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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Has Peter Chiarelli made the most of his summer?

Welcome, citizens, to a long weekend edition of the mailbag where your friendly neighbourhood Nation writers are here to help you make sense of all things Edmonton Oilers. If you’re working today, we hope that these here 2000 words of worldly wisdom help you kill off a little bit of company time, and teach you a little something at the same time. As always, I always need you guys for this feature so email me your questions to baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy. Have a good week, everybody.

1) Travis asks – Do you think Chiarelli made the most of the summer with the moves he did or did not make? … Is there a certain move you would’ve wanted to see or accomplish?

Jason Gregor:

He didn’t lose a big trade so that was a good move. Depth moves on short deals were solid. Koskinen signing is the obvious head scratcher.

Robin Brownlee:

No, he didn’t, but he didn’t have the cap space to even try to make all the necessary moves. Did good work getting Brodziak and Rieder. Still don’t understand the massive overpay for a back-up goaltender.

Matt Henderson:

I think this is as good as he can do given his limited cap space and talent. The Oilers didn’t have many options. Getting Rieder for cheap was positive. Still need to find ways to move a couple anchors.

Chris the Intern:

Well, I would have loved to see Chia land a big name defenceman or winger. I wasn’t really expecting it, but I was dreaming. With the little resources he left himself from past failed moves, I think he did a pretty good job. He made a few lateral moves that COULD make us slightly better next year…? Only time will tell. We’re banking on a lot of guys having rebound years this season.

Baggedmilk:

Koskinen is the weirdest thing he’s done this summer, and that’s, of course, because of the money. I completely get why he wanted to bring in a backup but Koskinen got way overpaid. Now, with that out of the way, I really dig the Tobias Rieder signing and bringing in Kyle Brodziak. Considering there wasn’t a whole lot of cap room to play with, I like those two signings. I also like what Chiarelli’s team did at the draft. Having Bouchard fall in your lap is pretty sweet.

2) Craig asks – Obviously we know that the Oilers did not perform well with the heightened expectations of last season, so my question is how much do you think it helps them to lose the Stanley Cup favourites weight this summer?

Jason Gregor:

Not very much. They still have to show up and play.

Robin Brownlee:

If expectations, good or bad, significantly impact how a team performs, then there’s a problem. It’s not a factor, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Matt Henderson:

Can’t hurt. I think losing Sekera to injury and Talbot’s babies keeping him up at night had more to do with the team faltering than expectations though. Still, nobody is expecting this team to be more than OK and that’s fair.

Chris the Intern:

I think it’ll definitely help them. I don’t think the pressure is what got to them last year, I think it was their over-confidence. This year I feel like they have more pressure to perform, but might be a little more down to earth on how good they think they are.

Baggedmilk:

There were a lot of things that went wrong last year: injuries, dreadful special teams at times, down seasons for key players, etc etc. The added expectations that they be Cup contenders certainly didn’t help and maybe flying under the radar a little bit will help. We shall see.

3) Gretzky’s Silver Easton asks – Since it’s the summer and there is nothing going on, I want to know what is the best hockey game that you’ve ever seen live?

Jason Gregor:

April 20th, 1997. Game three of first round series Oilers/Stars. The Oilers scored three goals in 1:56 in the final four minutes of the third period to tie the game and then Kelly Buchberger scored in OT. Half the building had left early and then rushed back in for OT.

Robin Brownlee:

I could pick several from all those playoff meetings between Edmonton and Dallas alone and Game 5 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final in Carolina sticks out for me because of Fernando Pisani’s shorthanded goal and the importance of the game. That said, I have to go with Game 2 of the Smythe Division semifinal between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in April 1982 on the way to the SC final when Tiger Williams scored the winner in OT and then dashed the length of the ice in celebration. The place was bedlam. Last time I remember shouting my face off as a fan. Wasn’t the “best” game but it was the most memorable.

