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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Do pre-season records matter?

What have we here? A shiny new mailbag for a shiny new season. I hope all of you had excellent days off and that the punishment of your livers was kept in check or at least at a minimum. Since we’re all headed back to work this morning, I wanted to make sure that you had something to read and help you kill off a few minutes of company time. Enter the mailbag. I need questions for next week, so if there’s something you want to ask feel free to hit me up by email or on Twitter. Enjoy.

June 23, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Kailer Yamamoto poses for photos after being selected as the number twenty-two overall pick to the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

1) Derek asks – Of the non-NHL regulars, who has impressed you most during the pre-season?

Lowetide:

Tough question. I’m writing this after the Winnipeg game and would list Jujhar Khaira, Kailer Yamamto and Caleb Jones. All good young players pushing is exactly what this organization needs. AHL veterans impressing in training camp doesn’t impress but these are future NHL players. Good arrows.

Jason Gregor:

Is Khaira a non-NHLer? I’d say so considering he only played 25 games the past two seasons. He has looked much quicker and has shown more confidence with the puck.

Robin Brownlee:

Kailer Yamamoto. Hard on the puck. Goes to the greasy areas. Has met every expectation.

Matt Henderson:

Yamamoto. He was pretty quiet during the Young Stars tournament so I thought maybe this just wasn’t his year. Early on I’d say he’s been one of their best players. He looks like a player who will make the decision to send him down a very painful one.

Cam Lewis:

I’ll echo everyone else’s sentiments and say Kailer Yamamoto, who has looked very mature on the ice for his age. I’m still not a fan of rushing him into the league regardless of how he looks in the exhibition games, but still, it’s encouraging stuff. The other one would be Yohann Auvitu, who’s moved the puck incredibly well and has looked very mobile on the Oilers blueline. If this can carry into the season, maybe the Oilers won’t be as hard pressed to replace Sekera’s presence for the first few months as we expected.

Chris the Intern:

I’d say Kailer Yamamoto. Even though he’s a first-round pick I still never really expected him to stand out like he is due to his size. He’s speedy and has great hands, and makes me wonder if he’ll show up in the NHL sooner rather than later.

Baggedmilk:

After having a tough rookie game against NAIT/MacEwan, Kailer Yamamoto has been lights out. The kid is like a little water bug out there and I love watching him figure the pro game out in real time. I still don’t think he cracks the roster this year (outside of a nine-game taste), but he’s been really fun to watch so far. I like his offensive instincts and ability to fly in and out of traffic.

May 7, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) celebrates a first period goal against the Anaheim Ducks in game six of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Ryan asks – Can you remember at any point in the league, a fan base going from hating a player to adoring him they way we have with Kassian? If so, who was it?

Lowetide:

Hmm. I hated Kenny Linseman until he arrived in Edmonton and then loved his agitating play. Until he left!

Jason Gregor:

Hard to recall a player who broke the jaw of an Oilers by swinging his stick, and then a few years later playing for the Oilers. His personality, raw and honest, about his struggle with addiction is why I think most fans have become huge fans. We all like to see someone turn their life around.

Robin Brownlee:

Sure. Opposing fans bases have always hated guys like Ryan Kesler, Steve Ott and Darcy Tucker because they agitate and start stuff. Kassian’s reversal here gets a big extra bump because of the way he’s turned his life around off the ice while continuing to be a pain the in the butt on it.

Matt Henderson:

Off the top of my head, no. The hate for Kassian was so intense and deserved in my opinion. He did some nasty things that really crossed lines. His recovery towards a healthy lifestyle, however, is something that deserves recognition. He can still be an agitating force on the ice, but I’m most happy that he could make a change to the things that matter most.

Cam Lewis:

Not with this team, no. The only thing close is Chris Pronger, but in the opposite direction. Kassian went from being a POS who did terrible, dirty things on the ice — not so much an endearing grinder who you’d love if they were on your team! — to a very incredible and admirable life story, which I think plays a role in the way in which he’s been accepted in Edmonton.

Chris the Intern:

Not really. Zack Kassian is a hero in this city and it just doesn’t make sense to think about. And if we’re being honest, I also hated Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic before they came to Edmonton. Gotta love sports hey?

Baggedmilk:

It’s almost like some kind of wrestling storyline, right? In another world, I could see Kassian standing in the ring taunting the crowd on Monday Night Raw one week and then winning a title belt and having that same crowd cheering his name the next week. It really is an amazing story.

Sep 20, 2017; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto (56) skates away from Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers (57) to make a pass during the third period at Bell MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3) Oiler fan in Van asks – Is Kailer Yamamoto playing his way into Jesse Puljujarvi’s spot in the lineup? Too early to tell?

