron trade. I’ll also give him points for bringing in Mark Fayne (he hasn’t been great, but hasn’t been awful), Benoit Pouliot, Boyd Gordon, and Matt Hendricks. Those are four actual NHL players that play a solid role on the team (obviously Perron is gone now). It’s the mistakes that MacT has made that are just so ridiculous that you can’t look past them. How about only having two NHL centres to start the year? How about giving Nikitin all the money? How about signing Jeff Petry to a one-year deal last summer when the only possible outcome would be to trade Petry for magic beans?

Has MacT done some good things? Certainly, but they’re gross outweighed by the awful choices he’s made with the roster, and thinking it was good enough to compete in the NHL. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the Oilers so we’re stuck with him.

Awards

2) Chris Curtola asks – Is it time to add some new awards in the NHL?  The always seems to be confusion between most valuable TO HIS TEAM, or just most outstanding player should be a new award for the Hart.  Maybe a Gretzky award?  In my opinion, I think they should have a separate best defenceman, and most offensive defenceman. What are some new awards or changes to the awards you would like to see made?

Matt Henderson:

I would love to just drop the “To his team” part of the MVP debate then tell everybody to stop trying to outthink this. NHL awards are not just for teams in the playoff hunt. That is a dumb caveat that people add all the time. “I would have voted for X but his team wasn’t in the playoff hunt,” is not acceptable to me. Also, I would redefine the Selke to actually be an award for defensive forwards, not for offensive forwards who aren’t crappy in their own end. Give the guys doing the heavy lifting their dues. Most of the awards are fine, it’s just the people voting on them are horrible with definitions.

Jonathan Willis:

I mostly like the awards as-is, but my big change would be to the voting. I’d like to see a limited pool of voters – perhaps two covering each NHL team – and I’d further like all ballots to be publicized post-voting. The various voters (generally the PHWA) hold a public trust and given that these are generally journalists voting they should be champions of transparency.

Lowetide:

I’d love to see a Bobby Orr award, given to the best defenseman in the NHL. The Norris could be given to the best offensive defender (NHL did this with the Vezina award years ago, changing its definition). For the Gretzky award, I think you simply change it from Hart Trophy to the Gretzky. 

And yes, it is time.

Jason Gregor:

I would change wording to most outstanding player. Simple. Most valuable to the team is impossible to prove until they don’t play. And since Pittsburgh played well without Crosby, does that mean he isn’t valuable? The wording stinks. Just award the best player.

I don’t need more awards. Best D-men are those who combine offence and defence. I’m okay with Norris trophy.

Jeanshorts:

I’d like to see the voting overhauled. I’m not sure what would need be done, but I’m a firm believer in East Coast Bias being an actual thing, and to me it’s kind of silly to have people vote for awards where a large percentage of the members see certain teams/players to a much larger degree than the rest. I mean, Stan Fischler said the Oilers were a great team now that they’re under Todd Nelson, after admittedly only watching TWO games.

Robin Brownlee:

My main beef with the awards is that one of them seems to be handed out as consolation prize. The Selke Trophy shouldn’t go to a big-points guy who wasn’t quite good enough to win a scoring award or the Hart. It should go to a truly defensive forward who excels at the art of shutting opponents down and playing a defensively reliable game. Not a big deal to a lot of people, but I’d rather see it go to a modern-day version of Bob Gainey or Doug Jarvis than to somebody who just missed on another award.

Baggedmilk:

I’m not really interested in the NHL awards too much. As an Oilers fan, I don’t feel that any of these awards apply to the team I like so what’s the point in paying attention? The NHL definitely needs a Gretzky award though. Seriously. 

lowbid

3) D-Unit asks – If you were Craig MacTavish, what would you do with Justin Schultz? Minimum Qualifying offer (too much in my opinion)? Trade for what they can get? Sign long term and hope?

Matt Henderson:

Minimum qualifying offer then another one year deal at as little money as possible. He *might* turn it around and without Petry (probably) the team could use somebody. They will need to salvage some kind of career from him.

