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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Coach Q?

Welcome, friends, to a holiday Monday edition of the Mailbag. As always, I’ve taken five of your questions that need answers from our panel of heroes and experts, drawing from them the answers that you need to better live your lives. This feature depends on you and if you have a question you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk

1) Ryan asks – I was frustrated by the Oilers road trip because they started off well and seemed to run out of gas by the time they landed in Florida. What was your opinion on this last four-game road trip? What did you like and what did you not like?

Jason Gregor:

I thought they played well in TB and WSH despite losing. The lack of finishing off good chances was the biggest concern for me. They should have been leading 2-0 after the first, but didn’t finish and then they looked tired in the final 40 minutes.

Robin Brownlee:

Not good enough. Needed 2-2. Can’t lose to the Florida Panthers. Thought they might build off the Tampa game but it didn’t happen.

Matt Henderson:

They were gassed and I think by the end we were seeing that they may not have the horses. Actual depth means when one is slumping another is there. There were a few people scoring early and now I don’t know where everyone went.

Cam Lewis:

The unfortunate reality of being a top-heavy team, relying so heavily on McDavid, Draisaitl, and Klefbom, is how easy the team gets burnt out. The losses in Washington and Tampa were tough but the team played pretty well and they were just totally burnt by the time they got to Florida. That’s going to be reality with this team all year. They’re going to struggle on tough road trips because of the non-existent depth.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I agree that it looked like they ran out of gas, especially their higher end players. That’s a concern for me because at times Todd McLellan is forced to overplay guys like McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, Klefbom, and Larsson if he wants to win games. That’s not a shot at Todd either, it just speaks to how top-heavy this team is. So that’s a concern for me. Their special teams were also awful. The top powerplay unit wasn’t generating any sort of sustained pressure and their penalty kill looked more like the PK we were seeing a year ago.

Christian Pagnani:

They played a lot of games. .500 would have been preferable especially when you get a backup goalie, but the Capitals are still really good. Tampa Bay is up there too. Florida was winnable but I don’t think they deserved it.

Chris the Intern:

I didn’t like how we almost lost all of the games. However I did like how we fought until the end of the game against every team even when we were down. Our special teams were very inconsistent, which is bad, but when our powerplay was good, it was REALLY good, which shows a huge positive.

Baggedmilk:

They looked completely gassed by the time they got to Florida. I’m not making excuses at all, but they looked tired and that caused errors in their execution.

Feb 22, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg (34) is stopped by Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot (33) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Clay asks – With the crop of UFA goalies coming up this summer do you think it would be best for the Oilers to wait on any decisions in net until then?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see them acquiring a proven goalie during the season, so I’d just wait until the summer when you can sign one and not give up an asset for a goalie who is likely unproven. Also after goalie Bob there isn’t many other great goalies.

Robin Brownlee:

Waiting is the thing to do but it has nothing to do with the “crop” you speak of. How much real quality is there? Outside of Bobrovsky, who is priced out of Edmonton’ ability to pay, who do you see? I don’t see much. Look at the age of the proven guys on the list.

Matt Henderson:

I think getting attached to goalies is a bad move and teams should always be looking to upgrade. Always. I don’t know about waiting for anything. If you can upgrade then you should do it.

Cam Lewis:

Goalies are voodoo. I don’t think either Talbot or Koskinen are going to be given an extension mid-season so wait and see which one is better, bring them back, and then grab another guy on the cheap in free agency. I don’t like the idea of throwing a bunch of cash at Sergei Bobrvosky.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m not that impressed with the crop of UFA goalies. Sergei Bobrovsky is going to command way too much money for the Oilers, Semyon Varlamov isn’t a huge upgrade over Talbot, I really don’t like Mike Smith at all, and Jimmy Howard’s best days are behind him. The only name that catches my eye is Keith Kinkaid. I think he’s ready to be a ‘1A’ type of guy, he just needs a solid backup as well. I would stay with Talbot though and get him signed to an extension whenever he wants. I think something like four or five years at somewhere around $5 million would be fair.

