Monday Mailbag – April 6th

Mailbag 5

It’s Easter Monday and those of us that are working will need some distractions to get us through the next eight hours. Enter the Mailbag. Sure, these 3000 words of wisdom may not take eight hours to read but it will get you a head start on some fine Monday slacking. As always, the questions come from you guys – if you have something to ask you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Until then, I present you with another new Monday Mailbag.

Experience

1) Woogie63 asks – Of the 17 Oiler coaches or managers, 11 have less than three years of experience in their current role.  Does this reflect a regime change or an issue the forensic audit needs to address?

Robin Brownlee:

17 Oiler coaches and managers? Lost me right there.

Lowetide:

It reflects turnover in the GM’s chair and lack of experience in that position. Edmonton’s roster has been a turnstile over the last several years, same as front office. If you replace the GM, it’ll happen again.

Jason Strudwick:

I honestly have no idea. As a player I can say that I liked when there was a mixture of age and experience in the coaching staff and management group. It felt like they were giving everything a look instead of all thinking the same way.

Jeanshorts:

Rather than being either/or it’s probably somewhere down the middle. Ideally you’d like to have people with experience and who have had success in their current roles. But at the same time it’s not a bad idea to bring in some fresh eyes and best case scenario you find the next Ken Holland. Obviously whatever the Oilers have been doing for a decade hasn’t been working, so it’s not the worst idea to bring in some less experienced people and hope they can grow into their roles and bring some new ideas to the table.

Matt Henderson:

I’m not sure if taking it down to years on the job is a reflection of one or the other. The forensic audit, if there’s even such a thing (I’ve seen no proof), should be evaluating every decision maker in the organization. From scouts to training staff to the President of Hockey Operations. The only time there will be a true regime change will be when hockey ops is no longer ran by former Oilers. 

Jonathan Willis:

Probably a little of both. Any good organization should have institutional memory, but when a team loses a lot lower level employees tend to be offered up as scapegoats. With that said, it’s easy to understand why: As an example, should the Oilers keep their pro scouts in the name of consistency or can them because of all the bad decisions the team has made over their tenure?

Jason Gregor:

Todd Nelson only has 40+ games as an NHL head coach, but he has a lot of head coaching experience, so it depends what you deem experience. I do think having a rookie GM and a rookie head coach combined with the majority of your top forwards and defence with limited NHL playing experience was an issue at the start of last year and into this season.

As for the forensic audit, they could see it as an issue, but to me the main one they have to decide/uncover is whether they believe MacTavish and Howson are the right guys to try and shape this team into a winner.

Baggedmilk:

Did you make these numbers up? Where do I find them? I guess I’ll trust your math because mine is awful. Anyway, let’s be honest: It doesn’t matter how many years of experience anyone on the Oilers management team has, the only number that really matters was that they were friends in the 80s. 

2) Pat W asks – If you were to guess, when/where will Dallas Eakins surface?

Robin Brownlee

No idea. Is there a team that didn’t see the mess he made here? My best guess is he’ll have to take a job in the AHL if he wants to be a head coach again right away.

Lowetide:

Toronto Maple Leafs, don’t know when.

Jason Strudwick:

The Media. He would be excellent. He has got the look and can speak very well. He would do great!

Jeanshorts:

My best guess would be Europe. Either the KHL or the Swedish Elite League or something like that. I don’t think he’s burned his bridge nearly as badly as a lot of other people do, but his reputation took a pretty solid hit with his disaster of a tenure behind the Oilers bench. A year or two in Europe would let people forgive and forget, help Eakins get his coaching legs back under him, and make a return to the NHL more realistic. What I like to call the “Keenan Strategy”.

Matt Henderson:

I’m going to go with Europe or the KHL. An NHL team would be all kinds of crazy to hire him on after this mess and I doubt he’ll get an AHL job for the same reason. My guess is we see it happen over this summer.

Jonathan Willis:

To summon the great demon, it is necessary to sacrifice a virgin on an altar built entirely… oh, sorry, I just came back from the comments section and some of the hatred rubbed off. My expectation is that Eakins’ next job will be as an NHL assistant or AHL head coach, and that he’ll get the position within the next two years. The team is a bit of a question mark because his playing career was all over and so he has ties to a number of organizations. Toronto would seem to be a logical fit.

Jason Gregor:

He will be paid by the Oilers for two more years. He doesn’t need to rush into anything, but my best guess is we seem him doing some scouting next season for an Eastern conference team.

Baggedmilk:

I’m sure there’s a Zumba class that needs an instructor somewhere, right? If I were to guess (which I’m going to) I would think that Eakins would show up as a head coach in the AHL again to try and work his way back to the NHL. As for when? If I’m Eakins I’m not taking an AHL job for the next two years while I’m still collecting Oilers pay cheques – I’m on practice retirement until the Katz money runs out. 

