Monday Mailbag – June 1st

Mailbag

June already, huh? That means we’re in the ballpark for drafting McDavid. We are mere weeks away, but that’s a story for another day. This story is about the Mailbag. Today, we take a look at the questions you’ve sent in for our panel of writers. If you have a question, you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. With that I present another edition of the Mailbag – enjoy.

5yearplan

1) Aidan asks – Let’s pretend you’re Peter Chiarelli for a minute. What would your five year plan be for the Oilers?

Robin Brownlee:

Five-year plan? That’s an essay, not an answer. The issues we know. What Chiarelli has to do is what those before him did not — build the NHL roster the right way through draft, trades and free agency. Draft better in later rounds. Concentrate on proper development of prospects.

Jason Gregor:

He needs to evaluate the team and see exactly what he has. I wouldn’t make major sweeping changes this summer. I expect him to make a few moves, but making a plan to re-vamp the defence has to be priority number one. Klefbom and Nurse should be pillars on the blueline in a few seasons, but what does he do until they are ready for tough matchups? I think he will have a shorter plan first, to see what he has and then plan for longer after that.

Lowetide:

There’s no secret about strategy, the key is draft and develop. I think the Oilers need to immediately upgrade D and G, and then continue the upgrade for the minor league team that began with the OKC Barons in 2010. Drafting and development is the key for this team, especially important when the McDavid cluster of talent begins to get paid beginning in 2018. Draft. Develop. Get good players, keep good players. 

Jeanshorts:

“HOLY CRAP WHERE DID ALL MY HAIR GO??” Sorry, I was just dealing with the shock of discovering I’m Peter Chiarelli. 

ANYWAY, my plan would go thusly: 

Year One: Draft McDavid. Evaluate talent already in the system. Try and plug roster holes without mortgaging too much of the future. 

Year Two: Grab Daryl’s chequebook and go hog wild on free agency. Pay an actual #1 D-Man all the money to play for the Oilers. Draft first overall after winning the lottery again #BecauseOilers. 

Year Three & Four: ???

Year Five: Stanley Cup! 

Seems pretty straightforward to me!

Jason Strudwick:

Five year plan! I think he needs to focus on the next 12 months and go from there. He needs to evaluate everything in the organization from drafted players to the top players to the scouts and everything in between. Over the next few months determine what kind of a team he wants and what kind of style of play, then mold the group into that team.

Jonathan Willis:

More than I can explain in a short answer. Five year plans are rough guides anyway, but they key thing now is the development of Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse and the eventual transition of the key responsibilities on the back end into their hands. The forward corps is more or less built, with some tweaking around the edges; build the defence and it’s generally possible to find a goalie who can get the job done.

Matt Henderson:

My five year plan for the Oilers involves challenging for a Stanley Cup within the next three years. Hall, RNH, and Eberle are all in their primes and the club should have sufficient talent and experience down the middle within three years. All efforts must now be made to acquire a goalie (not so difficult) and two more RHD (much more difficult).

Baggedmilk:

There’s a new dinosaur exhibit at the Space Science Centre (I know it’s not called that anymore but I don’t care) and I would assume he would be checking that out at some point. I’m guessing Taste of Edmonton will be included, maybe even the heritage festival. I’m seeing a lot of food in Chiarelli’s future. Maybe I’m hungry?

Honestly, the plan probably goes something like: Draft McDavid, find defence, open new arena, put feet up on desk. At least that’s how I manage. Just the fact that there may be a plan pleases me endlessly.

Phones

2) Isaac B asks – What are your thoughts on era to era comparisons? (i.e. McDavid to Gretzky/Lemieux/Crosby) Are they fair?

Robin Brownlee:

Can’t compare eras. With each generation, athletes get better. Game evolves. Rules change. For instance, I admire the careers of past greats like Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard, but I’m not convinced they’d come close to reaching the levels of greatness they enjoyed if they played today. Not big and not fast by today’s standards. On the flipside, no matter how great McDavid might become, he will never approach the scoring feats of Gretzky or Lemieux. Better goaltenders and defensive systems now.

Jason Gregor:

They are fair if you recognize each as the best of their era. I don’t think anyone expects Crosby or McDavid to score as many points as Gretzky or Lemieux, but I doubt anyone will dominate the league like Gretz did. Even if you prorate the points, he was always so much farther ahead than the second place scorer than players are today. Every situation is different as well. McDavid will have the luxury of playing with Taylor Hall and/or Jordan Eberle and they are in their 6th season and still entering their prime. Crosby didn’t have that in his rookie season. He had a few aging vets with experience, but none in their prime.

