Monday Mailbag – May 25th

NicholsonMail

As per tradition around these parts, it’s time for another edition of the Mailbag.  It’s time to find a chair, grab some coffee, learn a few things and waste as much company time as you possible can. As always, this segment depends on you, so if you have a question you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Without further delay – the Mailbag. Enjoy.

Captain

1) Stewart F. asks – Who do you think will be the next Captain of the Oilers? Would that be something that this new coaching/management regime would change?

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t think the new coach/management will change it. I can see Ference stepping forward to pass it along. The obvious best bets are Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. I’d like to see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get it.

Lowetide:

Eventually it’ll be McDavid, but could pit stop to one of the kids. Nuge is still so young, so might be best to keep it with a vet one more year. I think they’ll change from Ference but that might happen during the season.

Jeanshorts:

I think Andrew Ference’s leadership qualities get unfairly lumped in with his bottom pairing skills. He’s been a great representative of the Oilers in the community, and has stood up in front of the media to answer for his teams failings the past two seasons. That being said I think it’s time to pass the torch to Nuge. He reminds me a lot of Joe Sakic; he goes out there, dominates, but half the time you barely notice him because he’s so calm and collected. And there’s just something about him that to me says he would be a good leader. I’m sure a lot of fans would give it to Taylor Hall, but he plays with a lot of emotion, which doesn’t always work well when you’re trying to discuss a horrible penalty call with the ref. 

Ask me this question again in like two years and I’ll 100% say McDavid though I bet! 

Jonathan Willis:

I really don’t know. By the nature of the position, most things a good captain does happen behind closed doors; I’ve written about this before but we’re awful at judging the abilities of a captain from afar. It’s logical to think a new regime might have different views than the old regime on who the best leader of the team is, but from this vantage point it’s hard to see any pressing reason to move on from Andrew Ference at this point in time.

Jason Gregor:

McLellan just came from a situation where the captaincy was stripped off of a player, twice. He will know better than anyone how it impacts the room. I don’t think there will be a change right now. Maybe next off-season, but it likely would be where Ference hands it off rather than being stripped of it. RNH, Hall and possibly McDavid would be the options next summer.

Jason Strudwick:

Eakins made a mistake by naming a captain for the Oilers after a few weeks of being around the team. He did not know the players and having a captain was not a pressing need for the team. That is water under the bridge and we should look forward. I want to see who grows as a player and leader this season. The franchise is stable off the ice — who will stabilize the team on the ice?

Matt Henderson:

Lets see if Andrew Ference is still there in the Fall. If he is then I doubt they make a change at C unless he gives it up. I don’t presume to know the inner workings of an NHL club, but I still think the group should choose their own captain. Secret ballot with “My captain Is _____” written on the paper. If choosing your own C was a good enough method to pick Jean Beliveau then it’s good enough for Edmonton’s next captain.

Baggedmilk:

I still think Nuge would be a great choice for the next captain of this team. I’m going to assume they’ll probably give it to McDavid in a couple years, but Nuge quietly goes about his business and is already turning into one of the best two way centres in the league. That being said, I understand that McDavid changes everything, but that’s a story for another day. I think Ference should be able to retain in and pass it off when the time is right. 

McDavid

2) Jordan McNugent-Hallkins asks – Crosby had 31 points in 13 playoff games his final year of junior, in a higher-scoring era. McDavid had 49 in 20 in the OHL playoffs. McDavid is taller, and I’ve heard people say he is already faster than Crosby. Is it possible that McDavid turns out to be even better than Crosby?

Robin Brownlee:

Possible? Yes. Crosby is still in his prime and McDavid hasn’t played a game, so we’re getting way ahead of ourselves trying to project that far down the road.

Lowetide:

McDavid makes many things possible. I’m hopeful we can hold on to reality when it comes to projecting his rookie season but that bird may already have flown. 

