Monday Mailbag – January 11th, 2016

Mailbag

Here we are on another McDavid-less Monday, but this time we head back to work with some light at the end of the tunnel. At least we now have a better idea of when Connor McDavid will be back in the lineup…sometime after the all-star break. There’s only a few weeks of waiting left to get through, and the mailbag is here to help you kill off a few minutes of that time with 3000 words of pure Nation wisdom. As always, this feature depends on you so please send me your questions by email or Twitter


1) Taylor asks – Who won the Seth Jones/Ryan Johansen trade right now, and who do you think will be the winner in the future?

Jason Strudwick:

Short term I see this as a win for Nashville. They have needed a player like this forever. Johansen should come in and bump the other centres in the lineup into more favourable spots for success. Long term I will go with the Jones/Blue Jackets. I am concerned when I hear about young players having issues with conditioning. This isn’t a player who just came into the league. He knows better.

Jonathan Willis:

Nashville and Nashville. Seth Jones might be a top-tier defenceman; Ryan Johansen is a top-tier centre. Columbus is placing a massive wager that when all is said and done Jones will be a legitimate No. 1 defenceman, and while he’s good that’s far from a sure thing. All the risk is on the Blue Jackets side of this trade.

Jason Gregor:

Today the Preds because they have D depth so Jones departure won’t hurt them as much as Johansen leaves gaping hole at #1 in CBJ. Long-term I think both teams will be happy, but I’m huge fan of Jones and I find it funny how suddenly due to 40 tough games this year Jones is considered only a third pairing D-man in the eyes of some. The kid played the third most minutes on the Preds’ blueline the past two seasons, but this year suddenly trumps that. Please.

Robin Brownlee:

Nashville wins it handily right now. They get a proven first-line centre in Johansen and they gave up a player outside their top four on the blueline to get him. Down the road depends on how Jones develops.

Jeanshorts:

Nashville won the trade right now, in that Johansen automatically slots in as their 1C, and is a young player who had a 70 point season last year. And just look at CBJ’s centres now: Alex Wennberg? William Karlsson? I can honestly say I’ve never even heard of those guys, and they’re the 2 and 3C for the Jackets right now.

And while Seth Jones is a solid young defenseman who I think will be great in a few seasons, he’s still only 21 years old and has spent his career playing behind Roman Josi and Shea Weber. And as Matt pointed out last week he’s been playing in the 4-5 spot on the Nashville blue line. I’m VERY interested in seeing what he can do now as the de facto number one on a shaky Columbus team, paired with another young guy with potential in Ryan Murray.

I think Nashville has a good chance to win this trade in the future too. Johansen joins a solid mix of guys like Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Colin Wilson up front, with an already stacked blue line. Nashville might actually make a legit cup push here real soon.

Lowetide:

For me, the Nashville Predators got themselves a bona fide No.1 C and that has extreme value. The risk in this deal for them is the number it will take in the long term to sign Johansen. For Columbus, they did not deal from strength (as Nashville did) and have to hope Jones emerges as a complete defenseman (and that is a reasonable bet). I think the Preds should have given more. As for long term, well that is the fun of it! We will find out in due time.

Matt Henderson:

I think Nashville won the deal right now. They got a 1C and gave up their 5D. They have been looking for a 1C for the entire lifetime of their organization. I also believe Nashville will win the trade in the future because they traded from a position of strength and acquired the best player in the deal. They are a better organization today for making the deal. The Blue Jackets are now without their best center. There is no plan B down the middle for them.

Baggedmilk:

David Poille says he’s been looking for a #1 centre for 18 years and finally found one. That’s the only quote you need. Seth Jones MAY become a #1 defenceman but he’s not right now. 


2) Pat asks – Seeing that this rebuild has taken longer than anyone probably expected, what is the one biggest mistake management has made over the years?

Jason Strudwick:

Rotating coaches. Different messages way too often that never let a system get put into place.