Matt Henderson:

I don’t know about best, but I was there when Scrivens set the team record for saves in a shutout and he had at least three standing ovations. He let in everything during the warmup and looked like he was fighting it. Game starts for real and he was an impenetrable wall. Crazy. It was like he was having an out of body experience.

Chris the Intern:

I was fortunate to see a lot of exciting games in the 2016-17 season. (not really anything significant before that). I think the best game I saw was game three of the playoffs that year against the Ducks.  This was the game where the mic got cut out before the game for Brett Kissel during the American anthem and the whole crowd jumped in to save the day. This was also the game where Connor McDavid undressed Vatanen along end boards and scored a clutch goal top corner. The Oilers lost that game, but the experience was something I’ll never forget.

Baggedmilk:

That’s tough. I was at the game when Smytty got his teeth knocked out and came back to get an assist on Horcoff’s OT winner. I was at Game 6 against Detroit when the Oilers knocked out the team that was expected to be Cup favourites. I’ll never forget the “Manny, Manny, Manny” chant that broke out during a commercial break and it was loud and jarring. Legace even admitted after the game that the chant rattled him, and I don’t see how it couldn’t. It went on for two straight minutes. I also went to some pretty amazing playoff games in 2017 too: Desharnais’ OT winner, Game 6 against the Ducks when Draisaitl got the hat trick (I ended up catching a signed Letestu hat that night). This is a hard question because I love the Oilers and so many games were amazing to me. How can I pick just one? Bah.

Edmonton Oilers backup goaltender, Mikko Koskinen.

4) Braden asks – It feels like, to me, that the Oilers are once again making a bunch of bets on this year’s team as opposed to running with known commodities. Mikko Koskinen as an expensive backup comes to mind. In your opinion, what are the safest bets going forward for the Oilers? I.E. Jesse Puljujarvi progresses, Kailer Yamamoto makes an impact, etc.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t think Yamamoto making an impact is a safe bet. Safest bet is that that PP and PK won’t be as bad as last year.

Robin Brownlee:

Neither Yamamoto nor Puljujarvi are safe bets. Connor McDavid is the safest bet by a bunch. I also expect Cam Talbot to return to form, as he did late last season, and for special teams to be better.

Matt Henderson:

I include Yamamoto in my safe bets category. I really like the kid. I’d also bet on JP *but* I don’t know where the coaching staff really slots him. Safest bet of all is that McDavid can score with or without help.

Chris the Intern:

I almost don’t want to answer this question cause I don’t want to jynx anything. Connor will have a good year, Nuge will have a solid year, and Draisaitl will have a good year. Those are the only safe bets in my opinion.

Baggedmilk:

Easy. Connor McDavid will be worth your time, every time.

Nov 24, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Buffalo beats Edmonton 3 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

5) Dennis O. asks – No one ever asks anything about Milan Lucic so I thought I might as well. He has been and still is on my favourite player list. I am wondering about his vision. There were many times last season where it appeared that he literally could not find the puck especially when it was in his feet or close to him. I’m assuming that the Oilers have many medical types checking things like vision on the players but…. could there be an undisclosed or undiscovered problem?

Jason Gregor:

His vision is fine. He lost confidence and started forcing plays. The Oilers do have vision tests, but Lucic struggles weren’t due to vision.

Robin Brownlee:

I haven’t heard a single word about Lucic having a vision problem. That would be something that would be addressed with any player if there was an issue. Lucic had a confidence problem. He’s talked about it. No secrets here.

Matt Henderson:

I only know things I’ve heard. I have no real sources, just stories passed on from others who heard from others. That kinda thing. Still, I’ve heard a few times that Lucic’s eyes aren’t great and completely unwilling to address the issue via surgery or lenses. Can’t see a damned thing and too cool to do anything about it. Is it true? Hell if I know. Well, at least it explains something.

