Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Is Peter Chiarelli taking too many risks with cap space?

Welcome, my friends, to a long weekend edition of the mailbag where I’ve dragged the writers out of their weekend getaways to share a little bit of wisdom with you about all things Oilers. As we do every week, we’re back with another round of questions and answers to help you get through your day, no matter where you’re at on this Royal Wedding Monday. As always, I need you guys for this feature so email me your questions to [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and pretend to look busy for as long as possible. Have a good week, everybody.

Defenceman Joel Persson of the SHL Vaxjo Lakers

1) Oilers fan in Van asks – When I sent this question in we did not yet know Persson’s contract details, but I would like to know if anyone else is concerned that Peter Chiarelli has spent, at a minimum, $3 million on two European players with little to no NHL experience?

***BM Note: This question was submitted before we knew Persson was going to spend the year in Sweden***

Jason Gregor:

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I’d be surprised if Persson has a high cap hit at all. At best he will replace Auvitu. I don’t see him being a regular for the Oilers. Koskinen deal doesn’t look great, no debating that, but I won’t combine signings, each is their own.

Dustin Nielson:

I guess with Persson staying in Europe we don’t need to worry about him. I am concerned that Chiarelli gave Koskinen 2.5 million. Even on a one year deal, I think that’s too much for an unproven 30-year old.

Matt Henderson:

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I’m concerned about the goaltending position in general. As I answer this we’ve learned that Persson is being paid a bonus but he’s been asked to stay in Europe for next year. So the Oilers just bought his rights and are waiting for him to prove what he is before bringing him over.

Cam Lewis:

The Koskinen deal was pretty odd, but this is a standard Chiarelli thing. Has there been a free agent deal in which he’s really gotten himself a bargain? Connor McDavid should be paid a billion dollars so I guess that’s one, but none of Draisaitl, Russell, Lucic, or Sekera were really value deals.

Chris the Intern:

At the time of me answering this, we know that Persson’s contract is one year with no dollar value known yet. I mean, $3 million for two players isn’t terrible I suppose, but I’m saying that without knowing Persson’s contract value yet. The fact that he’s playing in Europe next season is a little more concerning with the dollar value unknown still.


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At first, I would have agreed with you because the Oilers’ cap space is so finite that there’s not much room for error. Now that we know Persson will be spending another year in Sweden before coming over then I think you’ve got a solid depth move at a low risk. Don’t mind the way this turned out at all.

2) Nathan asks – How do you think the Persson addition affect Matt Benning’s place on the depth chart or is this purely to add another option on the right side?

Jason Gregor:

Persson should not impact Benning that much. I see this as depth add. Benning is a better defender, and considering the Oilers GA was their biggest issue last season, I’d hope they dress the best defenders.

Dustin Nielson:

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At this point, it doesn’t impact it at all. Personally, I’d like to see Benning get some more opportunity on the power-play. He ran the PP in college and has arguably the hardest shot on the team, plus he shoots right. Surprised he didn’t get more of a look this year.

Matt Henderson:

Won’t affect him at all. Benning is a 3RHD who might turn into a 2RHD and that’s fine. I doubt even if Persson was coming over that it would push Benning too hard.

Cam Lewis:

I don’t think Persson is even higher than Ethan Bear on the depth chart at this point so I doubt he’s going to be pushing an established player like Benning anywhere.

Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 player review: Matt Benning

Chris the Intern:

For next year, it won’t affect Benning at all. To say the least, I suppose hopefully it will add a little competition for him knowing we have another guy to take his spot if need be.


Certainly won’t matter this year, but it will add some competition to the depth chart and that’s a good thing overall.

3) Grant asks – Let’s assume for the purpose of this question that the Oilers USE their pick at the upcoming Draft. Who do you have your eye on as a potential match for them to select?

Jason Gregor:

It is heavy with Dmen, and barring any major surprises I see a few D-men being available. I like Bouchard and Dobson.

Dustin Nielson:

I’d like to see Boqvist slide to them at 10, and part of me thinks he may. Dobson is another solid possibility.

Matt Henderson:

The draft has been called nine players deep and the Oilers draft 10th. I would identify the top nine players and wait for one of them to drop to 10th. There’s always someone ready to go off message. Don’t get attached to anyone. I don’t care who that top nine player is or what position he plays. Snatch up the best player available.

Cam Lewis:

Someone is going to go off the board in the top nine. It always happens. If so, I hope either Brady Tkachuk or Adam Boqvist falls to the Oilers. Both would fill a need, as Boqvist is a puck moving righty defender while Tkachuk is a multidimensional forward.

Chris the Intern:

It’s so hard to say right now because things change so quickly on draft day. I suppose I’d hope for Evan Bouchard to drop from 8 to 10. The good thing about this draft is there seem to be a ton of defencemen in the top 10 so the chances of one of them dropping for us to pickup is high.