Jonathan Willis:

It really depends on his trade value. I’m of the view that at this moment in time Schultz is a third-pairing even-strength option with some offensive upside, and suspect that he might eventually emerge as a legitimate second-pairing type at even-strength. If other teams value him more than that, trade him; if not try and ink him to an extension. A three-year deal at comparable dollars to what he’s making now doesn’t strike me as ludicrous, though of course his agent could always threaten arbitration and a walk-away down the road.

Lowetide:

I’d sign him to the same contract he got this season.

Jason Gregor:

Only option is to sign him to same deal he has now. He makes more than league average so he doesn’t need a raise. Would have no trade value, so sign him to a one year deal and make him earn a raise.

Jeanshorts:

They’re basically between a rock and a hard place now. The qualifying offer they’re going to have to give him is WAY too much. But you can’t really trade him, because I honestly don’t think his stock could be any lower. And as bad as he’s been this year, I’d still rather have him as a reclamation project who showed promise at one point, over a 5th round pick who inevitably never plays in the NHL. 

At this point I think all they can do is sign him to a two year deal max and pray that Nelson/whoever coaches next year finds the secret key to making him not an absolute tire fire in his own end. 

Either that or they could always try him on the wing! WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO LOSE?

Robin Brownlee:

He should do what he had the leverage to do last summer but didn’t do — a bridge deal that reflects the value of the player here and now, not what he MIGHT become one day with no track record to prove it. He can’t “trade for what they can get” if they lose Petry first. How do you ice an NHL blue line without Petry and Schultz and with Ference fading and Nikitin running the gamut from barely OK to awful?

Baggedmilk:

What CAN you do? All the Oilers can do is qualify him to the same deal he has this year and hope he signs it. I’m going to guess that signing Justin Schultz will never be that easy though, because I think he thinks he’s better than what we’re seeing. 

start-stop-continue

4) Vetinari asks – Quick game of “Stop/Start/Continue.”  Give me one thing the Oilers need to stop doing, one thing they need to start doing, and one thing that they need to continue to do.

Matt Henderson:

Stop moving NHL bodies out for picks. Start making good decisions at the draft table in rounds two onward. Continue on this course with Nelson.

Jonathan Willis:

Stop planning for the best case scenario. Some players will exceed expectations when bumped up the depth chart (Benoit Pouliot) but most won’t and counting on, say, Oscar Klefbom to anchor a top pairing or Nikita Nikitin to hold down a shutdown unit job after this season is planning for the best. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Start icing a lineup with more than four NHL centres. Lots of teams bump centres to wing and there are plenty of good reasons for it, including the fact that it gives the coach a lot more flexibility when injuries hit. Continue exercising faith in the young core. It hasn’t been that long and even a guy like Taylor Hall is probably still two years away from the prime of his career; these are very good players now and history tells us they aren’t at their peak yet. Moving them out is the Mike Milbury answer, and the general manager who turns to it deserves a Mike Milbury reputation.

Lowetide:

The Oilers need to stop trading veterans like David Perron and Jeff Petry. Get good players, keep good players. Let Petry be the last good veteran to leave for some time. 

The Oilers need to start building a team with an idea to immediate improvement for 2015-16. 

The Oilers need to continue to develop these AHL kids like Klefbom and Lander for the rest of the season. Give them plenty of at-bats.

Jason Gregor:

Stop overselling players. No more “emerging as first line D pair” or he “has Norris Trophy potential.”

Start developing players properly. Let them develop in AHL.

Continue to employ Taylor Hall.

Jeanshorts:

The Oilers need to stop the coaching carousel. Stick with a guy for at least two seasons PLEASE. 

The Oilers need to start letting their prospects develop in DEVELOPMENTAL leagues, and not throw them in the deep end of the NHL and hope they don’t drown (they pretty much always drown). 

The Oilers need to continue finding bargain priced veterans to bring in, to help shepherd along the never ending stream of 20 year old future-superstars (Roy, Gordon, etc).