Boflex

3) Craig Smallwood asks – A player like Martin Gernat who is only paid $70,000 in the AHL needs to build muscle and size this off season.  How much does the club make sure he is not restrained financially in achieving this in regards to professional help? (trainers, massages, nutritionists, Gary Roberts Camps)

Robin Brownlee:

Gernat has access to team trainers. It doesn’t cost more to eat properly. Don’t see finances as an issue.

Lowetide:

I think the Oilers showed some frustration (that’s based on media reports and my conclusions) over Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat and how they handled their programs during the summer. We’re quickly getting to the point where Edmonton will insist on kids coming to an NFL type spring camp (except in summer). 

Jason Strudwick:

Every team has a group of people ready to support all players through the organization. The team wants you to succeed and are willing to do everything possible. In my experience using team support is much less expensive than not. Every player must decide what is best for him. In this day and age if you want to compete for an NHL spot you need to have a “guy”, or multiple guys, to get your body and ability ready.

Jeanshorts:

As someone who spends most of their time working in my underwear I’m going to defer to Struds on this one.

Matt Henderson:

I’m sure the Oilers are happy to provide whatever they can within the limits of the CBA. I’m sure there are restrictions on what they can provide in the offseason but they will have a program for him. I doubt financial restrictions are an issue.

Jonathan Willis:

That’s a good question. I know the Oilers have taken pains to provide resources in-season down at the AHL level, and we’ve seen a number of players stay in Edmonton over the summer to work on these issues so it’s a safe bet the organization is doing everything it can to encourage that.

Jason Gregor:

Good question. Today teams do help out players with some costs, and often even agents will help players get set up for off season training.

Baggedmilk:

I would think that the Oilers would be willing to step up and pay for training if necessary for their players. I mean, let’s say as an example that the Gary Roberts program is going to cost $20,000 in the summer (is that in the ballpark? I have no idea) — that’s basically the amount of change that has fallen between Katz’s seats in the Batmobile. If they’re serious about developing their assets they’d pay for it. 

Money

4) Geoff Friedt asks – In your mind, what would be a reasonable contract (dollars and term) for Derek Roy and where do you think he fits in the Oilers plans?

Robin Brownlee:

Won’t know where he fits until after the draft. If the team wants and needs him, no more than a two-year term at $1.5 M per.

Lowetide:

Two years, $2M a year. The man has options and Edmonton is going to have to pay for the success Roy’s had during his time with the Oilers.

Jason Strudwick:

His play has really surprised me. I admit I was wrong on the impact he would have on the Oilers. Nice to be wrong in this case! He should be resigned to a one or two year deal. No more than that Dollars on a one year deal aren’t a big deal or a two year deal needs to be kept tighter.

Jeanshorts:

I’d like to see a one year deal for a max of 1.5 million. Obviously he figured out the secret to unlocking Yak’s potential, he’s exceeded pretty much all of what small expectations any of us had of him, and he’s a veteran leader that this team has been DESPERATELY searching for since about 2010. And he’s shown himself to be a reliable bridge while the team waits for Draistail/Yakimov/potential 2015 draft pick to work their way into a regular NHL role. A series of one year contracts until we have no use for him anymore please!

Matt Henderson:

Reasonable? I’d say between 1.75 and 2 million per season and a maximum of two years. I would imagine the Oilers consider him a backup plan in the event that they don’t win the lottery. Part of me really thinks the team would happily replace him with an 18 year old next year.

Jonathan Willis:

Ideally, something in the one-year, $1.25 million range. I’d be comfortable going to two years if absolutely necessary or up a half-million on a one-season contract.

Jason Gregor:

If he agrees to a one-year deal at $1 to $1.4 million I’d sign him right away. If he wants a longer term, I’d tell him we can re-visit that in free agency. Roy has been okay, but the Oilers will not win with all small, skilled forwards. They need to add some skilled, size or grit into their top nine. I’d sign him for one year at 1 million because that gives them depth and if they land a better option in free agency there is nothing wrong with having Roy around, but a longer deal doesn’t make sense to me at this point.

Baggedmilk:

Ideally, Roy would sign something that looks like the contract he signed this year. That being said, this is the Edmonton Oilers we’re talking about and if they want to re-sign a UFA at the level of play they’re at they’re going to have to over pay. As much as I’d like the contract to look something like $1.25 million/per I’m guessing it’ll come in closer to $2 million/per. As for length, I’d give him two years based solely on the fact that the Oilers depth at centre is an absolute train wreck and I’d like to give Dr. Drai as much time to develop as he needs.

5) Mitchell Limoges asks – Have their been any positives since Craig MacTavish took over as GM? He talked a lot of game that he hasn’t been able to back up so far, and I’m curious what your panel thinks he has done right?

