Monday Mailbag – Will there be a captain next year?

Mailbag 5

It’s that time of the week where you tilt your chair back to a comfortable position, put your feet up on the desk, and kill a few minutes of company time. This week, we’ve got over 2900 words worth of wisdom coming for you to let soak into your brain bank. As always, I need your questions to make this work. If you’ve got one, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter (@jsbmbaggedmilk) and I’ll get to you as soon as we can. Without further adieu, the Mailbag.

1) Ziyan asks – In addition to fixing the holes on defense, Peter Chiarelli could be in the market for a 3rd line centreman this summer. Do have an example of a player that would be the perfect guy for the role?

Robin Brownlee:

Not sure I agree with your premise.  The Oilers have McDavid, Draisiaitl and RNH in the top three centre slots right now, with Letestu on the four-spot.  What makes you believe Chiarelli could be looking for a third-line centre?

Jason Gregor:

UFA class is not great. The ideal fit is Frans Nielsen, but he will command close to $4 million I suspect. Darren Helm from Detroit intrigues me. Has great speed, can play wing when needed and kills penalties. Has also come from a winning organization and is 29 years old.

Jeanshorts:

 

BRING BACK MARK ARCOBELLO! Who am I kidding — even the Leafs wouldn’t be dumb enough to get rid of a valuable asset like that.

Ideally I would love if the Oilers could get David Backes. Much like everyone’s new favourite Oiler Patrick Maroon, he plays a very physical game while still putting up solid offensive numbers. He could also easily play up and down the lineup. My only reservation is that I don’t think he’ll come cheap, and I doubt it’s a great plan going forward to pay your third line centre 4+ million dollars a year.

So with that in mind I’d take a long look at Nick Spaling. Solid in the dot, decent possession numbers, and he’s having a down offensive year so I can see him taking a haircut on the already decent $2.2 million he made this year.

 

Lowetide:

He is too expensive, but David Backes would be a sensational fit. Right handed, rugged, can play in all three disciplines.

Jason Strudwick:

David Backes. He brings the nasty, talent and arrogance this team needs.

Baggedmilk:

Since I’m hoping the Oilers will run with all three of Nuge, McDavid, and Draisaitl in their top six next year I’m hoping for a guy that would be like like Marty Reasoner used to be. A little bit of touch (Reasoner had 14 goals a few different times) and was defensively responsible.

2) TJ asks – Why doesn’t the NHL revert back to the post-lockout (2005-06) rules to increase scoring or does it not make a difference due to the speed of the game and the size of the players? To me, size doesn’t affect scoring in the NHL, it’s always been there. It’s the speed that is the main cause.

Robin Brownlee:

The primary cause of decreased scoring is that coaches across the board insist on a defence-first approach. It’s systematic. Until that approach changes, the results won’t. Nothing to do with size or speed.

Jason Gregor:

Rules haven’t changed, they just don’t call obstruction as often. The game is faster now than in 2006, but faster doesn’t mean better in my eyes.

Jeanshorts:

I honestly don’t think anything will be able to increase scoring outside of changing the way the game is coached/played. Gregor’s been saying it for years and even Wayne Gretzky got in on the action the other day; there are so many systems in place and so much emphasis on defensive play that a lot of offensive creativity has been sacrificed for the greater good of grinding out a 2-1 win every night. And with goalies being so athletic now I hope it’s only a matter of time before some coaches start sacrificing defence to open up the offence more, and rely on goalies to do their job and keep pucks out, rather than trying to play suffocating defence to make sure the puck comes nowhere near your own net. More Erik Karlssons and less Mark Stuarts I say!

Lowetide:

I think the NHL will eventually go back to calling the rulebook more closely, but they are fiddling with the goalie equipment currently.

Jason Strudwick:

It is the skating ability across the board that makes it so hard to score. There is so little time on the ice. If a player creates separation he only has a second to make a play to the net.

Baggedmilk:

I like the way the NHL introduces rules like the coach’s challenge to actually take away goals. Smart! I am interested to see what will happen with a reduction in the size of goalie equipment. If the NHL went with the kind of changes proposed by Corey Hirsh you could end up seeing a nice bump in goal scoring.

3) Stephanie D. asks – Do you think that the Oilers will have a captain next year? If yes, who? Is it important to have a captain next year, or could they delay naming someone for another season? Thank you in advance.

Robin Brownlee:

Yes, they will have a captain next season. Best bet is it’ll be McDavid.

Jason Gregor:

Thank you for being so polite. A refreshing change. I think it will be McDavid, unless they trade for an experienced top-two Dman with a reputation of being a leader. Putting a C on McDavid won’t cure all the Oilers woes, but if I’m picking one, it’s him. He has earned his teammates’ respect and he will be the face of the franchise moving forward. But to be successful he will need help from others.