Lowetide:

I think they’re nonsense. Honestly. (I may be stealing Brownlee’s answer but chances are he words it better.)

Jeanshorts:

I think it’s human nature to compare things to the past, but no, I don’t think they’re necessarily fair. Watch a game from the 80’s and it looks like they’re playing at half speed compared to today’s game. And don’t even get me started on the goalies. This is why it drives me crazy when people talk about trying to raise the scoring rate. That’s all fine but PLEASE stop comparing the present with the 80’s NHL! HAVE YOU SEEN CLIPS OF THOSE GOALIES? Guys are firing clappers along the ice from two feet outside the blue line, and some 5″2 guy in net halfheartedly kicks at the puck and it goes in. The “Dead Puck Era” exists mostly because at some point in the 90’s goalies were like, “Maybe we should try using our entire body to stop the puck, rather than just like a toe or finger? Also let’s wear gear that is 200x bigger than necessary!” If Ben Scrivens played in 1981 he’d finish the season with 30 shutouts purely by virtue of knowing how to drop down into the butterfly.

TL;DR McDavid will more than likely never come close to scoring 200 points in a season.

Jason Strudwick:

Very hard to do. I don’t think it is fair to compare them directly.

Jonathan Willis:

Sure, as long as one adjusts for era. It’s easy enough to index a player’s point production to total NHL scoring in a given time period, though it’s a lot tougher without detailed ice time.

Matt Henderson:

No, they are never fair when made straight up. I like the era effects that can be applied which deals with league scoring rates but there’s no perfect way to do it. Fair or not though, they are fun. Who wouldn’t want to think about what Crosby could have done with Kurri on his wing? Or what Gretzky could have done playing with Ovechkin, or whatever.

Baggedmilk:

Just watch a game from the 80’s and tell me how the two generations of hockey compare. No offence to early goalies, but they were practically non existent. Defensive schemes? Forget about it. When modern coaches are explaining plays etc, the old boys would have been outside crushing darts between periods. I don’t see how you can compare eras as the game looks nothing now like it did back then. To me, saying McDavid is the best since Gretzky just adds unneeded pressure on the kid. Connor McDavid will be Connor McDavid – no more, no less.

Number2

3) Vetinari asks – Was it wise for Chiarelli to keep MacT around as his no.2 guy given that MacT was at least partially responsible for the mess in goal and on the blue line let alone the decision to go with Eakins as coach for 100+games?  Wouldn’t be difficult to objectively assess an organization when the guy who was responsible for those previous decisions is still in the organization and would presumably want to justify and protect those decisions?

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t think MacTavish lasts beyond his contract. I would have fired him.

Jason Gregor:

None of us have any idea how much say MacTavish has. Chiarelli has the final say, and I’m sure he will listen to input, but I’d bet he will make it clear what his objectives are and how he plans to build the team. Either MacTavish will align with that over time or he doesn’t stay. I don’t see MacTavish sitting in Chiarelli’s ear and saying “Norris potential” every time Schultz’s name comes up. You have to be professional and I’m sure MacTavish learned from his mistakes and can improve.

Lowetide:

Chiarelli doesn’t have to listen and there is value in having MacT around to help with the transition.That said, it’s kind of strange and my bet is it doesn’t last a long time. 

Jeanshorts:

I’m on the fence with this one. Because on one hand why on earth would you want to keep around the guy whose job you just took, especially after he was fired because his run was a disaster? I can just see Chiarelli hearing, “Nikitin just needs a good D partner” 200 times before Christmas. 

But on the other hand it’s not like MacT is a blubbering moron. Aside from his disastrous GM run he IS a smart hockey mind. He’s arguably the best coach the Oilers have had in the last 15 years. And on paper having a variety of opinions and ideas is generally good, in that it may help you see something you’d otherwise miss. But if I were Chiarelli I would have wanted MacT to be let go outright. Maybe he’d catch on as a GM somewhere else and we could fleece him in trades for years to come!

Jason Strudwick:

Good question. I have wondered this myself. I can’t judge Peter on his choice. Only he knows his reasons.