Robin Brownlee:

Sure. Perron for Paajarvi was fine, until he undid the gain by trading Perron. Bringing in Roy was better late than never. Firing Eakins rather than sticking with him no matter what in the name of pride is a plus. That said, more questionable moves than good one so far from where I sit.

Lowetide:

I think he has signed several useful forwards in free agency (Gordon, Pouliot) and has addressed ‘up the middle’ in two drafts (Nurse, Yakimov, Draisaitl). I also think the Barons have had success but much of that success came via improvements made by Steve Tambellini.

Jason Strudwick:

MacT came out very excited to create change for the club. Great message that fans wanted to hear but way harder to deliver on. There have been postives which include the Perron trade from the Blues and the Pouliot signing. This summer is where his legacy will be cemented. Between the coaching decision, six picks in first three rounds and getting a starting goalie, his plate is full. They are all big decisions.

Jeanshorts:

The Roy trade (MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY MARCOBELLO!), the Pouliot signing and… uhhhhh… well at least he hasn’t been completely shutout on good moves! The Perron trade looks better every day that he struggles in Pittsburgh. He got rid of Smid at the right time. So a little addition by subtraction as well. But other than that I can’t think of too many things that have gone right, aside from players who were already here (Yak, Marincin, Klefbom, Lander) finding their game under the tutelage of Jedi Master Nelson. I think he deserves one more year to really see some of these moves through, but he should be on very thin ice. And PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GORD STOP TALKING SO MUCH! Just talk in single syllables like Tambo!

Matt Henderson:

Done right? I kind of struggled with this one. I guess the initial Perron trade was good. The one where he acquired Perron, not the one where he traded him for a pick. He seems to have built a pretty competent fourth line. So there’s that.

Jonathan Willis:

There have been some. I like the addition of Mark Fayne; I really like the addition of Benoit Pouliot. Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks have been nice adds, too. On the whole, however, it’s not clear the team is better off under MacTavish than it would have been with two more years of Steve Tambellini. Things have not gone well, and the biggest item working in the G.M.’s favour is that most managers get more time than he’s had so far. 

Jason Gregor:

Signing Pouliot and Fayne. I didn’t mind Ference signing and the first Perron trade was good, but that was negated by trading him to Pittsburgh.

Under his watch goaltending, defence and centre positions have not improved.

The entire coaching hiring process in 2013 was a debacle. First off, he was conducting the assistant coach search, not Krueger. Wrong decision. Then he hired Eakins, fired Krueger and didn’t allow Eakins to pick his own staff. Has he learned from that? I’ve yet to see actions that suggest he has.

His other major error has been overhyping the talents of his players publicly. It puts them in an impossible situation, because in every case they have not been able to live up to his unrealistic comments like Norris potential (Schultz) and top-four D-man (Nikitin).

Baggedmilk:

He has made some decent moves regardless of the results on ice. The PRV for Perron trade was solid. The Benoit Pouliot signing is looking good. That being said, he’s also made some ridiculous moves that seem to outweigh anything positive that he’s done. Nikitin has been worse than awful. Trading Perron for Klinkhammer and a pick seems like a step backwards. Signing Petry to a one-year deal and then trading him for a Magic Bullet…. *sigh*

  • vetinari

    “To summon the great demon, it is necessary to sacrifice a virgin on an altar built entirely… oh, sorry, I just came back from the comments section and some of the hatred rubbed off…” – JW

    Okay, that cracked me up. But I suspect that it would more likely take a Kale Smoothy and bed of carrots to summon the Dark Lord Eakins.

    Can’t see Eakins coming back as a NHL assistant coach– maybe an AHL HC in a year or two.

  • paul wodehouse

    …Dallas Eakins reappearing in Toronto (don’t know when)is the best answer…thankyou LT…

    I think he may invest his Katz money in a van and start up a janitorial supply&services company and never be heard from again …

    …one can only hope.

  • Craig1981

    MacTavish has been hit-and-miss as GM, and considering he deals from a position of weakness, his actual moves for the most part haven’t been horrible. He’s taken some gambles that worked, and some that have failed. Areas that he hasn’t addressed (centre) have turned out to simply be players unwilling to come here. Areas that he has addressed (bigger forward, defense) have been overpayments, but that’s to be expected for a last-place team.

    MacT’s absolutely worst problem, his worst enemy, is his mouth.

    Going all the way back to Marty Sakic, through doghousing Penner (Penner didn’t live up to his potential, but even working at two-thirds throttle he was still a top-six forward), and finally to his tenure as GM starting with Bold Moves and peaking with Norris Potential, it’s consistently his mouth that gets him in the most trouble and does the most damage to his team.