Lowetide:

As of now, I’d say that portion of the story has yet to be written. Yamamoto has put himself in the conversation, Puljujarvi has started slowly. Many miles to go.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see it. Yamamoto is going to back to junior, and I’m not sold it is Puljujarvi’s spot either. When Anton Slepyshev returns there will be a healthy competition for icetime.

Robin Brownlee:

Not this year. He’s been terrific, as I noted above, but that doesn’t mean he should (or will) stay for the entire season.

Matt Henderson:

So that’s a ‘yes’ and a ‘yes’ for me. The team is probably too invested in Strome to let a rookie take his spot. Kassian is tailor-made for that fourth line with Letestu. That leaves the middle lines, where Puljujarvi resides, as his landing place. Still, this is too early to say JP is on the hot seat for certain. He’s only played one game in like five months. He needs to get up to speed as well.

Cam Lewis:

I just think it would be weird to thrust Yamamoto into that spot when he’s so small and young. I would rather give Puljujarvi all the chances he can have to succeed, then, if he doesn’t, give older guys closer to make-or-break status like Caggiula or Slepyshev an opportunity in an offensive role. Like I’ve said before, Edmonton’s depth is too plentiful to need to rush a prospect at this point.

Chris the Intern:

Maybe in a couple years if Poolparty doesn’t improve. Even if Kailer scores a hat-trick in the remaining preseason games he still won’t make the lineup.

Baggedmilk:

Yamamoto has been really solid in the pre-season but I still don’t think he makes the team outside of a nine-game audition. Frankly, I would also give Puljujarvi more time in the AHL to get himself ready. The Oilers could sign a stop-gap like Jagr and give both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto another year to develop. What would be wrong with that?

Sep 18, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Yohann Auvitu (81) celebrates his goal with against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

4) Frank asks – How much do you read into pre-season records? Do the wins and losses matter?

Lowetide:

No, not for me. Performances are important especially later in camp, but wins and losses mean nothing.

Jason Gregor:

The wins don’t, but how the team plays their system and reacts to what the coach wants can help a team get off to a good start. I’d say the final one or two preseason games, when usually we see the final roster (unless Dallas Eakins is coaching), can give a bit more of an insight into what the team has.

Robin Brownlee:

Very little. Pre-season rosters, for the most part, don’t start to resemble regular season rosters until the last couple of games. If you go back over pre-season records and compare them to how teams have started, there’s not a lot of connection in success/failure carrying over.

Matt Henderson:

Not at all. It matters more how the individual players perform and maybe specific units like PP and PK. I think the Avs were undefeated last year in preseason. As long as injuries are avoided and lines build some chemistry, I’m fine with whatever record.

Cam Lewis:

There’s something to it, sure. The team has a lot of depth and they’re healthy, which is evident by the fact they’re rolling out solid lineups each game. That said, the wins don’t really matter. Everyone is getting up to speed, working with new linemates, and possibly working in new systems. That said, it’s definitely a positive thing the Oilers seem to be season-ready so quickly. Does it mean they’re going to fly out of the gate and dominate their opponents and sore five goals a game? Not quite.

Chris the Intern:

Pre-season records don’t mean a damn thing if you lose them all. But if you’re winning like we are, they are a great tell of what the season will be like!

Baggedmilk:

Not really. I mean, Colorado was undefeated in the pre-season last year and then went on to suck worse than anyone has ever sucked. For me, I like to look at how individual players are doing more so than the overall record.

Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Jake in Calgary asks – I’m an Oilers fan living in Calgary and am wondering what you guys think about the arena debate that’s happening down here? Do you see similarities between the Calgary debate and what happened with Rogers Place or is this different?

Lowetide:

I think the timing is everything and the Flames have bad timing. They’ll get their deal but the economy is not their friend.

Jason Gregor:

The similarities are billlionaire owners want much of their rink to be paid for by the city. The differences are Edmonton wanted it to jumpstart development downtown. Calgary already has a healthy downtown.

Robin Brownlee:

I’d like to see the Flames get a new rink. How that comes about is a long and winding process, as we saw here with Rogers Place. Often, as we saw here, opposing sides tend to dig in early and refuse to budge before finding some common ground and moving to the middle. It’s drags on and on. I believe it will get done and the Flames will be in a new rink by 2020.

Matt Henderson:

From an outsiders perspective, the proposed deal and arena from the Flames are asking for quite a bit more than the Oilers. Also, Nenshi isn’t an idiot and doesn’t look like he’ll just roll over. Those are the biggest differences. There are plenty of similarities too though. Owners hate spending their own money and I’m sure there will be more threats to move the team. Hello Seattle!

