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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – UFAs, trading the first round pick, and Al Montoya

Happy long Easter Monday, fine citizens. May your day go by quickly if you’re stuck working and, if not, here’s something to read while you waiting for a time that’s socially acceptable to crack a beer. As always, the mailbag is here to help you pass a little bit of time and get you closer to wherever you want to be. This feature is completely dependent on you guys. If you’ve got a question you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or DM on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Until then, enjoy another free lesson from our stable of writers.

Jan 12, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Jujhar Khaira (16) celebrates after a goal by defenseman Darnell Nurse (not pictured) as Arizona Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (32) looks on during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

1) @MarkSchielke1 asks – Who is the best bottom six forward making the best case for staying around next year?

Jason Gregor:

I’d day Strome. He has looked solid down the middle and is on the PK and second unit PP. Versatile.

Robin Brownlee:

I think it’s Jujhar Khaira, and by a longshot. He checks a lot of boxes — tough, good skater, has some offensive ability.

Cam Lewis:

JJ Khaira is the obvious one because he’s become a fan favourite, but Ryan Strome, taking away his draft pedigree, expectations, and the one-for-one deal aside, has been effective in a third-line centre role. He’s a smart player who can fill a variety of roles and actually has upside.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, how can you not hand it to Jujhar? I wish he was scoring a little more now but he’s the only guy in the last half of the season that’s really stood up for his teammates. Gotta keep him around!

Baggedmilk:

Not that there was any doubt that he’d be around next year, but JJ Khaira has been my favourite guy in the bottom six this year. Dude has done everything the team needed from him and I really hope he can keep developing and getting better. I’m a big JJ guy.

Oct 30, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson (65) tries to check Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) @anthonyjflynn asks – Assuming Erik Karlsson is indeed on the trade block this summer, if you are the Oilers, how big of a swing do you take in an effort to trade for him? Who or what would you be willing to give up?

Jason Gregor:

I’m leery of Karlsson because when his new contract kicks in he will be 29. He likely wants eight years around $11 million. I wouldn’t look too hard at Karlsson.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s a phone call I make, but there’s got to be some salary going the other way. Anybody outside of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would be available for a deal like this one.

Cam Lewis:

There’s no way this would work because you can’t have him and McDavid making a combined ~$24 million on the same team. That said, just for fun, something around Draisaitl could possibly work because of the money that would be going back.

Chris the Intern:

If we’re actually in the running for him I would take a decent swing. I’m willing to part with Draisaitl + a defenceman like Klef + a pick? Honestly, I don’t think I’d be willing to part with Nuge for Karlsson though.

Baggedmilk:

I love the idea of McDavid and Karlsson being on the ice at the same time and pointing in the same direction but I don’t think it’ll happen. Unless Leon Draisaitl is going the other way, or something like that, the Oilers wouldn’t have the cap space needed to keep him. It would be a one and done season and I’m not sure that you’d want to give up assets for such a short sample, but man, would it ever be sweet.

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)

3) Aaron asks – For the purpose of this question, pretend that you’re Peter Chiarelli and you’re looking at next summer’s UFA crop. Who are you targeting and why? 

Jason Gregor:

I don’t chase a big-ticket free agent, but I would look at Tomas Vanek on a one-year deal. He is exactly what they need. A proven RW who can produce and on a one year deal I’m not risking signing him past his best due date. I’d also look at Michael Grabner on a two-year deal. On defence, I highly doubt he will be a UFA, but I would sign Greg Pateryn. He is a right shot D who played 19:33 a game for Dallas. He isn’t a sexy signing, but I don’t think he will cost a lot, he made $800,000 this season. The Oilers need another decent RD, and I don’t see any legit top-four Right shot D in free agency.

Robin Brownlee:

I place a call to James Neal’s agent and see if he’s interested in playing with Connor McDavid.

Cam Lewis:

You can’t sign a big free agent every year. The Oilers invested a bunch of money in Milan Lucic, Kris Russell, and Andrej Sekera, they need to go after cheap players like Thomas Vanek to fill holes in the lineup. Though I think James van Riemsdyk would be a great fit.