Christian Pagnani:

I’d wait for sure. I’m not ready to commit to Talbot based on his last season and this year’s start. I doubt the Oilers would be in on Bobrovsky. Other than Bob, Talbot, and Varlamov, there’s not much in free agency. I’d explore the trade market.

Chris the Intern:

I think yes. My gut is telling me to stick with Talbot, and that he’s going to bounce back strong. If this is the case, then we’d be safe to make our decision on goaltending in the summer. HOWEVER, if we’re 40 games into the season, hovering around .500 and still aren’t seeing bright spots from our goalies, then we might have to think about making a move at the deadline or sooner.

Baggedmilk:

I just checked out the list and I don’t know if anyone on it would be the solution. Bobrovsky would be nice for sure but he’ll also get some huge smoke in free agency.

Jan 12, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan looks on during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

3) Jayson asks – Does anyone on the panel think that the Oilers should have interest in Joel Quenneville even though they’ve been playing some good hockey?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t think Quenneville is in a rush to jump back into things. He will be able to pick where he goes. I’d guess a legit Cup contender who comes up short could make a change. If Tampa doesn’t get to the Cup Finals…they could look at it and they would be very attractive for Quenneville. Now if the Oilers losing skid continues then I do think they’d be more interested.

Robin Brownlee:

Every team should have interest in Joel. He’s a proven commodity. He’s not going to do anything right now, so if you’re talking about potentially making a call this coming off-season, sure. He’ll be able to pick and choose then.

Matt Henderson:

They just lost their fourth game in a row and the last two haven’t been against great teams. The team has sent Yamo and Jesse away because winning with them didn’t seem likely to the coach. If this team isn’t at least intrigued by JQ then there are problems.

Cam Lewis:

The GM is a bigger issue than the coach.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Nope. He’s won his Cups and he’s one of the best coaches in NHL history, but there’s no way the Oilers will be able to convince their owner to fire Todd McLellan and start paying TWO high-end coaches at once. On top of that, I believe you have to give Todd McLellan this entire season. He’s your guy and you should stick with him. Also, one of the knocks on McLellan is how he handles young players and anyone who says Quenville has a significantly better track record of developing young players is blowing smoke.

Christian Pagnani:

Of course. You have to at least consider it and if you think it brings you closer to a championship then you make the move, even with a good start. How many Joel Quenneville’s become available? You have to consider all your options. I don’t think a good start has taken all the heat off Todd McLellan.

Chris the Intern:

I’m torn about this. I do like Todd McLellan (however the recent gossip of the things Iiro Pakarinen said about him makes me like him a bit less), but Joel Quenneville is a hard opportunity to pass up. I think Coach Q is going to sit back and wait a bit for the right offer. This could buy us some time to see how McLellan handles this team moving forward and may give us an opportunity to pounce if things aren’t working out here.

Baggedmilk:

Wouldn’t it be great if the Oilers brought in Joel Quenneville as some kind of advisor to Paul Coffey or something? I think that’s the way we can get him in here. We’ll just have to work on convincing Todd it’s a good idea, which will be tricky.

Bakersfield Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft.

4) Yves asks – There are some players in Bakersfield that are performing very well this year and I’m curious which prospect has your eye right now?

Jason Gregor:

Caleb Jones. Not for this year, but I think he will help the blueline in the future.

Robin Brownlee:

Benson, Hebig and Marody up front. Caleb Jones on the back end.

Matt Henderson:

I think a player like Hebig is nothing but found money. He was a stud to finish his CHL career. He is showing no signs of slowing down and the team would be insane to put any limits on him. He’s got 12 points in 11 games as a rookie pro. I love it. Obviously now you’re watching Yamo and Jesse, but before they arrived the other kids were impressing.

