Welcome, friends, to another edition of the award-winning Monday Mailbag! Here we are on the last Monday before the regular season kicks off and I’m having a really hard time hiding my excitement. There are only five more sleeps left until the McSeason starts, and the mailbag is here to help you kill off a few minutes of that remaining time with 3000 words of pure Nation wisdom. As always, this feature depends on you so please send me your questions by email or Twitter for next week and I’ll try to sneak you in. Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful week and please enjoy the free learning opportunity.
1) Greg asks – Are you at all concerned that two of the defensive free agents that Chiarelli brought in this summer (Jerabek and Gravel) both look like they’re in real danger of not panning out?
They were brought in to fill depth spots. I expected more from Jerabek and he’s been waived and will likely end up in Europe. Gravel remains a call-up option. Neither equates to “concern” for me.
Meh, not really. I don’t think either was ever expected to be anything major. Gravel was always just organizational depth and Jerabek was just a stab in the dark as a player with some upside. What I’m a little more worried about is the fact the team seems so ready and willing to give Evan Bouchard a big role on the team this season despite the fact it may not be the best long-term decision.
I wouldn’t say I’m concerned about it. I’m a big fan of bringing lots of fringe players and creating a very competitive training camp. Could Chiarelli and the pro scouts have done a better job identifying talent? Sure, but at the end of the day, it was a battle for a spot as the team’s seventh defensemen between a group of players who weren’t NHL regulars last year. Maybe we should have tempered our expectations.
Neither was going to replace Sekera but it has to be a little concerning they don’t seem like depth options at the moment.
Chris the Intern:
Peter Chiarelli kind of took a shot in the dark with those two because he had very limited options. If the two of them don’t work out (which it isn’t looking likely) I wouldn’t really criticize him for the failure of Jerabek, because he’s just on a PTO. I WILL judge him for the Gravel signing though, as we’re actually paying him money.
I mean, it’s probably not a great look for the pro scouts that neither of these guys were able to make the roster, but I guess we’ll have to see what happens. Gravel is in Bakersfield so there’s a chance he’ll be back but I’m really curious to see what happens with Jerabek.
2) Brandon asks – Given the fact that it looks like both Rattie and Yamamoto could stick come October 6th, who do you think loses their spot on the roster?
***BM Note: These questions were submitted a couple of days ago and some of the answers came in before the waiver news broke***
Aberg already gone as of Sunday and it’s no surprise. Want to see what they do with Chiasson.
I said on the podcast I expected Aberg to get waived because he looked totally carefree during the pre-season. Alex Chiasson looked much better and seems like a lock to get a contract once Sekera can hit the LTIR. Caggiula seems to be next in line to lose playing time.
I covered this in my piece the other day, but I think it will end up being Pontus Aberg who hits the waiver wire. I don’t think the team wants to risk losing Drake Caggiula and I’ve been impressed with Alex Chiasson; I think he brings a physical veteran presence to the bottom six. I don’t think Aberg is a very good fourth line player and that will result in him being the odd man out.
Chris the Intern:
My guess is Drake Caggiula. He didn’t look good last year and he sure isn’t playing well this preseason.
I thought it was going to be either Aberg or Caggiula or both and we now know that Aberg is the one to draw the short straw. And by short straw, I actually mean that he did absolutely nothing.
3) Future GM asks – Why is everyone on the media writing Bouchard in over Bear? Their skill level seems level to date, with Bear showing he can play against men and work the PP as well.
You overstate. I don’t think everybody is putting Bouchard ahead of Bear. What favours Bear is he can be sent to the minors and then be recalled. If the Oilers send Bouchard back to junior he has to stay there until his junior season is over.
Because if Bouchard goes down, he can’t come back. The obvious play here is nine games for Bouchard, back to the OHL, and Bear comes up.
It’s unfortunate for Bear because he has been better, but Bear can be thrown between the NHL and AHL as much as the organization wants. As soon as the Oilers decide to send Bouchard back to junior, he has to stay there. So I think they’ll give Bouchard nine games so he can have the experience under his belt, and then we’ll see him go back to London and at that point, I would expect Ethan Bear comes to the NHL for good. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the team brings both players to Europe and simply waits a week to give Jason Garisson a contract
I don’t think either should be playing regular minutes. Let them play a bunch in their respective leagues and get another option on the right side.
Chris the Intern:
Bouchard over Bear because he has the advantage that the Oilers would be forcing him to play in the CHL which wouldn’t help his development at all. Unfortunately for Ethan Bear, he has the flexibility to send him down to Bakersfield with no negative reaction on the team.
Personally, I would rather that both guys started the year with their respective minor league teams but that’s not going to happen based on the team’s current depth chart. That said, I think both have earned the chance. Bouchard’s passing game is elite and I can see why the Oilers would want to see how that works out at the NHL level, and Bear has, by all accounts, come into camp in amazing shape and finds himself knocking on the door. I don’t know what will happen, but this is a good problem to have.
4) Taylor asks – Any surprise for the panel that Al Montoya was sent down on waivers having only played 20 minutes of pre-season action?
None. Zero. The deck was stacked for Koskinen from the moment he signed his contract.
We all knew that Koskinen was going to be the backup when he signed that $2.5 million deal. Nobody is paying that for a guy in the AHL.
Well, I was surprised until super-sleuth Jason Gregor uncovered the fact that he has a NMC. It’s clear Montoya never had a shot and that’s why they didn’t play him. Kind of feel for the guy. He never got an honest shot to try to win the job, but at the same time, it’s essentially impossible for the team to send Koskinen down. They handcuffed themselves and didn’t allow a competition for the backup spot to form. Also, if you didn’t listen to Gregor’s interview with Chiarelli, you should, it’s fantastic.
No. The backup was Koskinen as soon as he signed that $2.5 million contract.
Chris the Intern:
Yes and no. I think Montoya’s “try-out” happened last year and that’s why Koskinen was brought in. Signing Koskinen to a $2.5million contract WITH a no-trade clause pretty much confirms his spot on the team so I was sort of expecting Montoya to get sent down.
Not after we found out about the NMC. When that news came out, it was obvious.
5) Geoff asks – What has been your opinion on Jakub Jerabek so far? I’ve been underwhelmed by him and feel like he could lose his spot to Jason Garrison because of it. Anyone else feel the same way?
Everybody feels the same way, including the Oilers. He’s been waived. Adios.
He looked pretty bad and Brandon Davidson would have been a better fit. I’m a little surprised they chose to hand out a contract to Jerabek rather than a familiar player like Davidson.
He’s more noticeable than Garrison, but usually for the wrong reasons. I think Jerabek has a high ceiling than Garrison and could actually be a better everyday NHL defenseman, but I worry about his ability to consistently bring his ‘A’ game, especially if he’s a healthy scratch for a long period of time. Garrison is a more experienced option, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and I would trust him more to come in and be competitive once every five to ten games.
If you lose your spot to Jason Garrison, you can’t be playing too well.
Chris the Intern:
I’ve barely noticed Jerabek or Garrison this preseason. Jerabek could make for a solid extra defenceman, but would have no intention to keep him around for anything more.
I thought he was invisible in the five pre-season games he played and clearly, the Oilers agreed. Adios, mon frere.
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.