Jeanshorts:

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! Everything that has happened so far this spring has made no sense to me (GOOD THINGS HAPPENING TO THE OILERS?) so why the hell not? I can realistically see a scenario in which Connor McDavid is a better player than Crosby, but I don’t know if he’ll ever match the heights of the Crosby mystique. I think enough time had passed since Gretzky and Lemieux were running the show, and since Eric Lindros’s career never quite met expectations, that the hype for Crosby was on another level. I’m roughly Sid’s age and I had never experienced anything like that before. And now, considering Crosby isn’t even 28 yet, and THE NEXT Crosby is already here? We’re being spoiled! But, again, yes, I can see him being even more successful as a player than Crosby! 

God, now all I’m thinking about is Connor McDavid winning every award every year and the Oilers winning another five cups. I’M TRYING TO TEMPER MY EXPECTATIONS HERE!!

Jonathan Willis:

Sure, it’s possible, though of course it may not happen. He’s a special player; it’s going to be fun to see what he turns into.

Jason Gregor:

It is possible, yes. I don’t see him scoring 102 points as a rookie because the NHL is less offensive now than it was in 2006 coming out of the lockout, but McDavid will be able to play with Hall, a two-time top-10 scorer. In Crosby’s rookie season the second leading scorer was Sergei Gonchar with 58 points. Mark Recchi had 57 in 63 games but was traded to Carolina. It is difficult to compare players, but McDavid likely won’t be able to avoid the Crosby comparisons. He will be hard-pressed to go the Stanley Cup final in his third season and win it in his fourth like Crosby. I do think it is possible he is looked upon as “better” than Crosby, but it his overall value will vary from fan to fan or pundit to pundit.

Jason Strudwick:

Very difficult to compare. If he even gets close to approaching Sid the Oilers will be in great shape.

Matt Henderson:

Anything is possible. Anything. I’ve only seen him play Junior games but he isn’t just good. He creates scoring chances on almost every shift. It’s incredible. I don’t know where his high end tops out. I keep giggling like an idiot when I think about it.

Baggedmilk:

I guess it could happen, but I won’t be expecting it. Crosby registered 102 points in his rookie season in an era when absolutely anything was a penalty. McDavid won’t get that. I’m expecting Connor McDavid to be Connor McDavid. If he scores 65 points+ this year (I’d bet on the ‘plus’ but I’m being conservative) than I’d say he had a hell of a rookie season. After that? I’m buckling in and enjoying the ride. Who know where this kid could end up…

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 8.02.12 AM

3) Sean M. asks – Who are your ideal line mates for McDavid and why?

Robin Brownlee:

Again, everything about McDavid is spitballing right now. As good as McDavid is, he’s not going to go waltzing through opponents like he does in junior. His game will have to change somewhat. That said, he’ll need a puck retriever and a guy who can shoot it. I wouldn’t mind seeing him with Pouliot and Yakupov.

Lowetide:

I’ll say Hall and Justin Williams. Hall for the high octane skill/speed and Williams for the two-way role. Williams not being on the club is a complication, however. 

Jeanshorts:

All I’ve been picturing for weeks is McDavid and Yak flying up the ice at a million miles an hour, and Yak ripping off one timers at the speed of light after McDavid draws everyone on the ice around him like a forcefield! THEY ARE GONNA SCORE ALL THE GOALS! Then on their left, I don’t know, maybe Pouliot? Someone a little more defensively sound, and a veteran to help shepherd them along out there. 

Jonathan Willis:

That’s a tough question to answer based on the information we have right now. It may be important to leave the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line as the Oilers’ feature offensive trio (thereby sheltering the McDavid line) in which case playing him with Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov would be the logical move. It’s tempting to slot him between Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, but my guess is that leaves the Nugent-Hopkins’ line a little shy on firepower (particularly since Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov haven’t meshed well together in the past.) A lot will depend on Yakupov; if he’s up to it the idea of running Yakupov, Hall and McDavid together as a 1A line and using last year’s top unit of Pouliot, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle as a 1B line has a lot of appeal.

Jason Gregor:

Based on roster today. Hall and Purcell. Hall is easy decision, because 67/93/14 will be the other line. I’d put Purcell there now, because he is more of a veteran than Yakupov and more defensively sound. Ideally, Chiarelli finds a different option in the summer, but today that is who I’d play him with.

