Monday Mailbag – Are you worried about Connor?

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Happy Boxing Day, Nation! I hope all of you had an excellent Christmas with your friends and family, and I also hope that you’re reading this from the comfort of your homes and not back at the office. If you have something you’d like to ask, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and take in the soothing lessons of today’s mailbag. Have a good week, everybody.

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1) Sami asks – Lots of people are talking about the Oilers being tougher to play against but my question is how important is size and grit really? The Penguins won the Stanley Cup last year and I don’t think they would be considered a big and heavy team.

Jason Gregor:

Crosby is extremely strong on his skates. Malkin is a big, skilled centre. The Pens didn’t have a lot of size but they also had three elite skilled forwards who have been top-10 point producers in the NHL the past five years. No other team has that, so they are somewhat of an anomaly in that sense.

The Penguins were extremely tough to play against because they forechecked very aggressively and got to lose pucks. There are many different ways to be hard to play against, and mixing in some skilled, size never hurts.

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There isn’t one way to win the Stanley Cup. The Hawks, Kings, Bruins and Penguins all had different variations to their lineup. The Kings and Bruins won being big, heavy teams, while the Hawks had a mix and the Penguins had elite scorers and were a fast-skating team.

But they all had many top-end skilled players, who were extremely competitive in all areas of the ice.

Robin Brownlee:

You can play a gritty, heavy game without being physically bigger than your opponent. Some big teams play small and some small teams play big. It’s about attitude, not stature.


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I think things like size and battle and puck recovery do have importance, but also believe they show up in the numbers. If you think about Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon and Darnell Nurse, they are probably no bigger than JF Jacques and Alex Plante. Size and skill are the key, the Oilers big men now have more ability and range than in the past. I think all of this shows up in the results, so do not regard them as intangibles.

Jonathan Willis:

Neither Pittsburgh nor Chicago before them was a particularly big, heavy, team, though of course the Kings were. If we go back a few years further, Detroit won its last Cup without a lot of size or overt physicality, too. None of this should be news to anyone. I would differentiate between size and grit, though; a player like Pavel Datsyuk or Patrice Bergeron has a lot of grit and it’s an essential element to winning hockey games. Size has value, too; it’s simply subordinate to actual talent in terms of building a winning team. There’s been a lot of celebration of Edmonton’s increased physical dimension this year and understandably so, but given the choice between that and, say, Connor McDavid there is no choice.

Chris the Intern:

I think it varies with year-to-year. The Pens won with a fast team last year, but the Blackhawks won with a bigger, skilled team the year prior. I think both styles of play are able to win a Stanley Cup, Chia is just choosing to build his team around size and gritiness.


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I always love the season that follows a new Cup winner. When LA wins the Cup everyone wants to get bigger and stronger. When Pittsburgh wins the Cup everyone wants to have multiple scoring lines. To me, it looks like the Oilers are going for a blend of both but we’re far from a finished product. It will be interesting to see what the lineup looks like come October 2017.

2) Alexandre asks – Are you at all concerned about Connor McDavid’s slowed production over the last few weeks?

Jason Gregor:

No. Not for a second. Not a milli-second. A non-issue. I’m answering this on December 22nd. If I go back two weeks to the 8th, he has played seven games and has four points. A small dip in production, yes, but he still leads the league in scoring. He’ll be just fine. No issues for me at all. And the Oilers are 4-2-1 in those seven games. It illustrates they can win without him carrying the team all the time. That is a huge positive.

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Robin Brownlee:

No. Not in the least. He’s 19 and leading the NHL in scoring. What are you expecting from him?


No. Not at all. He is still getting chances and eventually those chances will cash.

Jonathan Willis:

No. Not even a little bit.

Chris the Intern:

Nah. I know the kid is a miracle worker, but I wasn’t expecting him to put up 1.2 points/game for ALL 82 games this season.


I hate when 19-year olds are leading the league in points, don’t you? What a bum that kid must be. Listen, let’s pump the brakes a little bit here. Connor is 19 years old and already making established NHLers look stupid and he’s barely gotten his feet wet. Of all the things to worry about, his points aren’t one of them. If only we could get him to shoot more.

3) Francis asks – I know it’s early, but do you think the Oilers will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? What kind of player do you think they would look to add?

Jason Gregor:

Buyers. No reason for them to be sellers. They will look to add a veteran right-winger who has some scoring ability,  and possibly another veteran right-shot defender.