Cam Lewis:

I don’t think the Edmonton and Calgary situations are similar at all, really. Edmonton badly needed a boost downtown and the arena was going to kickstart that. Also, Northlands was old, bad, and in the middle of nowhere. There were actually good reasons for both sides to pull the trigger on that kind of project. In Calgary, though? An arena isn’t going to do nearly as much for the city as it did in Edmonton because they already have a vibrant downtown core and the Saddledome is in a fine location. The reason is entirely personal for the Flames ownership, and, as a result, they should be funding the majority of it. The three-way, one-third-per-party offer the city gave them is perfectly fair for the situation, and it’s admirable Mayor Nenshi isn’t caving in.

Chris the Intern:

The debate seems really dramatic but I’m sure it’s all strategy just like it happened here in Edmonton and that’s why I’m not really getting all caught up in it.

Baggedmilk:

I feel like we’ve seen a version of this movie before, but luckily I’ve already developed and written about the solution. Calgary will play in a new arena in one way or another.

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  • OriginalPouzar

    The record in exhibition games is somewhat meaningless, especially in the first half of preseason. With that said, better to win than to lose, it fosters a winning environment and, maybe even more substantial, perhaps it shows that some of our depth players, our injury call-ups, will be able to plug and play better than first anticipated.

    Caleb Jones has been impressive to me – he is clearly the most material of the “fab four” – definitely as it relates to NHL readiness but also probably as far as his ceiling. We knew he had plus skating but he showed great hockey IQ, good decision making and calmness on the ice. Hopefully we don’t see him again this year and he has a full year of solid development in Bakersfiled climbing the depth chart. If so, he could be in the conversation materially for a full time NHL job next season.

  • Stack

    If only they could send Kailer to Bakersfield, does sending him back to the chiefs really help his development? Bagged Milk, you really wont let the Jagr dream die eh haha did you already buy a new # 68 jersey?

  • cmandev77

    I see a bunch of people above stating Yamamoto is too young to take Pulujarvi’s, but there is only 8 months separating the two of them. Both are very young and folks who are souring on JP need to realize he is still very, very young and probably homesick. I agree with BaggedMilk that we should grab Jagr for a year or two and let these promising prospects grow in the juniors and AHL.

  • Pen Hawk King

    More Oiler delusion. Need I remind you dreamers that the Avs were UNBEATEN last pre-season.

    Guys, until you get that elite offensive D and some genuine Selke playoff grit like Ryan Kesler, don’t even talk to me about the Stanley Cup, because ‘if’ it can be pryed away from Pittsburgh, that baby is closer to Toronto or Nashville than the tundra. Get real guys, you’re embarrassing yourselves here!

    • #97TRAIN

      You are the only one embarrassing themselves. You sound like a total a-hole douchebag. Really think about that term douchebag pen hawk,and what it’s actually used for.

    • Chris Prongers Rake

      Toronto is closer to winning then Edmonton, their so called defense is worse than the Oilers. You completely ruin any credibility you had with that statement. Pittsburgh and Nashville, sure, but Toronto?…..Seriously?…..and were embarrassing ourselves?……Go back to the kids table.

      • Pen Hawk King

        Nah, that’s just more Oiler delusion pal. Ron Hainsey is a proven vet cup winner, great addition and the kid Lilligren is going to be an elite D that you don’t have since letting Schultz walk for a bag of pucks in a typical Chia bonehead move see. The leafs are closer and have better management and coaching top to bottom guy.

        • Chris Prongers Rake

          So Ron Hainsey wins a cup with the Pens, does nothing in Carolina, Winnipeg, Atlanta and Columbus, is on average a minus player for his career and he is proven cup vet? Your argument is as shallow as the Leafs defense after Morgan Reilly.

        • Chris Prongers Rake

          And Lilligren is going to be elite? There is a lot of miles between going to be and is….you don’t like Chia, fine, but stop talking out of your ass and acting like you have a clue.

          • Pen Hawk King

            Laffs will win a cup in the next three years. Deadmonton? nah, one man team and one men teams DON’T win cups pecker-head.

            …oh and who is going to be elite on the Coiler’s D Nurse, Benning, Lowe? lol
            Now run along troll, tail between legs… no OIlers fan would use the sc*mbag Pronger as a user name…he couldn’t WAIT to fly from the tundra after dissing you ffs!

