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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Where does Ryan Strome fit?

The Expansion and NHL Entry Drafts are in the books, Jordan Eberle has been moved, and we’ve got a lot to get to which will help to kill some company time until you’re allowed to go home. As always, we’re back with the mailbag to help you do that. I always need you guys for this feature so email me your questions to baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and pretend to look busy for as long as possible. Have a good week, everybody.

Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders right wing Ryan Strome (18) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Jesse asks – What was your first thought about Eberle being traded for Strome in a one for one deal?

Lowetide:

It had been out there for some time, so there wasn’t the shock and surprise of the Larsson-Hall deal. I had time to suss it out in my mind and see what the thinking is with the deal from the Edmonton side. Cap issues forced the deal and I do think Jordan Eberle wasn’t a perfect fit for a Chiarelli team.

Matt Henderson:

Total downgrade it talent and I’m not sure the secondary scoring can take many more downgrades.

Robin Brownlee:

I was happy to see this taken care of as early as possible. It was expected and best if dealt with right away rather than letting it drag on.

Jason Gregor:

Close to what I expected. The Oilers were looking to shed salary and get a younger player they hope can find his way in a new market. They acquired a less proven player, and in the salary cap world this is reality, especially when the Oilers will have two big contracts in the very near future with McDavid and Draisaitl.

Jonathan Willis:

Mostly just that it wasn’t a surprise. When I sketched out hypothetical Eberle trade scenarios a few weeks back, I had Strome, Cody Eakin and Nick Bjugstad as possible targets, with the idea that the Oilers would shed some money and add a less talented centre in exchange for Eberle. This deal was telegraphed early on.

Chris the Intern:

My first thought was that I hated it. Like most situations, after sitting on it for a while the decision grew on me. I love Ebs but it’s definitely his time to go, unfortunately.

Cam Lewis: It wasn’t terrible, but it’s another classic example of the Oilers selling a player at their lowest value. Let’s hope Strome excels with a change of scenery.

Baggedmilk:

I expected the Oilers to get fleeced on the deal because they were selling on a down year. The did not get the best player in the deal and that’s disappointing. That said, they did get some much needed cap space to waste on Kris Russell.

Dec 23, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres with teammates during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2) Brendan asks – Where do you see Ryan Strome fitting into the lineup?

Lowetide:

I think he’ll play centre when Leon is on RW and the wing when the big man moves into the middle. It makes sense from a positional point of view, we’ll see about the execution.

Matt Henderson:

He is either 2RW or 3RW depending on whether Draisaitl is given his own line and if Puljujarvi is NHL ready this year.

Robin Brownlee:

He’ll probably play on the wing and I won’t be surprised if he gets a look alongside Connor McDavid. He showed the ability to produce points in his first couple of seasons before falling out of favor with Jack Capuano. How long that look lasts will depend on Strome’s performance.

Jason Gregor:

He will compete for the first and second line RW slots with Jesse Puljujarvi, Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev. He’ll be given an opportunity to win the job. He should be motivated to come to to camp in the best shape of his life. There is no veteran to beat out. He has the most NHL games played of the four battling for the spot, five if Oilers re-sign Tyler Pitlick. I’d argue it is his job to lose.

Jonathan Willis:

Primarily third-line centre, but occasionally top-six right wing for those times when Todd McLellan decides to run Leon Draisaitl down the middle.

Chris the Intern:

We won’t be able to truly evaluate this trade until we see Strome playing. I expect him to start at the top of the lineup with Connor. If he doesn’t succeed he will slowly move down playing with Drai, then Nuge. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point as he’ll likely already be the #1 whipping boy.

Cam Lewis: The one nice thing about Strome over Eberle is the added versatility he provides being a centre/winger. That said, I’d be surprised if he was used anywhere other than McDavid’s wing, at least at first.

Baggedmilk:

Looking at the RW depth right now I’d guess anywhere from first to third line right wing depending on whether or not Leon plays with Connor and if Puljujarvi is more NHL ready.

Apr 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle (14) celebrates his third goal of the night against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. The Oilers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

3) Oil fan in Van asks – With the Oilers trading Eberle this year where do you think the Oilers will find the offence that they’ve moved out?

