Monday Mailbag – December 14th

Mailbag1

My friends, it’s that time of the week where we all have an opportunity to get a little bit smarter. How do we get smarter? By taking in the wonderful advice bestowed upon us by the panel of Nation wizards writers. I need questions for next week so please send them in if you have anything you want to ask. You can email your questions (or just to chat?) to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or DM me on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Without further delay I present you with another Mailbag.

1) Brendan H. asks – With Mark Fayne being placed on waivers I’m wondering what the panel thinks of all of MacT’s work that is being undone by Peter Chiarelli?

Jonathan Willis:

I don’t think it’s a big shock that the new general manager has a different vision than his predecessor. I can’t help feeling that even though Fayne seems like a bad fit for Todd McLellan – McLellan seems to prefer his speedy D – there’s a player in there who can help. Nikitin/Ference both earned their way to the roles they’re in now.

Jason Gregor:

Did anyone like the Nikitin signing? Most felt Ference was too long. Fayne has been a disappointment, but what does he actually do to improve team? I see it as a GM and coach trying to improve the team. Team is winning more, so that is what matters most.

Lowetide:

New management means new directions. The MacT era gets slammed and there are reasons to do it, but part of the reason men like Andrew Ference and Mark Fayne were signed was to give extra development time to Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse. It would have been nice to have these men perform well enough to fulfill their entire contracts but there was value in delaying the force feeding of kids at the NHL level.

Robin Brownlee:

I’m thinking it doesn’t bode well for MacTavish’s employment with the Oilers beyond his current contract.

Matt Henderson:

When Chia came in we all wondered how far he would go to change the face of the Oilers. So far he hasn’t made deep cuts to the core because he’s been dealing with all of the support players MacT signed. I’m happy the GM is undoing all of these mistakes as best as he can. It’s too bad both Fayne and Ference have multiple years still on the books.

Jason Strudwick:

Peter is his own man and has a vision for this team. He has zero attachment to any player that was here when he arrived.

Jeanshorts:

I’m not really surprised by it. A lot of MacT’s moves were panned almost immediately when he made them, or at the very least looked at skeptically. And it’s actually refreshing to see a GM not stubbornly keep a bad player on the roster because of loyalty or money sunk into their contract. Not that we won’t see that with Chia in the coming years, but for now it’s a nice change of pace.

Baggedmilk:

All I can picture is Craig MacTavish sitting in the board rooom, when these decisions are made, and sinking a little bit lower into his chair. I can also picture a situation where he throws a handful of glitter up in the air and ducks out of the room before anyone really notices what happened. Regardless, it doesn’t look good for Craig.

2) Alyssa K. asks – I read in Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts that this is one of the slowest seasons, in recent memory, in terms of player movement. What do you think is preventing trades from happening?

Jonathan Willis:

The salary cap has generally slowed things down, but the difference to me is increased parity. As I write this, Edmonton is getting ready to face San Jose. The Oilers are currently tied for dead-last in the NHL, but with a win will be within two points of playoff spot. Isn’t that nuts? With virtually everyone still eyeing a playoff run, it’s hard to make a buy/sell kind of trade. With the salary cap, it’s hard to make a true hockey trade.

Jason Gregor:

Not many teams have cap space, few moves occur before January and right now no teams are that far out of the race. I’m answering this on Wednesday and the Flames and Oilers are in last place in the west, but only four points out of a playoff spot. In the east, Carolina and Columbus are in basement and seven points out. Trades will occur in new year, but with parity and little cap space it is tough to make a move.

Lowetide:

Cap issues for sure, the cap for next season doesn’t look like it will be going much higher. Also, most teams are still in the race so want to keep their useful players.

Robin Brownlee:

Lack of salary cap space and too many no-movement and no-trade clauses. Money has to make sense now.

Matt Henderson:

Teams started the year very tight to the cap. I’d wager that was the biggest reason teams haven’t moved a lot of players. It should be easier at the deadline because of prorating. The NHL is also trending younger and younger. So teams value those kids maybe higher than they did previously. That leaves older, more expensive, pieces as the primary assets available. It all kind of combines for lower movement.

Jason Strudwick:

Trades are fun to talk about and to see actually happen. Could be that the standings are tight and so are the cap numbers for a lot of team.

