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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – How should the Oilers improve the in-game experience?

It’s that wonderful time again, my friends. A fall chill is in the air, training camp is firing away, and a new NHL season is nearly upon us. As always, the mailbag is back and we’re answering the questions you’ve always wanted to know about the NHL and life in general. Our panel of experts bloggers dove into the depths of their experience to give you every last juicy nugget of wisdom that their brains could muster and all for the low low price of absolutely nothing. I like to think of us as a much cheaper alternative to a college education. As always, this feature depends on you guys so I need you to submit your questions. If you have something you’d like to know you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. With that out of the way, it’s time to learn something. Enjoy.

1) Blake asks – Todd McLellan says that Ty Rattie will get to start the year with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins based on his finish to last season. Do you agree with this strategy, or is this a product of the Oilers’ complete lack of depth on the wings?

Jason Gregor:

He said he would get a look at the start of camp, and if he plays well then he will stay there. They won’t be the first team to have a non-proven player get a look on the top line. Pittsburgh had players right out of college get a chance with Crosby. They don’t have a proven top line RW, so they will look to see if one of their RW can become a solid complementary RW. It isn’t ideal, but also not a total shock. They are hoping in the future one of their young RW will develop into a top RW. But, maybe Rattie is ready. Maybe he can become a 40-45 point player this year.

Robin Brownlee:

You’re asking a loaded question and it’s not a matter of either/or. Yes, the Oilers have a lack of proven veterans on RW. Given the options available right now, I think Rattie is probably the best bet based on his brief look with McDavid last season. So, yes, I agree with this strategy based on the options available.

Matt Henderson:

I think it’s pretty misguided if he legitimately thinks a guy with Rattie’s resume actually earned anything that deserves his full commitment. That said, you probably want to let him start game one where he left off and then see where the chips fall. It all comes down to how long you keep Rattie on the top line and how you measure the success of the whole line.

Cam Lewis:

There’s definitely a lack of depth on the wings, but Rattie earned himself this opportunity with good play towards the end of last season. Obviously the lack of depth afforded him this opportunity, but there’s some chemistry there.

Chris the Intern:

Both. I agree with it because the three of them had chemistry at the end of last year. However, if we actually had someone who can produce with Connor that’s not another centerman, he would definitely be in Rattie’s spot.

Baggedmilk:

I think he will unless he gets outplayed in training camp by either Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi. Based on McLellan’s comments from this past week, though, it seems like Rattie will get the first crack at the spot whether it’s earned or not.

2) Vetinari asks – With the new players and the new assistant coaches, what changes do you think we will see at training camp this year in terms of who makes the roster and how it will be deployed?

Jason Gregor:

Changes will be in the systems. PP and PK, along with a different forecheck will be implemented. McLellan did say he has yet to share his opinion on players to the coaches. He wants them to formulate their own, without his input, and then see if they see what he sees. “I might be wrong on how I view some players,” is what he said. So it’s a clean slate for many players. I don’t see many surprises making the roster, but that isn’t new since most camps I believe there really are only around 26-27 players with a shot of making the 23-man roster.

Robin Brownlee:

I see a clean slate for many players on the roster because of the changes in coaches. Not for the top guys so much, but for the middle and bottom of the line-up. We’ve already got some hints about how the lines and defensive pairings will look in the absence of Sekera and, for now, Nurse. We’ll see a more aggressive forecheck and D-men will push the puck up ice more quickly. More pace to the game. Whoever fits into that best is going to have an edge.

Matt Henderson:

I think we can expect a complete overhaul of the PK and some new looks on the PP. the new assistant coaches didn’t come in to keep the worst special teams in the NHL trucking along in the same direction. Hopefully, it’s an end to Caggiula on the PK and the PP is more than “give it to 97 and pray”.

Cam Lewis:

The strategy on the special teams is going to be completely different, I imagine. Beyond that, I bet we see the defence get more involved with the play offensively.

