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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – First thoughts on Petrovic and Manning?

Welcome, friends, to yet another edition of the Monday Mailbag where we answer all of your Oilers related questions and give you a few minutes of time killing distraction from whatever it is that you’re trying to avoid. Needless to say, there are plenty of things to talk about as the Oilers look to get themselves back on track after finishing 2018 on a horrible slide. This week, we look at Chiarelli’s most recent trades, Koskinen’s next contract, wasted space, and much more. As always, I need your questions to make this work. If you’ve got one, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

Jan 2, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) carries the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning (26) and goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) defend during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

1) Levi asks – What were your first thoughts when you saw the Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning trades? Did these moves make sense to you?

Jason Gregor:

The Petrovic one did for me, but not Manning. I don’t see him as much of an upgrade, if any, over Gravel and for a team starving for goals from bottom six they traded away a player who has the fourth most over last 1.5 years. Manning is also under contract for next season at $2.25m. So they have Klefbom, Nurse, Sekera, Russell, Jones and now Manning just as LD. I didn’t see need for that trade at all.

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Robin Brownlee:

I didn’t mind the acquisition of Petrovic as a 6-7 guy for depth because he can play in a limited role despite recent struggles. I didn’t get the need for the Manning deal or the price tag. Why move one of the few forwards you’ve got who can score a little for another 6-7 D-man when you just acquired one? Makes no sense. Plus, Manning has another year on his contract.

Matt Henderson:

Neither made sense to me but I could live with the Petro deal because it was unwanted for unwanted but the Manning deal made much less sense. Manning was deemed untradeable because he was so awful and Caggiula was finally having a season that didn’t suck.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

They just don’t make any sense. I know that Chiarelli had to go do something and I honestly don’t mind the Petrovic deal even though he was bad against LA but at the same time, you could have called up Ethan Bear and claimed Brandon Davidson on waivers. Bear and Davidson could have been just as good of a bandaid plus it would have allowed you to keep Cagiulla and the draft pick. It was another bonehead decision by Chiarelli.

Chris the Intern:

I could buy into the Petrovic trade, but there’s not a chance I was letting the Manning trade go without complaining about it. Sure Caggiula isn’t an all-star, but he was one of the VERY few people putting up points on our team, and we gave him away for Manning and some nobody in Europe. Not sure why Chia keeps piling on bottom pairing defencemen to our roster.

Baggedmilk:

I could understand what Chiarelli was trying to do with the Petrovic deal, but I’m completely lost on the Manning trade. Are you really telling me that there wasn’t another left-handed, third-pairing defenceman in the NHL that you could go out and acquire? When people that follow the Blackhawks come out and say, “Wow I can’t believe they got rid of that contract,” then you’re not really in great shape.

Nov 20, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) tries to stop the puck against San Jose Sharks right wing Timo Meier (28) during the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

2) Jenn asks – If you were to guess, what do you see happening with Mikko Koskinen for next season? What do you think a new contract would look like?

Jason Gregor:

Still too early to tell for me. He’s only had 20 starts. If his numbers stay similar to what he is at now, I could see a two or three year deal for him. No reason to go any longer, and with so few games he likely is around $4 mil/season. He essentially would replace Talbot’s contract for next season.

Robin Brownlee:

If I’m Chiarelli, I’m not talking contract with Koskinen or Talbot right now. Bigger fish to fry as the team slides out of the playoff picture. When Koskinen was hot some people were talking about throwing stupid money at him. He hasn’t played 30 NHL games yet. I’m not ready to offer long term or big money for that despite some of the impressive stretches he’s had. Need to see more.

Matt Henderson:

4×4 with a NMC, obviously.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think he’ll get a new deal here in Edmonton and I could see it being similar to the one he has now, but with a little bit more term. Is something around two years with a cap hit of $2.75 million realistic? I think so. At the same time, if he gets hot once again and plays like a legitimate starting goalie for the last 35 games of the season, I could see him demanding something in the $3.5 million range.

Chris the Intern:

If Koskinen remains flat for the remaining of the year I could see us letting him go. However, if he shows us some bright spots as he did at the beginning of the season he’ll likely get signed. My guess is a two-year deal worth around six million?

Baggedmilk:

I have no idea and I don’t even want to guess. As good as Koskinen has been, we should be nervous that he got a NMC on a contract as an unproven UFA. With Chiarelli negotiating there’s no telling how much the overpay could be.

Oct 23, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates a second period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Ferris asks – We know that the Oilers are too dependant on their top three or four players to produce the bulk of their offence, and I’m wondering what has been the biggest surprise in this respect. Is there anyone that you thought would be doing more, or is this about what you expected when the season started?