Chris the Intern:

I can’t speak to what his eyesight is like, but I think it was just one of those things where one thing is going wrong, it’s all going wrong. His confidence was obviously shot which affected his whole game: scoring, vision, awareness, hitting, you name it. I expect he’ll have a bounce back this year.

Baggedmilk:

If you’re a pro-athlete and you can’t see then wouldn’t you do everything imaginable to correct the problem? You’d have to assume, right? Anything less than doing whatever it takes to improve your vision would be completely moronic and I can’t see Lucic being that dumb.

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  • Spydyr

    Do you think Chiarelli made the most of the summer with the moves he did or did not make? … Is there a certain move you would’ve wanted to see or accomplish?

    He pretty well sat on his hands like he did last summer and we all know how that turned out.

  • HockeyYoda

    Just saying because nothing posted on topic. I’ve been watching Canada’s summer showcase to see who looks good. Obviously, closely watching Bouchard as well. I’m sad to report he didn’t look that great. I had not seen him play before the draft but had seen Dobson who I was hoping the Oilers would take. I was concerned when I read Bouchard needs to work on his skating since it’s becoming more important every year in today’s game. But also read he could really pass and shoot which made me feel better. Anyway, maybe Bouchard wasn’t in mid season form but I couldn’t help but notice that against Sweeden there were two times when the Sweed’s were able to fly past Canada’s D and get a grade A shot on net. And both times it was against Bouchard. Meanwhile, Dobson, has been singled out along with Ty Smith as two D that played the best. I’m not saying Bouchard is going to be a bust. Just saying so far, I still like Dobson better.

  • Still Hate the Flames

    I’ve also noticed lucic tending to squint or at times appearing to fiddle with contact lenses during televised games and have wondered the same thing about his vision, myself.

  • JimmyV1965

    Chias biggest mistake this summer was his failure to get another legit RHD. And I dont mean a PP guy. I don’t like the idea of going into the season with Benning as the 2RD without a backup player.

  • Bond 0097

    I think that Chirelli should have installed a direct line to the Oilers medical dept. Last season apparently he didn’t know Sekera was out, Klefbom was playing injured, Connor was sick for 2 months and Leon had a head injury of questionable origin. How did PC not know about and act on these things?

  • chickenStew

    I’ve been saying for over year that it is obvious that Lucic has some sort of vision problem.
    When the guy can’t find the puck in his skates, squints like he’s looking into the sun, passes to the wrong guy.. what else could it be?

  • OriginalPouzar

    Koskinen signing aside (I still have not heard one viable justification for that contract given this team’s cap situation), I am just fine with Chiarelli’s off-season.

    Way too early to tell on the draft but I like each of the top 3 picks and am fine with moving up to grab the top-ranked goalie.

    The Marody trade was in April so I count that as the off-season (pretty much) and that was a fantastic trade – Marody is an Oiler top 5 prospect on merit. He’s not sure bet for the NHL but he has a decent shot with his skill set.

    The signings were targeted and make perfect sense – Rieder being an RFA at the end of the deal makes it a wonderful signing.

    Sure, many/most/all would have love if Chiarelli could have disposed of a bloated contract or two, however, I don’t see any reason to force such a trade right now. To give up a material asset just to get rid of Lucic (and then needing to find yet another top 6/middle 6 winger) and maybe even retain in the same trade, that just isn’t something that makes sense for this team.

    Chiarelli is showing some patience which takes guts given the pressure.

    • camdog

      The team believes Koskinen gives them a better chance to win than any other goalie options that were available on the market. The Oilers really believe in this guy and he wasn’t going to take a discount to come to the NHL.

      • OriginalPouzar

        The Oilers signed him in April. There were numerous established NHL backups, high end backups, that were scheduled to come on the market (and they did).

        Notwithstanding his KHL numbers compare to Anders Nillson and Curtis Sanford, I don’t mind the bet on the player, however, there is no justification for $2.5M. There is no reasonable comparable for that contract. In fact, the KHL goalie of the year this past season, Pavel Francouz, years younger than Koskinen, signed for $690K with the Avs.

