Monday Mailbag – January 4th, 2016

Mailbag

What have we here? The a shiny new mailbag for a shiny new year. I hope all of you had excellent days off and that the punishment of your livers was kept in check. Since a lot of you are headed back to work for the first time I wanted to make sure that you had something to read and help you kill off a few minutes of company time. Enter the mailbag. I need questions for next week, so if there’s something you want to ask feel free to hit me up by email or on Twitter. Enjoy.


1) Jayson D. asks – There has been a lot of talk about the Oilers moving either Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle in pursuit of a defenceman. My question for the panel is which of the two (or both) they would move if need be?

Lowetide:

I would prefer not to trade either and request Wanye not read the rest of my answer. 🙂 Peter Chiarelli builds up the middle, and if he deals the Nuge another centre (probably bigger, like Hanzal) is coming back. That is a different trade. It is Eberle.

Jonathan Willis:

Eberle. Every other team in the NHL appreciates the value of having redundancy at centre, including both Boston and San Jose when Peter Chiarellli and Todd McLellan were employed by those teams. McLellan in particular had not just Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture but he also had Patrick Marleau who could play down the middle. The coach has also made his feelings about Nugent-Hopkins more than clear. 

Jeanshorts:

In my ideal world you keep both of them. BUT, theoretically if I had to get rid of one it would be Eberle. Now I LOVE Jordan Eberle more than a lot of other things on this earth, but I think Nuge and his two way play and his face-off prowess is more valuable to the Oilers. People have been saying for a while now that the emergence of Draisaitl makes Nuge expendable, which I’ve never agreed with; if anything he makes Eberle expendable, in that Drai can play both wing and centre, and put up points at an alarming rate. Having a platoon of centres made up of McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins would be ridiculously lethal. The Oilers FINALLY have legit centre depth; stop demanding they be traded now!

Robin Brownlee:

The talk is just that — talk. You cannot possibly say who you’d trade unless you know who is coming back. Are we talking Hamonic? Weber? Seth Jones? In general terms, I’d be more willing to give up a winger right now than a centre.

Jason Gregor:

I believe RNH would garner you a better return. I would only trade him for an “A” player. I would not trade him for a package for two “B” players and a prospect for example.

Matt Henderson:

I would move Eberle first. He’s very talented and in a perfect world the team wouldn’t need to move him, but they need defense and I would dangle him before I would RNH. Keep centers at all costs.

Baggedmilk:

I’d rather they trade neither and offer up draft picks as bait for the defenceman they’re obviously after. I think some people forget that other GMs aren’t trying to help you out so they’re going to offer little and ask for a lot. That being said, if I HAD to choose between the two I would trade Eberle based on the fact that I’d rather the team be stocked up with centreman than wingers. 


2) Dom G. asks – Do you think Zack Kassian will play for the Oilers this season? If so, when do you think that might be?

Lowetide:

All bets are off on Kassian. If you ask me about ability, he certainly has the talent to play for the Oilers in a significant role. I don’t have an answer for the rest, beyond hoping the young man finds a way to make this opportunity work. I do think he plays after the trade deadline in an Oilers uniform.

Jonathan Willis:

We’ll have to see how he performs in the AHL. I’d guess that the Oilers want to give him at least several weeks at that level, so Kassian looks to me like a logical replacement in the lineup for whichever forward(s) Edmonton parts with at the trade deadline. Of course if the team still has people injured we may see him sooner.

Jeanshorts:

I do, mostly because even though he hasn’t played a game all season (and even though I think he’s incredibly overrated) he’s still a better option than Luke Gazdic at this point. A lot of people are throwing around line combos in which he lines up next to McDavid or Hall, and, just, no. No. He’ll play in the bottom six, and with the way injuries have mounted and guys like Pakareinen not really making much of an impact, AND hedging our bets that he does everything he needs to get his game back on track down in the AHL, we’ll see Zack Kassian in an Oilers jersey before the end of the season *never stops shuddering*. On the podcast I called February 15th, so I’ll stick with that.

Robin Brownlee:

That will depend completely on his play and his conduct in the AHL. If that checks out, yes, we’ll see him in Edmonton this season.

Jason Gregor:

I suspect he will play a few games. I’d say we see him debut some time in February. He will need at least four weeks to get in game shape.

Matt Henderson:

My guess is he’ll be an Oiler before February. I think it’s all but a two week conditioning stint in the AHL.