Robin Brownlee:

Stop rushing prospects. Start demanding better intel from the pro scouting department. Continue the coaching search beyond internal candidates no matter how well the Oilers perform under Nelson. Know you’re casting the net far enough and that you’re actually getting the best guy who wants the job.

Baggedmilk:

Stop being so arrogant towards your own fans. It’s embarrassing, and makes management look even dumber for the results in the standings. Start developing prospects properly. Anton Lander is just starting to figure things out at 23 years old. Expecting kids to figure it out by 19 or 20 is stupid, and a staple in the Oilers playbook. Continue finding veterans to fill in the roster. Isn’t obvious what Derek Roy’s experience is doing for Yak?

BeefJerky

5) Tom in MTL asks – I really struggled to come up with an idea Valentine’s Day. I want to know what is the wackiest thing you’ve ever done to win over a woman?

Matt Henderson:

If you are asking bloggers for love advice then you need to re-evaluate your life choices. Wackiest thing I ever did? I burned a lot of gas driving between Edmonton and Red Water one summer. Looking back on it all I’d rather have that gas money back.

Jonathan Willis:

I’ve really never had to do anything wacky. The only thing that really comes to mind was arranging for flowers to be delivered to my then-girlfriend, now-wife two weeks into a month-long road trip I took with some friends to New York. I know that’s a lame story, but my dating days are so far back in the rear-view mirror that it’s the only thing I can think of.

Lowetide:

I listened to what she had to say.

Jason Gregor:

Not sure about wacky. I sent my wife on a surprise road trip with her best friend to Calgary for a spa day. It was an early birthday present, since at her B-day she would have been eight months pregnant and likely not wanting to travel. I arranged it and had her friend pick her up at the house. I picked the spa, the restaurant and hotel. Their other best friend lived in Calgary so I got her to surprise them at dinner. Putting thought into something is what matters. Not sure it won her over, since we were married, but it kept me in good books.

Jeanshorts:

This girl I liked in high school, when asked by one of my friends what she thought of me, said “Oh I don’t even know who that is”. So I wrote my name in huge letters on a white T-shirt, with an arrow pointing up to my face, to let her know THIS GUY is who that was. She basically immediately said no to ever dating me, so it totally worked!

Robin Brownlee:

Never felt the need to do anything wacky.

Baggedmilk:

The craziest thing that all guys do for their girls is pretending to actually enjoy the garbage they make us do. “Would I like to spend the afternoon at Michaels? Of course! What a thrilling way to spend a Sunday.”

  • Rob...

    Can you imagine if the same question was asked of their significant others? “I want to know what is the wackiest thing you’ve ever done to win over your man?”

    Lowetide’s wife: I reached over, ran my fingers through his hair, and whispered in his ear ‘Tell me again about why a good Corsi doesn’t always translate to wins.’.

    Baggedmilk’s wife: Well… I absolutely HATE Michaels, but when he starts waving around that 40% off coupon, I put on a brave face and say, “Honey, the silk flowers in the art nook are starting to look a little dated, do you want to go to Michaels?’

      • vetinari

        I did the same thing yesterday when my wife went to Michael’s! I always thought that someone could make a lot of money by setting up a sports bar next to Michael’s for all the bored husbands and spouses. “No honey, it’s fine. Go look at plastic flowers and things that are 50% more expensive just because you add the word ‘craft’ in front of it– I’ll just wait for you next door at Tommy Knockers Sports Bar. What? The waitresses there all dress skimpy? Then you better shop fast.”

          • vetinari

            Not a bad idea– but I’m sure that my wife would be unnerved to see me happy and content while she shopped! And besides– the waitresses would all be covered in glitter by the end of their shifts and “Tommy Knockers” isn’t THAT kind of establishment…

      • Rob...