Jonathan Willis:

Steve Tambellini inherited a competent defence and squandered it; only now is it getting back to what it was in 2008. Lubomir Visnovsky was shipped away for Ryan Whitney, who had a long history of foot problems which eventually ran his value down to zero. Sheldon Souray was mishandled and then banished when he had the poor sense to tell the media about it. Tom Gilbert was traded for Nick Schultz who was traded for a fifth-round pick which was traded for Nikita Nikitin. Visnovsky/Souray/Gilbert >> Whitney/Schultz >> Nikitin.

Jason Gregor:

Hard to point at just one, because many moves they made backfired. But biggest mistake was management’s inability to access D-men.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s taken longer because they’ve gone through too many GMs and coaches in the last five years. You always take a step back when you replace the guy at the top or the top guy behind the bench. When you’re constantly doing both, it’s not a recipe for development or success.

Jeanshorts:

For me I think the biggest mistake was constantly hiring unproven people, or people who had very little experience at their position. We had rookie GM Steve Tambellini, rookie head coach Ralph Kreuger, rookie GM Craig MacTavish, rookie NHL coach Dallas Eakins and rookie NHL coach Todd Nelson. I’m all for giving people a shot, and trying to find the next diamond in the rough who turns into Scotty Bowman, but it was a revolving door of guys who seemed to be in over their head.

Lowetide:

Considering they landed McDavid I am tempted to say none! However, I would list going so young on defense beginning 2006-07 as the biggest mistake. They have tried to build up that defense but it is so hard when you are down two or three bona fide NHL D. If they had signed Spacek before dealing Pronger (as an example) that buys Laddy Smid another year or two in the minors. Edmonton feeding kids to the NHL for a decade is the big issue.

Matt Henderson:

Jeff Petry for picks is the biggest mistake anyone has made during this rebuild. Defense takes the longest to build and they gave away their best defender, who was drafted and developed by the team, for nothing while he was reaching his prime.

Baggedmilk:

I think of things like trading Petry for magic beans, banishing Souray to Siberia and getting nothing in return for him, hanging on to guys like Hemsky for a year or two too long, handing out overpriced contracts to guys like Nikitin. The list goes on and on.


3) Jayson asks – What do you think about how upset some people are getting about John Scott being included in the All-Star Game? After all it is just an exhibition game.

Jason Strudwick:

I am not a fan of how he was put in. For many of those that voted it was a big joke AT John Scott’s expense. Those members of the media who did that should be snubbed by every player in the league. There are a couple on Yahoo sports that would be at the top of the list. I hope he has a great time. The other players will treat him well. Enjoy! I really want him to score.

Jonathan Willis:

I’m a fan of the inclusion of Scott, and I’m a huge fan of the way he’s handled this. He’s letting the fans have their fun and trying to have some himself, and I feel like watching the All-Star game for the first time in almost two decades. I don’t really care if people are upset about it, but I do think those pundits ripping Scott for accepting his nomination should back off and let the man deliver what the fans asked for.

Jason Gregor:

The voting was not because fans loved him. Those who pushed for it wanted to embarrass the NHL and used Scott, who they felt was worst player, as fuel for their ignorant and selfish fire.

Robin Brownlee:

People have a right to be upset. They also have the right not to care. Voting Scott in is a farce, but then, so is the game.

Jeanshorts:

I’m in agreement with Gregor in that it comes off more as making fun of John Scott, rather than celebrating a beloved enforcer, but I think it’s silly the way people are up in arms about the sanctity of what is literally just a weekend to schmooze with corporate sponsors and to try and attract attention to the game with an over the top showcase of skill and personality (Ovi’s double stick, silly hatted shootout attempt anyone?).

And ever since the NHL introduced the “one player from each team” rule the entire “Showcasing the BEST players around the league” thing has become a moot point. Leo Komorov made the team over Sidney Crosby, because the Pens were already sending Geno, and the Leafs had to send SOMEBODY. We’re not that far removed from SHAWN HORCOFF making an All-Star team, and he wasn’t even the best player on the OILERS that year!