We had Uffe Bodin from Elite Prospects on the Real Life Podcast a while back and he was talking about Adam Boqvist a lot and it got to the point where I hope he slides to 10th. I don’t know that it will happen but he’s the kind of slick, puck-moving defenceman that would look really nice in a couple of years. That said, I think Chiarelli trades it to help move the team forward now and also to save his job.

4) Kevin asks – Opinion on how you feel other players are feeling playing with Mcdavid at IIHF? Does an opportunity like this potentially lead to future signings with these guys in the future?

Jason Gregor:

Not really. Unless NHL suddenly becomes like NBA where veteran UFAs sign short term deals, I don’t see how it helps, especially considering signing big tickets in free agency is rarely the way to build a winning team. Oilers won’t have room to sign a big ticket free agent in near future unless they shed more salary. So no, I don’t see it helping that much, especially since most of the players on the team aren’t eligible for UFA in next few years.

Dustin Nielson:

It’s a cool idea but that’s a young team and not many of those guys will be UFA’s in the near future. Let’s just focus on continued development for McNuge.

Matt Henderson:

It can’t hurt! How much fun must it be for the RORs or Paraykos of the NHL to play a bunch of shifts on McDavid’s team? Maybe some of that leaves a lasting impression.

Cam Lewis:

This tournament is a way for mid-level players who would never be good enough for the Olympics to wear a Team Canada sweater and a way for fringe Olympic-calibre players to get themselves a positive reputation within Hockey Canada. I can’t imagine it actually bares much function in regards to making free agent decisions. Everyone knows McDavid is good. They don’t need an exhibition tournament in Europe to see that.

Chris the Intern:

I don’t know how high the chances of that happening are, but I mean it’s definitely not a bad thing for McDavid to play with different people. Everyone already knows how good he is but playing on the same team as him would provide a different experience.

Puljujarvi is only 22 Years Young


I wonder about this a lot too. I would think that if you look at McDavid or see any of his highlights that this should be enough to inspire you to come here. That said, who knows? People have their own things going on and their own wants and needs that make this a tough question to answer.

Oct 11, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Nail Yakupov (64) is introduced as the the first star of the game following the win over the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

5) Brian asks – Yakupov will be a #1 pick that lives in Oilers infamy. Comparable to Jason Bonsignore.

Question: Do you think the Oilers development ruined his potential as a hockey player? Or was he destined to be a bust at the NHL level?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see Yak in the same category. Bonsignore didn’t work as hard as Yakupov. Oilers didn’t ruin his potential in my eyes. His challenge was learning to play team game and understanding how to play within a system. Hard to teach that. He tried, I believe he cared and he wasn’t afraid on the ice. His hockey sense in how they play in NHL was the challenge.

Dustin Nielson:

He had a good rookie year under Ralph Krueger and then Dallas Eakins crushed the kid. I don’t think he would have been a 30 goal scorer. But I do think he would have had a much better start to his career with Krueger for a couple of years.

Matt Henderson:

First order of business, I hate you. Second order of business, the player obviously holds his fair share of blame for his development. There has been a lot of speculation about maybe having learning disabilities or a low Hockey IQ. However, the Oilers took a player who led their team him goal scoring and pushed him to the third line then demanded he learn how to be a third liner before being a second liner. Just before jettisoning the kid for nothing they gave him a shot with McDavid and Yak was killing it but it wasn’t the result THEY wanted so they killed the audition. So the team took the worst possible course of action in developing a player who had issues. It was the worst case scenario. Sadly, it looks like they’re doing the same thing to Puljujarvi. It’s up to the Finn to develop himself in the offseason because the big club has no interest in doing what’s best for him.

Cam Lewis:

I would love to see where he, and the Oilers, would be had they stuck with Ralph Krueger. Both Nail and Jultz had nice rookie seasons before having their will to live zapped by Dallas Eakins. Yakupov was a strange and enigmatic player but he had a great work ethic and some skill. It’s shocking that he hasn’t been able to hack it at all but I don’t think he’s ever been in a position to succeed and I think his years with Eakins completely ruined his swagger.

Chris the Intern:

A little part of me always wants to think that Yakupov was destined for something like this, but I’m pretty sure I’m 100% wrong and it was all our fault.


I feel bad for Yak because we watched the joy of playing hockey get sucked right out of him. Eakins make him a healthy scratch only a couple games into his second season here and things never really got better from there. I think that the kid maybe wasn’t going to be a shoot the lights out first overall pick, but a serviceable NHLer. I doubt that happens now and it’s sad to see, but I’ll always be cheering for him.


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  • MrBung

    Way too much made of Eakins effect on Yak. Talent and skill finds a way. He didn’t change when he went to other NHL teams (e.g. Dubnyk). Yak is what he is.