Lowetide:

I think Connor McDavid is instant offense and Leon Draisaitl showed signs of being able to drive his own line’s results. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins simply must perform better offensively, that’s a fact. I don’t know if that means playing with 97, with new hire Strome, or getting more PP time to open up the creativity. But that’s the nut.

Matt Henderson:

There are maybe 5-10 more points to be squeezed out of Lucic if his 5v5 offence can return. That might be offset by Maroon regressing in sh%. The rest of the offence is coming from McDavid unless they add more.

Robin Brownlee:

Strome and Drake Caggiula. I think Caggiula will take a step up this season. I like his offensive instincts.

Jason Gregor:

I expect McDavid to score more goals this year. He told me at the end of the season he wanted to shoot more and he would be working on his shot and release in the summer. Also Caggiula, Strome and Slepyshev should be able to score more goals than they did last season. Those three combined for only 24 goals in 170 NHL games. Throw in Puljujarvi and it was 25 goals in 198 games. If they can’t improve on those low totals the Oilers are in trouble.

Jonathan Willis:

Right now, it looks like they plan to find it internally. I’m skeptical that Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev or Jesse Puljujarvi is capable of providing Eberle-level scoring, so if that’s the plan the team’s best bet is probably rebound years from players like Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (as well as Benoit Pouliot, if he isn’t traded). There’s also the possibility that they go hunting for some skill in free agency.

Cam Lewis: They’re going to have to get it internally. This summer’s free agent market is thin and the Oilers don’t have the capacity to hand out a long-term deal like they did with Lucic. Kris Russell, for better or worse, is this year’s big splash, meaning not only are Maroon, Draisaitl, Kassian, and so on going to have to repeat performances, but guys like RNH, Caggiula, and Slepyshev are going to have to step up.

Chris the Intern:

Obviously Ryan Strome, but guys like Pouliot, Caggiula, Nuge HAVE to step up this year. We need a full team effort from our forwards this season and can’t rely all on Strome to fill in Eberle’s points.

Baggedmilk:

  • Nuge needs to be better
  • Patty Maroon can’t regress
  • Strome has to be better
  • Caggiula needs to take a step forward
  • Maybe Spencer Foo?
  • A combination of all of the above
April 28, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle (14) moves the puck against Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the first period in game two of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4) Trent asks – Now that the Jordan Eberle trade has gone through what is left to accomplish on Peter Chiarelli’s to-do list?

Lowetide:

He needs to figure out what to do with the second pairing. Sekera comes back mid-season but Todd McLellan may be forced to run Kris Russell (currently unsigned) with Matt Benning. That will mean adding a third pairing option as well. Plenty of work to do with the blue.

Matt Henderson:

He could start the task of making the team better. I would approve that. So far we’ve had a downgrade at RW and at the time of this response the rumours are that Russell will be re-signed, thus keeping the blueline running in place. Chiarelli is free to make the team better any time.

Robin Brownlee:

Sorting out Eberle and re-signing Kris Russell (or finding a replacement for him) are done, so I don’t expect Chiarelli to be very busy. The Oilers are in the hunt on Spencer Foo, so that has to play out.

Jason Gregor:

He still needs to add another two D-men. Even with the Russell signing they only have five D-men ready to start the season. I don’t see Mark Fayne in their plans, so Klefbom, Larsson, Russell, Nurse and Benning are the only five ready to start the season. He needs to add two D-men, both likely on one-year contracts. Most of the Oilers improvements will come internally as 92, 29, 77, 6, 25, 83, 36, 42, and Strome get older and gain experience, so I don’t see him big-game hunting, but signing a few proven veteran defenders to one-year deals.

Jonathan Willis:

Replacing him, for starters. People tend to forget that the only guys on the Oilers roster who scored more than Eberle were Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers should be looking to add another skilled forward to the mix, even if it’s a lesser talent than Eberle. There’s also still a need for a Sekera stopgap player on the blue line.

Chris the Intern:

I still don’t feel satisfied with our defensive depth… even though we signed Kris Russell. I would still like to see him bring in another strong RHD but we don’t have many assets to work with.

