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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Deadline Strategies

My friends, let’s all gather round and learn something as we dive into the questions you sent in for this week’s mailbag. In this edition, we take a look at avoiding college players in the draft, deadline strategies, players showing some emotion, and more. If you have a question for next week, you can always hit me up through email or on Twitter. Until then, enjoy.

Sep 18, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Drake Caggiula (91) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton Oilers won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Ron asks – There has been a trend in recent years for the better NCAA players to complete their college careers, then opt to take the steps necessary for free agency rather than sign with the team that drafted them. Given that risk, would you use a top 10 pick on Brady Tkachuk?

Jason Gregor:

Very rarely do top-ten picks do this. Picks later in the draft have, but not top picks, since most of them don’t stay in college that long. Tkachuk is a late 1999 birthday. I won’t be surprised if he plays maybe one more year of college and then leaves to turn pro. I don’t see much risk in drafting him and then him not signing.

Robin Brownlee:

He’s bigger than Matthew, can skate and plays with an edge. If you have him rated top 10, you take him top 10. I’m not sure a handful of players opting for free agency over the last several years from the overall number that get drafted qualifies as a trend.

Matt Henderson:

I think the Tkachuks have hockey in their blood and the Oilers have a new arena and the best player in the world on their team. I wouldn’t be afraid to draft anyone. Someone has to say no to a lot more than Edmonton’s weather as long as McDavid is here. This isn’t a situation most players dread.

Cam Lewis:

I don’t think Brady Tkachuk has given any indication that he plans to miss multiple years in the NHL to play college hockey. This is a thing for guys like Drake Caggiula who weren’t drafted and for guys like Matt Benning who were late-round picks. I can’t think of a time in recent memory where a top draft pick from the NCAA held out, as Justin Schultz and Jimmy Vesey were both picks outside of the first round. I would happily select Tkachuk with a high pick.

Chris the Intern:

I don’t think the trend is strong enough right now to comfortably wait until he’s finished his college career. Someone’s bound to pick him up before then so yes I would use a top 10 draft pick on him. Either that or I’m not properly understanding the question.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about. A guy like Brock Boeser was recently drafted later on in the first round and the Canucks had no issues. I guess you’re thinking of Jimmy Vessey or Justin Schultz? Not a lot of those guys blow off the teams that drafted them.

Email sent from: “Grant, Rob” rgrant@thestar.ca Subject: gettychiarelli Date: 12 April, 2015 8:14:40 PM EDT Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 25: General Manager of the Boston Bruins Peter Chiarelli attends the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

2) Dave asks – For the purposes of this question pretend that you’re playing the role of Peter Chiarelli. What is your strategy heading into deadline day?

Jason Gregor:

To improve the team for next year. I’d be looking to find another Patrick Maroon, who was acquired at the 2016 deadline for very little. Gaining a mid-round might help in four or five years if the Oilers make a good pick and develop the player properly, but I’d be looking to help the team for next season.

Robin Brownlee:

I’m focused on the big picture. There’s no need to make deals where the primary purpose is to salvage this season or make a playoff push. My only concern is acquiring what this team needs for next season and beyond. Most of that will be done over the summer, not at the deadline. Do not go into next September hoping you have the right pieces in place (like with right wing this season).

Matt Henderson:

Maximize the return for Maroon. There have been some reports that sellers are asking for the moon so if Chiarelli can get a handle on the market (not his strong suit) he might be able to get a decent return on Maroon. Maybe it’s a first, maybe it’s a decent prospect. It all depends on if other sellers are pricing themselves out. Maroon is the best chip they have but after that, I would be looking for actual bodies in exchange for anyone else.

Cam Lewis:

Sell on all of the impending unrestricted free agents. The market appears to favour the seller as a bunch of mediocre teams are jammed in the middle of the standings thanks to false parity and the loser point. Capitalize on it.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, the thought of tanking is fun and all but I don’t think that’s the right mindset to give this team right now. I would make the moves necessary that I feel would give us our best shot at a playoff spot. The draft lottery gods will hopefully be good to us if we fall short of a miraculous run.

Baggedmilk:

I put on my favourite checkered jacket and try to get something of value for all my expiring UFA contracts. I’d rather keep Maroon and move Lucic but I don’t think that’s an option given the contract and that Chiarelli is the GM.

