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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – New Year’s Day Edition

What have we here? A shiny new mailbag for a shiny new year. Welcome to 2018! I hope all of you had excellent days off and that the punishment of your livers was kept in check. My friends, it’s your last day off before heading back to work after another successful holiday season of binge drinking and overeating, so you may as well start it off right with this here 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.

Nov 24, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon (19) against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

1) Pat asks – If the Oilers make the push we are all hoping for, do you keep Patty Maroon for said playoffs and risk losing him for nothing? Base your answer that he is not signing a low ball offer with the home team.

Jason Gregor:

When the Oilers are in the push for the playoffs in Feb I don’t see them trading him, just to get a mid-round pick, and then lessen their chances of winning in the playoffs. I’d rather win a round in the playoffs than add a mid-round pick. He has also proven he can produce in the playoffs. His 26 points in 42 playoff games is much higher than his point-per-game average in the regular season. I wouldn’t trade him for a draft pick.

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Cam Lewis:

It’s a difficult one but I would try to get value for an expiring player like Maroon. Looking at the standings, there could only be five or six teams actually selling, and a big winger who can play in the top six with playoff experience is a more worthwhile commodity than we’d expect. The Oilers need good players on their ELCs in order to be successful, so a second or a late first in a deep draft is worth a lot to this team.

Chris the Intern:

I love Patty but the way this season is going I can’t see him signing a big deal with us anymore. I think management has a pretty good argument that his play could be blamed on the Connor McDavid effect and that he isn’t worth a big deal. If Chia can get something worthwhile for him at the deadline that will help our push I can certainly come to terms with that. Except we’ve all definitely lost some trust in Chia so I wouldn’t mind just holding onto Maroon to see if he can help us in the playoffs.

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Baggedmilk:

Personally, I love Patty Maroon but think he’ll be traded before the deadline. Had Nuge not had the year he’s having, I could see the Oilers picking the big winger and looking to move RNH but I can’t imagine that’s the case any longer. What will be interesting to see is what they get for him. I mean, a pick won’t make much of a difference but has he been good enough to get a prospect with some upside? The Oilers need skilled forwards in the AHL and I could see that being the type of return in this case.

The Nation Dan:

If this team makes the playoffs, it will be in a wildcard spot (barring a huge winning streak). That doesn’t scream a team that can afford Maroon next year in any kind of volume. Trade him and get someone young or with something to prove and with some room to grow, and a pick. See how they play with Connor and Co. and decide where you want to go. If you can’t get a body with a pulse, then keep and wish him the best of luck going forward.

Oct 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matthew Murray (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2) Del asks – How would you assess the performance of the Oilers amateur scouting group based on the number and the performance of Oilers’ prospects in the World Junior Tournament this year? The Oilers have only four prospects playing in the tourney.

Jason Gregor:

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The only draft years eligible are 2016 and 2017 and some of those picks are already too old. Puljujarvi is in the NHL, Benson was injured or he likely makes team. So that is six out of two years who are trending in right direction. How many would you want to see? I know the history of the Oilers hasn’t been great, but the past two years it looks okay, but there is still a massive step to go from being in the WJC tourney and being in the NHL.

Cam Lewis:

I wouldn’t bother using the WJC as a way to assess how the team is doing in terms of drafting. Look at Team Canada, for example. They didn’t take the No. 6, 9, 10, and 13 overall picks from this year’s draft. Does that mean Vegas, Detroit, and Florida messed those picks up? Not necessarily. It’s nice to have a lot of prospects in the tournament, but I don’t think a win-now tourney is the best way to assess long-term draft decisions.

Chris the Intern:

I don’t think four prospects in the tournament is a LOW number by all means. Also seeing the way Team Canada has built their teams over the years and snubbed some excellent players, I’m not looking too in depth on which Oilers are in and out of the tournament.

Baggedmilk:

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I’m a little bit surprised that Tyler Benson wasn’t among the finalists to make Team Canada based on his skillset and the fact that he’s been producing well since coming back from injury. That said, it’s one of those things that we should always be watching. It’s when they have no prospects at the tournament that you should be concerned.

The Nation Dan:

It’s exciting to see the Oilers have players listed for sure, but when it comes to a tournament where there are teams picking players based on their own plans and ideas, I am not too worried about it saying things either way. Team Canada picked Chris Kunitz instead of Taylor Hall because reasons. There is mistakes and surprises with every team. That said, my Weekend Update I do each week has kind of given a more bleak outlook for players coming along.

3) Graham asks – If you were to boil down the penalty killing issues to one main cause what would it be?

Jason Gregor:

They allow too many seam passes. To me, something is missing in communication from the coach to the team. Also, right now it seems they have zero confidence at home. Their road PK is 5th (as of Thursday), but home PK is a disaster. The system is the same in both places, but I also wonder if that is just an anomaly, since their PK has been 76% for the past 105 games. That shows a bigger problem than just home and away.