Robin Brownlee:

Yes, it’s early. Too early to say with any accuracy because we don’t know what this team will look like or where it will be in the standings two months from now.


I think they may be both, as was the case last season when they acquired Patrick Maroon while also sending away Justin Schultz and Teddy Purcell.

Jonathan Willis:

I expect a blended approach to the deadline. If there’s a chance to add a useful offensive player with an RH shot on the cheap – think the reverse of last season’s ‘Teddy Purcell for a third-round pick’ deal – that would make sense. It also makes sense to cash-in to the extent possible on players who don’t fit long-term with the Oilers. Matt Hendricks is internally replaceable now, for example. I hesitate to mention it because I don’t want to derail the comments, but a Kris Russell trade makes sense, too. Edmonton needs a right-shot offensive defenceman in its top-four, and Russell’s in that slot right now, so I don’t see re-signing him as a move that makes sense, plus he’s going to have real value as a rental again this year (last year he fetched a player, a prospect and a conditional first round pick). Others may disagree, but in my view this is a deadline where the Oilers should keep one eye on the present and one eye on the horizon.

Chris the Intern:

This thought excites me. I think it will be the first time in years the Oilers will finally be looking to buy at the deadline. I could see them trying to land some more RW depth. Depending on injuries at the time, maybe some more defencemen. Hopefully speed too!


I don’t see them fishing for a big piece at the deadline especially with the expansion draft coming up. I can see some minor deals happening like adding a veteran RW on an expiring contract, getting rid of expiring contracts, or mixture of both. I just can’t see much more than that at this time.

4) Jacob asks – How much of an effect (if any) do you think the Hall trade has had on Nuge and Ebs?

Jason Gregor:

Not much. Eberle is in a funk. He hasn’t been able to finish, but I don’t see how Hall being here would change it. He still has to shoot the puck, plus he is playing with McDavid.

RNH might miss him more, but again, I don’t see it being the reason. Hall was here last year and RNH did very little after the first 13 games of the season.

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The onus is on them to play better. Nothing more to it in my eyes.

Robin Brownlee:

None, or next-to-none.


The offense seems off for Nuge, although he played with Pouliot much of last season. I will say there has been an effect, not sure how to measure it though.

Jonathan Willis:

I can’t speak to what it means for the team off the ice. On the ice, Hall – RNH – Eberle would have made one stellar second line.

Chris the Intern:

I think they’re obviously missing one of their best friends. But more importantly, it may give them the benefit of having a larger ownership in the team, and having a better chance for more ice time and more production.


I mean they probably both miss him. Taylor Hall is a driver, and both of those guys struggle to fill that same role. That said, both players have been in the league for a while now and they have to pick it up and start playing to their potential. I bet if you ask both Nuge and Ebs neither would be happy with their offensive production right now.

5) Stacy asks – What is the greatest Christmas present you’ve ever received and what is the greatest gift you think you’ve ever given to someone?

Jason Gregor:

GT snowracer when I was 10 years old. I loved that thing. I can’t recall being more happy opening a gift than when I opened it.

My family doesn’t do a lot of gifts at Christmas. We just like hanging out with each other, but one year I found a book my mother had wanted for a long time, but never would have bought for herself. I had overheard her talking about it a few months earlier. She loves to read. She honestly has read over 10,000 books. The Red Book by Carl Jung is the biggest book I’ve ever seen and she was very excited when she opened it.

Robin Brownlee:

As a kid, a Big Bruiser tow truck. Bruiser was all the rage when I was four. As an adult, finally having our son Sam home from the hospital and healthy in 2006.


Hmmm. I didn’t celebrate Christmas as a child, but my Mom and Dad bought me a table hockey game one December and I played that table hockey game for years afterwards. Any number of gifts from my kids would all count as being great, too.

I bought my wife a diamond necklace many years ago, we didn’t have a bunch of money and it was the first really nice thing I could get her (this was several years after we were married). She loved it very much, and I remember feeling very good about the fact I could afford something for her that had that kind of impact, that told her how I felt in a real way. So, that one.

Jonathan Willis:

Couldn’t tell you for sure.

Chris the Intern:

This is a tough one, mostly cause I have a horrible memory. One of the first thoughts that come to mind was my very first goalie mask my brother gave me when I was a wee-child. Nothing’s better when you’re an aspiring goalie to get your first ever, painted mask, making you the coolest kid on the team.


I’ll never forget the day that I got a Super Nintendo and whichever NHL game came out that year. NHL ’95, maybe? ’94? I can’t remember exactly which one it was but I was jacked up about it.