This is the most attention the All-Star game has gotten in years, and isn’t that the entire point of the whole thing?

Lowetide:

I think there are reasons to be concerned — the original idea behind the cause was negative. However, if John Scott is on board then I say embrace it. I hope he wins the car!

Matt Henderson:

They shouldn’t even have the All-Star game mid-season. This should be in September to kick the year off. Anyway, the John Scott panic is pathetic. Who cares? I probably will be more interested in the ASG just to see Scott participate. The worst part of the outrage is when people start throwing quotations around the word fans. As in, the “fans” voted John Scott in. That’s such a stupid thing to say. Yes, fans voted Scott in. What’s the big deal? Why not investigate WHY fans would do that instead of labeling them a lesser grade of fan for doing so? Whatever, the whole game is a joke.

Baggedmilk:

Put it this way: I might watch the All-Star Game just to see what happens with John Scott. That’s more than I could have said before. I don’t think I could care less about the All-Star Game, but having Scott there gives it a certain level of intrigue. 


4) Darren in Sacremento asks – I keep coming across the statement, usually on blog sites, that Oilers fans have run this player or that player out of town. My question is, do fans actually have any such influence in player movement?  I fail to see how a bunch of fans griping about a player online or on radio shows would actually influence a GM to move a player. It’s not as if people stop going to the games, so what does a GM, coach, or owner care what fans think of a certain player

Jason Strudwick:

Fans get in their heads at some point that player X is the devil. It seems to take on a life of its own and soon everyone has a hate on for that player. I never understood it as a player but now do with being in the media. Strong GMs never make decisions to satisfy the fans or media. The weak ones do.

Jonathan Willis:

I don’t think fans can force anything, but they certainly can influence events. As a recent example, Dallas Eakins talked about his children catching flak at school for his coaching decisions. That sort of thing is tough on any parent and I imagine it’s as true of players as it is of coaches. Sometimes the treatment of players can be extreme, too; I would imagine it’s hard for a player to want to play his best for the home crowd when said crowd is booing every time he touches the puck.

Jason Gregor:

Most cases they don’t. It is overblown in my eyes. Listening to the vocal minority rarely is the best way to go.

Robin Brownlee:

What fans say on websites and radio shows has zero impact on hockey-ops decisions. They make their voices heard when they do their talking by not showing up at games or buying merchandise. That does have an impact.

Jeanshorts:

I’m on the same page. I think it’s mostly just used as a simple narrative to basically explain that a fan base wanted a player gone, rather than them actually having anything to do with their removal. Though I can see a situation in which a player who is constantly crapped on by fans/media may not play up to their full abilities if they start to feel unwanted or that no matter what they do they’ll still be looked at negatively. But yes, I doubt any GM in history has ever made a trade based purely on fan opinions. Otherwise Justin Schultz would have traded for a pile of broken sticks like two years ago.

Lowetide:

Jason Arnott is a famous example, I sat watching Tom Poti get booed badly. Yeah, I think it can get bad enough to impact players and do believe GMs send players on their way because of it.

Matt Henderson:

I’ve never worked inside an NHL head office but I’m sure they don’t care what fans think. However, these people are human. They listen to the radio, read newspapers, and watch TSN. They see and hear the same things we do. The things that influence is are also present for them. I think it would be a mistake to say these things have zero impact on them, just lesser impact than a non-NHL employee.

Baggedmilk:

I should hope not. If Peter Chiarelli makes trades based on the Nation comments section they should get rid of him faster than Nikita Nikitin. 

5) Darrick asks – Many people have mentioned that the Oilers do not have an agitating player like Zack Kassian currently on the roster, and have not for a long time. My question for the writers is who is the best ever player, Oiler or otherwise, to play that type of role?

Jason Strudwick:

Sean Avery. I played with him in NY. The Devils will chase him around and get so off their game it was amazing. It made the game a lot easier for us to play because they were so distracted with him.