Baggedmilk:

On the North x NorthGretz podcast (will be posted a little bit later today) we made bets about when we’d see Kassian and I picked the game against Columbus on February 2nd. That gives him a full month to get back up to game speed. If it takes him longer than a month to figure it out I’d guess that we don’t see him at all. 


3) Luke asks – What do you think the future holds for Justin Schultz with the Oilers organization?

Lowetide:

Todd McLellan may want to see him for the rest of the season, or they may cut bait at the deadline. Schultz is in a tough spot, as he plays for a team with addled defense and that is not his strength. I suspect he may flourish on his next NHL team.

Jonathan Willis:

I’m skeptical that Justin Schultz has a future with the Oilers organization. He’s just making too much money for what he brings, and he hasn’t clicked on the Todd McLellan/Jay Woodcroft power play. I’ve argued in the past and still believe that Edmonton should approach the deadline with the belief that it will not qualify Schultz and thus trade him like they would a rental player.

Jeanshorts:

There is no future with Justin Schultz in the Oilers organization. He’s done after this season. There’s NO WAY the Oilers are giving him $4 million or anywhere close to where they’d need to even qualify him for a new contract. He hasn’t shown anything that says he’s finally starting to put his game together, and if anything he’s somehow looked WORSE as the season has gone along. And if Chiarelli’s Bruins are any indication, Pete likes D-men who are either A) big ol’ bodies back there smashing guys or B) guys with a nice offensive touch (Torey Krug) or C) a nice combo of both, and Schultz has proven to be none of those things.

I think there may be a spot for him in the NHL, for a team willing to take a flyer on a guy who showed so much promise in the AHL, but it definitely won’t be with the Oilers after this season.

Robin Brownlee:

I see a ticket out of town. He’s either traded or allowed to walk away at the end of the season.

Jason Gregor:

His contract makes it very difficult to qualify him based on how he is playing. If Schultz had only been given a one-year deal at $2.2 million like I suggested, then you could keep developing him, but it is very difficult to pay him $3.9 million when he is still so inconsistent. My guess is he will need a stellar second half for the Oilers to consider qualifying him. If not, he will become a UFA, unless he is part of a trade prior to July 1st.

Matt Henderson:

If he’s still an Oiler after the deadline then they will walk away from him in July. No qualifying offer. Straight to UFA.

Baggedmilk:

Chiarelli will try to get anything he can for him at the deadline and the Schultz era will end in Edmonton. I would have said they would qualify him if MacT had no screwed up his RFA status so badly. #CraigsOnIt 

4) Oiler Fan in Quebec asks – What is your highlight and lowlight of 2015 in terms of the Oilers?

Lowetide:

Highlight? Draft lottery, draft, seeing McDavid at the orientation camp. Lowlight? The day in spring MacT listed off his current (at that time) defense and saying he felt confident they could help in 2015-16. That was a bullet to the heart. I was genuinely depressed that day, had to go outside, walk the dog, spend time with family. I have always been a MacT guy, and hope he gets what he wants out of life, but that moment told me he was going to lose another season and probably trade Hall. I am genuinely thrilled with the change of script.

Jonathan Willis:

The play of Brandon Davidson is my highlight; I knew he was big and physical but watching him in the AHL a few years back and the NHL last year I had no idea he could be so aggressive and competent with the puck. Edmonton drafted this guy late, gave him lots of development time and now seems to have a real gem on its hands. The lowlight for me is Nikita Nikitin. Craig MacTavish and Scott Howson have taken a lot of heat for bringing him in, and rightly so, but this is one of those cases where the player has to bear some of the responsibility. This is a guy who was an NHL defenceman in Columbus and should have at least been a competent third-pairing option for the Oilers and that hasn’t happened.

Jeanshorts:

Highlight is clearly when Bill Daley flipped that beautiful golden card over and the Oilers were blessed with Connor McDavid (and then after that every game Connor McDavid has played in, Philly aside).

Lowlight would probably be the rest of the 2014-15 season from January on. The Oilers were already out of the playoff race for a solid month, were on a death march to just finish out the season, and even though everyone fell in love with Uncle Todd the team only won 15 of 44 games from January to April. AND their last game of the season was a loss to the stupid Canucks. It was one of the most depressing seasons in recent memory, in a sea of depressing seasons, and something I definitely would not like to re-live again.