Jason Gregor:

I thought Lucic would have more than one goal. I thought Rieder would have more than zero. I think everyone had those two pegged to be a bit more productive. Those two have been the biggest offensive disappointments. I was wrong on Lucic. I thought he could score 15. He is on pace for two. Rieder I thought could score 10, he is on pace for zero. The scary part for both is that their scoring chances are becoming less and less. Rieder and Lucic are prime examples of why term, not money, is so important in UFA contracts. Lucic still has four more years, but Rieder is UFA this summer.

Robin Brownlee:

How could you ask for more from the top end? Biggest surprise has been Chiasson’s early production.

Matt Henderson:

I was hoping for more offence from Puljujarvi and praying Lucic could at least return to semi-respectable numbers. I love Puljujarvi’s game and I think he does a lot of nice things, but not enough offence. Lucic isn’t an NHLer anymore.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I really expected more from Jujhar Khaira this year. He’s been better as of late and he looked good when he was playing with skill, but he hasn’t been consistent. After watching him take a big step forward last year, I had high hopes for him this year. I though Puljujarvi would breakout this year and I also expected more from Milan Lucic, but who didn’t expect more from #27?

Chris the Intern:

I honestly thought Milan Lucic was going to be his regular self again this season. I was obviously wrong. Other than that, I expected a bigger breakout season for Jesse Puljujarvi. I think the rest we can blame on Peter Chiarelli.

Baggedmilk:

I’ve been wrong a lot. First, I said Lucic was going to score 20. Swing and a miss. I also thought Puljujarvi was going to get 23. Juuuuust a bit outside. Lastly, I thought Talbot was going to get back to looking like the hero he was when the Oilers went to the playoffs back in 2016-17. Strike three, Baggedmilk is out!

Nov 27, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars defensemen Joel Hanley (39) tries to check Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

4) Greg asks – Elliotte Friedman mentioned in his latest 31 thoughts that he doesn’t think the Oilers are done dealing and that Jesse Puljujarvi could be on the block. Is this the right approach?

Jason Gregor:

The Oilers are well past the “right approach” with Puljujarvi. I have no idea how he’d look had he been given proper time to develop. I never saw him as a big time goal scorer, but if he was producing points in AHL instead of floundering offensively in NHL, I wonder how much better he would be next year. I’ve always felt we wouldn’t see him emerge as a player until he was 22. I felt he would need time to grow into his body, but also mature as a young man, which is what majority of players need. I don’t get too caught up in where he was drafted. Taking him fourth, 10th or 20th shouldn’t change the development path, but it seems the Oilers felt he had to play early because they took him high. As for trading him, it is a legit option at this point. Is it right all depends on the return.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t like the idea of moving Puljujarvi now because his value is diminished. You get nothing back. On top of that, I don’t trust Chiarelli to make any move that constitutes more than a tweak.

Matt Henderson:

Nope. It’s desperate nonsense. Normally I would say, “Depends on what they can get in return,” but the GM can’t win trades. So just NO.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m not sure what the right approach is. For Chiarelli’s sake, he really can’t sit on his hands or else he will lose his job. As a fan of the team, you’re hoping he isn’t allowed to make another big move because I think we all know how that will go. The Oilers need Puljujarvi to become a 20 goal scorer. It would go a long way in solving their secondary scoring problem. At the same time, if they don’t think he’ll ever be more than a decent third liner, then they should cut bait while he has a sliver of value. It’s a tough decision, but good teams get these decisions right.

Chris the Intern:

If Chia moves Jesse Puljujarvi it’s going to be strictly out of desperation. Jesse should be in the AHL this season but is being forced to play in the NHL due to lack of depth. And with that, Puljujarvi may get punished because of it by getting traded.

Baggedmilk:

First of all, Puljujarvi should be in the AHL right now and the fact that the Oilers are trying to crowbar him into the lineup is only because Chiarelli didn’t give them NHL ready options to play in his place. If they trade Puljujarvi now, and remember he is only four months older than Kailer Yamamoto, then they will surely regret it down the line. They don’t have the depth on the wing that’s necessary to make this kind of move.

Mar 1, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic (27) tries to screen Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Luke asks – When I look at the Oilers depth chart I see a lot of dead weight in players like Lucic, Kassian, and Benning that are taking up a lot of cap space without producing much of anything. Are there any players you see as wasted space on the roster? Who?

