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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Do We Have a Problem?

My friends, it is mailbag time again and that means that I’m here to provide you with an opportunity for some free learnin’ courtesy of your friendly Nation panel. As you’ve come to expect, I’ve thrown your questions out to our stable of geniuses to get their answers and input. I’ve said it a thousand times before, but this feature is entirely dependent on you guys and I need questions for next week. If you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.com.

1) Stacy asks – It was reported that the salary cap may go up by a couple million dollars next year. How do you think that will affect Peter Chiarelli’s plan going into the summer?

Lowetide:

I think it may allow the club to shoehorn in one more veteran, possibly Kris Russell. Oilers are a cap team now through the end of the decade and beyond, so every penny counts!

Jonathan Willis:

The cap may or may not go up, depending on the actions of the NHLPA. I doubt it makes a big difference for the Oilers either way, given that 2018-19, not 2017-18 is the crucial year for them.

Jason Gregor:

If it goes up it will help the Oilers because they have the means to spend to the cap, however, I don’t see Chiarelli going crazy with money. Draisaitl will get a raise next year and in 2018 McDavid will likely have a huge increase on  his current $3.775 million cap hit. Chiarelli will plan for that moreso than focus on cap increase next year.

Cam Lewis:

It shouldn’t do much more than give him some added flexibility to add a solid depth player on a short-term deal over the offseason. Everything Chiarelli does from here on out has to be with the idea of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl soon getting major raises on their cheap entry-level salaries, so going spend-happy because of a small increase in the cap isn’t a prudent idea.

Chris the Intern:

With the extra couple million, Chia can now sign Kris Russell to big time money! Kidding aside, I could see it going towards Drai’s new contract instead of giving him a bridge deal. Whatever happens, it’s a huge plus for us.

Baggedmilk:

I think Chiarelli needs to proceed as though the cap is NOT going up. There are some big contracts that will be coming down the pipe and I would think he should try to figure out how to many that work under the current ceiling. That way if the cap goes up than any boost will be like bonus money.

2) Mike B. asks – What rituals/superstitions, if any, did you have during the ’06 playoff run? Will you be reviving them this year?

Lowetide:

I had a beer before each game, and will continue the tradition. Although I consider this a monster sacrifice, it is my cross to bear.

Jonathan Willis:

I’m not superstitious.

Jason Gregor:

I went to every game, but that was for work. I’m not a superstitious person.

Cam Lewis:

I was only 12 years old during the cup run, but I made a shrine in my living room with jerseys, shirts, flags, hats, cards, cutouts from cereal boxes, and other random Oilers merchandise I had. I also had this lucky green jacket that I would wear each time they played, and would lay down in front of the TV when they played. Why did I think it was a luck jacket lucky? I don’t know. It just was.

Chris the Intern:

Unfortunately, I was too young to barely know what a superstition was. (just kidding, grade 7). I won’t be reviving any this year but I’m looking forward to starting some new ones! First one? As soon as they clinch, I”m setting up the dual car flags!

Baggedmilk:

I drank A LOT during the 2006 Cup run so I’m going to go ahead and resume that tradition. I apologize to my liver in advance.

3) Leaking 5w-30 asks – A lot of young players put on weight in their late teens and early twenties, and this is generally considered a good thing. Should we expect McDavid to put on 5 or 10 pounds? Or do you think the training staff will try to keep him at his current weight to keep his speed up? Basically, I’m asking what is McDavid’s ideal playing weight?

Lowetide:

He is not yet physically mature for sure so maybe add 10 pounds from current weight? Frankly, I will be happy, the man goes so fast I worry he will one day become airborne.

Jonathan Willis:

Ideal playing weight varies from player to player so I wouldn’t even want to guess at an answer to this question. Sorry.

Jason Gregor:

Adding strength is more important than weight. He will still fill out, but adding strength will be more vital than just adding pounds.