Robin Brownlee:

The highlight would be the six-game winning streak to start December. The lowlight would be the injury to Connor McDavid against Philadelphia.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see how anyone can say the highlight wasn’t winning the lottery and getting McDavid.

Lowlight… the 83 games on the ice which resulted in only 31 wins.

Matt Henderson:

Lowlight: Trading Petry for peanuts even though he was their best defender and they knew they were going to trade him from at least January. 

Highlight: Draft Lottery win. I screamed.

Baggedmilk:

The highlight is easy: The minute Bill Daly flipped that golden card around. I wasn’t even going to watch the draft lottery because I had assumed there was no chance the Oilers would get Connor, and when they did I rewound my PVR at least a dozen times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. 

The lowlight is a lot harder because there has been so many. I’m going to go with the Petry for absolutely nothing trade that MacT made, combined with Schultz’s contract. To me, the latter messed up the chances of keeping the former. 

5) Jody asks – What would your new year’s resolution be for the Edmonton Oilers?

Lowetide:

Stay the course, don’t go whale hunting, understand waiting for THE solution is far better than settling for A solution. That and having the smarts to know it when you see it.

Jonathan Willis:

Rebuild the right side of the defence. In Peter Chiarelli’s shoes, that’s the big picture item I’d be most worried about and most dedicated to solving.

Jeanshorts:

They should all try a new hairstyle. Hall with an afro? Nuge with a big ol’ mullet? Darryl rockin’ a mid-2000s emo style sweep? This club has been looking for an identity for a while now, and maybe this entire time the secret was in the haircuts!

Robin Brownlee:

Err on the side of being over-cautious as to when McDavid returns to the line-up.

Jason Gregor:

To have better in-game entertainment on the ice, and also in the building for the paying customer.

Matt Henderson:

Make better decisions about defensemen. Go to the gym more. You know, the usual.

Baggedmilk:

TURN DOWN THE SUCK AND TURN UP THE GOOD! 


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  • Jay (not J)

    Whole heartedly agree with Lowetide’s New Years resolution.

    As he states, we must stay the course, not go whale hunting,and remember that we are trying to win the Stanley Cup not just get into the playoffs.

    As it has been for years now, the key is patience. I sincerely hope Chiarelli and the Toddler can achieve the goal.

  • El Guapo

    Has Robin gotten this disallusioned with the team that even a losing streak is a highlight? Question 4 response before it is edited:

    Robin Brownlee:

    The highlight would be the six-game losing streak to start December. The lowlight would be the injury to Connor McDavid against Philadelphia.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Trade both if need be to get veteran #1 d and a rugged third line centre.

    2. Yes he will play and no, he won’t make much difference this season (but maybe next year?) Montreal et al gave up on him. Hard to see how coming here makes much difference.

    3. Gone at the deadline – for a pack of chewing gum.

    4. Hiring of chia – meaning – hopefully – the end of klowe Mact. – the trade for Reinhart that indicates they may not be gone after all

  • El Guapo

    Teams picking up players at the trade line are usually ones that are making a bid for a playoff run.

    Unless he turns his game around by at least 50%,can’t see people lining up wanting Schultz for a play off run.I can see Gryba being more attractive trade for play offs for certain teams.

  • camdog

    In respect to Nikita Nikitin it’s easy to blame the player. His last season in Columbus was not good. Oilers management the past 10 years has been ignorant when it comes to certain players past injury problems. Suffice to say I’ll go out on a whim and suggest that back injury that Nikita Nikitin had his very season here has bothered him for years. There’s a reason why he’s only played more than 60 games once in his entire career.

  • Jay (not J)

    Stayed away from every comment and commentator this year. To many years mad at the Oilers and many bloggers comments .watched this team for over 40 years . Loved the old Edmonton Flyers then Flyers NHL team. Detroit was my original NHL team . The early 80’s was when I totally committed to the Oil. Switched back to premier league football a few years back when I retired . McDavid obviously a sublime talent initially brought me back then injury made me say F.it but I didn’t. He drew me back in . I would love to see this team help McDavid win rookie of the year as Gretz got screwed . Like it or not we won’t make this years playoffs unles we go All In , that’s 3 scoring lines with Lander,Letestu , Hendricks your 4th line , pk killers . Tons of line make ups including the ass we just added,Kassian .may show we have some balls and can forget the past . Feel like I did when (the rat) joined us. Better with than against us .Looking over this as a new beginning once McDavid actually plays .