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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Should the Oilers start negotiating a Talbot extension?

Welcome, welcome to the 2000th edition of the Monday Mailbag here at the Nation! Alright, so I made that number up but I feel like we’ve been starting our weeks together for ages now and I’m just so thrilled that you’re here. As always, I’m giving all of you an opportunity to learn a little something from our panel of deep thinkers and pillars of Oilers’ entertainment. If you’ve got a question, you can email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Mar 29, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot (33) awaits the start of play against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

1) Hank asks – Are you at all concerned that the Oilers don’t have any NHL options in net signed beyond next season? Should they have started negotiations with Talbot now based on his down year in 2017-18?

Jason Gregor:

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I’m not. They have all season to negotiate with Talbot. It would be wise to see how he and Koskinen play before signing any extension. There are many goalies who currently are scheduled to be UFAs next summer including Bobrovsky, Rinne, Varlamov, Lehner, Howard, Neuvirth, Kinkaid and others. I don’t see it as a big deal.

Robin Brownlee:

No, not concerned. As for Talbot, why would he want to start negotiations after a down season? It’s a two-sided process. Makes sense for him to talk when he’s put together another solid stretch of hockey to start this season. If Talbot picks up where he left off at the end of last season, they’ll start negotiating.

Matt Henderson:

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I’m not generally concerned. The team should absolutely start negotiations with Talbot soon and they should be lowballing him until he starts bouncing back. The problem is Chiarelli seems to pay more than market value for a lot of his deals so I’m probably overestimating his ability to negotiate. There are more decent goalies than there are NHL starting jobs. Goalies become available often.

Christian Pagnani:

No. Talbot had a poor year and it didn’t make sense for either party to sign a contract at this time. Talbot isn’t old at 31, but you want to be sure what your getting into when he’ll be 32 to start his next deal. There’s always a ton of goalie options available and they never go for as much as people think. Grubauer was the top goalie available and he returned a second and Colorado taking Orpik’s contract back.

Baggedmilk:

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I wouldn’t be opposed to the Oilers trying to buy-low on Talbot. He didn’t have a great year and they could probably get him locked up for another few years at a lower rate if they go now. If he bounces back next season he’ll be looking for a lot more than what’s possible at this point.

April 5, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Tobias Rieder (10) reacts after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Wild during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2) Luke asks – Given that the roster is more or less set for the fall, my question for the panel is what answers are you still waiting for in terms of the roster? For me, I can’t help but wonder if there are enough experienced guys to play on the wings.

Jason Gregor:

Left wing has a lot of NHL experience with RNH and Lucic. The right side is still a concern, but Rieder has a lot of NHL experience. The bigger concern for me is team defence. Can they limit goals? Scoring wasn’t their downfall. Allowing goals was. Can the defence core, goaltending and overall defence zone play return to 2017 levels? If so, they will be a playoff team.

Robin Brownlee:

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Need to see if Sekera and Klefbom are physically good to go and can get back up to speed quickly.

Matt Henderson:

Still hoping the team moves one of Russell or Lucic this year before they need to find new homes for BOTH of them at the same time and the job goes from extremely difficult to near impossible. Other than that, I’ve resigned myself to embrace the opportunity this roster gives to young players. The wings are huge question marks and the defence is only improving via health and Nurse’s development.

Christian Pagnani:

Maybe a veteran winger or center added on a PTO. They won’t have much cap space once Nurse is signed.

Baggedmilk:

How are the young wingers going to respond to the added pressure of needing them to produce is a fair question. I actually wrote about that on Saturday, and it’s an area of concern to say the least. That said, I’m trying to be optimistic.

3) Geoff asks – Based on the moves made so far, how would you guess that the Pacific Division standings play out next season?

