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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Is a Nugent-Hopkins trade a certainty?

My friends, it’s Monday morning and that means it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. As always, I’ve taken five of your questions and sent them off to our panel of Nation writers to give their input and worldly wisdom. I need questions for next week so if you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter. Without further adieu, the Mailbag. Enjoy.

1) Mark asks – If you were to put a percentage on how likely it is that Chris Kelly makes the Edmonton Oilers what would it be? If you think he will make the team, where do you see him fitting?

Jason Gregor:

I’d say about 5%. I just don’t think Kelly has much left in the tank. I see this as Chiarelli helping his team by having another vet for preseason games and giving Kelly a chance to showcase himself to other teams.

Lowetide:

I’ll say 30 percent. He may be able to help on the penalty kill, although one suspects the club may be able to find six forwards among their starters. If he can beat out Iiro Pakarinen or Jujhar Khaira we might see a trade to make room for him.

Robin Brownlee:

Chris Kelly and Pete Chiarelli go back a long way, but I don’t see a fit here for a 36-year-old centre who is well past his prime. If Kelly impresses then maybe somebody else gives him a look, but I think his chances of sticking here beyond pre-season are zero or close to it.

Matt Henderson:

33%. In a sane world it’s 0%, but here we are. Best spot? Pressbox. Preferably as far away from the ice as possible. I can’t think of a single player he would be better than. Not one. 

Cam Lewis:

It’s difficult to put an actual number on it because he’s there as an insurance policy meaning him getting signed will come down to someone getting hurt. That said, I think he’s high on the list of players who would fill in if Slepyshev or Khaira aren’t able to go. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but it’s likely reality.

Chris the Intern:

Like 25%? I don’t think he’s very likely to make the team and if he does I bet he’ll be in and out of the lineup on the fourth line.

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to say a 25% chance because I just don’t know how much he has left in the tank. At 36-years-old, Kelly is getting up there and it will take some luck or injuries to clear a spot for him.

2) Vetinari asks – Several teams are pressed against the cap and will likely have to make a move by the start of the regular season (Detroit, Minnesota)— is there anyone you would be watching and trying to pry loose before the start of camp?

Jason Gregor:

Detroit will put Franzen on LTIR. Minnesota is the interesting one. They are right at the cap, and might start opening night with 22-man roster. They are the team to watch cap wise, but I don’t see them having anyone the Oilers would be interested in to start the season, at least anyone the Wild would trade.

Lowetide:

Detroit is interesting for Mike Green but that’s probably a deadline deal. I think we might see Arizona trade a defender and the Oilers will be interested.

Robin Brownlee:

You always keep an eye out, but the Oilers have to see where/if the players they have at camp fit before they worry about what’s happening with other rosters. Cart before the horse for a few weeks yet.

Matt Henderson:

I’m not sure about the teams against the cap, but Vegas will be sending a ton of guys through waivers at the end of camp. I’d watch that team like a hawk. 

Cam Lewis:

Vegas has a massive roster of players who would have to clear waivers, and some interesting names may end up hitting the wire. Detroit pretty much has to make a move in order to fit Andreas Athanasiou under their cap. Still, I feel Edmonton’s roster is pretty set and I doubt they end up adding anyone interesting unless there’s an injury at camp. They’re also pretty low on the waiver priority list, meaning a good player would have to clear through two thirds of the league before they got their chance.

Chris the Intern:

I have a feeling Chia is satisfied with the team right now and isn’t looking to add or move any more guys. I personally wouldn’t be seeking a trade but if someone like Detroit approaches Chia I’m sure he’ll be listening.

Baggedmilk:

I could see the Oilers fishing for a guy like Mike Green from Detroit to help with the power play for a playoff push, but that’s about it.

Jan 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates his first period goal with teammates against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Rogers Place.Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

3) Yves asks – In Peter Chiarelli’s sit down with Bob McKenzie he said he is going to try and do anything he can to keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Let’s pretend this hypothetical is true, who would be another option that you could see moving out in order to clear the necessary cap space?

Jason Gregor:

If Oilers perform well without Sekera, then I could see his $5.5 million being moved. The issue with that theory is Sekera has a NMC, which makes him difficult to trade. Chia could keep RNH, but it would be at the expense of re-signing Maroon and possibly Strome as well. It will be very difficult to have four forwards making $6 million next season. That would be $33 mill for four skaters.

Lowetide:

It will be difficult. Maybe the Oilers get a massive season from Yohann Auvitu and can move Andrej Sekera (he would need to agree to waive his NMC). But all options appear to be distant bells.