        Given the history of KHL goalies coming to the NHL, its reasonable to think we may not have even improved the position although I’m quite hopeful that we did.

        If the player commands an unreasoanble contract, management has the option to walk away and they should have – especially given it was April, numerous options that could be considered as good and actually better were going to come on the market.

        I’m hoping that he becomes the next Kipper but there is no justification for the contract.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    My best game was either Canada-Russia February 24th, 2010 in Vancouver at the Olympics. Atmosphere. Nerves. I remember a guy banging pails like drums and it sounded like a war march.

    I also went to Gold medal game the following Sunday but nerves and a fight with my then girlfriend-now wife ensured we were the last ones in the building. I was in knots the whole game.

    Either one of those games would be mine.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      My best games were, unfortunately both Calgary wins but epic memorable games non the less…
      I was at both. The Steve Smith Game (I need not mention the date)… Props to Steve for coming out of this un-effected long term. If that was me I’d still be staring at nothing, counting my fingers. Fantastic game to be at though. I think it was 1986? Just think, it could have been 6 cups Steve, we’ll never know?
      Also, another Calgary game, but this time against Vancouver, 1989 Game 7, Joel Otto pots an overtimer at the very end of the first overtime. Peplinski I believe had the assist. Those two games I was at were a toss-up as to which one was best.

  • MrBung

    Chia’s bad moves and signings are catching up with him. This summer is the least that could be asked but the bad backup signing was just another in Chias sewering of the Oil. Chia will be gone by the end of the season after the Oil miss the playoffs again.

  • Captain Stubing

    Gregor, I was at that game myself as well against the Stars, I was about 15 and went with my dad. After the second goal went in the building became electric. You could feel the tying goal coming. I’d never felt that excited in my life. Best game I’ve ever witnessed.
    Side note: Bryan Marchment had an injury at that time and the team really missed his fierceness and toughness. He was shown on the jumbotron by himself watching the game, standing on the ‘media ring pedway’ above everyone in the stadium. The crowd reacted and gave him a standing-o, shortly after the 1st goal was scored and the rest is history.
    Great memory Gregor!

  • Rhoethbeorth

    Kinda pointless parsing what PC did without discussing his most significant off-season action — purging the coaching staff. That will have a far greater impact on the on-ice product than any player transactions, and none of you armchair experts even mentioned it.

    Astonishing.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Yawney and Viverios have the potential to be the biggest acquisitions of the season.

      Yawnye’s track record of helping develop young d-man, dating back to Duncan Keith in Norfolk is sensational.

      Viverios is universally lauded by his players in Swift Current as having a huge positive effect on them – including by Stuart Skinner. He led SC to the best PP in the WHL this past season and, from accounts, is already breaking down film of the Oilers PP and getting ready for the season – he likes lots of movement on the PP which should be music to the ears of Oiler fans who watched a stagnant powerplay for most of last season.

  • Hockeysense9393

    I’m gonna sing a song for you…it goes like this.

    Dubnyk, Dubnyk, Dubnyk…
    Haaaaall, Haaall, Hall…
    Eberle 4 Strome!

    Reeiinhaaart Baaaarrzaaal
    Luuuu wanting out?!

    Dubnyk/Hall…already ouch!
    Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch…..
    Oooouuch!

    Russell…Larsson psssst!
    Sekera, Benning, Klefbom…
    ….pssssssssssst….!
    Nuuuursssse is oookkk!

    TALBOT dubnyk TALBOT dubnyk Tal!! ouuiichy…

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllll
    (Fade to black)

    “Anybody give a s*** aboouuuttt Yak…u…poovv!

    • Glencontrolurstik

      The Oilers have to sign Nurse first, Is it just me, but I’m getting a little anxious about this?
      I honestly think he’s good enough to get an offer from another team?