Jason Gregor:

I’d guess it is wide open. I don’t see a dominant team. Vegas will come back to earth. They will be competitive, but I don’t see them as a 109-point team. The only playoff lock I’d say, and not sure of where they finish, would be San Jose, because they always make the playoffs. After that it is just a guess. I see Oilers, Flames, Kings, Ducks, Vegas all in the mix. Vancouver will be at the bottom. Coyotes will be in the mix as well, if Raanta stays healthy.

Robin Brownlee:

Can’t make an educated guess the third week of July. People are waiting for Arizona to turn a lot of good young talent into a climb in the standings, but they aren’t a playoff team. I’m also curious to see if Ilya Kovalchuk is enough to prevent the L.A. Kings from sliding — I see them as a team on the decline. I wonder if Vegas drops off enough to have either San Jose or Anaheim finish ahead of them.

Matt Henderson:

I think the Knights fall back to earth and that helps everyone, but a good number of teams improved (even just a little). Edmonton is worse today than they were a year ago.

ANA > SJS > LAK > CGY > VGK > EDM > ARI > VAN

Top three close, middle four close, Vancouver dragging behind

Christian Pagnani:

San Jose
Anaheim
Vegas
Los Angeles
Calgary
Arizona
Edmonton
Vancouver

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to go with San Jose, Anaheim, Edmonton, Calgary, LA, Vegas, Arizona. Why? I have no idea, I’m guessing. LA is getting old, so is Anaheim, but they’ve still got good players. Vegas is going to fall back to earth and I won’t believe anything otherwise until they go and prove me wrong again.

4) Vetinari asks – The only big changes from last year’s team to the 2018/19 edition is a few new assistant coaches, a new unproven backup goalie, and some depth forwards—is this enough to bring us back to the playoffs?

Jason Gregor:

I think Yawney will help the D corps a lot, and Gulutzan and Viveiros will also be good new voices. I think the coaching changes will help, especially the D zone at 5×5 and on the PP. Because of #97, I’d say Oilers are a playoff team.

Robin Brownlee:

I didn’t expect big changes this off-season based on the cap corner Peter Chiarelli painted himself into. A return to the playoffs hinges on a return to form by Cam Talbot, Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom, to name three, as much as it does to adding any magic bullet acquisition. Those three don’t even need to be as good as they were in 2016-17, they just need to be better than they were last season. Don’t discount the coaching changes, either.

Matt Henderson:

Nope. However, if Talbot becomes a Vezina finalist, Klefbom’s shoulder is 100%, McDavid is his usual self, Sekera’s knee is great, and both Yamamoto & JP have breakout seasons, THEN it could happen!

Christian Pagnani:

I’m leaning towards no. They’re relying on too many unproven or underperforming wingers. Their right side on defence still needs improving and Talbot should recover but will that be enough? I’m skeptical of their scoring outside of McDavid/RNH and Draisaitl.

Baggedmilk:

I think it’s also important to remember how many things went wrong last year because if some of those things even out, like the special teams, then the Oilers will be better by default. Playoffs, though? I certainly hope so but it won’t be easy.

5) Barry asks – I know the NHL doesn’t start up again for another two months but what is your bold prediction for the 2018-19 season?

Jason Gregor:

McDavid leads the NHL in goals.

Robin Brownlee:

If the Oilers get off to a good start in the first 10 games people will declare all off-season fears unfounded. If they struggle, the I-told-you-so folks will deem the season lost and the firing of Chiarelli imminent. Not really that bold, actually. I do think Vegas will be a story again and I think they’ll be good enough to stay in contention for top spot in the Pacific.

Matt Henderson:

Vegas will be awful. I don’t know how bold that is but it’s my guess.

Christian Pagnani:

Columbus trades both Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin before the trade deadline.

Baggedmilk:

Jesse Puljujarvi will score 20+ this year and a lot of people will have to shut their mouths. Also, McNuge will be hot fire all season long and McLellan will keep them together.

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  • OriginalPouzar

    While it wouldn’t heart to start the dialogue, I’m not overly-concerned about the Talbot contract. Even if Talbot has a stellar year, I don’t think his contract demands will be off the charts (could be wrong on that, but just a feeling).

