Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Bridge deal or max term for Leon Draisaitl?

Another Monday has arrived to ruin your practice retirement and that means it’s time to waste company time until next weekend rolls around. With that in mind, the mailbag is here to help you kill off a few minutes of your day and maybe, just maybe, help you learn a little something. If you’d like to join in the fun and ask a question, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and waste as many work hours as possible. Have a good week, everybody.

1) Shredder asks – I recently got to sit next to Scott Howson on a 2.5 hour flight to Minneapolis, and I was impressed with how open and candid he was with me. If you had that kind of time to sit down and discuss things with Oilers management what topic would you want to dig in and learn the most about?


I am most curious about the scouting and procurement aspect of hockey. For instance, the tactic of drafting so many defenders in the 2015-17 drafts. Is that to set up trades from depth? Why is that preferable to drafting centres? I’d also like to know the thinking that goes into a pick like Matt Cairns. He played in a tier two league in draft season, how much does the club factor that in? Lots on procurement, college too.

Jason Gregor:

Many things… right now the top would be strategy to develop young players. In the next five years the Oilers will have to develop some solid complementary players with small cap hits.

Robin Brownlee:

Was lucky enough to have that kind of time many times over the years in my old gig. I was most interested in those kinds of situations in exploring the thinking that went into different aspects of the game — evaluating players, building a roster, chosen styles of play and systems. Off the record conversations, like you had, almost always provide the most insight.

Matt Henderson:

I guess I would like to spend as much time as possible trying to understand their processes for player evaluation both amateur and professional. It would be interesting to see how much weight they give different aspects of the game and everyone would be a little different.

Chris the Intern:

I think I would just want to hear some behind-the-scenes dirt, like how many offers/thoughts does the team go through about trades and signing that the public never hears about? ALSO, I’d love to hear all of their sincere thoughts about Taylor Hall of course.


I’d like to sit next to Peter Chiarelli and ask him how awkward it is in meetings when he systematically rids the team of every move Craig MacTavish ever made as the GM. If he spilled the beans, thems would be some tasty beans.

Dec 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) stands in between Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (98) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Oilers, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

2) Kevin asks – What with it being the dog days of summer, I’m curious to hear some speculation from the panel. Which player on the current professional roster (NHL + AHL) would you guess is likely to have a breakout season like Maroon did a year ago?


I’ll go with Jesse Puljujarvi. He struggled a year ago but has substantial talent and it is vital for the organization to have him succeed. I think he’ll get a gigantic push and emerge as a bona fide player.

Jason Gregor:

Caggiula. He should have a much better start to the season. He has experience. He won’t have to miss the first 18 games, then be asked to play a position he isn’t used to in the toughest league in the world.

Robin Brownlee:

Don’t see a breakout like you cite with Maroon because he was an established NHL player, but I think Jesse Puljujarvi makes the step to full-time NHL player.

Matt Henderson:

Most likely for a breakout is probably Puljujarvi. He has the talent and all the physical traits needed to be a beast. Let’s see if it happens for him.

Chris the Intern:

Nu.. Nuge? I hope. I really hope. Otherwise i am expecting a lot from Jesse Puljujarvi this year. I may be jumping the gun but I really hope/think that all of his expectations will come to fruition this year and he’ll be playing in our top six come playoff time.


Jesse Puljujarvi is going to be better, Caggiula will be too. If I’m going off the board I wonder what Anton Slepyshev will do with a full year on the big team. He seemed to get better and better as the playoffs went on and I hope he can keep that rolling into next year.

Feb 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates a first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Jordan asks – Pretend that you’re the Oilers GM for a moment. Would you push Draisaitl for a bridge deal or try to get him at a max term deal like they did with Connor McDavid?


I would prefer max term with Leon. I would go eight times $8 million, maybe a little more. Why? Cost certainty. I like the idea of having the top talent together for more than a decade, locked up. Easier to project the rest of the roster.

Jason Gregor:

I’m a big believer in Draisaitl and I’d rather do a six-eight year deal today at $7.5 million than sign a two-year deal and then in two years be faced with the possibility of a $9 to $10 million max contract.

Robin Brownlee:

Depends on the ask for a max term deal. I’m not giving Draisaitl a max term deal with an AAV over $7-$7.5 million.

Matt Henderson:

I wouldn’t pay him a number that starts any higher than a 7. If that means it’s a bridge deal then so be it. If that locks him up to a longer term, I’m good with that. I think he can deliver on McDavid’s wing for the length of any contract they can sign, but I don’t know what he can do on his own.

Chris the Intern:

Definite bridge deal. I doubt it would ever happen, but if we get him a good enough deal for three years, he will still be RFA status by the end of it which will put us in a much better position than signing him 8 years right off the hop.