Nov 3, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Ian asks – What were your thought when you saw Todd McLellan would be playing Draisaitl with McDavid against the Avalanche despite Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ injury?

Jason Gregor:

I had no issue with it. I like seeing Khaira at centre. He and Strome are showcasing for next season. The Oilers EV play isn’t the issue. Their special teams are killing them. Their PP was a disaster again and the PK has been all season.

Robin Brownlee:

Didn’t give it any thought. McLellan had success running balanced lines with those three in the middle for awhile, but sometimes he decides loading up one line is the way to go. Avs having Nate MacKinnon out might have played into it. Coaching decision.

Matt Henderson:

I’m split down the middle. Half of me thinks it’s the coach giving up on the idea that Draisaitl is a centre, which has to kill Chia a bit. The other half thinks that the situation on the wings is just so bad that without Drai there’s just not enough to fill the top two lines. It can be one or the other…or both.

Cam Lewis:

You kind of have to see if Ryan Strome can be a worthwhile centre to determine whether he’s actually a part of the team’s long-term plans. Despite what we all want to believe, the season is over and they’re auditioning players for roles next season. Same goes with JJ Khaira, who will now have a chance to show if he can be a good bottom-six centre.

Chris the Intern:

A little odd due to the major lack of centre depth, but at this point of the season, what do we have to lose? I understand giving Jujhar a shot at centre. He deserves a chance.

Baggedmilk:

I thought it was weird. The depth at centre with Drai on the wing and RNH out of the lineup is not great, so I was surprised when I saw the lineups. I get why McLellan wants a line that can score but Leon got paid to drive his own line, not be a winger. Maybe this means Nuge stays for sure? Dare to dream.

4) Drew asks – By the time this is posted, the Oilers will have 32 games left in the season. What is your record prediction for this final leg of the season?

Jason Gregor:

I say they win 17 games. 17-14-1. Not good enough to get close to the playoffs.

Robin Brownlee:

I see 36 points. Divide it up however you choose.

Matt Henderson:

13-16-3 with a higher winning percentage before the deadline than after it. This season can scarcely afford to lose more skill and the final stretch might be a death march.

Cam Lewis:

Hopefully they lose a bunch more games than they win to improve their lottery odds. That said, I bet we see a bittersweet late-season push and they go something like 18-12-2.

Chris the Intern:

I would love to believe in a huge playoff push, but with the absence of Nuge and Larsson right now, it’s extremely challenging to feel confident in it. 16-12-4

Baggedmilk:

The Oilers are six games under .500 (counting OTLs) and all I want is for them to get back to being even so I can stop eating beets.

5) Trent asks – I love when players show some personality and I thought the McDavid “check upstairs” comment was a riot. What is your favourite player moment, hockey or otherwise, where they let their emotions take control?

Jason Gregor:

Terrell Owens running to midfield and spiking the ball on the Cowboys logo after scoring a TD.

Robin Brownlee:

This is going to be way too old for most of our readers to remember because it will be exactly 51 years tomorrow (Feb. 6) since it happened. It was delivered by Muhammad Ali in a bout against Ernie Terrell at the Houston Astrodome. Leading into the fight, Terrell insisted on calling Ali by his given name, Cassius Clay, rather than recognize his newly adopted name, calling it a promotional stunt. In the eighth round, with Terrell battered and bleeding, Ali repeatedly shouted, “What’s my name, what’s my name?” while delivering countless blows. This incident, leading up to Ali’s conviction for draft evasion, was a historical moment. Not exactly a sizzling sports entertainment moment, but, for me, the most memorable moment in terms of emotion.

Matt Henderson:

Emotion is what sports are all about. Some of these moments didn’t make me feel good, but they hit home:
-When Laraques scored his hat trick and looked like he could explode with energy
-Craig Anderson’s shutout in first game back since his wife was diagnosed with Cancer
-Yak’s slide to Centre ice
-Ryan Smyth crying at the airport
-I promised Mess I wouldn’t do this
-Al Montoya: Someone Else!
Cam Lewis:

Chris the Intern:

Speaking of Colorado in Edmonton, I gotta give it to the Yak Slide. How can his celebration NOT be your favourite moment in hockey? Watching his energy and emotion take control was inspiring and it fired up our whole city.