Jason Strudwick:

I want to see Hall and McDavid. The both like to carry the puck which could be an issue but let them work it out. They will need a bigger body on that line to create some space. That player is not on the Oilers unless you move Pouliot off of the Eberle and Nuge line.

Matt Henderson:

Pouliot and Yak. Pouliot plays a simple North-South game and he keeps the puck moving in the right direction on the ice. Yak creates chances off the forecheck and has a bullet for a one timer. Equally as important, if Hall/RNH/Eberle are a line they are drawing the most attention from the defense leaving McDavid to draw lighter assignments.

Baggedmilk:

Ideally I’d like to see him play with Yakupov (shooter) and someone more capable of two way hockey like Pouliot or Purcell. I could also see Chiarelli going out to get that kind of two way vet to play with McDavid. It’s been a crazy summer, man.

cliffhanger

4) Oil4ever asks – Todd McLellan says that the Oilers will have to take baby steps up the mountain so my question is what would you consider an acceptable level of progress in year 1?

Robin Brownlee:

Those steps will depend on how the roster is filled out. Starting next season with the same team, plus McDavid, isn’t going to propel the Oilers up the standings. Until Chiarelli gets to work, goaltending and the blue line remain questions. Also, “acceptable” varies greatly with a fan base that’s been watching a loser for nine years. For me, a 20-point improvement would be acceptable.Team hasn’t been in the 80s for points since 2008-09.

Lowetide:

I think 35 wins is a very fine goal. Edmonton finished 17-22-7 under Nelson, seems to me 35 wins is possible without being ridiculous.

Jeanshorts:

I’m going to go with roughly what I said going into last season (and probably the season before that) but I think 6 to 8 points out of the playoffs would be an acceptable level of progress. In the mix for the most of the season but not quite a legit threat. That’s also predicated on Chiarelli getting one or two legit defensemen to start the season.

Jonathan Willis:

It really depends what happens over the summer. With some work on the defence and in net, a 50-goal improvement seems possible. Given how much ground there is to make up, a 25-goal improvement should probably be the minimum acceptable.

Jason Gregor:

Playing consistent and shedding the “easy to play against” label. If they are an 85-90 point team I think that would be a major improvement.

Jason Strudwick:

7-10 wins. More than that would be an identity for the team. Figure out how they will play and have all players by into the system or move them out.

Matt Henderson:

Any season where your team isn’t even close to the playoffs is a complete failure. Acceptable? Acceptable is at least challenging for a playoff spot. Finishing >15 points out of the playoffs would be a pathetic season again.

Baggedmilk:

If we’re in the playoff mix (not even necessarily in a playoff spot) come February I will be absolutely thrilled. Yes, the bar is that low. 

Blogging

5) Kristen asks – Do you remember the first blog post you ever wrote? If so, what was it about?

Robin Brownlee:

It was March 7 of 2008. Items at Oilersnation regularly attracted fewer than 10 comments back then. My first post, just a welcome aboard introduction, drew all of nine responses. I wrote 33 pieces March 7-30. Oilersnation is much bigger now and I write far less. Coincidence? I think not.

Lowetide:

It was probably about Marc Pouliot becoming a dominant force and winning all the things.

Jeanshorts:

Apparently it’s been scrubbed from the internet forever, but it was just a welcome post when we first launched Jeanshorts And Baggedmilk. I don’t remember it verbatim, but it was a joke that I thought was hilarious at the time but now would get me banned from public office so it’s probably better it’s been lost to history.

Jonathan Willis:

I do, in fact; it’s here. The formatting on the table got trashed when it moved over from my old blogspot site. It holds up pretty well; for those who don’t want to wade through the whole thing read the last three paragraphs on Rob Schremp, who remains the most divisive Oilers prospect I’ve seen over my time as a writer.

Jason Gregor:

It was an Oilers/Flames rookie game from Camrose, but I only know that because I looked it up.

Jason Strudwick:

I sure do. It was about playing in Montreal!