Chris the Intern:

Our bottom six is going to be real interesting. With all the PTO’s handed out this summer, I’m very curious if the coaches are going to cut anybody from the team last year. (ie – Caggiula, Aberg). I hope they do the smart thing with Yamamoto and keep him in the AHL, but only time will tell.

Baggedmilk:

Just because the Oilers are heading to Europe, I’m curious to see if the cuts happen a little bit faster than they normally would. The first round of cuts ahead of last seasons saw five guys get sent down in the first round of cuts, and eight more in the second round four days later. Will that be in line with what happens this year? I guess we’ll see.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 27: Rapper Sean “P. Diddy” Combs performs onstage during Power 105.1’s “Powerhouse 2005: Operation Takeover” at the Continental Airlines Arena on October 27, 2005 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

3) Andrew asks – Besides improving the on-ice product and winning more games what do you think the Oilers could do better with their in-house entertainment? Same vein, what could they do better to reward their season ticket holders? I know Jason Gregor mentioned the in-game experience in an article late last week and I’d like to know what should change.

Jason Gregor:

More replays on the gorgeous big screen. Also maybe some pre-produced features on the players. How about after 20 games you have highlight package of McDavid’s great plays from the first 20 games, and same for other players? Get fans jacked up by showing things like that rather than the cheap, easy panning of crowd that does nothing to ignite passion in the building.

Robin Brownlee:

Honestly, and you won’t like the answer, I’ve never paid attention to the “in-game experience” because I’ve only ever gone to games in Edmonton when I’m working. I’ve never sat in the seats during a game. You say aside from the on-ice product and winning, but for me that’s the whole package right there. Nothing puts a charge in the building like that. Obviously, the choice of music matters. Never play Cotton-Eye Joe. If a promotion is lame, gas it and come up with something better. Take time to actually ask fans what they want, what they like and what they hate and accommodate them, if possible.

Matt Henderson:

Rewarding season ticket holders isn’t a priority. They just want your money and until they stop getting for minimal investment it they aren’t spending money on attracting it.

Cam Lewis:

Get more replays, highlights from different games, and video content on the scoreboard. Never, ever do crowds shots again. Prizes and trivia and things of that sort are always good. I don’t know. Hockey doesn’t really lend itself all that much to that, save for in Vegas. I’m not sure if this fanbase cares that much. Lower the cost of liquor and have better food, that would make people happy.

Chris the Intern:

The Oilers theme online and in-game is so so corporate. They need to let loose and get some young ideas in the system. Maybe a performance or two before a game? Less crowd shots, more actual important replays in between whistles. More cool chants. Lower beer prices, you name it. I don’t know, maybe they should install a zipline across the rink and let people go across it? I would enjoy that.

Baggedmilk:

I’m guessing that the answer is NOT to raise beer prices to $13.25 like they did this year? Anybody? No? Don’t leave me hanging here, people. Alright, for real, I’d like to see them take better advantage of the jumbotron with highlights from other games, highlight packs for players, pop-culture references if applicable, and anything else that can tie the game into what’s happening in the real world. Music, fan memes, interaction… there’s so many things they could do to improve the experience with those giant screens alone. Man, I’ve got ideas and the Oilers should probably call me.

4) Judah asks – Random question, but which of the junior leagues do you think is closest in skill to the NHL?

Jason Gregor:

None of the junior leagues are. Closest in skill to NHL is either AHL or KHL, but realistically even 70% of the players in those leagues are a big step down in skill from those in the NHL.

Robin Brownlee:

Changes from year to year. No one answer for your question.

Matt Henderson:

Probably the OHL. Sorry, WHL. Nobody cares about you QMJHL.

Cam Lewis:

The best Junior league is the OHL. The closest actual league to the NHL is the AHL, though the KHL features the highest upside players.

Chris the Intern:

This could be biased but I have always thought of the WHL as the best league in the CHL. It’s a great development league and a lot of guys continue to pro hockey afterwards.

Baggedmilk:

There is none. The NHL is another level entirely and it’s not close.