Jonathan Willis:

That’s a legitimate question, and it’s going to depend to a large degree on how exactly the front office is structured. Craig MacTavish did some good things (as an example, the Oilers’ forward moves during his tenure were generally productive, the willingness to go to Russia at the draft is promising) but he also made some significant mistakes and naturally it’s important that Peter Chiarelli be able to objectively assess MacTavish’s strengths and weaknesses and employ him in a way that maximizes the former and minimizes the latter.

Matt Henderson:

If it was my call the sweep would have been clean. I imagine that it will take two periods into the first game against a tough western conference team before Chia turns to MacT and says, “Norris? Really?” I wonder how much damage MacTavish can keep doing from his position, but Chiarelli is a bright guy. He’ll figure it out.

Baggedmilk:

It’s odd that Chiarelli held onto MacT in the #2 role, but even stranger that MacT would accept that position. Why would you want to watch someone else do the job you were deemed unfit to perform? I guess I get it. Those Oilers paycheques must be sweeeeeeeet. 

PunchOut

4) Tileguy asks – I like to use words like “face puncher” and “nuclear deterrent” when talking about the Oilers needs but always receive a 1001 trashes for the suggestion. Are you worried that there are going to be liberties taken with Connor and little Nuge and not have anybody to persuade the opposing team to not do that?

Robin Brownlee:

I’ve always thought most people who use words like goon, knuckle-dragger, face-puncher etc fall into two categories. First, those who have no idea how difficult a job it is and can’t be bothered to show respect for the men who do it. Second, nerds who see the enforcer role as useless because they can’t or won’t be bothered to consider it has some value — even when players and teammates say there is. I just don’t like the terminology.

That said, the game has evolved and those whose calling card is intimidation have to be able to do more than fight. The super-heavyweight who only plays five minutes a night is a thing of the past. I also find myself struggling with fighting in the game given what we’ve learned over the past five years about the long-term effects of concussions and blows to the head, even if the vast majority of concussions aren’t caused by fighting. I do think certain players need some cover, but what form the protection takes is changing.

Jason Gregor:

Who protected Nathan MacKinnon? Drouin? Galchenyuk? If you have a physical, skilled winger who can play on that line and jump into a scrum when needed, great, but having a tough guy on your 4th line who never plays with McDavid accomplishes nothing. The game has changed, but people need to remember Dave Semenko use to play on a line with Gretzky for games at a time or shifts in a period. You can’t protect a guy from the bench in today’s game. Hockey is a contact sport, if McDavid is in a position to get hit cleanly every player on the opposing team will hit him. That doesn’t mean they are taking liberties with him, it means they are playing NHL hockey. McDavid is not a porcelain doll. He will be fine.

Lowetide:

Even if you hire giants, there are going to be teams that target players. The best thing going for McDavid now is that Calgary has their own kids who could be targeted if it comes to that. I hate that kind of hockey btw. Play a rugged style, finish your check and make everything difficult. Targeting players means it’s no longer hockey.

Jeanshorts:

“Are you worried they’re going to take liberties with Nuge” THIS is why you get so many trashes, because this is nonsensical. Nuge is entering his fifth season in the league — when has anyone taken liberties with him? He’s had shoulder problems, but the NHL is a full contact league. Everyone takes hits. They’re bound to take a toll after a while and icing a team full of nothing but Luke Gazdic clones isn’t going to prevent that. 

When Kassian broke Gagner’s jaw, that Oilers team had Gazdic AND Mike Brown AND Ben Eager. None of those guys deterred anything. I’m all for keeping fighting in the game, but this notion of having someone whose sole job is to go out and fight to “protect” the superstars is at least 10 years outdated by now. 

And just to really hammer the point home, any guesses as to which team had the second lowest number of fighting majors this season? The Chicago Blackhawks, currently looking to win their third cup in six years. Toews and Kane and the rest seem to be doing fine without someone there “protecting” them.

Jason Strudwick:

Those types of players are unfortunately leaving the NHL. They need to be able to contribute. I really liked the way Gazdic improved last season. The Oilers need to be aggressive with their ability to forecheck and play at top speed. Look at the four teams that played in the conference finals. Speed was all over those lineups.

Jonathan Willis:

No, because I don’t belief enforcers deter the kind of guys who make a living running good players. Milan Lucic was on the ice next to Marc Savard when Matt Cooke ended his career with a brutal shot; Shawn Thornton was on the bench. There’s simply no way to protect NHL players from getting hit. Sticking Luke Gazdic or the top-six equivalent on Connor McDavid’s wing might give Oilers fans a nice warm feeling but won’t make him safe. It’s also tough for even the most dedicated enforcer to do his job because penalties are so costly; a good case in point would be Gazdic’s first game back last year, a game which saw Ryan Garbutt run Taylor Hall.