Jonathan Willis:

I’m not nearly old enough to speak to “ever”; I’ve read some fascinating stories about agitators way back when. The guy I like in the role now is Dustin Brown in Los Angeles; he’s as sneaky as they come, plays a nasty physical game and the penalties almost always go to the other guy.

Jason Gregor:

Esa Tikkanen was very good, and you could make a case Chris Pronger played with such an edge that he could fall into that category. He was the rare elite player who didn’t care if he crossed the line.

Robin Brownlee:

Corey Perry is about as good as it gets right now — a top-end player with skill who also agitates. All-time, Esa Tikkanen used to drive guys nuts and so did Claude Lemieux, both of them very good players.

Jeanshorts:

As a 10 year old who quickly hopped onto the Av’s bandwagon when they first entered the league I’d give my vote to Claude Lemieux. Not only was he the quintessential diving, turtling, visor wearing pest that Don Cherry taught us to despise, but he was also a legit offensive threat. There’s nothing worse than a guy who throws cheap shots, doesn’t answer for them physically, and then goes and hangs a hat trick on your team. Four time Cup winner, Conn Smythe winner and top 10 all time in NHL playoff goals. But is best remembered for one of the worst cheap shots of all time, that sparked TWO separate brawls! Now THAT’S some Hall Of Fame caliber agitating!

Lowetide:

Oh lord, great question. I will pick Esa Tikkanen but there are many to choose from. Tikkanen was special because he irritated everyone, teammates included!

Matt Henderson:

I’m going to miss the obvious answer somewhere but Claude Lemieux was one of the most hated players in the NHL. He was greasy, he played on the edge, and he had good enough hands that he probably didn’t have to be a jackass but he was anyway. In terms of pests/agitators he made people crazy because he would do all the things to stir people up but never give them a fight. I vote Claude.

Baggedmilk:

Remember in 2006 when Raffi Torres absolutely demolished Michalek? That hit (now illegal) changed the whole series. The Oilers haven’t had a guy like that since Raffi, and I’m pulling for Kassian to see if he can turn his life around. 


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  • chickenStew

    Rotating coaches. Different messages way too often that never let a system get put into place

    Maybe Jason would be able to tell us within the context of his statement if New Head Coaches coming in bring their own “new System”to the team?

    Does the Head Coach bring the System he wants with him or does he use one the bosses wish him to use?

    Have the Oilers had six Head Coaches using SIX different Systems….or six Head Coaches using some variation of a single System …?

    Its nice to see some references to Systems being made by Jason , some of us have been hammering on the SYSTEM…SYSTEM…SYSTEM… Drum for nearly a decade hoping to learn how NHL Teams view that part of the game….it seems to be the Black Vault topic with everyone.

  • paul wodehouse

    Does the system coaches and new management are trying to put in place here fit the type of personnel we have here ? Results are not overwhelming so far , and we have only 3 victories in last 12 games to show for it . Can we win trying to play that way with Hall,hopkins , Eberle , Purcell , and Yakupov as the bulk of our main core ? The same for some of our defenseman ?

      • AJ88

        Just a question, when you draft players should you draft them based on fitting into the coach’s systems or should the coaches system be modified to match the players that are drafted? Can be a recipe for disaster if not handled properly….coach’s egos, player egos, management egos….

  • Randaman

    Lander was on the 4 minute powerplay?
    The same Lander who has 0 goals in 42 games this year.

    If the Oilers win the next 9 games in a row they will have won half their games this year….never mind.

  • Spydyr

    The reason the infinity rebuild has gone on for almost 10 years now is simple. Incompetence in every facet of the Oilers organization. From the owner down to Joey. Joey does his job.

  • Spydyr

    JeanShorts wrote :”Nashville won the trade right now, in that Johansen automatically slots in as their 1C, and is a young player who had a 70 point season last year. And just look at CBJ’s centres now: Alex Wennberg? William Karlsson? I can honestly say I’ve never even heard of those guys, and they’re the 2 and 3C for the Jackets right now”

    I think you haven’t heard of the Blue Jackets young forwards because they weren’t drafted first overall like the Oilers’ boys.