I like the idea of a bridge deal because there are still unknowns about Draisaitl’s game. That said, the dude keeps proving everyone wrong and I’d like to see him get locked up for the eight-year max. If he comes in at $8 million or less then this contract could be a steal. That said, I’m a dreamer and getting him locked in at $8 million or under is likely a pipe dream at this point.

Mar 11, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Jussi Jokinen (36) during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4) Clint asks – Where do you see Jussi Jokinen slotting in this season?


I can see him as LW on a 3line with Jesse Puljujarvi on the RW, maybe with Nuge or Ryan Strome in the middle.

Jason Gregor:

I suspect he starts on the third line, but he will see some time on all three top lines this season.

Robin Brownlee:

I think Jokinen slots in on LW on the third or fourth line. He has the offensive ability to play up from there now and again.

Matt Henderson:

I think they try to play him on the 3rd line to start the training camp but before opening night he plays his way onto the second line. Throughout the course of the season, he will play on the top three lines and various sides because he’s a utility player smart enough to fit anywhere for the short term. Even with McDavid occasionally.

Chris the Intern:

Willis had a good take last week about putting him on the third line with Puljujarvi and Strome. I really like this idea. I think it’s the best place for those three to start the season and get their bearings right. Then adjust them as the season continues.


I bet he moves all over the top 9. I’d bet that he gets times on both wings and also takes draws depending on who is out there with him. He’s a useful player when he’s healthy and I think he’ll be the team’s Swiss Army Knife for the 2017-18 season.

Oct 12, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) celebrates his third period goal against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Henry asks – Jussi Jokinen spoke about helping Jesse Puljujarvi along in his sophomore season and I’m wondering how much value there is in having this luxury? Is it because Jokinen knows what Puljujarvi is going through with cultural differences and language? Why is this preferred over having him with a vet like Lucic or Sekera?


I can’t really speak to it beyond this has been true in sports legend for many years. Jari Kurri had Matti Hagman to help him through, perhaps this arrangement will work the same. It makes perfect sense on the surface, but I can’t speak to personal knowledge on the subject.

Jason Gregor:

Comfort level in speaking Finnish in certain situations will help. Lucic never experienced moving across the world and living in a new county. Sekera has, and he could help, but he won’t be playing or traveling for the first few months, so he won’t be around as often. Also Jokinen can relate to learning how to play forward on the smaller ice surface. I think we all underestimate how difficult it is for young players to move across the world, away from their family, and adapt not only to the speed, skill and pace of the NHL, but also to life off the ice. It is much more difficult to feel comfortable off the ice than it is to feel comfortable off of it. And if a player feels better away from the rink it can translate to better play on the ice.

Robin Brownlee:

Value varies, but there is unquestionably value in having a countryman who speaks the same language and has made the transition the younger player is going through. That’s especially true for players who come directly from Europe compared to players who have spent some time in North America playing junior.

Matt Henderson:

Because they can speak the same language. I heard that at times Puljujarvi was living alone last year, which strikes me as crazy for the youngest player in the NHL who also barely spoke English. Jokinen can be friend, mentor, and translator this year. That’s valuable. They may even find themselves on the same line for a while.

Chris the Intern:

A TON! We read a whole bunch last year about how Jesse’s biggest disadvantage and issues in the NHL was his lack of English. PoolParty and Jokinen will become best friends and Jussi will teach him the ropes. I can totally understand why Chia pushed specifically for Jokinen because I think it makes a big difference for Jesse’s development.


I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot and spending two+ years in other countries made me appreciate finding other travellers with similar backgrounds. For Puljujarvi, I absolutely know that it would be comforting to have a fellow Finn that’s been through all of this before to show him the ropes. Moving to another country where you don’t speak the language at such a young age is a lot harder than some people think, and having to perform in the best league on the planet is another stress on top of that.

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  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    There will be NO bridge deal! You really think Draisaitl will sign a deal that leaves a few million on the table ? It’s not happening.

        • SeethingRed

          Buddy…”heart and soul” did nothing for you in the playoffs it was fantastic goaltending, and speed/skill…neither Russel nor Lucic bring either…

          • McDavid's Comet

            How would you know how Lucic and Russell contributed in playoffs?

            SeethingRed is the perfect example of how one-dimensional fLames fans really are….. cannot recognize the intangibles that contribute to team success. However, I don’t doubt for a second that SeethingRed didn’t watch the Oilers in the playoffs for 3 reasons:

            1) too busy crying in your pablum as the flames got their a$$es handed to them by the ducks.

            2) Still seething red (see how I worked that in??) about fLames getting their a$$es handed to them by the Oilers in regular season.

