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Monday Mailbag – Evan Bouchard at the World Juniors

Happy Christmas Eve, Nation! I hope that if you’re reading this right now that you’ve already settled into vacation mode and that you just woke up from a nice sleep in. To those of you that are still stuck at work today, I hope you use this Christmas-themed mailbag as a means to get yourself through these last hours before you take some much deserved time off. As always, this feature depends on you guys and if you have a question for next week you can email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Dec 7, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Valentin Zykov (73) takes a shot in front of Minnesota Wild forward Nine Niederreiter (22) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Carey asks – I know Valentin Zykov isn’t the best skater I’ve ever seen but I’m wondering if there’s anything else you’re seeing as to why he isn’t getting a chance to play very much?

Jason Gregor:

You answered your own question. He doesn’t skate well enough. I’m not sure I’ve seen him have a meaningful shift since he arrived. He hasn’t played much, so it is difficult to make an impact in limited minutes, but he’s done nothing for me.

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers need production from their forwards and Zykov hasn’t looked the least bit capable of producing it, albeit in very limited minutes. It’s a tough spot for him to be in, but when a team needs results, fringe players don’t always get the look they should unless they do something to get noticed. That hasn’t happened.

Matt Henderson:

No, I think that’s probably the main reason. The other is that players are getting healthy again. Rieder and Caggiula are back so Zykov is the man on the outs. I think it’s as simple as that.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Not to be too harsh, but he’s simply looked like a fringe NHLer to me. He can step into the lineup, compete and not make glaring mistakes but he just doesn’t really produce very much offense. Maybe he needs to a look on a skill line, but the Oilers have better options at this moment for their skill lines. He might get a look one day, but I don’t see any reason to be gifting him ice-time at this point.

Christian Pagnani:

Hitchcock wants to win and doesn’t have the patience for young unestablished players. You have to make an impression quickly or else you’ll be on the outside looking in.

Chris the Intern:

Not quite sure. I think we’re still learning Ken Hitchcock’s tendencies and what he likes and dislikes in guys so it’s sort of a mystery right now. It seems like he has the core group of guys he likes and he’s sticking with them.

Baggedmilk:

I mean, he didn’t do a whole lot in the couple games he played so maybe Hitchcock wants him to get more practice time in before throwing him back in the mix. That said, I’m only guessing. There’s also the question of who would you pull out in his favour?

2) Tristen asks – Pretend you’re Santa Clause for a minute and it’s your job to give the Oilers the perfect gift. What present would you leave under the team’s tree?

Jason Gregor:

Two top-six wingers.

Robin Brownlee:

New hands for Milan Lucic. That would go a long way in giving the Oilers enough scoring up front.

Matt Henderson:

Steve Yzerman as the new GM. Also, he’s wearing leather pants.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Oh, this is a tough one. Given their current injury situation, I would give the Oilers a top-pairing, right-shot offensive defenseman who can run a powerplay and has a cannon of a shot. That would be perfect. If this team was 100% healthy, I would be giving them a young, cost-controlled winger who has a good shot. The team needs more scoring and a high-end offensive winger would be perfect.

Christian Pagnani:

A new general manager groomed in a smart organization and two compliance buyouts.

Chris the Intern:

I would give them the gift of confidence! And the ability to completely shrug off the pressure that is playing hockey in an Edmonton/Canadian market.

Baggedmilk:

Lethal special teams. Think of what kind of difference that would make?

3) Sarah asks – I’ve decided to skip out on making stuffing for Christmas dinner this year because I hate it, but I know my husband will be upset. So my question is, what is your least favourite Christmas food item and how would you sell it to your spouse that it won’t be happening? I need an excuse that will work.

Jason Gregor:

I’m with you. Stuffing sucks. It is the worst food. Why do you want to eat bread that was stuffed up the turkey’s ass? Substitute a great dessert and he won’t care. Only people with an undignified palate enjoy stuffing. Merry Christmas Sarah. You have great taste in food.

Robin Brownlee:

Christmas cake. I’d rather eat dirt. I’d tell my wife the Christmas cake store was all sold out. What a shame.

Matt Henderson:

I hate turnips and casserole of ANY variety. I don’t need excuses because those are objectively awful foods, but you better come up with a good one for not making stuffing. You’re ruining Christmas, Sarah! No stuffing??? What kind of monster are you? I pray this message reaches you with enough time for a change in heart. Let this be your Christmas miracle. Make the stuffing, Sarah! Every time you drench stuffing with gravy, an angel gets its wings!

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Cranberry sauce. It’s gross. If I had a significant other and they were hell-bent on having it at our x-mas dinner I wouldn’t care, but that’s something I wouldn’t touch. Tell your husband that if he wants stuffing, he can go make it himself.