          • DerpSolo

            The pictures still a bit blurry here. Is he a queefs fan, or a phlegms fan? I can’t tell. Could be a nucks fan, they have plenty to be sour about. McEnvy does crazy things to people

        • Rock11

          Knew this guy was a leafs fan when he hijacked an earlier thread by mouthing off about how the Oilers “broke the draft”. That is when I knew he had spent months or maybe even years jerk jerk jerkin over the thought of Mcdavid as a Leaf. Tough break D-bag. You have to settle for poor imitation. Not only that but he’s an American. Likely can’t wait to leave T.O. and head back to Arizona and be a Coyote. I guess we shouldnt be too hard on the poor guy. I mean we know how hard it was to be bad for 10 years. Imagine what it must be like to suck for 50 years. Just think that the hi-light for this guy’s life is that year when that mediocre leafs team almost, but not quite, made it to the stanley cup final.

    • Play Dirty

      Uh … we’re not actually trying to talk to you about a cup. First, there was no mention of the cup anywhere in the article or comments until you brought it up. Second, I’m pretty sure no one wants to talk to you. Period.

    • Alberta Ice

      Yes, but the Av’s unbeaten preseason didn’t have the likes of McDavid, Draisaitl, and an awesome supporting cast. Momentum actually is a wonderful thing. Can it be maintained for a whole hockey season? That is the question for which an answer will be revealed in the upcoming months.

  • 24% body fat

    Guys, Yamo looks great, but this is not a top 5 pick like we are use to. I havent seen him weak on defence but he has played with drivers or sound defensive centers. He was also drafted in the 20s because of his size (i know its stupid), but it is a legitimate concern for this year. He is going to be a star but it is super hard to say he is the better all around player than someone who might not get cut in a small sample. For the first time in 11 years we dont need to rush the young player.

  • madjam

    Does Calgary have a location clause with Flames that prevents Flames from moving out ? Peter sold the Oilers to Houston if you recall , only to have the location clause force him to sell it to locals and keep team here . Without a location clause the threat to move increases substantially , from can they move to when they will/might move . Edmonton Coliseum was built at no expense to local taxpayers , because Northlands (non profit group status ) was able to pay for entire arena from Federal and Provincial grants . Doubt Calgary has a group in Calgary that could do the same . Calgary will get another arena (Olympic bid) but the Flames will/ maybe have moved on in the interim . Then they have to worry about the perks , super boxes , etc. they might have to give away just to get a relocation team down the line . I say take the Flames proposal and end the debate and politics , and insure the team does not move . I believe the threat to move is just as plausible as when Peter sold the Oilers to Houston that got recinded . Houston probably still looking at an NHL franchise .

    • madjam

      Every Oiler fan should read a long article by David staples of the Journal “The rise and fall of the Edmonton Coliseum “- April 6/2016 . An in depth insight into the dealings of our storied past and complexities of keeping the Oilers here in Edmonton.

      • CuJoke

        Tbh the Oilers would’ve left Edmonton by now if it wasn’t for the ancient history of that dynasty team featuring Gretzky and Messier. It’s no coincidence that the league did everything possible to help secure years of number one draft picks for the Oliers, get the new arena built and fix the lotto for McDavid when the inepitude of management kept picking duds year after year.

        Doesn’t mean the team is good enough to win a cup though, but they are staying in town because Bettman wants it that way and that’s all there is to it. Quebec and Atlanta weren’t so lucky, no history… and that’s why the Lames will end up in Seattle or Portland.

        • madjam

          If you read the Staples article you would have realized we lost our Oilers only to have Bob Westbury and Northlands group involk ” the location agreement clause” preventing it from final sale to Les Alexander of Houston . In order to still prevent it Northlands group had to buy the team with group known as EIG at a pre determined price . Bettman would have backed Peter if there was no relocation clause . Players and dynasty had nothing to do with it . In fact , Peter was selling off most of that dynasty club before finally trying to sell team .

  • Randaman

    It seems strange to me that Ellis didn’t get any playing time Saturday. Are they scared that they might have to waive Brossoit? Ellis is clearly the better goaltender as he has proven the last two seasons. Give the kid a chance to prove this!

  • Alberta Ice

    Yes, preseason games matter. The games prepare a team to charge into the season. As near as I can tell from the preseason so far, the Oilers look deep, confident, enthusiastic, skilled, and well ready to make a run for the top of the NHL hill. And, yes, they should be Canada’s best chance team for doing that.

  • cherry picker

    Ice the best lineup with the best possible chance at more wins and playoff style wins. Yamamoto or not we need the rubics cube assembled sooner than later to compliment what a good group of players we have right now.

    Calgary wait for your rink.. it will be worth waiting for.

    Dude that calls Edmonton Tundra go outside once in a while and look at your country.