Cam Lewis: It seems Sekera is being replaced in the short-term by Russell, but the team badly needs a defenceman who can produce offence and quarterback a power play. Then they’ll need another centre, ideally a veteran winger or two, and an actual backup goalie.

Baggedmilk:

He needs to round out the defence and figure out who’s going to fill Sekera’s shoes for three months. Does Benning play with Russell? Nurse? Personally, I’d rather those two guys keep learning on the third pairing but that’s just me.

5) Carmen asks – How do you think Vegas did with the expansion draft? Do you think they could be a realistic playoff contender next year?

Lowetide:

I think they did okay, but like all fans (probably) think I could have done better. 🙂 Too traditional for my taste, but the general manager needs to ice a team this fall and look to the future on the same day.

Matt Henderson:

Not a playoff team, but not a complete embarrassment. I think they left immediate value on the table in exchange for more picks and fewer prospects than I would have liked. That said, they are a better team than I would have guessed a year ago.

Robin Brownlee:

No, I don’t think they finish within 20 points of the playoffs. I think they’ll be competitive on a game-by-game basis but that doesn’t necessarily translate to points in the standings.

Jason Gregor:

Overall they did fine, and the NHL gave them much more of an opportunity to by allowing teams to protect a maximum of 11 players. I don’t see them as a playoff contender. If they reach 70 points that would be a great first season in Sin City.

Jonathan Willis:

With the caveat that we’re still waiting for a bunch of stuff to happen, right now I’d say C+ or thereabouts. Vegas did a great job of getting picks and prospects out of some teams, but in a lot of cases they loaded up on expensive and lower-end defencemen even when they didn’t need to – notably Alexei Emelin and Luca Sbisa. GM George McPhee has acted like there’s a trade market for players like that; if he’s right the grade goes up a bunch, but if he’s wrong than the Golden Knights did a poor job of leveraging their cap space. I think they could make the playoffs next year, but I’d put their odds at less than 50/50 right now.

Chris the Intern:

They did fine… they won’t be a playoff contender next year but I think they’ll perform better than most people expect them to. They’re up against a big, tough division which I don’t really feel like they’re built for.

Cam Lewis: They’re pretty clearly stealth tanking, as they chose multiple players who aren’t better than other options they had the chance to snag. They did an excellent job of stockpiling draft picks, and they’ll likely be selecting towards the top of the draft next year too. Even though they’ll be bad, they’ll at least be exciting to watch, which is key for an expansion franchise.

Baggedmilk:

I wish GMs weren’t so nice to each other. Vegas could have screwed a team like Anaheim and taken Josh Manson but they didn’t. Lame. Oh and to answer the question they’re going to suck but probably not as bad as I originally expected.

NATION NIGHT AT THE BALLPARK

On Thursday night (June 29th), we’re hosting our first Nation Night at the Ballpark as the Edmonton Prospects take on the Weyburn Beavers. As you’d expect, we’ll have some prizes to give away and stickers for the kids (big or small) so clear your calendar and plan to be at RE/MAX Field on Thursday night. Tickets are available here.

  • Randaman

    Why did nobody mention or suggest Gryba on the third pairing with Nurse? He’s a viable cheap option and I for one like what he brings. He’s not flashy but he’s steady and mean!

  • ricardo2000

    1) Eberle being traded for Strome – I agree that it was expected, because Ebs had a problem with satisfying expectations, even though he is a quality winger. Had Ebs a better playoffs no one would have traded him. The option would have been UFA negotiations, or a better value trade because he had more value. Secondarily, the Oil needed to have money available for any possible offer sheet coming for Draisaitl. This means the trade was in part, Russell and Strome for Eberle, but also for part of Drai.
    2) Strome’s role – I agree with Chris. Coach obviously told the players last spring that he would play them in the position they earned. So various players lined up with McD, the top asset, to see who would be most productive. The positions line mates take each game will be a tactical decision, made on the spot.

    • Randaman

      Your point about playing guy’s in the position they earned goes directly to the reason Eberle was traded. He earned nothing last year. Was benched, called out by the coach and still didn’t show that he cared all that much. Cya…

  • Mitch92

    This top six will scare opponents:

    Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
    Lucic – Strome – Puljujarvi

    Of course some juggling could happen if we want to move Drai to the middle and Strome to the wing.