    I would like the Oilers to acquire via signing (after a PTO) or off the waiver wire another cheap experienced forward to put another body between the NHL and Brad Malone. There is ample room on the 50 contract limit and the only risk would be any additional cap hit over the $650K contract it would likely be replacing (a couple hundred grand at most). It actually could reduce the cap hit if its replacing a guy like Yamamoto for the start of the season.

  • Randaman

    Yamamoto makes the team out of camp as does Bouchard. The league gets younger and younger. Nutrition, training, grooming has all taken a huge step forward in the last 10 years.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    There seems to be something to say about the generation gap here. You have (seemingly) older, established media guys like Gregor and Brownlee who can see some positives with this Oilers team. The younger, (seemingly) non-established media guys here who see nothing but doom and gloom.

    Is it just me?

    • Fisto, I can’t speak for Jason, but for me it’s more of an arm’s-length thing than a generational thing. I’ve never been a fan of the Oilers — I’ve never cheered for them or against them. I don’t get pumped when they win and I don’t get all bent out of shape when they lose. As a hockey writer, my job was covering them. I had a story to write win or lose. In the era I came up in, you made sure to keep a reasonable distance and show as much objectivity as possible. When you cover a team daily for years and years, you do form relationships, so it’s not always easy to play things down the middle, but you try. I’ve never had the same emotional investment in the Oilers as a fan does — big highs and big lows.

      I think the relationship is different for people who came up as fans but who now write about the team. They’ve never had the need to stay impartial and objective drummed into them the way I did coming up as a young reporter. That’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is. It’s difficult to divest yourself of that emotional investment once it’s there. The highs are fantastic, the lows suck worse than anything has ever sucked. When things are good, they’re really good. When they’re bad, they’re really bad.

      Right now, and with the exception of last season, the Oilers have been a tough team to be a fan of for a dozen years. I think that’s sometimes reflected in the way things are written by people who have that emotional investment in the team.

      • RyanCoke

        Very well said. I am a die hard fan when we winning. I just stop watching when we losing. It keeps me from getting into a funk. The decade of darkness I watched every game in October and November then maybe 2 or 3 games the rest of the year. Our playoff year I watched every single game of the season and never missed a single moment.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Thanks Robin. I never thought about it from a professional emotional distance but that was well said.

        Maybe because I’m older now, maybe in my youth i would have appreciated the emotional posts and comments more but as I go I find I appreciate the level headedness both you and Jason and others elsewhere bring to the discourse on the Oilers and the NHL.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Robin your Quote is 100% totally, absolutely correct.
        “The highs are fantastic, the lows suck worse than anything has ever sucked. When things are good, they’re really good. When they’re bad, they’re really bad”. The Roller Coaster ride gets less appealing over time.

  • TKB2677

    I know that Matt Henderson is generally just negative when it comes to the Oilers but how can anyone possibly think the Oilers will be worse this year? This isn’t even being overly optimistic. More than half the team was hurt our had down years.
    Klefbom was hurt the whole year and was BAD, really bad. His shoulder was repaired and repaired early enough that he was fully healthy and able to have a complete offseason to train. So unless he’s just not a good player, the chances of him being anywhere close to being as bad as he was last year and next to none. So even if he returns to just a mediocre top 4 dman, that’s a major addition to the line up.
    Larsson started off poorly, tweaked his back and his dad died, all in ONE season. The chances on something similar happening are extremely low. So chances are, he will be start off better than he did last year. So if he is at all better and close to being his normal self, that is an addition to the Oilers.
    Sekera was gone for 3/4 of the season and when he came back, he wasn’t ready. He’s had time to completely heal and have an entire offseason to train. Maybe he doesn’t return to being a really good #3 dman ever but if he’s a decent #4, that is a massive addition.