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

5) Matthew asks – What were your first thoughts on the Erik Karlsson trade, and how do you think it affects the Pacific Division power rankings?

Jason Gregor:

It is a great trade for San Jose. It clearly makes the Sharks the best team. They have the best defence in the league. It is only the 9th time in NHL history that two Norris Trophy winners, Karlsson and Burns, are on the same team, and then throw in Vlasic and Braun and their top four is outstanding. I said prior to the trade the only Pacific team I would say is a lock for the playoffs was the Sharks, because 90% of the time they make the playoffs. Now I’d say they are the favourite to win the division.

Robin Brownlee:

My first thought was Doug Wilson fleeced Pierre Dorion on the deal, assuming the Sharks can re-sign Karlsson. For my money, Wilson is the best GM in the league. My second thought was the Sharks now have the luxury of having either Karlsson or Brent Burns on the ice for almost half of every game. No other team has a one-two offensive punch on the back end like that. Sharks are contenders to come out of the Western Conference.

Matt Henderson:

My first thought was “That’s it?” They got six assets and maybe one has the *potential* to be an impact player…and not to the level of a EK. The Sharks scare me to death. They can play 50 minutes a night of Burns or Karlsson and Vlasic is just hanging out doing his thing. Ugh.

Cam Lewis:

San Jose was already more than likely a playoff team, but now they’re the team to beat the Pacific. All of the teams in the division got better other than Vancouver, so it’s going to be a hell of a climb for the Oilers.

Chris the Intern:

I wasn’t TOO surprised cause I knew San Jose was pushing hard for him. I’m shocked that the return was so low for him and I’m even angrier when I compare that to a lot of previous trades Chia has made (Hall, Eberle) and their returns. San Jose leapt to the top of the Pacific power rankings and knocked Edmonton down a peg for sure.

Baggedmilk:

First thoughts? Shit!

THE SEASON OPENER BRUNCH PARTY

If you’ve ever been to one of our season opener parties before, you already know that one of the best parts is getting 200 Nation citizens together to meet up and start off the new season on a high note. Not only are these parties a great way to get the band together, it’s especially fun to meet new people that you’ve been arguing with talking to online for Gord knows how long.

WHAT YOU GET:

The bag: Exclusive Season Opener Party tee, Pint GC, Oodle Noodle GC, stickers, and a ticket to enter all of the draws and raffles
The giveaways: 
Memorabilia giveaways, NationGear giveaways,
Anything else: We’ll also be having a NationGear pop-up shop that features some of the new shirts and hoodies that we’ve got for the upcoming season.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Where: The Pint Downtown
When: October 6th, with doors opening at 10 am and the hockey game starting at 11 am
Who: Every single one of you… that is of legal drinking age
Why: To celebrate the launch of a new season, get together, and to raise as much money as possible for our friends at KidSport
How much: Tickets are $25 each with net proceeds going directly to KidSport
How: Tickets are available here.



  • 18% body fat

    The WHL is the hardest to play in, stronger and tougher, with harder travel.

    The OHL is the most skill

    and the QMJHL is not good relative to the other two. For some reason the top goalies in the league seem to have a sub .900 save percentage, which leads to every mediocre prospect have over a ppg. This is the reason to not draft players from the Q out of range, unless they are completely elite and all aspects of their game stand out with zero questions about it.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    1. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind Ty Rattie getting slotted with McNuge. Keep in mind, Tom Wilson was slotted in with Ovi and Bacmsteom these past playoffs. All they’re looking for is a RW who can skate well Ann’s get pucks to McDavid and Nuge. You don’t need a super duper flashy RW. It helps, but it’s not necessary.
    2. New coaches, new systems, new strategy. Anything can happen, enjoy it.
    3. Haven’t been to an Oilers game since they visited Toronto in 16-17.
    4. Nothing is really close to the NHL really.
    5. None. I had San Jose finishing 1st in the Pacific before the Karlsson trade with Edmonton a close 2nd (because yes, they are THAT good). Now, San Jose finishes first guaranteed. Might even finish 2nd in the league overall.