Matt Henderson:

I remember that it was in the last lockout and I was bored. I was unhappy with what was going on and nobody was expressing how I felt so I just signed up for a WordPress account and wrote a post. It got maybe 15 page views that weren’t from me. It wasn’t in the question, but if you are thinking about writing a blog then do it. Nobody will read it at first and that’s cool. It only takes one person who likes your work for another opportunity to come along. 

Baggedmilk:

I do. It was a tribute to moustaches on the old JSBM site. Why? I honestly cannot tell you why. Here at OilersNation my first post was to cover the 2014 trade deadline

    • Quicksilver ballet

      If we’re in the playoff mix (not even necessarily in a playoff spot) come February I will be absolutely thrilled. Yes, the bar is that low.

      ———————————————————————————————-

      If you thought the Oilers were hated league wide now. Just wait till they do exactly as you suggest, and win the second overall selection next summer. The Oilers may have re-written the book on optimal rebuilding via the lottery. Perhaps the new all time benchmark as far as rebuilding through the draft goes? 4 first overalls in a 6 yr span.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Legend has it that if you place your ear on the side of the Cup, you can hear a faint voice, like the ocean in a shell: “McDavid… McDaaaavid…”

  • vetinari

    With the captaincy, when Ference is done with it (after he has either been traded or his contract expires), I would hold it open for about two years to see where the team is at and who steps up once guys like McDavid and Nurse have got some games under their belts, and then decide. In the meantime, I would rotate AC’s between RNH, Hall, Eberle and hell, even Lander (I believe he was a C in OKC, right?) or Klefbom.

    As for improvement– they fooled most of us last year into thinking that goaltending was fixed (with the addition of Scrivens and Fasth) and that Fayne and Nikitin were major upgrades in our defence top 4. I thought that the 2014/15 roster should have been just under a .500 team and yet they still missed those low expectations. For 2015/16, subject to what Chiarelli does at the draft and in July, I would still think that they are close to a .500 team. Add an experienced starting goaltender, two defencemen, McDavid and a banging winger, and we could get close to the playoffs.

  • freelancer

    Interesting about all of the different opinions on the captaincy. 2 months ago almost everyone would have said Nuge or Hall. Sounding like a broken record but McDavid changes everything. At the same time, I don’t think he should be captain… at least for the next 5 years.

    Struds probably can comment on this the best but the captain shouldn’t necessarily be the best player, but the best leader. Elite players will set an example on the ice, but they may not always be that guy in the locker room hyping everyone up.

  • Rob...

    Honestly, I’m quite surprised nobody mentioned Matt Hendricks as a possible leader. I think it’s because the “young guns” are growing up and are expected to take lead soon but I still think he’d be a great captain. Even just seeing the A on his chest earlier this season made me ecstatic.

      • Hendricks appears to be a great leader and role model, on and off the ice. Putting the ‘C’ on his chest won’t change that.

        The guys in the room know who the leaders are……

        There’s no rush here. Let Ference ride it out and see who emerges….

        As for expectations……set the bar JSBM low to avoid disappointment

  • justDOit

    McDavids line mate…..

    The Oilers can (After Christmas, so Leon gets a little AHL time) can now have four lines that are all effective. So I think it will look like this;

    Hall-CMD-Pitlick

    Poo-RNH-Eberle

    Pakarinen-Leon-Yak

    Hendrick-Lander-Klink

    Trade Gordon around this point ….I know, I know but expensive, UFA and Lander is ready.

    Pitlick if healthy is built for this line, fast, hard on the puck, willing to stand in the blue paint, doesn’t have the puck die on his stick

  • ubermiguel

    Watching the Blackhawks and the Otters in short order, I think McDavid play looks a lot like Hossa by my eye; his size is the same, they’re both high skill, the play slows down for them when they have the puck. But what if McDavid tops out at the Hossa-level? that’s still pretty damn good, but he’d sadly be considered a bust.