Jason Gregor:

Of course Lucic isn’t coming close to living up to his contract. It is worse than most predictions at the time of the signing. I felt the last three years of the deal would be iffy, but unless something drastically changes it will be the final 5.5 years that were. For him to fall off this quickly is remarkable. To go from a 59-point pace season on December 23rd, 2017 to scoring only two goals in his next 82 games is something I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen players decline, but to fall off a cliff offensively like he has is freaky.

Robin Brownlee:

Lucic is the prime culprit. It’s not close.

Matt Henderson:

Lucic, Kassian, Brodziak, Russell, Manning, Benning, unhealthy Sekera, Petrovic. So that’s $20M+ of dead cap space for players that can’t help on a regular basis.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Lucic makes $5.0m too much, Kassian makes $1.0m too much, Benning makes $500k too much, Russell has been good but he still makes $1.0m too much, Sekera is pretty much $5.5m in dead cap space at this point, Manning makes $1.5m too much, Petrovic makes $900k too much. Well run teams only have one or two overpayments and that’s how they afford to pay their stars. The Oilers have six or seven overpayments and it’s why they’re in the spot they are.

Chris the Intern:

There are a lot of guys on the team getting paid slightly too much, like Kassian, Benning, Russell and Sekera to name a few. However Lucic is problem #1 at this point for over payment.

Baggedmilk:

Buddy, there are a lot of guys on this team that are not pulling their weight. How would I be doing if I guessed that 35%+ of the cap space is being used on guys that aren’t helping that much?

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  • percy

    Still trying to figure out the caggs for manning trade. Caggs is one of a few players on this team that actually played with conviction and put up points to boot. Wonder if PC gave mannig a NMC. I don’t get it. I am starting to agree with the majority on this site. Get rid of PC.

    • Alfonso

      Greggs was going on today about how Chia would have to come up with 3.9 in cap space once Sekera returns from LTIR … sure, they can waive Manning/Petrovic but at what savings … maybe somebody from the Nation can tell us exactly what saving could be had by waiving those two … ?

  • dsanchez1973

    I still think it’s a massive indictment on Oilers management to see Chicago fans celebrating like it’s a huge deal to get rid of Manning’s contract, which costs 2.5M for one more year. This kind of contract (while not good) wouldn’t even make an eyebrow wiggle in Edmonton in terms of badness. Would it even be in the 5 worst contracts on our books right now?

    • Big Nuggets

      between Spooner and Manning Chia added over 6 million to next years cap. At least Strome had a one year deal and he was a million cheaper. Manning is terrible and Chia added salary with a completely redundant player. That 6 million right there is completely wasted. Hopefully Spooner can work his way into the top six and get some points but it doesn’t look good.

      • Redbird62

        From the Oilers perspective, the cap hits from Spooner and Strome are indentical – $3.1 this year and next – the Rangers retained $900,000. Caggiula and Manning are also both signed for next year so the cap difference in total is only $750,000 not $6 million. Now since the Oilers did not seem to be getting full value from Strome or Caggiala (7 goals but brutal defensively) , and seem to have gotten players that are even less valuable, then overall, that puts the Oilers in a bind. I have a small amount of hope Spooner can turn it around. I have almost no confidence that Manning will be useful.

        • Big Nuggets

          thank the lord they retained salary. The extra year on the Spooner deal still stinks though. Strome may not get a raise next year and has no salary commited to him. Easier to move him if you choose to. If they want to move Spooner in the offseason, which they do, they’ll probably have to retain salary or take on another bad contract, or I guess most likely buyout. If Chia manages to turn Eberle into a Spooner buyout that would be a pretty epic magic trick.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    In all seriousness, there is nothing more to be said about Peter Chiarelli. The man is incompetent. His advisors, we all know who they are, aren’t that far behind him in the brains department. What I found absolutely astounding was he was targeting Manning yet last year. Good grief did these dummies watch him play? He is not an NHL D MAN…..Never was. Philly & Chicago couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. This is just about as stupid as the Reinhart deal.

  • TKB2677

    The guys offensively who I am surprised have been this bad are:

    Lucic – I thought he would have a bounce back year and score at least close to his usual totals for at least this season. I thought 15-20. If he gets 5 at this point I will be jumping for joy which is sad.

    Rieder – The guy has usually been usually a low teens in goals (12 last year was a low) and is in the 30 pt range. I thought signing a 1 yr, cheap, show me deal looking for more money, he would at least equal his usual totals looking for a new deal. The guy isn’t even old. I expected AT LEAST 12 goals. Again if he got 5, I’d be jumping for joy which is sad.

    Khaira – He had 11 goals last year. He’s been getting better and better as a player. I expected him to at least equal his production which would show you haven’t stalled out as a player. He’s got 2.