The best gift I ever gave was probably something like the guitar I bought for my dad. He was so pumped to get it that it was pretty cool to give him something that he’s wanted for a while but didn’t necessarily want to buy for himself. Either that or a diamond necklace that I bought for my mom that she still wears to this day.


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  • Mr. McDavid

    No Christmas hangover boys.
    We have points in 9 of 11
    We need to keep getting pts
    However let’s bank a few more
    Wins . And for Connor time to
    Go on a run. Let s see some
    4 and 5 pt games
    Happy new year. MR DRI go get em!!!
    Fist new years resolution to fail
    I will not write fist s

        • Arminius

          So they are. Both teams with 18-18 records but with yourselves being the beneficiary of the loser points. A far cry from the haughty days of October isn’t it?

          Elliott with wins in his last 2 starts seems to not suck. And as a fellow German I wish Draisaitl all the best. May he continue to light it up and hit you in the pocket book this offseason 🙂 Keep up the slow but steady return to reality Edmonton 🙂

          • 24% body fat

            Call it a loser point all you want,

            3×3 is not real hockey and has evolved to a boring style.

            Isnt 3×3 where JG gets all his points?

            And wins might be the dumbest stats for a goalie ever. and 2 games is a good sample size? OK

          • Arminius

            You are correct. Johnny Hockey has 18 of his 20 points in OT . Too bad you don’t have a stud like him in your might not be losing all these games in OT and coughing up points left right n center

          • Orm Nullman

            I always thought you were just another moronic flaming troll like The Great Walter White or hockeyfan. It is now obvious to me that I was wrong its clear you’re a masochist, the proof:

            BOA Oilers 2 Flames 0.

            That’s enough to discourage most other Flames trolls but not you. Your in a special class all your own.

          • Arminius

            Ah yes . Slow golf clap. Congrats on beating a Flames team twice in the first few days of a season with a new coaching staff. JOHNNY HOCKEY having only one practice under his belt and MONAHAN being injured all training camp. Wow. You sure showed us. LOL. THE CALGARY FLAMES are 13-6-1 lately..not quite the mess you faced.

            I mean hell..even Nail Puljujarvi scored back Than. I hope he savored that moment. Has he scored since? TKACHUK is crushing it by the way so thanks for that 😉

          • ginganinja

            Pump the brakes chuckles, 2 wins this month were against playoff teams, enjoy the weak schedule while you have it.
            Get back to your gift exchange with your hamster, run your mouth when Flames aren’t the worse team in the standings.
            Find a team stat that the Flames have over the Oilers and bring it here, there aren’t many, if any.

          • ginganinja

            Sure, if you ignore the current point system that’s fine. I’ll explain to you how it works when i’m watching playoff hockey and you’re confused as to why you aren’t. I’ll make you a powerpoint. For the record, enough was said by you a while ago.

          • Arminius

            Lol. Oh you’re going to watch playoff hockey this year are you? Congrats . How old were you when you last saw edmonton in the playoffs or have you seen it yet in your lifetime. Lol

            PS cling to your loser point differential it’s very edmonton of you.
            Playoffs!?!?! PLAYOFFS!?!?!

          • ginganinja

            I can remember watching the Oilers win more playoff series than the Flames, and i’m not 30 yet. Face it, Flames fan doesn’t have a leg to stand on when history comes into play.
            Become a Hawks fan, this strategy will work better for you.

          • ComeAtMeDog

            Loser points = I’ll take them every time !!!

            That means we are close to winning games unlike Calgary getting blown out before then !!

            Your a skid buddy . Nobody cares your plant purrs like a cat hahaha.
            People who brag about status are the biggest idiots .
            Your probably on our site because your work friends don’t talk with you !!

            Check the standing ? We are in front of u
            Check the head to head ? Again u know this
            Check the best players and potential ?? Again the whole league knows this .

            I feel sorry for u because your team is lame . Keep coming back and arguing while we sit up the standings bud . Mr cool operator !!! Dork !

          • DarkLinkCosplay

            You say that as if the flames don’t benefit from overtime… they have like what, 5 overtime wins so far? Oilers technically have more regulation wins than the flames so I don’t know what you’re being all haughty about.

          • HockeyRulz

            Your missing the most important stat:

            Oilers: 42 pts
            Flames: 38 pts

            So like you say “Spin it however you like” but Oilers are ahead of the flames which means basically right now the flames are loosing to the Oilers.

      • Serious Gord

        Well you are spinning it incorrectly.