    The McDavid case when playing with him came to multiple factors and opportunity cost. Other players playing with McDavid could make a bigger difference than putting Yak there. Period.

    • A-co

      Why not bring him in…1 year 2 way contract with out clause to the KHL if things don’t work out in Edmonton. What ever the minimum dollar for his contract status is…and roll the dice..have a look. If he can’t score 25+ with McNuge he doesn’t belong in the NHL…

      • C U Next Tuesday

        You can’t bring in someone else’s reclamation project when it was your reclaimation project to start with. There is no winning in that situation.

  • HardBoiledOiI 1.0

    Yak was trending upward playing with a skilled veteran Derek Roy and having Todd Nelson as a coach. A lot of people forget how much respect Yak had for Roy that he refuse to play on the top line. Young skilled forwards need skilled veteran to learn from. One great example is Max Domi and Shane Doan but the list goes on. Toew/Kane and Hossa, Toffoli and Kopitar, Benn/ Seguin. Almost every team you look at except the Oilers always had skilled veteran leadership.

    • LAKID

      A crap shoot signing Koskinen but the trade for Montoya should have gotten Chia fired. Montoya is as good as gone and he is a 3rd string goalie at best behind the 2nd string Talbot. The best goalie on the Oiler’s is probably anybody but Talbot and Montoya.

  • Arfguy

    1. I’m all for bringing Yakupov back. Honestly, it would be low-risk, but he would bring something to the Oilers that is sorely lacking, IMO: speed. Other than McDavid, a lot of the players seem to be really slow on the Oilers.

    2. I will not tear into the Koskinen deal until I see him play. While it is being looked at as $2.5 million for a back-up goalie, I’m thinking it’s more like $2.5 million for a 1B goalie. I honestly think it’s possible that if Cam Talbot does not show 2016-2017 like stats within the first 20 or so games, that he could be dealt.

    3. I think the Oilers should not trade the pick. I also think that if Evan Bouchard cannot be had, the Oilers should try and get Ryan Merkley. I’ve been advised by a few people that Merkley is not the best option at #10, but there’s something about the way that kid moves in the offensive zone that makes me think he’ll be a big deal in the NHL in a short time.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    1. Had Persson been slotted into opening night, I’d be more worried. The Koskinen signing is risky, but we won’t know how risky until he plays. I don’t see any issues with Persson playing in the SHL. If anything it’s one of the best moves they’ve done.

    2. Well now that we know Persson is playing in the SHL, it doesn’t. Matt is still developing, but I do agree. He should be seeing a bit more PP time. Hell, EVERYONE should be seeing more PP time as they need to figure that out heading into this upcoming season.

    3. Boqvist or Dobson

    4. I think it gives them more of an appreciation for the type of player McDavid is. Nope. I don’t think it’ll affect their decisions at all. It’s all about $$ these days, not about playing or who you’re playing with.

    5. Yak is weird to me. He seemed to flourish under Kruger but completely deflated under Eakins (to his credit, who DIDN’T deflate under Eakins?). However his hockey sense seemed to be wary sometimes as even McLellan couldn’t get him back to where he was. I think it was a little bit of both. I’m still mad that Katz vetoed EVERYBODY and told them to draft Yak rather than someone else.

  • Jaxon

    Yakupov is a strange story. He actually had one of the best rookie seasons at 5-on-5 in the last 11 years. Here is a list of Era and Age-Adjusted 5-on-5 Primary Points for Median Forward TOI over 82 games of Draft picks who jumped right into the NHL. I can’t find the 5-on-5 TOI or Primary pts for 2005-06 or 2006-07 so Crosby and Staal are missing from this list. Median fwd TOI is about 14.4167 minutes. Galchenyuk had an amazing rookie season that year as well.

    2012 Alex Galchenyuk 51
    2015 Connor McDavid 42
    2017 Nico Hischier 39
    2010 Jeff Skinner 39
    2012 Nail Yakupov 37
    2007 Sam Gagner 37
    2011 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 34
    2009 Evander Kane 33
    2007 Patrick Kane 33
    2013 Nathan MacKinnon 33
    2016 Matthew Tkachuk 33
    2013 Sean Monahan 28
    2010 Tyler Seguin 28
    2011 Sean Couturier 27
    2009 Matt Duchene 27
    2008 Steven Stamkos 27
    2010 Nino Niederreiter 24
    2009 John Tavares 23
    2011 Gabriel Landeskog 23
    2012 Mikhail Grigorenko 23
    2010 Taylor Hall 21
    2014 Leon Draisaitl 21
    2017 Nolan Patrick 19
    2008 Mikkel Boedker 18
    2015 Daniel Sprong 18
    2009 Ryan O’Reilly 17
    2010 Alexander Burmistrov 15
    2008 Joshua Bailey 12