Jeanshorts:

I have to think that it’s mostly due to the cap. GMs can’t necessarily swing for the fences and try to land big fish as often anymore because they not only have to work within the confines of their current cap space, but they also have to consider cap space going forward into future seasons. Which is why most teams now have adopted the model of drafting and developing talent, and trying to win when this talent is still under contract during their entry level and RFA years.

Baggedmilk:

I love trades and I miss seeing them happen mid-season like they used to when I was a kid. At the end of the day, hockey is entertainment and trades create more excitement. Stupid salary cap. 

3) Peter F. asks – At what point does it make sense for the Oilers to start talking extension with Anders Nilsson? Should they wait until the summer or try to get something done during the season? How much would you offer?

Jonathan Willis:

I wouldn’t do anything until he’s played another 30 games. There’s no rush on this and goalies are famously erratic.

Jason Gregor:

No rush. He is an RFA in the summer. Let him concentrate on the season, and if he does get a contract I don’t see it being longterm. Oilers won’t commit enough for him to agree longterm, and would be foolish for Oilers to give him big money on a long deal. I suspect he signs a two year deal, maybe three.

Lowetide:

I would run Nilsson as the starter into January and at that time make a decision and pursue a contract. Talbot needs to get some starts too, as he should be traded if they don’t plan on keeping him.

Robin Brownlee:

We don’t know yet if it does makes sense. There is no rush. After the season is fine.

Matt Henderson:

He’s an RFA so the Oilers aren’t in any danger of losing him in the summer. The Oilers can wait until the end of the season and they absolutely should. He’s riding a high right now, but it would be silly to expect this level of play all year long until he proves he can do it.

Jason Strudwick:

There is no rush unless you are talking about another one-year deal. One good month does not equal a long contract. The team and Nilsson have been playing well but lets not get to far ahead of ourselves talking about extensions.

Jeanshorts:

Nilsson has looked spectacular lately, but I’m still nervous about him. He’s hitting the sweet spot age for goalies in terms of reaching their true potential, so hopefully his play of late is a sign of things to come, but he has a history of having up and down seasons, so the bottom could fall out again at any minute. And recent history has taught us that unless you have Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist in the crease there’s not a lot of reasons to sign goalies to big money, long term contracts. There seems to be a wealth of replacement level goaltenders out there that can be had for a bargain price (Anders Nilsson for example). I would wait it out, and if he’s still putting up similar numbers and stealing games for the Oilers as we get closer to the end of the season, I’d look at giving him no more than a three year deal, at around $2.5 per year.

Baggedmilk:

I can see the Oilers extending the Ders in the summer, but remember this, my friends: Remember when Ben Scrivens shut out the San Jose Sharks and we were all excited to think about extending him? Well, the Professor is currently sporting a sub .900 save% in the AHL so let’s pump the brakes a little bit.

4) Jenna asks – What are your thoughts on the coach’s challenges now that you’ve seen them in practice for a couple of months?

Jonathan Willis:

I don’t think they’ve really added much to the game.

Jason Gregor:

Like them for offside goals, do not like the chintzy goalie interference league has deemed worthy of calling off goals.

Lowetide:

It is a mess, as is the case with almost everything the NHL does. They need more cameras, universal camera coverage in all arenas, and ALL camera angles must be immediately available to the war room. This entire mess could have been avoided if the NHL had a streamlined system instead of the ridiculous situation now. The NHL: ‘We didn’t think things through. Again.’

Robin Brownlee:

I like the challenges. Getting the right call tops expediency.

Matt Henderson:

I think it’s terrible. There is no reason why coaches should be able to challenge goaltender interference. I get challenging offsides, the more I think about it, but not interference. The worst part is that the war-room isn’t even involved. They watch replays on a tablet. Plus, I think it’s insane to determine interference based on slow-motion. That has to be determined at full speed. If it isn’t interference at full speed then it isn’t interference.

Jason Strudwick:

I don’t like how it slows down the flow of the game but it is good to get it right.

Jeanshorts:

On paper I still like it, but so far in practice it hasn’t been great. We’re seeing what seems to be a lot of good goals being called back on phantom goalie interference calls, and because of that it seems like almost every goal is being challenged whenever someone is within 10 feet of the crease. It’s still early, and with anything new it will take a bit to iron out all the kinks, but I think it definitely needs to be tweaked. Start with limiting it to one challenge a game so coaches really have to think about using it strategically like a time out.