    There is 3 out of the Oilers 4 top 4 dmen who were hurt, missing or had personal problems. Is it not realistic to assume they can all come back and at least be mediocre? If they do the Oilers will automatically be better. We haven’t even accounted for Benning or Nurse improving at all which is very possible.

    Then you go to the forwards. Expect for McDavid, how many Oilers forwards had a good year? Maybe Nuge but he only played 62 games. That’s it. Is it unrealistic to think that some of the Oilers forwards will at least have a good year? Even Lucic. Even if you hate Lucic, the chances of him not scoring for 35+ games is pretty much impossible.

    Talbot. He was hovering at or below .900 for more than half the season. Unless he’s not an NHL starter, the chances of him being that bad this season are very low.

    So how can the Oilers be worse than last year?

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Exactly. Thank you.

      If nothing else the Avs were a historically bad team in 2017. Horrible. Unfixable. Fire Sakic.

      They make few changes to the point of practically being no changes. ..and then make the playoffs.

      I don’t think the Oilers have as steep a mountain to climb as they did.

    • Leichs

      Agreed, lets not forget about the whole mysterious Drai concussion black eye rift in the locker room thing. That’s something I cant see happening again hopefully. And Connor having every sickness known to man for the first two months of the year. Essentially anything that could go wrong, did.

    • I didnt say the Oilers WILL be worse, I said the Oilers ARE worse than they were a year ago. This is basically the same team they had a year ago minus Maroon, Letestu, Slepyshev, and Auvitu. The last two, not a big deal. Letestu had his uses but meh. Replacing Maroon with Rieder is a downgrade. I dont know how much Brodziak has in the tank, he’s not getting younger. I dont bank on improvement in young guys like Puljujarvi or Yamamoto until they prove it. So to me, on paper, this team is weaker than it was a year ago.

      That said, individuals who had brutal 2017-2018 campaigns can perform better than they did and contribute to a better outcome for the team.

      • McNugent

        I find it humorous that you are an Oilers writer but you know so little.

        For example your prediction. You honestly believe that if Talbot is nominated for a Vezina we will still not make the playoffs. Is that a joke.

        When is the last time a team with a Vezina winning goalie did not make the playoffs? Let alone a Vezina winner and an Art Ross winner. C’mon man.

        It’s not all gloom and doom. Our goaltending bounces back we make the playoffs. Bank it.

          • McNugent

            Nope. However, if Talbot becomes a Vezina finalist, Klefbom’s shoulder is 100%, McDavid is his usual self, Sekera’s knee is great, and both Yamamoto & JP have breakout seasons, THEN it could happen!

            Is that not your words. Your saying Talbot has to be a Vezina finalist, McDavid an Art Ross and that is STILL not enough. Which makes you clueless.

            Your than suggesting Klefbom and Sekera have to be 100%, AND you require two breakouts from Yamo and JP.

            If Talbot is a Vezina finalist and McDavid wins the Art again the Oilers WILL be in the playoffs. If you cant see that why do you even cover the team? Your making no sense with your negativity which is now blinding you.

      • Bills Bills

        If they are healthy, they are better by default.

        In the summer of last season it was determined by most that the Oilers were division leaders and cup contenders “on paper”. So if they are worse than last year, they are likely a playoff team if they are healthy.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Did the Oilers improve their 3 areas of need? (will they be better this season?)
      1. More team speed?
      2. Improved secondary scoring?
      3. Consistent Goaltending?
      Most likely very similar results to last season, shut down McDavid and Drisaitl (take away middle ice). You win.
      The Oilers don’t score much, inconsistent goaltending, they are an easy team to beat.

  • Dirtbag Daddy

    I think it has come to a time that a player gets paid for what they have done. In Talbots and Russell they seem to have been paid for what they did in the past. Next contract it should be paid as what they have done. In either case, for this year, they should be working for a lower contract. However, they should never be used to cover management’s mistakes. Maybe management should be giving some money back for their errors as well.