Cam Lewis:

It looks like a confidence issue. They’re standing around a lot and allowing the other team to set up, make passes, and find open room. I’m not sure if that’s a coaching thing or a player personnel thing, but they look frozen.

Chris the Intern:

It’s that damn “I” formation they keep using! Lining up four players in a straight line on the penalty kill is not the smartest move to make.. I know this is likely not on purpose… I just don’t understand how we can grab a screenshot of them doing this every single penalty kill.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t know what the supposed gameplan is for the penalty kill but they should ball it up, have Katz pay Elon Musk to use one of his rockets, and blast that thing into space. They are awful on the PK and it is literally one of the biggest reasons the Oilers are losing hockey games. I don’t care if they have to bring back Lennart Petrell, just do something different. Anything.

The Nation Dan:

Being that I was just (not at all considered) passed over as the PK coach, my opinion is pretty expert (not at all). I watch other successful teams at killing penalties and it’s really appartent they very rarely allow teams to dictate the play. The Oilers collapse into their box almost immediately, it’s like clockwork. Then they just wait for the PP to make a move/mistake. It’s not working, and needs to change.

Oct 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) controls the puck against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

4) Carmen asks – If you were picking one today, who would be your first half MVP and who needs to pull up their socks?

Jason Gregor:

For the Oilers? Hard not to go with McDavid. He is their best player and despite losing 15 pounds he is still in top-five in league scoring. Team has started to play better, but for me, the tandem of Klefbom/Larsson needs a better second half. As a duo they haven’t been as dominant as last year. Klefbom gets a bit of a pass due to playing injured, but if those two can play like they did last year in the final 40 games the Oilers could go on an exceptional run.

Cam Lewis:

It’s certainly Connor McDavid. Hard to argue otherwise considering how the team performed when he wasn’t at 100 per cent. Oscar Klefbom needs to be better in the second half.

Chris the Intern:

Connor Mcdavid will always be my mvp no matter how good or bad he’s playing. Other than that I will choose PoolParty who’s stepped up in his new role with the team and is putting up a lot of goals.

Who needs to pull up their socks? Zack Kassian. My lack of experience in high levels of hockey probably prevent me from giving an accurate opinion on this, but I don’t understand how someone can show SO much energy and fight in the playoffs last year, and come out flat for a whole quarter of a season the following year? Doesn’t make sense.

Baggedmilk:

The easy answer is Connor, so I’m going to with two co-MVPs. The first is Nuge who’s having a great year and has literally improved on everything the fans and coaches wanted him to. The second is ol’ Darryl because he’s made a massive leap forward this year and I’m excited to see where his ceiling can be.

As for who needs to be better, I think Klefbom and Talbot need to turn it on down the back half. Talbot has been much better of late but the Oilers will need him to stand on his head if they have any hopes of making the playoffs. Same goes for Klefbom but with defence stuff.

The Nation Dan:

Gord damn, this is a gut wrenching question Carmen. It’s always going to be Connor McDavid. He is at the top of the league in scoring even when he has been patient zero for every sickness that anyone has had in Edmonton this year.

The socks of the rest of the team need to be pulled up. Cam needs to be better. I don’t blame him. He’s just not Vezina Cam like he was last year, and we need that. The D need to be better. In mid-December they showed they could be. The forwards need to dominate beyond who ever is on Connors line.

5) Casey asks – If you were going to give the Oilers a New Year’s resolution what would it be?

Jason Gregor:

Improve their in-game experience for fans. It still lags behind most NHL teams. Make it a more fun and lively environment.

Cam Lewis:

Stop making bad trades and signings and capitalize on the final year of a generational talent’s entry-level deal.

Chris the Intern:

Find ways to win more games… pls Oilers… for us. (This will probably fall under the special teams which is really dragging us down) but there’s no way this city can go another year without being in the playoffs. ESPECIALLY after witnessing it for the first time in ten years this past spring. I mean, no pressure though.

Baggedmilk:

You WILL do whatever it takes to improve your special teams. And I don’t care if that means you have to make the assistant coaches walk the plank.

The Nation Dan:

I would have all of them join #SacrificeFor500. I in my shorts tonight, may need some skin graphs merely walking from Rogers tonight. Baggedmilk’s beet diet has taken days off his life consuming more beets than Dwight Schrute. I feel like the guys need some incentive to improve their give a hell levels.

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  • camdog

    Gregor, from a pure statistics/numbers perspective the anaomoly is the home penalty kill. There road penalty kill percentages are not far off from last years percentages – 5% higher. Sure that number can be expected to come down a few points by season’s end. What’s going on at home on the penalty is just weird -56% right now. I’ve watched a lot of Oiler hockey but I’ve never seen an Oiler team implode like this on home ice.