Cam Lewis:

I’ve been really jazzed about that whole kid line of Marody, Benson, and Hebig, but another guy going completely under the radar is William Lagesson, a Swedish defender who’s perfoming well in his first season in North America.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Tyler Benson. The 20-year-old Edmonton product has 12 points in 11 games to start his first pro season and there’s no denying his offensive instincts. He thinks the game at an NHL level. NHL Prospect Expert Simon Boisvert said last week that Benson is the type of player who “is more built for the NHL than the AHL” simply because he exceeds when he is playing with skill. That’s high praise. The biggest thing with Benson is that he’s healthy as well. I talked to him last season and one of the things he mentioned is that he’s finally going to have two consecutive summers of being healthy, which he’s never had thus far in his career. He talked about how much that would help his development and I think we’re seeing it pay off this year.

Christian Pagnani:

Tyler Benson. It’s awesome to see him have success after a bunch of injuries since being drafted. The Oilers desperately need to develop scoring options from within. It’s also nice to see the AHL affiliate finally play young prospects and not AHL veterans.

Chris the Intern:

Cooper Marody is a hard guy not to be interested in right now. He’s shown flashes of brightness at the NHL level and certainly looks confident in Bakersfield.

Baggedmilk:

I like the way Hebig, Benson, Marody, and Caleb Jones have looked so far. I don’t think any of them are ready for primetime but I’ll definitely be watching how the rest of their season plays out.

5) Blake asks – How could I not ask what everyone thinks about the Ottawa Senators Uber video?

Jason Gregor:

The man who posted it made a horribly childish decision. Lost his job because of it. Players didn’t say anything cringe-worthy for me, just a conversation that shouldn’t have been made public.

Robin Brownlee:

Stupid move by the Uber driver. I think pretty much everybody — including the driver — has agreed on that over the last week. Let’s move on.

Matt Henderson:

I think it’s not at all shocking that people talk about their bosses in unflattering terms. I thought it was cool to see their insights into their own team’s performance though.

Cam Lewis:

It looked terrible on everyone. The players looked like dicks, the Sens look like an even bigger joke somehow, and the Uber driver looks like an impossibly big opportunistic tool. The winners, of course, are those watching through the glass enjoying the Good Content that came from it.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Everyone complains about their bosses/workplace and everyone would change their tones if they thought they were being recorded. The players need to be smarter when they’re in public, but also, I don’t blame them for thinking an Uber drive in Arizona wouldn’t care (but they probably shouldn’t have told him either). End of the day, they need to remember they are public figures and should zip it when they are in public, it’s unfortunate this had to happen. The biggest thing in my opinion though: that Uber driver is a POS. To record them and not say anything is one issue, in my opinion, it’s another thing to get salty about a tip (which isn’t mandatory in an Uber) and then SEEK OUT members of the Ottawa media to make this a story. The guy is a real POS.

Christian Pagnani:

I thought it was entertaining. The video was bad for everyone involved, but I also couldn’t look away. Everyone’s been in the same position, letting off steam about work or life. It’s unfortunate the Uber driver released the video, but it was very interesting to hear players speak candidly.

Chris the Intern:

The whole situation sucks. I feel for the Sens coaching staff, and I feel for the players, and I feel for the fans. It’s no secret that everyone has conversations similar to this about their superiors, and it’s no secret that superiors have similar conversations like that about their players. I hope they are all able to push it aside and move on with their lives. Maybe they can have an open and honest conversation about what they can do to better their relationship and move on.

Baggedmilk:

I felt bad for the players, to be honest. People vent all the time but it doesn’t usually end up on video and released to the public.

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  • Coach Rick

    I’m not one to blame the coach for the play of the team. I’m losing that opinion now. Lasts night effort showed a lack of preparation, lack of effort, lack of determination and lack of pride for your team and fans.