Christian Pagnani:

I’m not a huge turkey guy. Ham or chicken all the way, but stuffing is essential. It’s so weird but so tasty. It’s essential to any holiday feast.

Chris the Intern:

Honestly, I would just make the stuffing even if you don’t like it. If your husband loves it and will be that upset then it’s not worth dancing around it with an excuse. I really don’t dislike a lot of Christmas foods, but if I had to pick one thing it’s beets!

Baggedmilk:

I have questions… Do people other than your husband like the stuffing? If so, you’re going to have some explaining to do. Also, I think that the right approach in this situation is to go with the stove top stuffing that takes two seconds to make. That way, you or whoever is helping can mail it in and the people still get what they want. OR you can always tell the guy to make his own damned stuffing. I’m honestly one of the least picky eaters of all time so there’s not a whole lot that I don’t like eating at Christmas time, but to answer your question, I would go with the Marian Hossa and say that you developed an allergy.

4) Thomas asks – Gentlemen, I found the Christmas present my wife bought me hidden in the closet and I absolutely hate it. I actually don’t know how she could have missed the mark any further than she did but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. How do I let her down softly on Christmas morning?

Jason Gregor:

You smile and say thank you on Christmas morning. Just don’t use it, so you can return it a few days later. Give her a foot rub one night after Xmas and while she is enjoying it slide in how you would like to exchange your gift. If your hand skills are good enough at that moment she won’t care. Or just get her tipsy on Christmas night and politely mention you changed your mind a few weeks ago and want something else. God Speed.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s the best present you ever got. You love it. It’s perfect. Stray from that and you’re on your own.

Matt Henderson:

Thomas, let me level with you. You have to leave your wife. I know, you don’t want to confront the truth, but how can someone who *claims* to love you not be able to tell this about you? It’s not that you’re indifferent, you HATE it. But do you really hate that present, Thomas, or the woman it represents? I think we both know the answer. Search your heart for what you know to be true. Her sister is hotter anyway.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Well, as I eluded to in my last answer, I’m not sure if I’m qualified to give an answer to this, but just act grateful. She obviously spent money and time getting the gift. Then to make yourself happy, go online and order the thing you actually wanted. If she asks about it, just say you got a good deal or something, I don’t know. Just don’t be a dick of Christmas morning. Can I say that?

Christian Pagnani:

Can’t. Gotta pretend you love it unless you can sneak an exchange with a gift receipt.

Chris the Intern:

Maybe she wanted you to find that gift and she’s got the correct gift hidden elsewhere? It’s tough to answer this question without knowing more context like what the gift is. I wouldn’t let her down Christmas morning though. Whatever she got you, you should change your train of thought to the thought and effort she put into getting you the gift, and not the gift itself.

Baggedmilk:

I need to know what this present is because I’m honestly wondering how bad it could be. Are you an Oilers fan that’s getting a Flames jersey? Is she trying to get you into BDSM when all you want is vanilla? As for what you say, just be honest and return it within the alloted window so that she’s not asking you a year from now why you’re not using/wearing/enjoying the gift.

Sep 17, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard (75) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Edmonton Oilers won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

5) Cliff asks – What do you expect from Evan Bouchard at the World Juniors tournament?

Jason Gregor:

He will get ample playing time and will be one of best offensive D-men on the team. I’m looking forward to see how he handles his defensive zone responsibilities.

Robin Brownlee:

I try not to put too much emphasis on one tournament. I remember when Jiri Slegr was named the best defenceman at the WJC tournament in Saskatoon in 1991. How did that play out? I’d like to see Bouchard do what he does — move the puck, run the power play — but whether he looks very good or very bad doing it, I defer to a longer look.

Matt Henderson:

Better than a point per game, ice water in his veins, the narrative to be about how his calmness on the ice keeps the team ready for all situations, a story or two about his days in Dessert Storm, and the beginning of the legend that will carry him into a top 4 role next Fall with the Oilers.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Finally, a question that is right in my wheelhouse. Bouchard will play 20-25 minutes a night, run Canada’s top-powerplay unit, and be leaned on in almost all other situations. Up by a goal late? He should be on the ice. Down by a goal late? He’ll probably be out there. It will be fun to watch him play in that role for a few weeks since I don’t watch a lot of London Knights hockey. He should be a beast at this year’s tournament.

Christian Pagnani:

Some big Bouch bombs from the point and heavy heavy minutes.

Chris the Intern:

Tournament MVP? I have high expectations for him and truly hope he lights it up.

Baggedmilk:

I expect the guy to look like the smooth, puck-moving defenceman we’ve come to know and love. This is a big opportunity for dad to go out and get himself a gold medal while representing his country and I’ll certainly be cheering from him. As for expectations, I assume he’ll play big minutes in all situations but I wouldn’t necessarily want to put out a points total or anything like that.

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