        Totally meant as satire. I doubt more than 1 in 50 men would ever consider a trip to Michaels to be exciting. It’d be the equivalent of dragging my wife to Princess Auto; can you imagine if PA had 40% off coupons. *squee*

      • Lowe But Now High Expectations

        I went with the wife to Michaels once. I started making comments like “wouldn’t a drinking problem be cheaper”. Curiously, she doesn’t make me go there any more.

  • vetinari

    On MacT– I was so hopeful when he first became GM because I thought that literally, anybody was better than Tambellini and that MAcT knew this organization and its players to immediately start making a positive difference.

    Then he canned Krueger and replaced him with Eakins. I wasn’t a fan of this move (and especially how it was done) but I thought that it was acceptable for him to bring in his own coach.

    He did do some positive moves to upgrade the team’s depth (Perron, Fayne, Klinkhammer) but he’s also handed out some bad contracts (Joennsu, Nikitin, Schultz) which puts a kink into future financial flexibility and mismanaged negotiations with veterans (like Petry) which will result in a loss of team value.

    With payroll, we seem to somehow be in the top 1/2 of the league in money spent but yet we again post bottom 5 results.

    The biggest blunder, to me, was permitting the Eakins Experiment to go on for as long as what it did. It was obvious that it wasn’t working. I wonder what players like Dubnyk, Gagner, and Belov would have gone on to do under a coach such as Nelson who seems to rebuild, not destroy, confidence.

    Next to this, it was the complete disregard for filling obvious roster holes (such as a reliable 2C, 3C, goalie and first pairing defenceman) in the off season and rushing prospects into key positions (Draisatl).

    At this point, in my opinion, MacT has one more trade deadline, draft and UFA period to fill in the holes on this roster, failing which, he should be gone by next new years.

  • Derian Hatcher

    START – bringing in PROVEN hockey minds, not people from your smartphone contact list.

    STOP – putting out verbal rubbish to a very hockey-intelligent fan base. It was bad enough that MacT tried to sell the fans bold moves, Eakins, Nikitin, and Norris trophy Schultz. Mac T and the rest of the executives have no credibility when addressing the fans. Just stop talking and fix this mess YOU and your pals created.

    CONTINUE -to do the OPPOSITE of what you think you should do *see George Costanza “opposite”

  • Rob...

    MacT seems to do just enough positive things to keep whom ever is making the real choice to stay the coarse that he should stay in his position. It almost seems to be a vote by committee which always results in mediocrity.

  • If I was a single guy, I’d spend every weekend at Michaels. The smell of lonely women runs deep there. Learn a couple of things about crafting, you’ll be married within a year.

    Oh, good mailbag.

  • Serious Gord

    There are several issues with the NHL awards that need addressing IMO.
    1. The Norris needs defined criteria that include playing D not just rushing in to the play. Highest Corsi or some such thing. Or find a way to take the Bias out due to voting.Another option would be to have a new award like the Selke for Dman but based in the most Offense for the team.
    2. Gretzky award Re-name the Lady Bing or Ross or create an award.
    3.There needs to be a Howe award There are two possibilities IMO It could be an award to the player who has a combined total of most assists,hits and goals. In other words the tough guy who also can take and give as good as he gets. Or we could give an award to the player who exemplifies the highest skill, dedication love of the game after 40. Jagr would be a great example of such a winning player. Sure he is past his prime but is still such a blast to watch.

  • The Last Big Bear

    They just need to stop letting muppets vote for the NHL awards.

    If they were voted on by GMs or head scouts, there would be no need to change anything.

      • The Last Big Bear

        And asking sports writers to vote is like asking the teenagers who write comments on YouTube car videos to vote for the best brand of car.

        At least the GMs know what position Alex Ovechkin plays, or who the captain of the Flames is, and I guarantee you that no NHL general manager has ever said “Erik Karlsson and PK Subban are totally better defencemen than Shea Weber and Drew Doughty”.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Never should have hired MacT (the guy who hired him should not have been there to do it) HE has surpassed my expectations by being a bigger disaster than i thought he would be. Fire him now so we can get in the market for a GM ASAP.