Jeanshorts:

I don’t think it’s necessarily that important to have a captain. They’ve been fine with just assistants this year, and the leaders are going to lead regardless of whether or not they’re wearing a letter on their jersey. If they were going to pick a captain I’d suggest Matt Hendricks. He’s clearly one of the veteran leaders, and I think he would be the perfect fit while they wait for Connor to get a little more NHL experience (maybe one actual, full season?) before the inevitable transition of having him lead the team for the next decade.

Lowetide:

Great question. I normally avoid these questions because there is so much of the dynamic we do not know. At this point, I would think Hall is the next C but he may only have it for a couple of years before McDavid is elevated.

Jason Strudwick:

I would not have a captain for next year. It is not important to have a captain. I don’t get the desire by Oilers fans to have a captain named right away. Is it so it you can put the C on that players jersey you wear around? Pump the breaks.

Baggedmilk:

Give it to McDavid. He can handle things that most normal players cannot. Hall and Hendricks even said he was their on ice leader by the time the season ended anyway. Give him the C.

4) Alex asks – I’d like to ask the writers what they thought about the farewell to Rexall Place? What were their highlights from the night?

Robin Brownlee:

Paul Lorieau singing the national anthem. A tribute to a wonderful man and a reminder of better times.

Jason Gregor:

I thought it was good. Patrick Maroon’s reaction to meeting Gretzky in the room after the game was great. He was eight years old living in St.Louis when the Blues traded for Gretzky. Maroon has been a huge fan and he was genuinely pumped to just shake his hand and take a picture with him.

Jeanshorts:

I wasn’t originally planning on going to the game, but the ticket fairy works in mysterious ways and I got a ticket at the last minute, so that in itself got me incredibly excited. They couldn’t have started the night off any better than having Paul Lorieau/the fans sing the anthem one last time. Bringing Walter Gretzky out for the last Always An Oiler was probably the biggest surprise of the night and the ovation he got was unreal. And speaking of ovations I think my absolute highlight of the night (other than the Oilers stomping the Canucks) was the deafening ovation that Smytty got when they introduced all the former Oilers. I honestly have never heard Rexall place that loud. It was unbelievable. The whole night start to finish (I mean, aside from the first 10 minutes of the game) was incredible and I’m grateful I got to be there to be a part of it. We’ve (rightfully) given the Oilers organization a lot of crap over the years but they absolutely nailed it on Wednesday.

Lowetide:

I enjoyed the entire presentation. I was touched by the acknowledgement of Juha Widing, who was a favourite of mine going back to his junior career. It would have been very easy for the organization to slide by without putting his name and image on the bigscreen, but I was truly impressed they did it. For me, that says a lot about the Oilers as an organization.

Jason Strudwick:

I really enjoyed it. It was great to see so many players come back. Very nice tribute to a great building. There will be zero memories in the new one unless things drastically change. I doubt the new building will see five Cups in 42 years.

Baggedmilk:

The whole night was amazing. I wrote about it last week, and I still get chills in my feel goods whenever I think about it. A few quick highlights: Paul Laurieau, Walter Gretzky, the ovation for Smytty, Joey Moss closing the thing out, the list goes on and on…

5) Brett asks – Was there an Oiler alumni that you were hoping to see that was unable to make it to the Farewell Rexall ceremony? If yes, who? If not, who were you most excited to see back on Rexall ice?

Robin Brownlee:

Would love to have seen Doug Weight and Bill Guerin. Terrific players. Fun guys. Was most excited to see Jussi Markkanen. He hadn’t been back to Edmonton since the 2006 Cup final. Really enjoyed seeing all the players from different eras together in one place. First time that’s happened.

Jason Gregor:

I met Scott Thornton at Barry Ts in 1993. He was extremely polite and we had beers the entire night at the back bar and talked hockey and music. He wasn’t a member of the Oilers when I started working in 2001 and I never discussed the story with him when he played. I tracked him down, because I had always wanted to tell him how classy he was. He told me to call him if I ever wanted tickets. I never did because I didn’t want to impose, but we had a blast that night. He is a good dude.

He had a great reputation around the league. Beloved by his teammates and management guys really liked his honest approach. When the Kings acquired him they sat him between Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar in the dressing room because Dean Lombardi wanted him to show those two how to be a pro. He helped them similarly to how Lee Fogolin showed the young Oilers in the early 1980s what it meant to be a pro. You don’t have to be a superstar to show young skilled players how to approach the game. The key is having young players who will absorb the information.

Jeanshorts:

I was partially expecting a surprise appearance from Chris Pronger, but the fact that he’s still under contract with the Coyotes and is working with the DoPS was probably enough to kibosh that. Other than that I was a little bummed that Roloson, Jason Smith and Doug Weight weren’t there, but they all have current NHL jobs so again it wasn’t that surprising.