            3) Connor McDavid envy. (cause you are Seething Red about that too right?)

            So tell me if you can, how would you know about heart and soul, when your best player johnny hokey-pokey holds out till after training camp? Is that your idea of heart and soul?

      • nuge2drai

        Team was healthy this season.

        I believe the toughness Lucic and Russel bring contributes to that.

        When you need a shot block sens out Russel instead of Klefbom. When you need to prevent a cheap shot send out Lucic.

  • JimmyV1965

    Although there’s a risk signing Drai to an eight-year deal, it is largely mitigated by McDavid. Drai clearly has the tools and skill. What hurts a guy like him and many other young guys is a loss of confidence. That risk is reduced because McDavid will make him a better player and will be there to help him through any slumps. A much bigger risk is giving him a bridge deal and then being forced to pay him $10 mill in three years.

  • vetinari

    On Leon’s deal– this is Chiarelli’s last opportunity to ink him before Leon gets arbitration rights and I think he has to use that leverage to some degree, even if it means he sits until the opening night. I would press for a 7 or 8 year deal in the $7.5M to $8.5M range and our two horses will be under contract until they are both almost thirty.

  • bazmagoo

    1) How involved is Kevin Lowe in hockey operations.
    2) Cagguila or Slepyshev, both impressed in the playoffs and have the chance to break out this year.
    3) Best for Draisaitl to get a bridge deal, he’ll be worth more at the end of it than he is now. Better for the Oilers to lock him up long term at his current value.
    4) 3rd line left wing, with Puljujarvi on the RW. Jesse really couldn’t find his way last year, Jussi should help him with that.
    5) Cultural differences, language, different ice surface, playing defence responsibly. No shortage of items Jokinen can mentor him on.

  • nuge2drai

    Sign Drai to 2 years at 12 million.

    If he performs on his own line without McDavid extend him 8×8.

    If he drops to the 65-70 point range playing #2C than extend him 8×6.5.

    It is extremely unlikely Drai will put up 80-90 on his own line, which would cost us more on an extension.

    If he wants to be paid as a top 10 player, he should at least have 3 seasons under his belt playing as one.

    If he does not accept, trade him for a package of Duchene and Barrie.

    • OriginalPouzar

      If Drai performs on his own line for two years, how do you expect to get him for $8X8? Its been a struggle to get him on that type of contract right now.

      If he performs at a similar level on his own line for two years, given inflation and some young studs that are going to sign new contracts in the interim, he’d be over $10M/year on his 3rd contract.

      • nuge2drai

        Only way he gets a 10mil a year extension is if he wins a rocket or art. Let’s be realistic here… be would need to finish top 5 scoring to get a top 5 contract. If that happens than pay him 10 mil a year.

  • nuge2drai

    Realistically how could a bridge deal hurt us if Drai is demanding 9.5 a year.

    The guy would have to produce a rocket Richard or an art ross to sign a long term extension that lucrative.

    If he performs as a top 5 player than lay him what he wants… until than bridge is the way to go.

  • madjam

    Leon contract stall ? Chapman on coppernblue has an article on this worth reading . Apparently Luit is asking for 9M and maybe more . Chapman goes on to say the duo of Connor and Leon contributes 3.67 G/60 min. , but Leon without Connor produces at 2.28G/60 min. . that is a drop of almost 1.4 G/60 min . , and a bit of a red flag in my books .
    Being so far apart perhaps , and unsure if Leon is worth close to 9M/season over long term it might be prudent to do a bridge deal now for even 2-3 years . Doubt after 3rd year he might better the 9M mark to be honest anyways . At least with a bridge deal if he does not improve to much , or even slacks off , they could trade him much more readily than have to trade him on a long contract he might not be able to live up to . Chia has dealt away players like Hall and Seguin before so cost certainty might be better served with bridge contract over long term in Leon’s case . To be honest if he wants 9MM , I would not be surprised if Chia might be looking to trade him for an established 6-7.5M player plus if any one interested . I think we have to sign Leon to a contract we will be able to get rid of if his production is low for the cost he will be signing for . It is a real risk going to high and long for such a modest time frame of basically one year .

  • I like to waste time, but not company time. I also like to learn something new, so here I am.
    Question for next week: Is it really a good idea to rely on Talbot for another 70 games or so next year? Is Broissoit ready to carry the load, just in case?

  • the reasonable person

    The Draisaitl issue is very intriguing, I’ll say that.

    I think he’ll get an 8 year deal in the 7.5-8.5 range and might be sitting until opening night. I absolutely think Chiarelli is shopping him behind the scenes in the meantime and has probably offered 6-7 mil for 8 years already, which has obviously not been accepted.