Cam Lewis:

I know very little about this kind of thing, but I have the utmost trust that the Oilers training staff and whoever McDavid trains with in the offseason will ensure he follows whatever diet and exercise regime makes sense for him. He isn’t undersized now by any means, so the organization isn’t going to force him to put on a bunch of muscle like they did with Sam Gagner.

Chris the Intern:

He will definitely/obviously get bigger throughout his career but I’d expect him to gain 10 pounds and stay around the 200lb mark throughout his hockey life. I look at Sidney Crosby as a comparison. Drafted smallish, now he’s got a ton of muscle on him and is not to be pushed around but can still skate really well.

Baggedmilk:

I think he’s gaining weight by the day but we just can’t really tell. It takes some big ol’ cojones to charge the net the way Connor does and he only seems to be getting better at it. So I guess my answer is that he is already putting on weight but it’s in the form of giant balls.

4) Grant asks – Are you at all worried about the teams that are chasing the Oilers? It seems like Calgary and LA are heating up while Edmonton is spinning in place?

Lowetide:

No, not really. Calgary may pass the Oilers but that is jockeying for position within the playoffs. MAKING the playoffs is the big thing, and Edmonton is close to being home and dry.

Jonathan Willis:

As of this writing, L.A. is eight points back with 16 games to go. Since a five-game winning streak came to an end on February 4, the Kings are 5-7-2 overall, so I wouldn’t describe them as heating up. Calgary’s a different matter. The Flames are playing tremendously well of late and it’s basically anyone’s guess what order Calgary, Edmonton and Anaheim end up in. The good news for Oilers fans is that the race between those three teams is for positioning within the playoffs, rather than to make them.

Jason Gregor:

Welcome to a playoff race. Things can change quickly. A three game winning streak or a three game losing streak can alter things rapidly in one week. The Oilers are still 7 points ahead of the Kings, but they need to avoid another three-game winless streak or the gap will shrink. It is a great time of year, but also one that sends fans on a crazy emotional rollercoaster.

Cam Lewis:

Not really, no. At the beginning of the season, the overwhelming majority of us were happy with competing for a playoff spot and likely grabbing a wild card seed. That hasn’t changed. The standings will flip flop the rest of the way, teams will go on streaks, but it would take some kind post Ryan Smyth trade in 2007 collapse for this team to miss the playoffs.

Chris the Intern:

Well now I am! Calgary can’t win forever so hopefully they’ll hit a rut soon. I’m answering this question before the Pens and Habs game which are pretty close to must-wins. We just have to keep winning our games and we’ll be fine.

Baggedmilk:

Honestly, I could really care less where anyone finishes as long as the Oilers make the dance. Sure, I’d like home ice advantage too but let’s not forget that this team finished 29th last year. Having them make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years is all I care about. I don’t care which slot it is, as long as they’re there.

5) Barry asks – What do you think about Gary Bettman suggesting that all bye weeks will happen within a two-week span? Won’t that create a very light game schedule over that time if half of the teams are off the ice? Why not just use the Olympic break as that bye week?

Lowetide:

The NHL has an insane group of pressures putting a schedule together, so I will cut them some slack. Tough job, I am sure they will figure it out.

Jonathan Willis:

That’s *if* there’s an Olympic break next season. The bye week is going to be difficult to handle no matter what; having a relatively light two-week period is probably the best way to integrate it into the schedule.

Jason Gregor:

It makes sense to have more teams on a bye at the same time. The NHL won’t go dark they will just have two and three games a night instead of four or five. Not a big deal for a short period of time.

Cam Lewis:

A week without many games is better than having some teams with, like, four or five games in hand on another team in February. Even having half of the league off is better than having every single team off for a two week span.

Chris the Intern:

Using the Olympic Break makes the most sense… but I suppose you need to prepare for years after the Olympics as well. I don’t mind condensing the bye weeks but, in my opinion, the NHL should worry about other topical issues like THE OFFSIDE CHALLENGE

Baggedmilk:

I think it will be weird when there’s a two week span where only half the teams are eligible to play at any given time. At most you’ll be able to have eight games on and that likely means that there will be days during that span where there are no games at all. Seems odd, but meh. Who cares?