Baggedmilk:

Does it have to be a player? Because there are some coaches that have let loose and I love it. Dennis Green’s, “The Bears are who we thought they were,” comes to mind. Jim Mora’s “playoffs” rant is a classic, and an honourable mention goes out to MacT for ripping Harvey the Hound’s tongue off.

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  • OilersBro

    I would be okay moving guys with UFAs to make room for Nurse’s long term contract and get us some 2-4th round picks/prospects. Bakersfield is looking like slim pickings and we can look to make moves in the off-season.

  • Jaxon

    DEADLINE:
    1. Maroon & 2nd to STL for Thomas (or Kyrou) and Thorburn
    2. Letestu & Slepyshev & high 3rd Round pick to TBL for Joseph and Conacher and low 3rd Round pick.
    3. Auvitu to ? for a late round pick (7th?).
    4. Cammalleri to ? for a mid round pick (4th or 5th?).
    5. Fayne to ? for a 7th round pick? If it’s even possible to unload him at this point.
    6. Explore trading Caleb Jones. Great prospect, but he’s stuck behind too many LHD that are not going to or should not go anywhere. With Pakarinen to CBJ for a 2nd round pick?

    I don’t want them to trade Slepy, but if they’re not going to give him a decent shot they might as well get something now.

    June 15:
    Buyout Russell for a Cap hit savings of $3.4M next season to allow them to keep Nuge and sign Nurse at around $4.167M x 8.

    June 22:
    Draft. Keep the 1st round pick. It may turn into Dahlin, Svechnikov, Boqvist or Zadina.

    July 1:
    These moves put them right against an $80M cap (with bonuses), so no free agent signings this summer.

    Yikes, that’s a young team, but promising with skill that can keep up to McDavid and Draisaitl.

    • Big Nuggets

      It would be nice if we could add some prospects that are close to NHL ready. But I’m not sure Maroon and Letestu will be enough to get anyone worthwhile.
      Jones still has a couple years to develop, a lot can change in the line-up by that time. I’d rather keep him.

      • Leon McNugent

        Hypothetical trades always get trashed but some sense to a bit of the above. My two cents:

        – Maroon to St.Louis seems like a fit. Kyrou would be a great return. Might need to throw a conditional pick to get it done.
        – Slepy, Camo, Auvitu, Fayne aren’t you anything. Teams don’t want these guys for free.
        – Keep Jones. Has lots of potential. Could be a sweetener in a deal but I’d rather see a player coming back who’s closer to making the team than a pick.
        – Letestu for a 3rd. He’s replaceable in free agent by someone making less. Can find a replacement and get a pick out of it since we’re not making a run.
        – Keep the 1st (need cheap wingers) and keep Russell (can’t afford dead cap and Russell has been decent).

        • Jaxon

          Slepyshev and Letestu may hold some interest for TB. Letestu is great on faceoffs and Tampa Bay is one of the worst at faceoffs in the whole NHL, only Colorado is worse. Going into the playoffs with terrible FO% probably doesn’t sit too well with Yzerman. A swiss army knife player is always useful in the playoffs. As for Slepyshev, he has played with what some would consider TB’s two most valuable players this season in Vasilevsky and Kucherov. He played with them on a few Russian teams as well as playing in the MHL/KHL with Vasilevsky at Ufa. Yzerman is good at finding underappreciated players and if Kucherov and Vasilevsky are familiar with Slepyshev’s (former KHL 1st overall) abilities, then maybe these two players can pry a prospect away from TB for their Cup run.

          • The Whispererer

            I can see the logic and benefit in that for TB. Next you might enlighten us on why the Oilers would want Conacher and Joseph so much that they would throw in a pick that is likely in the mid 60’s for a pick that is likely around 90.

          • Leon McNugent

            All makes sense, especially the Tampa scenario. They have a really strong system… maybe a Mitchell Stephens or Raddysh could be in play. Russell shouldn’t have been signed to that in the first place but I’d think it would be tough buying someone out after just inking him to a 4 year deal. I’d wait until Jones is closer to knocking on the door, thinking his value will continue to go up. But yeah, he’ll most likely need to be dealt eventually. I’d just rather get a player closer to making the team and to include him in a package for example.