    • ubermiguel

      Apparently suggesting there is a possibility that McDavid will not be the next Crosby/Gretzky/Son-of-God is frowned upon. Asking “could McDavid be better than Crosby?” bugs me, we are talking about predicting an 18-year-old’s future here!

      Here’s my mailbag question to counter it then: Could McDavid end up like Eric Lindros? (Described as “The Next One”, constant injuries lead to no Cups and a career that trails off into irrelevance after the points stop coming.) How will Oilers fans react to that?

      And don’t say “it’s not a possibility, McDavid’s too good”, because there was more hype for Lindros than there is for McDavid, but people have short memories.

  • justDOit

    Expectations will rise with McDavid , and any new additions to defence and goal tending during this off season . They may also rise with another couple of trades and acquisitions for forwards that have more size and or grit . Really depends on how active new management is going to be over the summer . As it is now , even with McDavid , I don’t for see much in the way of many extra victories . Doubt Ference will lose captaincy , but M. Hendriks , I noticed , captained team U.S. in Worlds .

  • Rob...

    I’m surprised at the answers awarding the eventual ‘C’, 2+ years from now, to McDavid. The talent is undeniable, but Hall is maturing nicely, Nuge will eclipse Hall in respect earned with on-ice officials, and I think Klefbom and Nurse shouldn’t be counted out. They’ll likely be rock-steady on the back end, and Nurse especially has a type of passion and work ethic that I can see making him an undeniable leader.

  • Bob Cobb

    I cant believe the talk of putting the C on McDavid so early. I believe the kid will be great, but lets just let him be Connor McDavid, no pressure, come in and start him on the 2nd or 3rd line let him gain some confidence and than move him up the lineup. He’s 18, I wouldn’t put the C on him till he is in his 2nd contract, around 22 or 23, plus it may devide the room if he gets the C at 19 or 20, Hall or Eberle or RNH have been there a while give it to one of them, just let McDavid play hockey.

    • camdog

      I don’t believe in giving the C to Hall or Eberle because they were here first. If that locker room is that juvenile that that the naming of a captain will divide the room, well then said offended parties need to be traded asap.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It was comforting to see Todd refer to Ference as one of his able bodied veterans to be relied upon last week. Good to see McLellan already counting on Andrew and Wardaddy (Matt Hendricks)to provide much needed examples of what it takes to survive in this league.

    The cyber beatings Andrew takes regularly on here will surely subside once Chiarelli adds to that Oiler blueline via trades this summer. Relieve some of that pressure of having to be a top 3 blueliner every night.

  • Ready to Win

    I think that if McDavid plays with Hall regularly and if McLennan gives them easier competition and a zone push then McDavid is going to blow 90% of the predictions for next year out of the water; I don’t think he’ll match Crosby, but he may come close.

    As for 10 years from now, I think how McDavid’s first 10 years matches up against Crosby’s first 10 will depend entirely on how healthy McDavid stays; if he has similar problems to Crosby then he will do worse, but if stays relatively healthy his numbers will be better than Crosby’s.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can I play/enter a dreamy fall line-up as well?

    Hall-RNH-Eberle

    Pouliot-McD-Draisaitl

    Hendricks-Scott Upshall-Justin Williams

    Pak-Gordon-Klinkhammer

    M.Staal-Seabrook

    Klefbom-Fayne

    Nurse-Ferance

    Talbot-Scrivens

    5th line and 7th D, Gazdic-Lander-Fraser/B.Davidson.

  • Jaxon

    Pouliot / Nugent-Hopkins / Eberle – it seems to me that their run last year was better than any period with Hall on the line (at least that’s what my feels tells me) so don’t fix what ain’t broken.

    Hall / McDavid / Pakarinen – I love the idea of Hall on McDavid’s wing, and I think Pakarinen is the best player in the system to give them some space, dig pucks out of the corner, and chime in with a few goals.

    Comeau / Draisaitl / Yakupov – Comeau’s a UFA this summer and has just come off playing with Crosby and Malkin. He’s from North-western Saskatchewan. He has okay size, he hits a lot, his fancy stats were decent and he can score a bit too. I think he’d be a good vet to play with Draisaitl and Yakupov on a soft minutes scoring line.