Baggedmilk:

If I was a goalie I would flop any time an opposing player came anywhere near me. The best case scenario is that the opposing team would score and you would get off because your coach challenged the play for goaltender interference. I understand why the NHL gave the coaches this power, but it needs some tweaking. Too many goals are being called off that absolutely should not be.

5) Bruce A. asks – I just celebrated my 46th birthday and my wife bought me a will kit as a gag gift but it actually, kind of, offended me. My question for the writers is what is the worst gift you’ve ever been given?

Jonathan Willis:

I’m sorry to do this, but I really can’t think of one.

Jason Gregor:

You are 46 and you don’t have a Will? Remember when you get a will, she will get one too. Could benefit you, but should have one to protect the family. That being said, worst gift I received was a bottle of shampoo. Pointless.

Lowetide:

A penis flashlight. Don’t ask.

Robin Brownlee:

You’re too easily offended. If she actually wanted you gone, you’d be gone. Worst gift was receiving a pet rock back in the year or two during the 1980s when they were a thing. Came with a little bed of hay. That sucker hit the round file before I rang in the New Year.

Matt Henderson:

First off, my dad died sans will and it was a nightmare so you should probably fill it out. As for crappy gifts, my mom bought me a cell phone years ago for Christmas once but I had spent months saying “I don’t want a cell phone, I hate the idea of having a cell phone.” It wasn’t even something she got special for me, it came free when she bought my sister a phone she wanted for Christmas. Now THAT offended me. Still though, get a will.

Jason Strudwick:

For my 40th birthday Gregor gave me a Beta Max copy of his hockey career.

Jeanshorts:

I got a pair of moon shoes from my Grandpa when I was about six or so. And while moon shoes are cool as hell I was about four years too young and 30lbs too light to actually use them. Pretty sure they’re still in the box in my dad’s basement somewhere.

Baggedmilk:

Shouldn’t you have a will by the time you’re 46? My first thought is to congratulate you for your all-star level procrastination. Secondly, I feel like your wife may know something you don’t so I’ll keep your email handy just in case you end up dead in some freak accident. 

Worst gift I ever got had to be when I was around 20 years old. I got a stamp (a single stamp) from one of my relatives with the note that I could now start a stamp collection. Seriously? They say it’s the thought that counts but I can’t imagine much thought went into sending me a 65 cent stamp (or whatever they cost at the time). 


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          • Cain

            DOnt know who where to post this but feel it is important to keep reminding ourselves of the power and role of us as fans have/are. our role is to support the team. (period) we do not have the authority to make trades or have our say of whos playing on what line etc…lets know our role and support our team with our positive energy…JUst saying this cause i know a lot of people get down on the team when things are not going good but this doesnt help at all and it is not what a fan should be doing. let the the front office and players do their role which is out of fans control and lets do our role and stay positive and focus on winning…

            p.s this message was slightly inspired by
            connor mcgregor who is a great example of the power of positive thinking and positive attitude…..lets apply this to ourself as well as our team! go OILERS

      • I don’t think it was even cool then.

        PS: If you own things, are married or have kids – GET A WILL. Not having a will is a massive burden for your family to undertake while they are grieving your lazy ass! Ask family/friends for a recommendation for a lawyer or look one up online. It’s very easy!

  • >5) Bruce A. asks – I just celebrated my 46th birthday and my wife bought me a will kit as a gag gift but it actually, kind of, offended me. My question for the writers is what is the worst gift you’ve ever been given?

    Bruce, buy her a Jenny Craig subscription.

      • Mangiant

        Forgive my ignorance, but don’t coaches lose their timeout if the challenge is unsuccessful?

        So if they were using it to “take away momentum” just for the sake of it, wouldn’t they just use the timeout instead?

        • Rob...

          A timeout is just 30 seconds long. A challenge can potentially last much longer, taking away more momentum and giving your players a much longer needed rest.