  • Randaman

    Besides offence, what is so scary about Karlsson? He gets beat plenty. I get the prediction of the Sharks taking the division but everyone is beatable. I mean lots of people were raving about Calgary’s defence before last season. Love how that turned out!

    No more Kiss Cam please! Oh, and lower the volume on the music for God’s sake.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Year after year, the writers here and elsewhere in Edmonton say to change what’s shown on the Big Screen, and year after year the Oilers show the same crap. Doesn’t surprise me really. I noticed when i went to a game a few years ago. Silly crap and crowd shots. It was about it.

  • ed from edmonton

    I’ll admit I am old school, but winning more games is the single most important things to improve the in game experience. I don’t go to games for the sizzle, I go for the steak.

  • ed from edmonton

    So the real question of the day is with Morrisey signing for $3.15/y, should we expect a Nurse deal quickly along the same lines? I have maintained that once one of the Nurse/Morrisey/Theodore “sets the market” the other two will follow quickly.

  • phiko73

    I thought Matt Henderson was quitting. Can that just stay that way please. I am all for constructive criticism but he adds very little of value to any blog or social media. Just whiny and butt hurt

  • ziyan94

    Oilers games need more food and gear giveaways. People go nuts when the Tshirt cannon is in their section or when they get a “free” pizza. These crowd giveaways help when the Oilers are having too many giveaways on the ice

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The problem with Fan engagement is that the oilers have been doing the same thing for years and years and they seem to stick to it because it’s cheap! The prices of beer etc is pure gouging the people, it’s not just at the hockey game it is at concerts too. There is no reason that a beer needs to be almost 14 bucks. Please draft or even a can beer needs to be that profitable? How long do they thing people will pay out for that, people will just go drink before they get to the game and then only have one or two maybe at the game, some people will spend the cash no problem but for the majority you can bet there is this felling that they are getting ripped off/ Prices are way out of whack, and dont forget the price of ticket went up big time after the Oilers moved downtown

    Ratiie will get a look but not really because he earned it, yes a small sampling at the end of last season, more the ranks are so damn thin, the Oilers dont have a choice but to try it. Honestly Puljujarvi, had some time with McDavid and they seem to start to gel and Puljujarvi, started to put up some points and then for some inexplicable reason TM split them up which I found kind of baffling. So the Oilers have to give Rattie or Puljujarvi, a chance, I havent heard yet how Puljujarvi has done in camp, but if he doesnt gain some traction Puljujarvi, is going to start to sour because there seems to be this lack of follow thru getting these guys to shore up their weak spots in their game. Look at Yak, all the skillset but the Oilers couldnt get him to fix the weak point. Justin Schulz, had the guy playing way too much and never seem to work on helping him fix the short comijngs in his game, they just seemed to throw him on the ice all the time and no matter what the consequences, they trade him he goes to the Penguins they work on giving him less ice time, work on his game and he does well.that tells a story.

  • 1) Rattie is a stop-gap for Puljujarvi or Yamamoto eventually to be on that line. Could happen this year.

    2) They’re already bringing an emphasis on more speed, aggressiveness, and team-work.

    3) In-game entertainment doesn’t have to all centre around the big scoreboard. Stop playing bad music–more rock–and live music! Player vignettes and profiles. Oilers app is not very good. Could have better interactive onscreen quizzes throughout the game with winner announced near the end of the game.

    4) WHA! Oh… wait..

    5) I wanted Karlsson as an Oiler so badly as it checks off a lot of things we need. Now as both skilled righties, Karlsson and Burns won’t be on the same pair, which means either one of them will be on the ice for at least 3/4 of the game. Eeek!

    • That's My Point

      No more oldies from the 80’s glory years, get with the times.
      In the 80’s they didn’t play 40’s & 50’s music to get the crowd going, so why play 30 to 40 year old music in the 2018-2019 SEASON???
      Maybe play nothing older than 2000?
      Fans are getting younger, not older and they can’t relate to 80’s oldies.