  • Bond

    Bold prediction cuz it’s July…career years by McD, Nuge, Leon, Strome, Reider, Khaira, Klefbom, breakout year for Darnell, Benning and Jesse Pulijarvi scores 30 goals. Oilers win division make it to the finals but lose to the Lightning in 7.

  • Oiler Al

    Opening graphic..tells all! McLellan is not the “coach” for a young team. Too old school.Give the youngsters some rope and let them run. Certainly older guys didn’t make a difference,,,Letestu,Lucic,Kassian, Cammy , were not part of the solution.

  • I always enjoy the Monday mailbag intro. Good job.

    It seems like yesterday, (it was actually two summers ago) when media was gushing over the Oilers, calling them contenders, some went as far as declaring Edmonton the next champion. There hasn’t been much of that.

    Looking at the projected standings, I think Ducks, Knights, and Yotes are in for a tough year. Oilers claw their way back to some form of respectability, but in the end fall short. Van surprises, but also falls short.
    Don’t forget who predicted the current Stanley Cup Champion. That’s right, it was me.

  • cmandev77

    Bold Prediction – Oilers will finish with over 100 points, McDavid will lead the league yet again in scoring and Nuge will get around 80 points while Puljujarvi gets 25 goals and 30 assists.

  • TKB2677

    I roll my eyes whenever Matt Henderson says anything because he’s generally just negative to be negative yet contradicts himself. He mentions that the Oilers should start negotiating with Talbot right away. Then he mentions Talbot will bounce back. So if he expects Talbot to bounce back and believes the Oilers should resign him, clearly he believes Talbot is a decent enough starter worth keeping. Then he goes on to say the Oilers will be worse than last year.
    Goaltending is EVERYTHING in this league. You get good goaltending, it can make a lousy team good. Look no further than the Jets. The Jets misses the playoffs last season. The came in with virtually the same team yet this team they were a powerhouse. What changed in 1 year? Well they got a vezina calibre season from Hellebuyck. If Hellebuyck goes into the tank even with all their depth and great players, the Jets won’t be very good. The story that was the Vegas Knights. Expansion team, full of misfits. Win the Pacific, make it to the finals. WOW what a story. Fleury, who’s a pretty good goalie posted his BEST NUMBERS ever. That carried over into the playoffs where he literally stole his way to the finals. Finals comes, Fleury was pretty mediocre at best and the Knights get bombed. If Fleury had of played more games instead of being injured, he would have been nominated for a Vezina and probably won given he was a “feel good” story. Long story short. If Talbot bounces back like Henderson expects, there is NO WAY the Oilers will be as bad as last year.

  • Arfguy

    I am hoping that the later part of 2017-2018 led to McDavid realizing something: scoring goals is fun.

    Having said that, I do like the idea of him scoring 50 goals next season.

  • 1)There’s the worse case scenario that Koskinen or Talbot both suck but Talbot knows whats on the line and Koskinen knows the opportunity he has, I think we’ll be fine.

    2)Health? Health? Health?

    3)Wide open. The only lock imo is San Jose

    4)I think “only a few assistant coaches” is bigger then it looks. We have 2 established and qualified coaches on our staff, do I really need to remind about Woodcroft’s 31st rank PP or Johnson’s 31st rank PK(apparently the sudden boost was from Todd taking over in February)? How many times have we said “Todd simply got out-coached tonight” or “Woodcroft has no idea what he’s doing”? Yawney and Gulutzan have been regulars behind NHL benches for a reason. This isn’t the deepest roster at all but at the same time Colorado and Columbus weren’t loaded like Nashville or Tampa either. It takes a combination of good coaching and good players. If Yawney can solidify that defense and fix the PK while whoever takes of PP(im assuming it’s Viverios) lets McDavid do his thing then that’ll be a good sight for this team. We also get a full season of McNuge. I don’t know all the details for all the internal problems in the locker room and I won’t speculate anything but the chances of all of that and all those injuries happening again are low.