    Puljujarvi – Yes the Oilers probably haven’t developed him properly. But he’s a 4th overall pick in his 3rd pro year. He’s huge, strong, fast, SKILLED. He had 12 last year. I thought just with more experience, another year of training like a pro to get stronger, faster, he could slightly improve and get 15 goals. To score 15 goals is I don’t even think second line production so that isn’t too much to expect. He’s got 4 goals and will be lucky to get 10 this season. As a 4th overall, you should be able to get at least 10 freaking goals in year 3.

    Rattie – I think he lead the preseason in scoring. He got hurt, bounced around the lines a bit. When he has been in, I don’t think he’s been that good most games. For a guy fighting to stay in the NHL, I expected more. I thought 10-15 was realistic. He’s got 2.

    Kassian – He had 7 goals the last 2 season. I thought he would have 7-10 goals. He’s got 2.

    There are all your secondary scoring guys. 10 goals from the bulk of those guys shouldn’t have been too much to ask. 10 goals is 4th liner numbers.

    • Big Nuggets

      It’s wierd how much of a black hole the bottom six has been this year. I think a few of the players are good in the bottom 6 but as a whole they don’t get the job done.

      Khaira at least scored when he was with Nuge so we know he can do it. Lucic couldn’t score with McDavid, so we know he can’t do it. Kassian is streaky, has 20 good games a season. Brodziak is a 4th line center, but long in the tooth. Whatever Spooner did in Boston to score 49 point he no longer does. I think Rieder is not a bad player but it hasn’t been working for him lately. Puljujarvi is basically still raw. Rattie was always in Hitch’s doghouse because his defense isn’t great and he is just not quite good enough to justify playing in the top of the line up. It’s not a great list of players but they should still pot a few goals. They seem to play as less than the sum of thier parts. I think not having a legitimate 3rd line center is a factor in this. Centermen, it seems, are most important for tilting the ice in the right direction. They can have a slightly bigger impact on how a line functions. Who is the other centerman? sometimes Khaira and sometimes Spooner I guess. I honestly can’t think who else has played ‘3rd line’ center. In any case they need an established center if they expect to score.

      Also the defensemen aren’t exactly what you would call puck movers. If you are averaging a few less crisp passes out of the zone each game it will add up. Those are my theories on the scoring depth mystery.

    • DraiCup

      and the most astounding thing…ALL these guys underperform not just one or two…no…all of em. Rather have one guy who brings something to the table for all that money tied up in them.

  • Frank Rizza

    So everyone here wants Caggiula and his 7 goals back. He is an average and maybe a below average 3rd liner and he was not good defensively. But here everyone is talking as if we traded Leon for Manning. I don’t love the trade but Caggiula is no big loss.

    Also it’s fine if Jessie learns on the fly in the NHL. Again it’s people here making a mountain out of a molehill.

    • TKB2677

      Being an Oilers fan at times is mind boggling. Before Caggulia was traded, most Oilers fans thought he was a bum. People freaked out about the contract calling it a huge overpay. Most fans hated him, thought he was borderline NHLer who shouldn’t play. Some thought they should have waived him. He gets traded and all of a sudden it’s a disaster and the worst thing ever.

      For the record, I don’t like the Manning trade and I wouldn’t have made it. But I wanted to point that out because most Oilers players are seen as crap when they are an Oiler then seen as awesome as soon they are gone.

    • the reasonable person

      The issue is having Manning on the books for next year at 2.5 mil (ridiculous) and to me, the total waste of the Caggiula asset even if you don’t like the player. Chia’s an idiot and doesn’t get the value of cap space and draft picks (which Caggiula could have been turned into instead, if they really needed to get rid of the only secondary scorer).

      • TKB2677

        I don’t like Manning or the trade at all. My point was if you listen to MANY Oilers fans, Caggulia to a lot of them was a waste of a roster spot and wasn’t even worth being on the 4th line. But as soon as he’s traded, all of a sudden he’s an asset they should have kept.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      If the Oilers were no longer sold on Caggulia they could have waited till the offseason and bought him out.

      He was owed $1.5M but because he’s under 25 the buyout is 1/3. So it would have been $250K for two years as opposed to one guy making $2.25M.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Sorry but the manning trade sucks, the guy may throw some hits but he is no better than Garrison and he costs way way more. Why another mediocre defencement that is going to add to the cap by 500k?

    No one wanted Manning hbut chia, and why I still cant figure out and to bring in the guys that cause McDavid injury, I dont care what the Oiler PR department did to make it sound like Connor didnt mind, he had to of had a WTF moment at the news Manning was coming to the Oilers, but of course Connor is going to show support, what else could the guy do.