Matt Henderson:

I don’t think that kind of deterrent even exists anymore. Other teams will take liberties on whatever players they want to no matter what. Luke Gazdic is a fierce fighter but his eight minutes a game don’t happen with RNH or McDavid on the ice and retribution is not an option anymore. If McDavid doesn’t want to get messed with he can put his stick in someone’s face when he’s being run or stand up for himself. Not much else he or the team can realistically do.

Baggedmilk:

I love a good scrap as much as anybody, but some of these guys can’t even play and it’s a waste of a roster spot. If you can get a guy with a little bit of touch in that role then that’s a different story (Georges Laraque scored 13 goals in 2000-01) but in most cases the hands aren’t there aside from face punchery. To put it another way, who is the “nuclear deterrent” on the Blackhawks? Right.

SwedishChef

5) Ryan Davies asks – What is your go to meal to cook for your significant other?

Robin Brownlee:

Chowder. I’m a Family Guy.

Jason Gregor:

BBQ chicken that has been marinating in special sauce and spices and BBQ asparagus as well as mini potatoes with a tossed salad. For dessert I can whip up a mean batch of choc chip cookies, but her favourite is brownies with ice cream.

Lowetide:

Mrs. Lowetide likes steak and baked potato and I barbeque both (medium well). We’re not fancy people like the Willis couple, who have expensive and elaborate tastes.

Jeanshorts:

Whenever I’m trying to impress a lady into making a regrettable decision, I bust out some lasagna and our family caesar dressing recipe. Let’s just say it has a 100% success rate so far. 

Jason Strudwick:

Taco Salad. Love it.

Jonathan Willis:

Inside out omelettes. They’re quick to make, tasty, quite good for you and if you load the eggs with some grilled mushrooms, fresh tomatoes and green onions it’s pretty delicious, too. Plus, the nice thing about omelettes is they’re a good way to get rid of whatever’s left in the fridge.

Matt Henderson:

I do a very simple and fresh chicken and tomato basil pasta. Make whatever pasta you want, I like Penne. Butterfly some chicken breasts and start them in a frying pan. As the first side is cooking, cube up 3-4 tomatoes. Flip the chicken after a few minutes and dump in your tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook for a couple minutes then dump in some butter. Choose an amount that you think is appropriate, then double it. A stick of butter will do. Take a package of fresh Basil then chop the living hell out of it (at least 75% of the package for my tastes) then throw that in the sauce you have going. Give it a couple minutes then life’s good and you can mix your pasta and sauce together. Boom. Dinner is served.

Baggedmilk:

When it’s my turn to cook at home Mrs. Milk knows she’s getting one of four different things: A) Tacos. Gotta have em. B) Some variation of pasta that I will make using whatever we have left in the fridge (that’s how my grandma taught me to do it). C) BBQ. I can’t cook much but I can BBQ and that’s always in the mix. D) Skip the dishes.

  • paul wodehouse

    …Big Bear

    …if you watched any of the NYR games 99 played in the last year he played he was getting the crap kicked out of him period (.) by younger bigger faster players that were part of the era change that 99 was on the leading edge of and this was the reason he retired…he couldn’t keep up and was getting injured on a regular basis…175 points? which ballpark do you speak of Big…

      • paul wodehouse

        …ya thanks scoop

        he’s Wayne Gretzky…62 points…ALL OF 9 GOALS included there stats man…that Ranger team was bad bad bad … as an old broken icon he wasn’t going to win any scoring title…he shoulda retired outta L.A. and stayed outta the east…had no biz playing that long…

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    #3 the only way I can see keeping MacT if I am the GM is because MacT came to me and said “Hi Mr. Chiarelli I know that most of the time the Old GM is sent packing. If you want me gone that is of coarse fine as you are now in charge. To be honest I have felt a bit frustrated as I keep running in to brick walls as I have tried to improve the team. Often my inexperience has hurt me when I stated things best left unsaid. I feel as if in some ways I helped the team and in others I hurt it. I love this team so much that I am very willing to step back and learn from you and enjoy the success you will bring to the team. If you feel I can be of service to you I will do what you ask of me and always regard you as the boss. If you are willing to try that I am game, Craig.