    • @S_2_H

      Understand the reasoning but seems a bit harsh. If a challenge fails, do they have to do a faceoff on the challengers end? If not maybe that would be an option. There should be some kind of penalty for this, just like yard loss in football.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Do coaches challenges/official reviews make any sport better? I think what they have proved more than anything is that top-level officials get the call right at least 98% of the time. I’ll take the odd blown call to keep the game moving.

    • Cain

      I think if official challenges could be decided as fast as we make the call after seeing the replay at home, it would be much better.

      If they can’t decide after seeing it once or twice on replay, the original call should stand, and keep the game moving

      • Rob...

        I’d rather we saw a change where off-ice officials can call a match penalty after the fact. It does not help the victim or his team if an opposing player is suspended the very next game. Suspensions for dangerous illegal plays should begin during the game the infraction occurred so that the affected team can take advantage. Dirty players who time their offense for when the officials aren’t looking shouldn’t be rewarded with an increased chance of getting 2 points.

  • 24% body fat

    Robin Brownlee:

    I’m thinking it doesn’t bode well for MacTavish’s employment with the Oilers beyond his current contract.

    Man I hope your right! But it’s the oilers were talking about here… We’ll see just how much things really have changed

  • ubermiguel

    Agree with Brownlee, just get the call right; I don’t care about regular season games but we don’t need another Stanley Cup won by strange officiating.

    And a will as a gift? Dude needs a will, but that’s like buying your wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas; yes, you need a new vacuum, but buy it because you need it, not as a gift.

  • paul wodehouse

    Wow, I can’t believe last to second in the Pacific is 3 points. This is going to be one hell of a season if it stays this close.

    Van, San Jose, and Arizona have been brutal over their last ten games, I hope that trend continues. Though it’s not so great for my fantasy team. Also, how freakin annoying is it seeing Calgary match Edmonton in lockstep. That team has been garbage all year without any excuses like injury. Now, all of a sudden as the Oilers are finding ways to win, Calgary is back to getting ridiculous bounces and luck?

    Oh, maybe you think I’m a homer? Gaudreau has a respectable 31 points, but after that, Monahan is at like 22, and then the rest of the team doesn’t have a guy with over 20 points. Also, the Flames players have played all their games. They have the worst goal differential in the league. And yet night after night, teams who play Calgary think they have 2 points in the bag, get a lead, then let them back in the game. It’s ridiculous and needs to end.

    • paul wodehouse

      ya…that’s the guy 97 Connor McDavid…heard anything about his recovery and/or his return … anyone? I’m out of province and don’t hear squat about him so…

  • Soiled Trousers

    I have two wishes for this holiday season. One is the Oilers decimate the competition on this road trip. The other is the glorious fist tradition never dies. Fister for life!

  • Rob...

    Strudwick’s Line :
    “For my 40th birthday Gregor gave me a Beta Max copy of his hockey career.”

    Perhaps the funniest line ever in the history of the world.

  • Cain

    @jason Gregor: Did anyone like the nikitin signing? Yes. You did. “I think we can all agree Nikitin got more money than he’s worth but that’s the harsh reality of being a perennial losing organization. Players won’t flock here unless you overpay…I don’t expect him to fix the oilers blue line, far from it, but he has more experience than Schultz, Marincin, Klefbom, and Nurse combined, and that might be the best thing about the signing. It means they won’t rush more d-men. Nikitin is a top 4 dman on an average to below nhl team and right now that is what the oilers are. In 2 years if the young defenders develop into the players the oilers expect them to be then nikitin likely takes a pay cut to play third pairing or doesn’t return. Bye can also play the point on the PP, he has a heavy shot and he shoots left, which is something the oilers need.”
    From “Oilers Sign Nikitin”- June 25, 2014
    Sure sounds like you didn’t mind the signing.

    Jason Gregor July 1,2014:
    “Mark Fayne at 4 years $3.5 million is a solid signing, but I don’t see him more than a #4 long term. The most important part of this signing is that means the Oilers don’t have to rush their young dmen.”
    July2,2014:
    “..I believe he will play a major role in reducing their goals against.”
    “I can’t recall the last time I interviewed an Oiler who was this confident and understanding about his play in the defensive zone. It’s is exactly what this team needs.”
    “Fayne excels at one thing, being a solid stay at home dman”
    So it seems like you had a few ideas on how he would improve the team.