  • Harry2

    It amazes me how Hacky Henderson still gives Chiarelli the gears after he took one of the worst teams in league history from the sewer to one game from the conference finals.

    Get on the wagon Henderson or be run over by it

  • JimmyV1965

    I think there are legit concerns about Chia’s ability to negotiate the bigger trades. Snow needed Eberle much more than we needed to get rid of him. He is under tremendous pressure there to get scoring for Tavares and teams aren’t exactly lining up to trade him 25 goal scorers. Yet Chia clearly takes the lesser player and doesn’t even get a draft pick as sweetener.

  • RJ

    LV signs more defence than they need. Whatever you think about their quality, they’re all (or almost all) proven NHL defenceman.

    Seems logical there may be a trade possible.

  • Hemmercules

    I can’t believe Henderson hasn’t written some type of hate article on Chiarelli yet but with Ebs getting dealt for a lesser player and Russel coming back making huge money it has to be coming soon, I can feel it. His saltiness for Chia is quite entertaining so I look forward to that next article.

    I have to say though, I’m not sure what Chia’s plan will be moving forward this summer? The team hasn’t really improved other than a bunch of youngsters are a year older and wiser from a playoff run. I have to think Gryba will be back and maybe Pitlick but adding these two doesn’t drastically improve the team either. Seems like UFA’s are all thats left for us as another big trade probably isn’t too likely.

  • Randaman

    Rumors have the Oilers courting Marleau. That would be a great signing. He hasn’t slowed down at all and if they can get him on a reasonable contract, that would be a huge addition. They are talking to Boyle as well. Stay tuned…

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    I don’t understand all of the negativity around Chia… He turned a perennial bottom feeder into a team that was 1 win away from the conference finals. His response was to trade the player who prevented them from getting to the conference finals (Ebs), for a young player with lots of potential and 3.5 million in cap space (which never happens in the salary cap world). As others have said, some site contributors seem to be stuck in the decade of darkness, where hopes and dreams were placed on Eberle and Hall (2 soft minus players who play for points, not wins).

    The Defence is solidified, for about 4 years when Sekera, Larsson, Klef and Russels contracts all run out. In that time Larsonn and Klef will likely improve immensely, along with Nurse and Benning…. Not to mention Bear and others waiting for their opportunity. I’d like another offensive D man for the PP one timer, but not at the expense of Defence, which most players like that seem to give up. Also, Letestu did fine on the PP this year in the one timer role, so there isn’t a huge need to waste assets on fixing a problem that they don’t have.

    As for replacing Ebs offence. He consitently has cost the Oilers more goals than he’s scored throughout his career, so I’d argue that his offence doesn’t need replacing at all. However, I don’t foresee a problem with replacing his 20 goals. Someone will score in his spot on the PP, just by being on the ice with McDavid and Drai. Also, players like Puju, Drake, and Slepy will surely take a step forward…. I actually think the Drake will produce more than Ebs did on the PP. Also, the Oilers will likely sign someone like Marleau, on a 1 year deal.

    I’m happy with a winning team, and Chai continues to do what needs to be done to build a winner.

    • Hemmercules

      When you look at a few Charelli’s moves individually on paper, they dont look that good.

      A top line winger with an 80 point season for a shut down Dman, a 50-60 point winger for a 30 point winger, 2 good picks for a Dman that hardly played and eventually went to Vegas and then he gave out some pretty nice coin for a shot blocking Dman that most stats guys wonder why he’s even in the NHL.

      At the time of the Hall trade it looked pretty ugly but after seeing what Larson can do and how badly they need this type of player I’m not so sure they could have squeezed an additional pick or anything from NJ, the trade looked bad but ended up being quite fair in my opinion.

      Eberle is not a 6 mil player, probably more like 5mil just based on his points output. If Chia retained 1 or 1.5 mil of Eberle and got a draft pick+Strome is that really worth it?? Seemed maybe slightly lopsided toward NY but losing the cap space and getting a player thats harder to play against will make the whole thing pretty even in the long run.