  • Clayton

    1. Isn’t Patty Maroon an RFA on July 1? That should do one of a couple things…either keep his contract value down for a bridge contract…or increase his off season trade value when a team can work out a sign and trade.

    2. Oilers prospect cupboards are bare…especially in terms of players making an impact in the NHL in the next couple years. There are a couple players like Bear, Benson and Yamamoto that may have some NHL days ahead of them, but hard to see them having any impact for a few years yet. And based on Yams play since being sent down and at the WJHC I am not sure he has as much of an upside as many in the Oilers organization think.

    3. When you are a man down on the PK you have to outwork the other team to kill of the penalty. Not sure there are many moments on the PK where we even come close to this effort. Players are standing around, reacting and most often helping to pull the puck out of the back of the net. It is about effort.

    4. Connor…and the fact that it is so easy to pick him and nobody else comes to mind explains why we are on the outside looking in.

    5. For Chia to do something, anything. His team has spiraled out of control, is functioning well below expectations and the best he has is Cammy? Perhaps for Chia no move is his best move…but he has to win a trade eventually…doesn’t he?

  • Ted

    How does Lucic figure Winnipeg was more desperate? There is no desperation in Winnipegs game they look like they’re have fun just playing hockey. Not so much in Edmonton!! Desperation is all yours Lucic!!

  • Sammy p

    Time for an oil change, IMO we have the wrong Todd coaching this club,bring back Todd Nelson and send Chiarelli off to play gin rummy with Jay Feaster,since when did these Yankee GMs know more about our game than do Canadian G.Ms?
    We need a wheeler dealer who can weed out the nonacheivers,add the necessary pieces and straighten out what is obviously a dressing room problem.
    Easily said ,hard to do? Yes it will probably take another ten years to get it all done,in the meantime we can sit back-enjoy the excitement of the annual draft.
    Oh and by the way let’s get rid of those Gord -awful loser orange clown suits.

    • Oilerz4life

      Todd Nelson is an excellent coach, one of the few bright spots in the D.O.D. and one of the few coaches to bring the best out of a young inexperienced roster. Not to mention he could get Anton Lander on the score sheet!

  • JimmyV1965

    If the Oilers are in the playoff hunt near the trade deadline you absolutely keep Maroon. He’s exactly what we need in the playoffs. If they’re out of it, trade him for a second rounder.

  • ScottV

    Can’t help but think that there is a top down major gong show leadership thing going on, that is at the heart of the matter. Absentee – fan boy with a toy owner, a Hockey Canada President with no NHL experience, spurned but still hanging on guys like Lowe and MacT, throw in some Gretzky’s to blur things further, a perhaps controversial PC, an over rated McL, the youngest team Captain in the league and – well – this could be a real problem(s).

    It’s always leadership that is the problem whenever a group flounders. One of the clues specific to this current situation, is that none of the leaders are coming out to take responsibility. The only real public face of it all is McL and geez, is anybody else tired of listening to his [email protected] explanations for why things aren’t working? Guess what McL – it’s more to do with the leadership you are getting, your own coaching and that of your staff – than any player or players that aren’t executing. Take ownership. Your job is influence and if they aren’t doing what you want – it’s because of your inability to influence it. That being said – it goes beyond influence, because from day one, you haven’t given them the right stuff to operate with. Wrong stuff – questionable ability to influence and we have a problem. Even when winning last year – it all hinged on 2 young forwards on a roll and a goaltender who was able to stand on his head.

    In the clouds – one can probably imagine that PC is being pushed and pulled in all manner of directions, to the point – that he doesn’t know up from down. An owner that thought Yak was a good idea and didn’t have the stones to just clean house on Lowe and MacT. A President who’s claim to fame is a bunch of Team Canada medals? OK. Gretzky? C’mon – if you’re gonna bring in Gretzky, you might as well just hand the whole thing to him. Who’s gonna question what Gretzky says – rather right or wrong. PC? Man – all these guys in a room and I think you have the very picture of disjointed blurred leadership.

    We will never see it, but time for Katz to clear up the blur on leadership. You get enough guys in there with cloud factor, that they can all kind of hide in all them clouds. A major shake up in this area, would do more for on ice performance than any of McL’s next blender button pushes. Gotta find more offence….

    • Old school

      Hey ScottV your post is the best post lve seen on this site .. finally a post that addresses the problem as a business leader would …the issue is leadership .. top down .. always is always has been … meaning lack of vision , courage ,imagination and decision making . The players know the coaches are as lost as they are and have shown absolutely no ability to deal with the challenges presented. Because the lack of leadership is so deep l fear we will have to live with this gong show well into the future . Even gifted with a messiah we are a franchise wandering in the desert

    • Disappointed

      I can’t help but thinking you are right ScottV. Nice job in connecting all the dots from top to bottom. I wonder if Katz would ever consider selling the team (who in Edmonton could afford it) if the pressure ever got to be too much. Surely the long dinners and slaps on the backs with the boys on the bus has faded, his hand picked mngt now faded like burnt out stars. Somebody mention that the tickets will always be sold but perhaps we can eat out before the game, skip the $11 beers and the pricey souvenirs, would that help to turn up the heat on Katz?It would be interesting to have the thoughts of Gregor, Brownlee, Lowetide and some main stream media on your theory. I would like to see more traction given to it.