Chris the Intern:

I wouldn’t mind looking closer into Michael Grabner. I’m not sure if he’s going to want a significant raise but if we signed him for around $3M I’d be thrilled. ALSO, Chia has to get Matt Hendricks back here, no doubt about it.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t know how much is left in Mike Green’s tank (he’s been hurt a lot) but I could see them offering him a one year deal to try and help out with the power play. James Neal would be cool but I don’t see it happening, nor do the Oilers have the cap space they’d need to make it work. JVR would also be awesome but, again, it’s not likely to happen. I’m guessing they’ll make minor adds to try and fill out the roster but nothing major.

Feb 1, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Al Montoya (35) makes a save on Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Kerfoot (13) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

4) Brandon asks – I know that Chiarelli traded a now 4th round pick for Al Montoya and that’s he’s signed for another year but I still feel like they need to upgrade the backup position. How do you see that role playing out next year?

Jason Gregor:

I see them playing Montoya in 15-17 games. I expect Talbot to have a better start and play 65-67 games.

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers need an actual goaltending prospect in the pro mix. I can live with Montoya as a back-up but there needs to be a guy in Bakersfield who can push the issue behind Cam Talbot. I might be wrong, but I don’t think the Oilers see Laurent Brossoit as that guy.

Cam Lewis:

The market for goalies isn’t all too inspiring. Montoya will have to do.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, I’m totally okay with having Montoya backup Talbot for another year. I’m expecting a bounce-back season for Cam so Al won’t be playing TOO much. But I think our goalie tandem will be successful next year – I have absolutely nothing to back this up but I don’t care.

Baggedmilk:

Montoya hasn’t had a great year but he has a history of being a decent backup goaltender so we’ll have to see if he rebounds next year. That said, his health is a concern and I wonder if Chia will go kick some tires on another experienced backup in the summer.

5) Cliff asks – When I submitted this question the Oilers has a 5% chance of winning the draft lottery. If they do not win it do you think it would make sense to trade the pick for more immediate help on D or on the wings? 

Jason Gregor:

These types of trades are rare. Today the Oilers are likely to select 9th or 10th, and trades for picks around that number since 2011 have been as follows.

2011: Columbus trades #8, Jakub Voracek and a 3rd rounder to Philly for Jeff Carter.
2012: Carolina trades #8, Brian Dumoulin and Brandon Sutter for Jordan Staal.
2013: New Jersey trades #9 to Vancouver for Cory Schneider
2017: Arizona trades #7 and DeAngelo Esposito to Rangers for Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan.

The Oilers won’t be trading for a goalie, so if they trade for a proven NHL player they will be giving up the pick, plus another young player and maybe another pick. They’d have to look for a team willing to part with a D-man who is 22-25 and already proven to be a top-four RD. Hard to find.

I’d be surprised if they are able to move the pick for an established RD.

Robin Brownlee:

You make it known the pick is available, see who calls about it and find out what they’re offering. It’s never a bad idea to do that unless you’re holding the golden ticket in a year like McDavid’s draft.

Cam Lewis:

No, you need cheap, young players on entry-level deals. Keep the pick and get one of them.

Chris the Intern:

If Chia can pull something like that off I obviously wouldn’t mind it. However I don’t have any faith in the man whatsoever, so it’s probably safer to just draft a prospect.

Baggedmilk:

I think you’d have to package it with something else if you’re planning on trading the pick for an established player. That said, I’d rather they just use the pick to add some skill into their prospect pool.

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  • Anton CP

    Unless that the Oilers can actually be getting a puck moving RD back that it has absolutely no reason to trade the pick. This year is one of the deepest pool of prospects that anyone within the top 10 picks can be ready to play within a season, or at least no more than 2 seasons. If anything that the Oilers may get players like Joe Valeno or Oliver Wahlstrom.

  • Quoteright

    For years everyone has thrown all of our defence under the buss. None are any good until they leave and we always want other teams players until we get them. We have also been goalie killers.
    I believe this has mostly come from the lack of hard work from a cohesive 5 player unit with a goalie who works with them.
    Defensive comes from team hustle and effort, not the two players who have to handle odd man rushes due to poor back pressure.
    This team needs consistency (unfortunately I’m not sure it has the right coach) especially with line combinations and stop turning over all the players. Last year was a success and we still gutted the team. How does that inspire confidence and commitment?