  • TKB2677

    Whenever I read anything about Yakupov and then read a blogger talk about how the Oilers or Eakins “Crushed him”, I roll my eyes. Yakupov was a first overall pick. When the Oilers drafted him, they didn’t go off the board, he was the consensus #1 pick on every mock draft. There was no debated. When you are drafted #1 overall and you are the consensus #1 player available to be drafted, you are supposed to be so talented that you are deemed the BEST draft eligible player in the WORLD for that year. When you are deemed the best draft eligible player IN THE WORLD you are supposed to be at least a good pro. Takupov is not a good pro, Yakupov is a borderline NHLer. I fully agree that coaching CAN impact a players development. So if you want to blame Eakins for Yakupov not turning into a top 6 player like he should have been in his sleep even though what is it 4 or 5 OTHER coaches couldn’t unlock Yakupov, then go ahead. But when you are a #1 overall player, becoming a regular NHLer should be automatic regardless of the coach.

    I find it to be an absolute joke and question the hockey knowledge of a blogger when they still blame Eakins for Yakupov. He’s been on 3 teams in the last 3 years and has had Nelson, McLellan, Hitchcock, Yeo, Bednar, all as head coaches plus 10 other assistants and NONE of them could turn this guy into a useful every day NHLer. So count them up, 3 different organizations and 15 NHL coaches could not turn him into an everyday player. When does the blaming of coaches stop and the blame put solely on the player?

    • CaptainCanada94

      I had asked the Question whether he was ruined by Oilers management/ incorrect development. I agree wholeheartedly that he was the consensus #1 pick. However it was incorrect management by the Oilers which resulted in him being shipped out of Edmonton. If he was drafted by any other team not named Oilers or Sabres, he would have had the opportunity to develop properly.

      I really thought the addition of Bob Nicholson would right the fundamental development gap the Oilers had during the DOD, however I am not seeing it with Pool Party.

      *Please note, I recognize that development was not the Oilers only issue. Our lack of NHL caliber players forced the hand of Management…When does the vicious cycle end?

      All the best to YAK.

      • TKB2677

        I completely disagree. I believe fans think that coaches have way, way, way too much of an impact on a players development. Do coaches impact a players development? Absolutely they do but the huge majority of the players development is on him and the work he does. A coach and give you skills to work on, a team can set out an offseason work out regime but if the player doesn’t do it, who’s fault is that. I personally believe the development of a player is 75% player and 25% coach/organization. If it was the other way around and a coach/organization is responsible for 3/4 of a players development, then they should be able take any minor league pro guy and turn him into a legit, good NHLer. If you are playing pro hockey, you are a pretty darn good hockey player. So if a coach/organization has that much impact on a players development, they should be able to turn any pro player into a good one. But it doesn’t happen. WHY?

        Am I arguing that the Oilers did a good job with Yak? No I am not. They didn’t do a good job. But if they did a good job, then what would Yak be? Maybe a full time 4th liner?

      • OilerForLife

        I disagree as well, most #1 picks end up in the NHL in their first season. His skill and talent was out of this world, but working with other players and hockey sense seems to be lacking. They should’ve taken the top goaltender instead, Andrei Vasilevskiy.Build from the back out. I know hindsight is 20/20. 3 of the top 4 crashed.
        Andrei Vasilevskiy should have been the pick, it would have changed everything.
        The Universe has been tipped on its head and then Vegas walks right in. They have to write a new Twilight Zone episode based on this whole scenario.

        • Big Nuggets

          I disagree with your disagrrement. Everybody has a story about themself and that story dictates how they interact with the world. Yakupov went from a talented and explosive 1st overall pick to a failed prospect in just a few years. This happened during the Eakins season. Krueger had Yak playing like the future impact player he believed himself to be. Eakins didn’t play Yak in a postion to succeed, opting instead to scratch him or play him in the bottom 6. Yakupov’s new narrative was one of a failing prospect that had to pick himself up by his bootstraps, or whatever people say about losers. Pro sports are largely psychological, its the same reason Mike Tyson was never as good after he got knocked out, or why Tiger Woods suddenly was mediocre after his troubles, or why Ronda Rousey might retire. There are many examples, the fact is the Oilers.management decided to treat Yak like the new kid starting work on the rig and forced him to sink or swim, rather than finding the ways he could be successful and developing them with varying degrees of carrot and stick depending on the circumstance. Instead of forcing prospects to sink or swim if a prospect is not succeeding the AHL is always a good option. When Spezza was breaking into the league he spent a lot of time in the AHL. He wasn’t always happy about it because he felt he could play in the NHL, but along with the extra development time playing in the AHL also kept Spezza in a mindset that when he did get his shot he wanted to prove any naysayers wrong. Instead of a failed prospect he was a prospect that hadn’t been given his shot yet and was anxious for the opportunity. Players need to believe in themselves.