  • Spydyr

    Robin Brownlee:

    What fans say on websites and radio shows has zero impact on hockey-ops decisions. They make their voices heard when they do their talking by not showing up at games or buying merchandise. That does have an impact.

    ——————————————-

    Where have you been Robin. Your statement is so wrong.

    Many players have been moved because the booing and comments of the fans have affected the players performance. Most of these trades have been good for the player, Petry, Poti, Arnott.

  • chickenStew

    You don’t even ask the right question.a
    Why does Chiarelli accept endless losing.
    Why are fundamental losing players kept too long only to have their value degrade.
    Why does he wallow in inaction and acceptance of accountability.

    Chiarelli should have staked his job on making the playoffs this year. If he could not accept that challenge, he should never have been hired.

    Instead, what we see is a GM who thinks he has eternity to do this re-build.

    Other teams turn around within a year, see Florida and Calgary.

    Come to terms with reality – Chiarelli is an absolute incompetent.

    To review, for months he cohuld have flushed out Eberle and RNH to fix the Oilers defense. In the summer , he could have acquired defensemen that would have been a material improvement over the garbage they play night after night.
    He could have flushed Hall for OEL, but did not try.

    The list goes on endlessly.

    This re-build never ends.

    Then worst of all he doesn’t even play MacDavid or Klefbom. If they are hurt lets have some real transparency. This smacks of lowering the bar.

    Defeat is the foundation of Chiarelli’s bonus structure apparently.

  • ubermiguel

    Claude Lemieux was amazing at what he did, and he always elevated his game in the playoffs. 4 Cups with 3 teams, 9th all time playoff goals scored, all while being hated by everyone except his own team and fan base.

  • Serious Gord

    1. Right now it probably is Nashville. But Johanssen has a rep for not showing up every night (not unlike Pouliot) and may come to drive nashville fans nuts.

    Long Term It will likely be Columbus – Jones likely will be better than nurse and a lot of other D men of his age group.

    2. This is even a question?

    Simple; Keeping – and continuing to keep – KEVIN LOWE on the payroll.

    3. Fan voting for Allstars is wrong – always has been.

    I just wish the MLB fans would make a mockery of their system and vote Munenori Kawasaki in as the starting shortstop – that would end the silliness in that league.

    4. Getting run out of town happens from time to time. Kessel was certainly run out of town in Toronto (and Ron Wilson was fired they day after fans chanted he should be fired). As noted there have been a few instances in EDM too. Anywhere there is a passionate fanbase its possible. ( I seem to recall Messier was not well liked – justifiably so – in Vancouver and got moved certainly in part because of fan angst)

    5. Claude Lemieux leads the list. But Linseman has to be right there with him and he out does Tikk as the best edmonton has had.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    So Mr. Strudwick what are the ways that most of the agitators use to get you off of your game? Is it more physical stuff or verbal that usually changes the game. What are the lines that most agitators will not cross? Do players on the same team ever tell the agitator to tone it down? Do they listen? Did they style of agitation change over your career? Educate me I am listening.

  • chickenStew

    Last time I’ll comment on the Jones trade: I’m not the smartest guy, but I understand what Kekalainen is doing.

    They have Bobrovsky in net long-term. They have Murray long-term. They add Jones long-term, along with WJC top defenceman Werenski. They’re building from the net out. I think it’s realistic to assume they’ll draft a quality C/W in the top-3 next draft.

    They give up a centre who has a reputation of inconsistency, being out of shape, taking periods or games off, and would be tough to re-sign. He didn’t want to be in Columbus.

    I think this works out well for both teams. From everything I’ve read, Jones is the ideal teammate, and is excited for the challenge to play for Columbus and spread his wings. Johansen will be called on to produce, but not to lead.

  • chickenStew

    Baggedmilk wrote:

    I should hope not. If Peter Chiarelli makes trades based on the Nation comments section they should get rid of him faster than Nikita Nikitin.

    Props!