    • corky

      Bottom line Katz is a businessman. He knows even if the Oilers stink the stands will be full, merch still sold and a waiting list for season seats. Edmonton has become the Leafs of the west for a while now. Look at the value of the team since he bought it. Im sure he is disappointed by the hockey results, but he is laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Oilerz4life

      I remember criticizing PC and his lousy moves this last summer, saying this roster would take a step back this year and ON trashed the s#!+ out of those posts… the mood changes from day to day on this site, one day the Oilers have turned things around and are playoff bound, the next day everything is wrong with the team and the organization should be blown up from the top down.

      A knee jerk reaction would probably make things worse at this point. Just my opinion (and I don’t care for a bunch of PCs moves), but he should be given one more season to tweek a few things and right the ship with the salary cap going up, if that doesn’t work it’s time to try something else.

      There isn’t much difference between this team and the one that made a run last year. Injury problems exposed a lack of depth and the offense was discombobulated. The D needs to be tight and some scoring depth needs to be added. The players need to believe in the system and enjoy playing for each other and this city. The coach needs to reinforce a belief in the heart of this team as well.

  • Abagofpucks

    Conner your the captain of this team, and you got nothing done . This hangs on you 12.5 mill for what……. ya ya ya i know dosent kick in till next yr . All i know is it starts from the top down in any operation , there has to be something from somebody whos gonna step up and be the leader on this team who who has the balls ………. no more kid gloves you all deserve scorn from every corner of this city SHAME on you.

    • Twitch

      Connor is top 5 in LEAGUE scoring while having 900 illnesses and losing 15lbs and having nobody to work with for an entire year(Nuge is on a different line and Puljujarvi has been a recent revelation). RNH, McD and JPJ don’t deserve shame, Nurse only deserves some as he’s had stretches where he’d been the best d-man at 23. Yes everybody else deserves much shame.

  • The Whispererer

    Remember when we traded David Perron to Pittsburg for a 1st round pick (very nearly became a lottery pick) which we astutely used to steal Reinhart from the Isles? I wonder if Pittsburg would be willing to part with a prospect for Maroon…maybe somebody like Daniel Sprong ?

  • madjam

    The Oiler bandwagon has become a fire wagon . What is right with Vegas that the Oilers cannot come close to comparing to ? Another season of excuses is not sitting well with fans , nor should it . We are inundated with a bunch of losers once again .

  • madjam

    In the Pacific Division most goalies are at .920 or better , except for the Oilers and Vanc. @worst .905 and Arizona with Raanta at .912 . Goaltending is a problem here and needs to get much better . Connor and Leon not having a sterling season goal scoring either .

  • Pouzar99

    On the issue of in-game entertainment, I’m not sure what you mean by that Jason. I guess I am a throwback because I believe the entertainment should come from the hockey game and that would mean a lot more replays and a lot less stupid commercials and shots of people in the lower bowl on the big scoreboard making asses of themselves because they are the center of attention. Nothing makes me sick more than watching shots of people partying while their team is getting their butt kicked and humiliated, like the Winnipeg game, the Ottawa game, the first St. Louis game, the Philly game, etc. I go to every game and the only thing we are paying for is the atmosphere because every play of any interest is re-played and analyzed on home broadcasts, while we are watching some of the idiotic commerricials masquerading as games so the team can make some money and that is atmospheric pollution. I have the soul of an English football fan, minus the hooliganism, and I wnat to see a focus on hockey not all the shallow BS we are getting.

    • Dirtbag Daddy

      I am still a believer that K. Lowe and Craig MacTavish has full control of this team with enough placeholders in place to fire when things go wrong. They have played their Gretzky card and what’s next. The GMs and Coaches have been fired to relieve pressure. Why, after all these changes is the play the same, game in and game out? GM and coach does not matter. they still lose game in and game out. If Katz is a smart businessman he should sweep all management and bring in new management. If Las Vegas can start off with their record why can’t an established NHL team. Go a step further, their AHL team does not produce wins or develop players. Why? They should never let Nelson go from their minor system. The current system only wants to play veterans and relatives. Prospects are sent to other leagues or watches from the press box. I will admit this year that a couple of defencemen are playing for their farm team. Perhaps they will develop. Will there be any changes to upper management. They have tried changing coaches and GMs …IMO they shoud go further in the changes.