Lowetide:

There were lots I would have liked to have seen, but it was an incredible group all the same. I was pleased to see Ryan Smyth get such a great reaction, because for me that generation of Oilers teams has not always been properly recognized. The 1980s teams were so incredible the 1990s and 2000s teams are often pushed aside—no one’s fault, but it happens all the same. Nice to see Smyth get such strong support.

Jason Strudwick:

Liam Reddox. He owes me money for a cab he said we would split.

Baggedmilk:

All the guys I had hoped to see that weren’t there are working for other NHL teams. I missed guys like Bill Ranford, Doug Weight, Dwayne Roloson. I was curious to see if Pronger would be there, but I’m not exactly surprised that he wasn’t.


THE ALZHEIMER’S FACEOFF PRO-AM

 

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When I was at Rexall Place for the last home game of the year I ran into an old work buddy that I hadn’t seen for a while, and we ended up talking about his team (team Grey Matters raise over $47,000 last year!) in the Alzheimer’s Pro-Am tournament that’s happening at the end of the month. When I asked if there was a way that we could help all he asked for was to shine a little bit of light on the tournament that raises funds to try and eliminate the disease that took his father. After looking into the tournament a little bit further, it didn’t take long until I figured that this was a cause that certainly could use some love and promotion.

From the tournament page:

The Alzheimer’s Face Off tournament, which raised $1 million in Edmonton last year to support the Alberta Alzheimer Research Program, offers the hockey experience of a lifetime. Taking place April 29 – May 1, this charity event teams up local hockey enthusiasts with some of the NHL alumni’s all-time greats, as they take to the ice in the battle against Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Alzheimers is a horrible disease that can rob a person of the memories that they spent a lifetime putting together. Whether you’ve been personally affected by the disease or not there is a good chance that someone around you may have been. If you would like to donate to the cause you can do that on the tournament website. If you don’t have cash to donate, but would still like to help, all I ask is that you share the link to the tournament page to help us raise a little bit of awareness. If you’d like more information on the event feel free to reach out to me and I will point you in the right direction.

  • Rob...

    Q#2) It has gotten really bad how often an offensive player pursuing the puck changes their angle to get by a defenseman, also without the puck, only to have that defenseman change their position to block the progress of the forward. No penalty gets called. Reffing this year has been the worst I’ve seen it in over a decade. Their union needs to be broken, so that they can be fired for not doing their job effectively. I do not buy that the game is so fast that they can’t call obvious infractions. The speed of the game is why they added a second referee on the ice.

    • CMG30

      Agreed. Reffing has been atrocious league wide this year. Adding the coaches challenge has made things worse. It’s one thing to get a call wrong during the flow of the game. After all, things are moving fast. But to get things wrong, or at least wildly inconsistent with the benefit of HD slow-mo replay???

  • camdog

    NFL, CFL and NHL were all horribly officiated this past season. MLB has even been goofy too start the season. Too many new rules and too many replays.

    If I am linesman and I had a goal waved off because I missed an offside odds are I’m calling offsides conservatively for the rest of the season. Anybody wonder how many offensive zone rushes were stopped because of bogus offside calls? I’ll say it was more than just the obvious one the Oilers got hosed on.

  • Kurt

    Ranford works for the Kings. The excuse that Cujo, Smith, Geurin, Marchant, Roloson have jobs with other teams seems weird why they didnt show. Most of the guys that showed up have other jobs that are more than likely more difficult to get away from.

  • Boom or Bust

    You never know how guys are in the locker room but from what I’ve been reading all the players have a great deal of respect for McDavid. I think he will be captain next year. However Hendricks would be great too but I still feel it will be Connor.

  • GK1980

    “He has earned his teammates’ respect and he will be the face of the franchise moving forward. But to be successful he will need help from others.”

    Jason nailed it. I wanted to have this done last fall. Give MacDavid the “C” and have a few guys like Hendricks and Hall(or someone else) take on the “Associate Captains” role.

    Connor would lead by example like Toews, what he does not what he says.

  • madjam

    Comments from McDavid seem to imply ” A lot of guys are at that point ” , referring to all the losing they have gone thru , and finishing with “you can’t do it anymore ” . Who are all the guys on team he is referring to , and are they wanting now to go elsewhere and accept a trade ? Perhaps all the young core of Hall, Eberle and Hopkins would embrace a change of scenery with Yakupov .

  • TDSM31

    Was hoping to see Dave Brown come out in a jersey with a skin tight left sleeve.

    Good to see Klima show up but man, he’s looking as old as his jersey number.

  • @S_2_H

    Struds – gold as always. When are you going to write some articles again bro? I’ve missed your take on things, as the only ex-player/Oiler of the Nation crew.