    Schultz has played better under Nelson, but he plays a style of defence that isn’t popular in Edmonton to begin with, he isn’t even very good at that finesse defensive style, and with MacT’s Norris comments, he will never live that down in this city unless he actually wins the Norris trophy.

    • Ready to Win

      Of the three problems MacT has struggled to deal with (defense, centre, and goal) two of them were created by him; he traded away Dubnyk, Bryzgalov, Horcoff and Gagner without having adequate replacements for any of them.

      So I think its perfectly fair to blame him for players being unwilling to come here because he had players here and ditched them.

      • Craig1981

        I hate defending MacT, as I generally think he’s done a poor job. With that said here’s what you are ignoring:

        Bryz was terrible here, and he was REALLY terrible in Anaheim this year.

        Dubnyk was dropped by Edmonton & Nashville. He lost the AHL starting job in MTL system that year too. Hard to blame MacT on that, as much as it stings that he’s doing well now.

        Horcoff leaving free’d up a ton of cap space, and made it an appealing place to play for Gordon, who was highly sought after that UFA year. He was the darling of the analytics community that off season.

        If you are suggesting our problems at C are fixed by Gagner you are wrong. Arcobello is playing ahead of him in the lineup in Arizona right now, despite this being his 4th team this year.

      • Ar_C

        I’d argue given Gagner’s play in Phoenix, and the fact that Arcobello has already surpassed him, that we had a replacement for Gagner. Remember, Sam’s scoring didn’t improve until about 25-30 games into the season.

        As for Dubnyk, again, it was MacT’s mouth that got him in trouble. There was absolutely no need to question him. You’re simultaneously undermining a player’s confidence and lowering his trade value. I also don’t think we can state for certain that Dubnyk would have become who he is in Edmonton. First of all, there’s the fact that the Oilers are an awful team. Second, there was Dallas Eakins’ incredibly bad system which limited shots against, but consistently provided opponents more golden opportunities per game than I’ve ever seen. Finally, and most important, many athletes need a kick in the ass – whether by demotion or trade – to focus them.

        I think Dubnyk was better than he showed last year, I think if you take out his first 4 games he was borderline average and certainly once you get past that awful first 19 games the team had, he was at least average, but at the same time I don’t think we can say that Wild Dubnyk would be what we have today.

  • tileguy

    Mac T has to be a better GM. If the litmus test on management is surrounding yourself with people smarter than you, Mac T has failed and failed miserably.

    No one looks at any of the senior management of the Oilers and thinks, ” man are they ever smart”! No when Garth Snow and Mike Milbury make you look stupid,…….you know that smart is NOT your problem.

  • Craig1981

    It’s kind of interesting to see how everyone still thinks the Perron deal was bad? Look at where the Pens have gone since then, look at his stats & the only minus player among the regulars. I wonder if there’s been a change in the dynamics of the Pens dressing room? Lot’s of questions for me there but I do like the possibility of the Oil picking up another lottery pick :-)! That’s looking like a GREAT deal for MacT!

    • Craig1981

      Have you seen their injury list. Malkin, Letang, Erhoff, Dupuis. They were playing several games with only 17 skaters. Sure the “Dynamic” of the dressing room has changed, but implying it has to do with Perron I’d nearing slander.

      Perron missed playing with the Pens then they were winning so of course his +/- will be lower than the others. Also he is typically on the ice when the goie is pulled, that will always effect a players +/- negatively, expecially if your team is losing.

  • Craig1981

    If the Pens go 0-3 OR even 1-2 they might miss the playoffs. They are 3-6-1 their last 10. It will be a massive amount of luck, but the 14th overall pick for Perron might look like a great trade in 3 years.

    …..that said there was no way for MacT to know the Pens would have injuries and bomb like they did.

    To my calculations there is also a 1/400 chance that the Pens pick turns into McDavid…. could you imagine!

  • smiliegirl15

    If the Pens miss the playoffs I’d expect some big changes to come there way. The Kings and San Jose are on the bubble as well. All three teams would need to shake up their rosters.

    Here’s hoping Ivan Provorov is available at 14. And Pens missing the post season.

  • smiliegirl15

    “Jonathan Willis:

    There have been some. I like the addition of Mark Fayne; I really like the addition of Benoit Pouliot. Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks have been nice adds, too. On the whole, however, it’s not clear the team is better off under MacTavish than it would have been with two more years of Steve Tambellini. Things have not gone well, and the biggest item working in the G.M.’s favour is that most managers get more time than he’s had so far.”

    Wow that’s pretty nasty given how much you campaigned for Tambellini’s firing.

  • Ar_C

    The Nikitin move is even worse when you consider that the 4.5m he’s taking up could have been used to sign Petry to a contract. They’d be much better off right now with Klefbom-Petry, Marincin-Schultz, Davidson-Aulie, instead of Nikitin.