Robin Brownlee:

I’m not seeing the cap crunch you do or the need to “clear necessary cap space,” according the NHL Numbers and other sites. I’d suggest that if Chiarelli moves RNH between now and the start of the season it’ll be a hockey move rather than a money move.

Matt Henderson:

Do I have to write it down for you to know my answer?

Cam Lewis:

It would really be a shame to have to move Sekera or RNH because you can’t move Lucic or Russell, but the two former names seem to be the most likely cap casualties. If RNH is sticking around, it’ll be because things went well on the Oilers blueline without Sekera, Nurse or Benning or someone stepped up, and he became expendable. I really, really doubt that happens, and I imagine this year will be RNH’s final as an Oiler because there’s simply more depth up front than on the blueline.

Chris the Intern:

Sekera’s the first name that comes to mind with his contract. I doubt Kris Russell’s is tradeable either. I would LOVE for Chia to find a way to keep Nugey around but I don’t really see it happening.

Baggedmilk:

Honestly, and this bums me out to say, but I think Chiarelli is just saying that to protect Nuge a little bit. He will be the guy that gets traded next summer. I don’t like it, but I can’t see a scenario where it isn’t him. Sekera might be another option but I think it’s unlikely.

4) Hank asks – I’d like to know what the writers think of the Matt Duchene situation in Colorado? I feel as though this has dragged on for far too long at this point.

Jason Gregor:

Duchene basically quit in the final 25 games last season. He had 2-3-5 in 25 GP. He was terrible. I’m sure he is frustrated with the rumours Sakic didn’t accept NYI’s supposed offer of Hamonic and a first rounder for Duchene. Duchene is supposed to be a leader in Colorado, and he makes $6 million and he basically checked out last season. If Sakic turned down the Hamonic deal then I’d say both parties are making bad decisions. Duchene needs to check his ego and play. If he plays well, then Sakic should receive a fair offer to trade him, and if he does he needs to wake up and trade Duchene. It isn’t great for team chemistry to have a player around who clearly doesn’t want to be there.

Lowetide:

I think he’s going to rip it up in his new town and I wish that town was Edmonton. Can you imagine that guy on McDavid’s wing? Lordy.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s been ugly for a long time now and it’s only a matter of time until Joe Sakic trades him. This is only going to be a distraction during camp and pre-season until the situation is resolved.

Matt Henderson:

About 30 seconds after he said the only reason he was there was to fulfill his contract I would have told him to go home and wait for the trade. I support Duchene and his right to openly voice his displeasure, but as a manager I would not want that around. 

Cam Lewis:

He wants to be traded, and that’s totally valid because the Avs are a dumpster fire, but he isn’t making it easy on management. Showing up to camp and saying you don’t want to be there immediately after you completely mailed it in on the final few months of the 2016-17 season doesn’t really make you an attractive commodity.

Chris the Intern:

I love seeing other teams struggle with players. I’m really enjoying the entertainment of this and am very curious to see how it plays out.

Baggedmilk:

I have to say that it’s crazy that Sakic is letting this gongshow go on as long as it has. At this point, the distraction of having him around is going to be worse than whatever the return will be. In a way, Sakic is the anti-Chiarelli in that it seems like he’d rather wait forever to get the deal he wants who knows if that’ll ever happen. Chiarelli would have ripped the bandaid off by now and everyone would have been able to move on.

5) Kevin asks – With advanced analytics becoming more and more a part of hockey life, how do you think they can be refined and improved? Can they be improved?

Jason Gregor:

Hard to say. I had some of the most respected analytics guys on my show in August in Vollman and Awad, and those two, who study it much closer than I do, feel right now they are at a standstill. The next step in analytics will be including more accurate and accessible video to further the conversation. I assume it will happen, but I’m guessing it will be slower than increases we’ve seen the past five to ten years. Analytics research came a long way in the last decade, but future growth will likely be in smaller increments.

Having chips in a player’s equipment to monitor their on-ice movement will be the next step to giving a more accurate portrayal of what occurs on the ice. The most interesting stat from Awad is he believes, from all his studying of numbers, that 39% of hockey comes down to luck. Puck bounces, ricochet, injuries, travel, etc. He said current stats, goals, assists and new analytics can accurately track 36% of what occurs. He said that leaves 25% unaccounted for in today’s game and hopes in the future they can lower that number. I found that very interesting and I’m curious to see what advances we see to try and shrink the 25%.

Lowetide:

Great question. I think the next breakthrough will be on measuring breakouts and entries. This work has been done but not in an organized way across the league. Big information there.