    This is not new for this team! Along time ago our coach said his players would earn their ice time. He has never done that. He has his fav’s he has his whipping boys. As of right now what he doesn’t have is the respect of his players. We are not in the top 10 of the league right now. I think Oiler fans understand this. What we can’t understand is million dollar players not ready to go and not ready to out work an opponent.
    Last night we play a team on a five game losing streak at home. They out worked us in our own building. There is not enough shame to go around this morning. Maybe our coach should fall on his sword!

  • ed from edmonton

    3. Should be starting a Mcllellan firing count down? If the Oil were to bring in Quenneville it would be a very expensive move as paying out Mcllelan and Jpe Q won’t come cheap. But the K man hasnever balked, as far as one can tell, about spending money.

    4. OI cant recall ever, the OIl having some many players in the AHL looking like they have an NHL chance.

    5. If I were a person with a public profile I would stay clear of Uber. Not the 1st time a Uber driver earned a little extra cash by selling an embarrassing video (remember the Nenshi video a couple of years back).

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The Oilers sticking with TM will have us out of the playoff picture. Look at the problem the Oilers have that changing assistants didnt fix, the PP is still bad and that 5 lefties isnt working and hasn;t been working but yet it looks like we are sticking with it.

    The PK system is once again not working, the oilers having all 4 guys collapsing on the net, but no one seems to know what to do, there is no pressuring the man, no active sticks, they stand there… and the opposition had all day to decide to pass and take shot because they will get thru everyone is standing still like they are statues, and the teams defensive positioning and situational awareness of who is where in are zone even 5 on 5 is brutal, there were times the other team looked like they were on the PP because the Oilers just looked like they were on the PK.

    There is no way the Oilers can ride TM thru to the end of the season. TM said we were going to see a different team playing a faster game, better breakouts and a different PP and PK, Then why are we seeing old habits creep in? Still not ready to play when the puck drops, puck in the net within the first couple minutes, PP and PK systems still a mess, this is all old habits we saw last year, so there is something wrong and it’s damn hard to blame the assistants for it, they are new this year

    TM seems to want to blender lines when they are working, and when lines aren’t working leaves them in tact…. yeah brilliant idea.

    Chia is loathe to make any changes, and honestly if he makes a trade I would be scared cause god knows what kind of mess it will be. Strome needs to sit, Benning too cause we are seeing Benning chasing and on the ice for goals against again. Schwartz needs to go, sorry great career at the U of A but zero experience in the NHL is killing us because he has no sway in helping fix the issues that cause us to leak goals with the goalies, Talbot is a shining example, everyone in the league knows go high because he goes down too early and stays there too long, been going on since last season, nothing has been done to address it. We need a proven NHL goalie coach. If players arent playing sit them out and send a message or tell them what the hell it is that is wrong, like c’mon already.

    IF TM stays we will be out of the playoffs, he just cant or is enable to get this team going, just standing on there and hoping your aura of awesomeness is good enough ain’t cutting it. He needs to go now, not later NOW!!

    • Tyler Yaremchuk

      Who’s the better UFA goaltender to go get? They don’t really have a choice considering their cap problems. Would you rather they get Kinkaid for $3.5m? Thats a bigger gamble than Talbot at $4.5-$5m.

      • BasementDweller

        Agreed, but my issue is your term and price point. I’m not seeing anything that makes me comfortable with giving him a raise or that kind of term.

        That sad fact is management has us in this situation where one of our best option is to settle on a struggling tender.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        How about they get a real goalie coach with NHL experience and see if he see’s what is wrong with Talbots game and see if they can fix it. Schwartz was the Oil kings goalie coach… yes the Oil Kings Goalie Coach, and they fired Chabot and made Schwartz goalie coach, no search for a proven goalie coach, Its like someone in the Oilers Brain trust went and said “hey what about whatshisname that’s working with the Oil Kings, he’s cheap right? We can promote him and save money, genius I tell you Genius, bet I get a bonus for that!”