        With the ‘loser point’ there are two simple ways to look at the last ten games:

        1. They have earned 12 of a possible 20 points

        2. They won 12 of the 26 points awarded.

        A third and probably better way is to consider whether that is on a pace to make the playoffs.

        Last year 87 points was enough to make the western conference playoffs. A 1.061 PPg season average

        The past ten games the oil have been averaging 1.2 or a 98.4 season – a playoff bound pace. Thus no basis for pessimism in that stat.

      • Looch#27

        How small and petty you must be to troll internet sites over the holidays,my guess is you have a very small penis and your mom didn’t show you any love so you comb the internet looking for the attention you crave. It’s ok muffin you can play on the oiler sites because your ‘lames site is so pessimistic and negative all the time maybe you can learn how positive fans react. I read that you keep the gas flowing in our good province what an inflated since of self worth you have pump jockies while important in the cold weather for soccer moms are really not all that essential but thanks for your help

        • The guy works as a janitor in his camp, and was working through his break apparently. He made it clear that he really needed the money, which hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

          He’s deluded himself into thinking that Oilers fans care about the Flames.

          Every hockey fan in Calgary will tell you this…there is an inferiority complex with Flames fans.

          They’ll always look at the Oilers, their standings, even watch Oiler games. They are so concerned about how Oiler fans see their team.

          Arminniemouse’s conduct here demonstrates that. He cares how we see the Flames, he wants to make sure we aren’t laughing at them. He’s trying to prove that they’re actually a good team, etc.

          It matters to him, greatly, that we see his team as a legitimate NHL team. He puts our opinions in that high esteem…which as I said points to an inferiority complex.

          It’s not just him either, the great majority of Flames fans are like this. They couldn’t name a forward in the 3rd line, think Beaieaueartche is still on the team and still wear his jersey, and think “striker” is an actual position.

          • I’ve noticed this too.

            I have also seen a tendency of some Flames fans to only measure the Flames against the Oilers regardless how bad the Oilers are. Like somehow winning two playoff series in 12 years is somehow an accomplishment.

            I will never understand why its important that Oilers fans recognize the Flames underwhelming accomplishments. Both clubs have been complete failures for a very long time now.

      • Boom or Bust

        Hey soccer Troll. You do realize you said this last article right??…I really pity you man. You are pathetic and unoriginal and the amount of time you waste Trolling on this site…and flamesnation for that matter…well its crazy…your an unwell individual and I think you need serious help….right away. There’s lots of free programs available to help you. I know things are a little tight right now

      • Oilerchild77

        I bet you wouldn’t spin it that way for your Flames had they done the same. You’d probably get mad at anyone who disagreed with you and would then start throwing childish personal insults at them.

        P.S. Flames suck, always have, and your insults aren’t going to change that.

  • S cottV

    Agree with Lowetide and Willis – buyers and sellers.

    Still – try and make the playoffs for experience, but improving the roster for next year is more important.

    I have no problem advocating for futures – with what is looking like is gonna be the best one two punch in hockey at c.

    Both still have some maturing and some learning to get through over the next couple of years. It could be very scary for Arminius – how effective McD and Drai are gonna get.

    Somehow we have to acquire and or develop a commanding from the back end – no 1 d man.

    Get that done in concert with McD / Drai development and we will be buyers for a long time to come.

    Where’s Henderson?

  • Oiler Al

    @ Arminuass , glad to hear you got a gig, pumping gas at your local discount gas station. Ya, its part time
    but gets you out of your moms basement once in a while.
    Now go check out Flames nation.. not happening. Like the team.

  • Oiler Al

    @ Arminuass , glad to hear you got a gig, pumping gas at your local discount gas station. Ya, its part time
    but gets you out of your moms basement once in a while.
    Now go check out Flames nation.. not happening. Like the team.

  • BroGuyBuddy

    You may not need a big gritty team to win a cup but, it’s no secret how teams have felt about playing the Oilers in recent years. Personally, I don’t think it’s bad for us to have the grit to beat a little respect back into these teams.

  • hockey1099

    GOD i love how predictable Willis is. The analytics tell him to hate russel so he does. We have an injured nurse and want to make a playoff push but Willis is desperate to move a dmen who has done nothing but help this team. Stock piling not trading dmen is the right move. What are you going to get for a ufa defenceman at the deadline? That’s right the same thing everyone gets for ufas, picks and prispects. Keep arm chair gming with those pie charts Willis you’ll never look foolish if you do that.