    The Oilers still have to figure out what to do with Koskinen and Talbot both UFA”s at the end of the year and Chia is no closer to knowing if he has Koskinen who started out the year weak and then came on and now weak again and Talbot who had a terrible year last year and hasnt fared much better , the Oilers have no real idea what to do with either of them because they both need new contracts, and I dont see them keeping both not with Talbot making 4 mil and Koskinen 2.5 because both would be looking for more money one would think, I dont think they could get much for Talbot as it stands, but do they risk trading him if Koskinen doesnt preform any better?

  • the reasonable person

    How many draft picks have we lost lately at the expense of absolutely terrible use of cap space or just throwaway players? Is this why we suck so much (apart from the Reinhart trade, turning Eberle into Spooner, not picking DeBrincat)? Does Chia know that picks don’t count against the cap and when you have lots of them, one or two might turn into cheap, useful assets? Maybe even scorers?

  • btrain

    The overarching template of Chiarelli is to build a big heavy team and to cross off to-do items as quickly as possible regardless of consequence to future success, cap considerations, amount of NMC, skill considerations, roster considerations, development considerations, etc. I have started to picture his negotiations skills as similar to Will Ferrell’s character Mustafa in Austin Powers. He can’t stand to negotiate beyond 3 rounds.

    Ray Shero: We want Hall for Larsson.
    Chiarelli: NO! I will never, its despicable! I spit at such a ridiculous proposal!
    Ray Shero: Give me Hall for Larsson
    Chiarelli: NO! I will die before I make a franchise crushing move like this, do you take me for a fool!?
    Ray Shero: GIVE ME HALL FOR LARSSON!
    Chiarelli: OK, you have convinced me, we have a deal.

    Swap the Hall/Larsson for the Eberle/Strome, Strome/Spooner, Manning/Caggs, or pretty much any free agent signing he has done, and it all works the same! Can’t decide how funny or terrifying this is……At least with Manning he had to sleep on it for a few months before circling back and taking the bait. Perhaps Stan Bowman didn’t propose the trade the same way on 3 occasions which confused Mustafa (Chiarelli) initially.

      • DraiCup

        Both Caggiula and Manning are no worldbeaters…everybody knows that. but what he said…how can you further downgrade in talent in such a trade AND add more financial problems to this team…Manning won’t even make the roster when Klef is back. I don’t see how anyone can justify this deal. Beyond me…

  • camdog

    Problem with the Manning trade is he isn’t even top 6 when there are injuries. When line up is healthy he’s like 10th on depth chart. Thats a lot of cap for a soon to be AHL player.

  • Odanada

    Try to think of it this way:
    Looch is not an NHler anymore. His skills have greatly eroded and the game has passed him by.
    Chia is not an NHL GM anymore. What skills he possessed have greatly eroded and the game has passed him by.
    Bob Nicholson is not running Hockey Canada anymore. He was used to selecting the very best from an enormous talent pool and is never was an NHL hockey man. He also has zero experience managing a salary cap. He was never really in the game, so it’s no surprise it’s passed him by.
    Lowe. MacT. Gretz. Their talents lay in playing the game, not managing it. Whatever managing skills they have are overrated and the game is only something they remember, not something they can do now. You might say today’s realities have passed them by.
    Katz. His attention span has greatly eroded and the people he pays to run the club are nothing but story telling backslappers. If the game has passed him by he is unaware of it or doesn’t really care.

  • camdog

    Gryba counting $300,000 against cap for another season. I never understood that buy out. More than 2.5 million now tied up in AHL d-man. This just after we got Fayne off the books.

  • Clayton

    Edit needed to article.

    In Question #4 Chris the Intern states: “And with that, Puljujarvi may get punished because of it by getting traded.” This should read “Puljujarvi may get REWARDED because of it by getting traded out of this mess”.

  • Ghosts of Northlands

    I think everyone here has missed the true genius of Chia dealing for Manning. He was getting tired of Draisaitl being everyone’s whipping boy last month so he went and traded for a new whipping boy that he knew we all already hated. While his intentions were good, he can’t be a very good whipping boy if Hitch won’t play him …

    Seriously though… I’ve been an Oilers fan in Blackhawk country since the mid 80’s and the last ten years around here have been hell. The fans give me hell for wearing my Oilers gear and gloat about their last three cups. This year’s it’s been different. No one’s said anything to me because of how bad they’ve been playing… Until we took Manning off their hands. Now it’s back to being chirped at every time I leave the house.