        Get a proven goalie coach and let him work with the Oilers goalies, see if they can fix Talbots game or not, his contract is up at the end of the year, there is a fair bit of games to go let a proven NHL coach see what can be done and we will know before the year is out if the should trade or re-sign Talbot.

  • Freddie the fog

    Yaremchuk although I enjoy most of your work on air when you’re not being grouchy , your take on bringing Talbot back is terrible. Without even considering his last couple starts has not been good for a long time. A good starter needs to steal a win now and again. I can’t recall the last time Talbot has. Perhaps the pressure to succeed in his contract year is affecting his performance. This team is not good enough to sewer points because of bad goaltending. Idk where the Oilers can find steady goaltending. Maybe Koskinen can get the job done . One thing for sure Talbot cannot.

  • Freddie the fog

    Yaremchuk although I enjoy most of your work on air when you’re not being grouchy , your take on bringing Talbot back is terrible. Without even considering his last couple starts he has not been good for a long time. A good starter needs to steal a win now and again. I can’t recall the last time Talbot has. Perhaps the pressure to succeed in his contract year is affecting his performance. This team is not good enough to sewer points because of bad goaltending. Idk where the Oilers can find steady goaltending. Maybe Koskinen can get the job done . One thing for sure Talbot cannot.

  • David O’Connor

    Just a suggestion:

    First: fire the GM (we will not longer use his name)

    Second: hire (if willing) joe q as an “advisor”

    Third: trade Drai nurse luch and 18 1st for Dubois Seth Jones and Boone Jenner (step one must be completed before step three).

    Find a way to shed sek and strome contract. Talb only resign for 4.2 for two year max preferably one going forward until we get cap space or a good goalie that won’t kill us on cap comes along.

  • tealyn

    Hey you guys, this organization is rotten to the core. Everyone knows it, do you think Q would really come here? Cmon, get real, the only time he will come here is to kick our asses with a better coached team. Seriously, stop dreaming, he isn’t coming here.

    • Randaman

      Thank-you for actually making sense. Q is staying as far as he can from this completely dysfunctional organization! By the way, Talbot, Caggiula, Strome, Benning and Rattie need to be jettisoned out of here after another debacle of a season is over. Start from scratch with the youth in the AHL. What a laughing stock!

      Signed, beyond frustrated

  • Spydyr

    ” I would stay with Talbot though and get him signed to an extension whenever he wants. I think something like four or five years at somewhere around $5 million would be fair.”

    Bhahahahahahahahaaha.

    Either you are working for the Oilers or styling to get a job with that astute player evaluation and over-payment. You did forget to add the NMC though.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I think Chia may have hacked that account and is putting out scenario’s to see what he can do to avoid getting fired, that’s the only explanation that makes sense, after all he did give Kassian, Benning Strome and Cagguila all raises on their contracts!

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    Anyone else notice how different the team plays with Mikko in net? It’s like they have the confidence to not worry about mistakes. Also, down 4-1 with less than 2mins left and Mikko makes 5 alarm glove save? Players love that and need that from their ‘tender.

  • Serious Gord

    1. THE perennial weakness of this team has been depth. The roadie exposed it.

    2. Goalie shopping begins in the post-season. Will the Oil have any cap room to work with to get a blue chip one?

    3. JQ will be 61 this summer. Hawks management apparently has wanted him gone for a few years now and I get the feeling that he was seen as being old school. The last thing the Oil need is old school anything when it comes to management.

    4. No one is NHL-ready down there – the lack of depth is a disgrace.

    5. I trust that the players have begun legal action against UBER. To let it pass will embolden the next driver who may get one of us as riders doing something that is saleable to one of those scandal sites…

  • Consultant

    Benson plays well with skill eh?
    I know a team that could use a top six winger. He’s get to play with a skilled centre for sure… maybe in a few weeks if he keeps it up. Might as well get a shot while he is healthy and confident.