    2. With the evolution of advanced stats there is room for some new trophies and some changes in some of the current ones:

    MVP of the League; MVP of their Team; Best defensive Defenseman; MAybe one that recognizes players like chris Draper was?

    No WAY Gretzky gets a trophy named after him before Howe and Orr. Embarrassing that some oil fans ignore those two by even suggesting it.

    And I’m not sold on them being named after players (and that includes the rocket richard trophy). There will be great players in the future – maybe even greater than today and in the past. Do we create new awards to give them a trophy?

    3. Sign him and trade him the same day if possible. Yes he is playing marginally better now than he was under eakins – but then hasn’t everyone? He has almost no defensive instincts and that will never go away.

    4. Stop hiring pals and START hiring based on merit using professional methodology for doing so. Continue the current ticket prices when they move to the new arena and dont change them until the team wins a round in the playoffs.

  • bazmagoo

    I was afraid to ask the question…….but it seems that no one likes what Mac T has been doing, especially the fans.

    For a guy that is so married to his narrative on “almost being there”, this is very troubling.

    Seems like Mac T has become “part of the problem”, and not “part of the solution”.

    If he hits a home-run this trade deadline, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt……..but I’m not holding my breath!

  • ubermiguel

    Regarding awards I would not change the name of the Hart MEMORIAL Trophy, that would be insulting to Dr. David Hart and the Hart family for whom the trophy is named.

    Changing the Pearson to the Lindsay award made sense because as a former PM Pearson isn’t lacking in memorials, but Lindsay was such an important part of the early NHLPA he needed the recognition.

    Willis has a great suggestion: make the votes public and spread them out geographically.

  • bazmagoo

    MacT, Lowe and Howson all need to go, it’s time for a culture change in Edmonton. Icing a product that is below mediocre year after year is a punch in the nuts to the historic tradition of our beloved franchise.

    It’s time for an #OilChange

  • ubermiguel

    MacT, states ” he will likely retain 80% of the roster going into next season!

    A roster that got him to what 28th place in the league. This spin rates right next to Schultz
    being Norris defense man.. [ in which life]

    He must think the media and fans are fools , so keeps the spinning wheel running.

    PS; How is it that every time Mac T is on a road trip, as he sits in press box, Lowe is always lurking in the background. Taught Lowe had no say on the ice personnel? [ This is another spinorama from the organization] Its a circus, no wonder no one wants to come and play here.

    • Serious Gord

      Don’t be too hard on MacT. I’m not a fan but, 20% of a roster is still replacing 4-5 players. Very difficult to do at any time for any team or GM
      If it meant #1 Goalie, top pairing Dman, 2nd pairing Dman, 2C, and a top 9F we’d all accept it. But…how could this even be possible? Trade Hall or Ebs for D?? Then we’d be looking for 1st line F. RNH?? Then 1C. It will not be easy.

      • Serious Gord

        And to add insult to injury, much of remaining 80% leaves you wanting. So its much worse than it appears.

        Your list of #1 goalie, D-men, 2C and 9F are dead on. It aint going to happen. MacT seems to attract/sign 3 and 4th liners, and even most of those are “bottom of the barrel” types, other teams rejects it seems.

        Also you are not going to win to many games in the NHL, scoring one or two goals a night.

        • Rob...

          “Also you are not going to win to(sic) many games in the NHL, scoring one or two goals a night.”

          Not when your goalie lets in 3 or more in 37 games this season.

          I wonder what the record is for number of games in an 82 game season where you let in at least 3 goals.

  • hamandbun

    Jeanshorts:

    This girl I liked in high school, when asked by one of my friends what she thought of me, said “Oh I don’t even know who that is”. So I wrote my name in huge letters on a white T-shirt, with an arrow pointing up to my face, to let her know THIS GUY is who that was. She basically immediately said no to ever dating me, so it totally worked!

    That’s funny, I had this buddy in high school that did the same thing, and then he also cut out a picture of his face and pasted into a picture with that girl, creepy…