          • Jaxon

            I only had Jospeh as the top prize because Corey Pronman, who knows more than most about prospects had him as TB’s best prospect. Raddysh, Howden, Foote, or Cirelli would be great, too. As far as Conacher goes, if TB is adding Letestu to their lineup then Conacher is the one to go. I think that’s an upgrade for TB. right now, it looks like their experimenting with Koekoek at 4LW, so Slepyshev would replace him. Truthfully, there isn’t a lot of difference in the odds of a player drafted at #67 making it vs a player drafted at #88 making it. But if it sweetens the pot enough to get a close-to-ready skilled player (like any named above), then you do it. Letestu is a rentla and Slepyshev is a gamble, so I think the Oilers need to sweeten the pot a bit to get a top-notch prospect.

          • Jaxon

            Selling Caleb Jones isn’t a big deal and won’t change the team drastically, I was just looking for ways to recoup draft picks to reinforce positions other than LHD and he seemed most likely to get a 2nd round pick form CBJ (due to his skill and his fit in CBJ with his brother Seth).

        • Jaxon

          Maroon in STL seems a bit perfect. They want scoring for their playoff run. Maroon is a tough playoff-hockey style performer who is form STL and his kid lives there, increasing the likelihood that he’d sign there in the summer. I’d go as far as throwing in a 2nd round pick to get one of Kyrou or Thomas. I wouldn’t go that high for Thompson or Kostin. Maybe Maroon plus a 4th for one fo them.

        • Jaxon

          I like Jones, too. But he might have enough value to get something in return. The thing about keeping him is when do you think he’ll break the lineup? Nurse and Klefbom are not going out of the top 4. So he’s competing against Russell, Sekera, Davidson, Auvitu (if they re-sign), and now Samorukov? If he’s never going to crack the left side, they might as well get something for him. If you can get a 2nd round for him, that would be amazing. The Oilers are going to need those 2nd round picks over the next 8 years as they struggle to stay under cap.

        • Jaxon

          As far as keeping Russell. I’m not sure what else can be done to stay under and keep Nuge and sign Nurse. On cap friendly, with all the UFAs gone and some RFAs I still have trouble seeing them keeping the cap below $80M with bonuses. Meaning they need to dump salary somehow. They can’t trade Lucic, Sekera or Russell and I’m not sure I’d want to trade anyone else. Lucic’s contract is buyout proof (I think they still have to pay him something like $5.7M in a couple of his buyout years! Sekera is another buyout option, especially since his injury might put his future in doubt. Do we have another Ryan Whitney on our hands? But buying him out leaves and even bigger cap hit on the books than Russell. Also, I think opinions vary a bit as to whether Russell has been decent. But even if he was playing awesome, buying out either Russell or Sekera seems to be the only way under cap.

  • Ginbaby

    I love Draisaitl w McDavid. That pass on McDavids goal demonstrates that if you have a playmaker on his wing you make covering 97 a priority and open up space for 29 to make plays. Obviously you want the puck on 97’s stick but not a bad plan B is Draisaitl.

  • RJ

    Kyrou is 19, playing in the OHL. He has 82 points in 41 game. He’s a right-handed Centre who can play RW. He’s one of the Blues top-4 prospects. His name has been coming up quite a bit in recent weeks as a potential target.

    So I went to a number of Blues blogs to see what bloggers and fans were saying. The consensus opinion was that the Blues were not going to part with a number of their top prospects for a rental. There is some interest in Maroon, but more in the 3LHD range, not a pick or top prospect.

    They would part with one of their young prospects for an established player with term and a decent AAV.

    The interesting comment from some of these blogs was that fans would not be opposed to trading Pietrangelo, since he’s a very good RHD, but not the best RHD in the league. But it would need to be for an established player that meets their needs. Since they don’t expect Stastny to re-sign, there’s a spot there.

    Nuge + Maroon for Pietrangelo.

    For the next two seasons you’d have Pietrangelo and Larsson as your top-2 RHD.

    But then the Oil would need to acquire a decent 3C unless Strome or Khaira could manage.

    • The Whispererer

      I think the expectation would be that Maroon signs a new contract with St. Louis concurrent with the trade ( thus not a rental ). The Oilers could also add in another prospect like Laleggia, Simpson, Lowe etc. from the AHL .

    • Where's the Lamb Sauce

      It would take a lot more than Nuge + Marron for Pietrangelo. Not only is he their best RHD (best defenseman in general) but he is top 20 in the entire league.