      The whole Reinhart situation was just ugly. Wasted picks and then lost in the expansion. While not totally Chia’s fault he has to take the blame or this one. Bad deal all around

      Signing Russel to that money wasn’t the best move I have even seen but it was probably necessary. Russel would have got that from another team anyway. The market for Dmen is pretty thin and the Oilers need him right now.

      I think the Chia hate is knee jerk reactions based on what the deals look like on paper. The old oilers tried to build a team around the offence of a few youngsters, the new Oilers build with balance. It isn’t always pretty but the right balance is what it takes to win the cup.

  • madjam

    Strome could be anywhere from first or second line RW to second or third line center . If he ends up 3rd line center , then what does club do with Hopkins ? Use Hopkins to get another top scoring RW ?

  • Abagofpucks

    i believe strome will be a 50 to 60 point guy this year and be a way more solid defensive performer than ebs could ever hope to be the fans complained about the hall trade last year and look how that turned out ebs will will have his work cutout for him on a non playoff team good luck lol

  • Homer

    Is Matt Henderson a closet flames fan?!? Nothing positive to say about the Oilers EVER!! Did Russel and PC shoot your dog and steal your wife? If not please try and lighten up dude your full on depressing. PC built a team outta nothing and we made it all the way to the second round and farther if it wasn’t fo lousy puck luck but that’s not enough of an improvement for you? Just a heads up that wasn’t all Connor it’s called a team and Russel was an important part of said team.

  • Mark97

    Matt Henderson:

    He could start the task of making the team better. I would approve that. So far we’ve had a downgrade at RW and at the time of this response the rumours are that Russell will be re-signed, thus keeping the blueline running in place. Chiarelli is free to make the team be

    Is this guy for real. The team went to the second round of the playoffs and was one win away from a conference final. Pretty sure Chiarelli is making the team better. God Henderson you’re such a moron I’d love to see you run a professional sports team. But for that to happen you would need to crawl out of your moms basement and have interactive conversations with people face to face. It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and criticize everyone. Hell even to hear your voice on the radio would be a start, but no one wants you on their shows because they feel the same way I do. You’re a joke and unfortunately some things never change

  • themightypeace

    On paper Strome is a downgrade from Eberle, but in a game situation Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins exacerbated each other’s weaknesses – they formed a pliable line that had a hard time standing up to the physicality of the game. Simply said, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins were the perfect MIS-match.

    While Strome is not known for a big physical presence, Strome’s bigger and stronger than Eberle and his cerebral give-and-take style could be very complimentary for Nugent-Hopkins. Both Strome and Nugent-Hopkins have spent their entire careers playing with guys who dictate the dynamic of the line, whether its a franchise player like Tavares or a goal-scoring Eberle or Hall. It will be very interesting to see if any chemistry develops between two guys – they are both team-mate first players who are good but not great play-makers, scorers, and defenders.

    Again, while Strome is a downgrade on paper from Eberle, he is a big-time upgrade for Nugent-Hopkins and I think we could see the tic-tac-toe playmaking dynamic that Oiler fans have long been hoping to see from Nugent-Hopkins.

  • DarkOil

    To me the lines could break down as

    Maroon-McDavid-Puljujärvi
    Lucic-Driasaitl-Slepyshev
    Caggiula-RNH-Strome
    Pakarinen-Letestu-Kassian

    Klefbom-Larsson
    Sekera-Russell
    Nurse-Benning

    Talbot
    Brossoit

    That defence core was 8th last year and should improve going forward. The Driasaitl line I used from the playoffs because they are big and hard on the puck as well as each player can put the puck in the net. Brossoit I have as our back-up because he proved it to Chiarelli last season

  • Alan Smithee

    Eberle had fully 1/4 of his entire goal production for 2017 in the last couple of weeks of the season where the goals didn’t mean much against two crappy teams (2 goals against Colorado and 3 goals against Vancouver). Before that he hadn’t scored since January. He is soft on the puck, loses every puck battle, has one move entering the offensive zone…the button hook. With no one timer, teams have figured him out. As far as I am concerned, we sold high! I like the deal!