Robin Brownlee:

That’s not a Monday mailbag question, that’s a book. They are being refined and improved — at least by the people who aren’t willing to settle for a complete disconnect between the eyeballs and the numbers come hell or high water. The use of analytics will be an evolution, not the revolution many touted during the grossly over-hyped “summer of analytics” of a few years ago. As it should be.

Matt Henderson:

Everything can be improved. One thing I was hoping would eventually be available is better location information. The league tested high end tracking tech at an all-star game a few years ago and they had all kinds of information. I want to be able to tell with accuracy and ease things like the average entry speed of players targeting the left side when Klefbom is on the ice. That’s just off the top of my head and I’m not living and breathing stats every day. So the hardcore guys can give you way more about what they want to see to improve. 

Cam Lewis:

There are so many things to touch on, but one would be looking at certain stats to shed light on certain aspects of hockey, a complicated and random game, rather than obsessing over the advent of a catch-all stat. Mainstream hockey stats, using shot attempt data to define much of a player’s worth because ya gotta score to win and ya gotta shoot to score! has hockey trapped where baseball was in the late 90s when it was decided on-base percentage was most worthwhile than batting average. Since then, value has been added to things like isolated power, swing rates in and outside the zone, and on the defensive side, like pitch framing and so on that weren’t valued back in its infancy. There’s great work going on like zone entry data and the passing project that shed light on new things we simply can’t catch at a high volume with our eyes, but a lot of people are still obsessed with the EA Sports video game manifested overall rating to attach to a player.

Chris the Intern:

I can’t really see them improving at all. Maybe more stats will come and it will confuse everyone even more, but the problem is definitely just how people use the stats. If you’re not using the eye test ALONG with the stats, then you’re not using them properly.

Baggedmilk:

I think the numbers are fine but it’s the presentation that’s the problem. Some stats guys can be pretty condescending with their side of the story and it makes it hard to get into when you feel like an idiot. For me personally, I like to watch the games, formulate my opinions, and then check the numbers to see if there’s anything that I missed.

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  • 24% body fat

    I agree Sekera might be the option, but moving him out before Russel is a mistake. This is not a Russel bash, but Sekera is the superior defender, yes with a slightly bigger cap hit. I guess it comes down to value for the trade. However, Chia better make sure that the value gotten back is worth trading the better player.

    If nuge goes, we need to find a package deal with one of the lefties mentioned above, for a D (like Faulk) and a depth forward, or pick (yes we have a good team so picks can be part of the return).

    Is there a 3 way trade with Colorado? Nuge, Faulk, Duchene as the center pieces,

    • Oilerchild77

      Uhhhh… Faulk is big cap coming back though. The idea is freeing up cap, not taking more back. The reality is, they’re going to have to lose the trade to free up the amount of cap that they will need to fit in the big contract for McDavid.

  • madjam

    I feel Analytics will go like the performance over abundance of stats one can find in some of the more costly performance magazines for horse racing . Things like speed ratio and performances from different venues , even time of game , as well as per period variations and season variations , and overtime and shootouts , etc.(how they finish down the stretch variations) . Why ? Because fans pay for this sort of stuff over just a normal program with limited stats . Previous ranking of Player against the opposition factor . Health and psychological index . Performance index due to all stats . Then we can expand performance indexes to include variances from different coaches and owners , etc. in comparison to their current club if from another club . Also elongated performance index in regards to how they might perform in game against opposition player due to play against . Example : McDavid say is a 10.0 , while Monahan might be an 8.0 . After an over load of stats one can then go back after or during game to see what stats actually were close to the actual game . Don’t laugh , because people will gladly pay more this than just the limitations of a normal program . Horse racing a perfect example .

  • tileguy

    What the heck, I’ll post this here, from Vegas,

    Griffin Reinhart is running out of chances.
    Reinhart started on the top pairing with Shea Theodore and did little to show he earned the honor. Despite roughing up Canucks winger Darren Archibald following a questionable hit against Matteau, the former fourth-overall pick was a few steps too slow and showed mediocre hockey sense. Unless his play picks up considerably, he is likely headed for middle-pairing duty on the Chicago Wolves.

  • Max

    Regardless of who gets moved, PLEASE can we drop Matt Henderson from Oilers Nation? He was dumped from his last job, (no surprise) he needs to be gone from writing/commenting about the Oilers, or any other NHL team come to that.

    • 24% body fat

      I dont always agree with Matt, but the material is free. He does have people who like his writing and he is entitled to his opinion. If you are not a fan that is fine, but he like numbers and does his research. If that drive revenue for the site, than that is a good thing. The articles are posted with the authors name

      • 24% body fat

        on it. If you don’t click on it there will be less traffic, and if his articles are not creating traffic they will drop him.