    Lander / Gordon / Klinkhammer, Chase, Platzer or Pitlick – I think it would be great for Lander to play with Gordon and having 2 defensively responsible players that can win draws on a tough zone start line would be golden. On RW, there are a few candidates trying for that final spot. Pitlick’s last stand, I think. He needs to find a bit of offence. I think Gordon might be gone at the deadline and then Lander can move to center and maybe Slepyshev will be ready for some NHL time by then.

    Post Deadline:
    Slepyshev / Lander / Pitlick

    • Tirtle

      Yup. But lander should start the season here. Gordon I feel like he will have little to no impact as an NHLer next season. (Buyout, trade, scratch for 72 games and use when needed type thing…?)
      Hall-MCDAVID-pakarinen– maybe go out a get a veteran. Justin Williams?

      Poo a lot-Nuge-Yak — breakout season for yak.

      Solid top 6. Trade Eberle + draft pick for mike smith and OEL. You loose 20 goals but you improve the goals against and improve IMO the worst blue line in the league. It looks like a 5th graders jeans with a repair patch from another set of old jeans. God awful.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    I would like to see the Oilers get Green and Williams. They would be solid additions to the Oilers lineup. If the Hurricanes would take back most of his salary, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Oilers get Ward. As for predictions, just look at what the Flames did this season. The Oilers can improve a lot if they just make solid moves.

  • Tirtle

    Never would I ever make Hall the captain. Parties to much, immature off the ice. He may be a rising star and one of the greatest on the team but if anyone gets the C it’ll be MCDAVID or Nuge. Which would be in 2 summers. ATM we have a seasoned veteran in Ference wearing the C, not the worst but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be traded at or before the TDL. Keep the captaincy vacant until MCDAVID is showing great leadership ability.
    Line combos

    Hall-McDavid-Williams —– you have to go out and find a vet to support Mcdavid
    Pouliot-Nuge-Yakupov
    Pakarinen-Drat-Pitlick
    Hendricks-Lander-Purcell—(please trade)
    That’s the October 1st offence. Trading one of the “core boys” (Eberle) for an upgrade in goal. Maybe a package of Eberle + draft pick for a OEL type of player. Upgrade the defence and goaltending situation and everything shall fall in place, but without a solid core of defence nothing is possible. Wouldn’t matter if our top two centres were Crosby and mcdavid, without a 60-70 game starter and a bonified top 6 no steps will be made.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Ference shouldn’t be captain. – first or second liners only.

    RNH is an interesting option Robin.

    And I could not care less about what those players are like off-ice/away from the team. I think it ridiculous that people think Ference was/is a good captain because of what he does in the community (many of which is disagree with).
    Picking a captain should be based on who can best help the team win in that role – AND NOTHING ELSE.

    2. Mcdavid could be the greatest player in the history of the sport or he could be hindered by injuries and be an also ran. He could get as high as 75 pts. That said goaltending is becoming prohibitively better with every passing month it seems. Here’s hoping their equipment gets reduced before next season.

    3. Finishing more than 10 pts out of the playoffs would be a failure (barring a plague of significant injuries) and the biggest responsibility for that off-ice – 75% or more – lies with the GM.

    • Rob...

      “Ference was/is a good captain because of what he does in the community (many of which is disagree with).”

      ~You must be talking about his affiliation with Lexus. Overpaying for vehicles and their subsequent maintenance is definitely a serious issue.~

  • Rob...

    No one wants Hendricks to be captain? I get he is a 4th line player and that he plays 10 minutes a game. However he is a very good leader, a veteran, and a hard worker. When the team needs him to step up, he is the guy that lays a hit or gets into a fight to boost the team’s emotion

    • Rob...

      He plays on the edge, fights, and is not expected to be a top 6 ‘point getter’ or time ‘on icer’. That’s not Captain material and is a primary reason why Ference is no longer the best option.

      I like him, and hope he stays healthy enough to be the impact player he was last season, but he showed last season that his type of leading doesn’t require a letter on his chest.