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  • Mark Lesser

    Putting the 5 day break around the Olympics makes a lot of sense. If players like Ovechkin keep their promise to play in the Olympics no matter what, it should help them to miss fewer games.

  • Serious Gord

    Would much rather meet Anaheim in the first round than San Jose. So yes standings matter

    Salary cap increase will be small if any – look for a lot of oil frustration next year when chia does nothing to improve the team in preparation for the crisis in 18-19.

      • Hemmercules

        The Oilers are currently IN the playoffs. Why can’t we talk about them??

        This slide is getting worrisome though I agree. Should have had at least a point on Sunday. I hate when they sit back with a 1 goal lead and try to hold on, terrible recipe for success. Its pretty tough to just go back to being happy with playing meaningful games rather than expecting playoffs at this point after they were so far ahead just a couple weeks ago. The Oil just can’t make it easy on us and go on a nice run haha. Still time, but the way they have been playing it looks like its going to be a grind to the finish with playoffs far from guaranteed right now. The remainder of the season is tough games mixed in with easy ones, they absolutely need to roll Vancouver and the Avs for those 8 points and at the very least come out even with LA and ANA in those games.

      • GK1980

        Last night they just didn’t play with enough desperation when up by a goal. I knew the Canadians would get a goal so not sure why oilers thought 1 was enough. Boys gotta push more offensively and drai looks a little off lately for some reason.

    • TruthHurts98

      If PC doesn’t do much to improve the team in the off season why would Connor want to sign a long term deal?? He will have to do something and show that there is constant improvement. The Oil can’t afford to make that mistake and PC will do some moves to improve the team.

  • madjam

    Yes , we maybe have a personnel problem . We also seem to have a Power Play and PK problem that may be more personnel than a coaching problem . I see little evidence Oilers personnel can get to a higher level of play with current personnel . We still have a favorable schedule to make the playoffs with 3 games against Van ., 3 with L.A. and 2 with Colorado which should spell our fate . A lot to expect in first year from basically basement of league , to being a top contender . If we fail to make playoffs will Oilers deal Eberle and/or Hopkins.or both ? Oilers play a passive game and almost always let opposition team dictate the flow of game , especially first periods . We end up reacting to their (opposition)game rather than dictating ours – whatever that is most nights .

    • Hatrack

      What makes you think they will trade Eberle and or Hopkins, nobody wanted them last summer and I doubt very much anyone will want them this year. They got rid of the only guy who was worth anything last summer. It must hurt a lot of people to not be able to blame Hall for their currant Woes. I for one believe the Oil will make the playoffs and will do well.

  • BobbyCanuck

    2006
    Buffalo wings before the Detroit series
    BBQ Duck before the Anaheim series
    Shark Fin soup before the San Jose series

    Could not figure out how to eat hurricanes, so there you have it

  • techmage

    My prediction? We will tie with LA Kings for the last wild card spot. Same number of points,same number of wins. EVERYTHING will depend on whether we can win 2 of the remaining 3 games against the Kings to win the season series.

  • Rama Lama

    Yes as evidenced all year long, we have a problem on the PP……..it’s called not shooting the puck. Lot’s of perimeter passing followed by a cross-seam pass that get’s moved back to the defenceman, and start the cycle again. Coaching has to improve the PP and do it in a hurry. I know that some will say we have a good PP based on the stats, fair enough.

    I still say, we can improve in this area……..we seem to generate more shots to the net when we are NOT on the PP. Something has to give.

  • Bills Bills

    It is not a 5 day break for players that will go to the Olympics. So I think the NHLPA would have an issue with that. The season is a grind already. I understand the 5 day break but I would rather see it during the holidays. Let the players spend time with their families and it is pretty much half way through the season.