        Only writers that embarrass the fans and their integrity by writing trash about other teams, should be pushed out. Thankfully no one does on oilersnation. All writers once in a while use improper terms or grammar that is questionable. But we are all human.

      • Derian Hatcher

        Not sure if it’s a case of agreeing or not agreeing with the writer. Matt simply has to learn some tact and respect when he writes. These are NHL players he is writing about. Most of us, including the writers (save Strudwick) have never been close to the skill, commitment, dedication etc. that NHL players have demonstrated. IMO he could show more respect for the players when he writes about them.

        • 24% body fat

          This is fair, but for the people criticizing him, should they not show him the respect that they demand from him. This is a comments section so I know it is not going to be detailed and well written or defended; but could the comment that is against him not cite this disrespect as the reason for the suggest firing of him.

        • Dwayne Roloson 35

          How is he disrespecting them though? He just seems to be logical. Talking about potential negative things is good. We can’t always expect everything to go right 100% of the time.

          Henderson: this is something that could potentially go wrong

          ON fans: leave Henderson. You like Yakupov.

          Its become a circle jerk around here. His last blog about Strome was a very realistic way of looking at things.

    • Rock11

      I know right. Heaven forbid that someone might have to actually read something that differs from their own opinion. I mean if we can’t only read articles that agree 100% with our own viewpoint then what is the world coming to. We all know that our opinion is right. Why should I be forced to read a well thought out and researched article that disagrees when I know I’m right dammit. If that &$%^*& Henderson makes me think that my position might be wrong one more time then I’m leaving and never coming back.

    • Dan 1919

      Just shutup Max, it’s an entertainment site based around an entertainment league, if you don’t like it don’t click on it instead of being a mouthpiece talking about getting people fired. He voices a direct opinion big deal, Gregor accused a pro athlete of having little integrity and packing it in with 20 games to go. This is a blog site where we’re interested in hearing opinions, not keyboard warriors being pretentious because they don’t like someones style or approach.

  • The one stat that needs to be tracked more accurately is the correlation between ice surface roughness and the number of misplayed or mishandle pucks per 60 minutes. Or, any other stat that explains why an event happened, not just how many times it happened.

  • madjam

    After seeing the joke of a lineup Flames appear to be sending here for game tonight , I hope Oilers return the favor by keeping all top pairing defence and top 3 lines here for tonight . Well there is always Toronto and Ottawa on 911 at 5:30 and Winnipeg at Minn. at 6:00 P.M. on 902 , that might be far more competitive at least .

  • Bandwagon jumper

    Watched an NCAA volleyball match on youtube this weekend. All their players are fitted with the trackers. It was kinda cool as they would detail some of the verticals. Amazing to see 6’4″ women with over 30 inch vertical.

    Maybe the NHL could apply the blue swoosh behind McDavid. Might make it easier for the mericans to see him as he blows through the neutral zone.

  • Randaman

    Why are you all blaming Duchene for this mess. Sakic has proven that he has absolutely no clue as to how to run a hockey team. Roy said the same thing by leaving. Personally I would trade Nuge and a first for Duchene. If you think you can get him for Nuge alone, not gonna happen. Nuge is good but nowhere near Duchene good.

    • fasteddy

      Maybe I’m way off base here but why does Sakic have to trade him? If the team doesn’t want to trade him then this is on the player. (Appears they aren’t all that anxious to deal him or they wouldn’t ask so much). Now having said that Sakic hasn’t come out and said they are happy to keep him, so you could say they do have some responsibility here, ie not managing the situation well.

  • ed from edmonton

    A couple of interesting developments today. Tallon dumped demers to the hotel while retaining 12.5 per cent of salary. Is this the same guy that Willis and Hendo have been raving about? Pasternak signed a 7 year deal for $6.6M cap hit. I am a huge LD fan, but I gotta say this the LD $ look too generous.

  • OldOilFan

    What would RNH get if he was signing on the open market today? I’d say $5M-$6M (which means his current salary is about right). For comparison’s sake, Strome was acquired as a “cheaper Eberle.” Nuge is a center and is worth quite a bit more than Strome.

  • OldOilFan

    I agree, it’s not about money (i.e. keeping/trading Nuge). But Edmonton fans/media have a track record of “running guys out of town.” RNH was a 1st overall draft pick and he’s got a wide range of skills and experience now. I personally would resist any chatter about getting rid of a young, experienced center who’s been with the team a number of years. Maybe Nuge’s personality is too quiet, or something like that??