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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What to do at the trade deadline?

Welcome, Nation, to another edition of the award-winning Monday Mailbag! The Oilers are back from their bye week, they need a new GM, the trade deadline is approaching, and that means we’ve all got questions. Once again, the mailbag is here to help you kill off a few minutes of company time and try to answer all of the things that you’ve always been wondering about. How’s that for an early week gift? 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) Trent asks – If you were to guess, what do you think the Oilers will get up to at the trade deadline? What should their approach be?

Jason Gregor:

Depends where they are at. If in the mix they could add a winger. If they aren’t in the mix then I see them trading Talbot and players like Petrovic, Rieder, Gravel and other vets teams would be interested in. Possibly even Chiasson since he is a pending UFA. I’d rather try to re-sign him first, but if they are out of it he’d be in the mix along with others.

Robin Brownlee:

Depends largely whether they’re in or out of playoff contention at the time. If they’re in, they need to find a winger who can contribute. If they’re out, I’d try to rid myself of spare parts that other teams might covet for the stretch and playoffs. No big deals either way. Best done during the off-season.

Cam Lewis:

Uhhhh I would suggest either looking into advanced sciences in which they can clone Connor McDavid or travel back in time to erase Peter Chiarelli’s work on the team. But in all seriousness, they really, really shouldn’t be buying. If they want to make improvements, they have to acquire players with term who can help longer term. Otherwise, I’d be looking to sell off some minor assets where I can.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I don’t think they will be too busy, but I could see them dangling some smaller assets (3rd round pick, B level prospects) for some scoring help. It’s supposed to be a buyers market, so that should help as well. They can’t go “all in” this year, it’s just not worth it, but I think you need to show Connor McDavid that you have a little bit of faith in him and provide some help.

Chris the Intern:

The Oilers cap situation is so messed up that it’s going to be extremely hard to come out successful unless Keith Gretzky can execute a trade perfectly. In my mind we need to #1 clear cap space, #2 add forward depth, #3 add skilled defencemen, in that order.

Baggedmilk:

There is still a lot of hockey to play between now and then so we’ll have to ride this thing out a little bit longer before we can really figure out the approach. Right now, I think the Oilers would be wise to dump off expiring assets that they don’t plan to retain and try to clear out some salary for the offseason if they can.

2) Stephen asks – This past week, Cam put up some ideas on the site about how the NHL could improve the All-Star weekend and I’m wondering what the writers think of everything? What changes do you think could help, or do you think that everything is fine as is?

Jason Gregor:

Kids like the AS game. I see no reason to change it drastically. The game is never going to be competitive, nor should it be. I’d make two changes. The first. Not every team needs a player. Bring the best players. Sure, there will still be some controversy possibly, but no need to bring a player from a bad team if he isn’t worthy of being an All-Star.

Second, I would take the top eight players in each category from each team’s own skills competition. If we want to see who has the hardest shot in the league then bring the players, regardless if they are All-Stars or not, who had best results from their team’s competition.

Robin Brownlee:

I’ve always wondered how having players in the fastest skater contest would do if they had to carry the puck for that lap. I wouldn’t mind seeing some form of that. Maybe go two laps — first one as it is now and the second one with them picking up a puck at the redline and doing another lap.

Cam Lewis:

I really dig the idea of including fans or celebrities in the game. Either that or weird random stuff like playing dodge ball on the ice.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

First off, I think people should stop complaining about the All-Star Game. If you don’t like it, just ignore it. But I have two ways to make it better. First, bring back the fantasy draft (how cool would it be to see McDavid on a 3v3 team with Ovechkin or Crosby). Second, up the prize money and maybe you’ll see a little bit more effort from the players. That would be great.

Chris the Intern:

The All-Star weekend is catered towards kids and families, and I think they do a great job at that. I personally can’t stand all the gimicks and marketing schemes that come with it, but the weekend isn’t meant for me, it’s meant for kids. I think if the NHL tries changing things around to cater to adults, you’ll take away the fun aspect that it is for the little ones.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t mind the All-Star weekend because I’ve come to appreciate what it is — a marketing event that’s really geared for kids. To me, I like that they changed the format of the game to a 3-on-3 style tournament, but if I was to make one adjustment I’d bring back the draft instead of going by division.

Feb 12, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) looks to make a pass from behind Florida Panthers goaltender James Reimer (34) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Lane asks – Why do you think the Oilers sent Kailer Yamamoto down to the Condors and not Jesse Puljujarvi? To me, it seems like both players would certainly benefit from more seasoning in the American Hockey League.

Jason Gregor:

Because Yamamoto isn’t ready. Plain and simple. He wasn’t ready when they recalled him in January. Puljujarvi should be down there playing big minutes as well, but that won’t happen. Puljujarvi at least is strong enough to hold his own right now. But the Oilers need to realize his lack of scoring is partially due to how they handled him. Hopefully, they learn from it moving forward. Stop rushing players.

Robin Brownlee:

Both players would benefit from it but they’ve already blown it with Puljujarvi. What should feel like a normal part the development process now looks like a demotion to him because he’s spent so much time on the NHL roster already. Then, that mistake is compounded by lack of ice time here.

Cam Lewis:

Puljujarvi is actually competent enough as a two-way player to make the team better right now. I also think they believe there’s value having him around the NHL coaching staff given how fan behind he is two-and-a-half years after his draft year.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think Jesse Puljujarvi has fine-tuned his skills enough, he just needs to translate them to the NHL and the only way to do that is to give him minutes with a skilled centre at the NHL level. They aren’t doing that right now and it’s a big mistake. He doesn’t need AHL time, he needs quality NHL minutes. For Yamamoto, I think he does need to fine-tune his skill level and his decision making ability at the pro-level, so I think he will benefit from spending the rest of the year in Bakersfield.

Chris the Intern:

I agree I think both of them should be down there. BUT, we’re at an extreme lack of forward depth right now so I think the Oilers are forced to hang on to one of the two kids.

Baggedmilk:

Doesn’t make any sense. Jesse would be so much better off in Bakersfield right now and it drives me crazy.

Mar 18, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) skates with the puck during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

4) Henry M. asks – Oscar Klefbom was desperately missed over the last month or so, but I’m nervous about the expectations placed upon him for his return. I feel like many Oilers fans are expecting him to come back and save the season, but I worry that it will take him weeks to get back up to speed. What do you expect from Klefbom upon his return?

Jason Gregor:

Klefbom is good, but his hand is not 100% yet and he won’t be as effective. The Oilers weren’t that good before he was hurt, or in previous years with him. He will make them better, no question, but expecting him to be the savior is setting yourself up for disappointment. No one player will instantly reverse things for the Oilers. Adam Larsson admitted he is not playing very well, and if Klefbom’s return changes that then that will be a huge bonus, but Larsson should not have been this bad without Klefbom. If the Oilers are going to stay in the hunt then pretty much every player not named McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins or Nurse needs to up their play. Even the top players will say they can be better, but too many Oilers haven’t been consistent enough. Unless Klefbom is a magician I don’t see his return making all those who have struggled suddenly play better.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t know how many people expect him to save the season, but having him back will re-order how the defence looks and that means as much as any of the individual traits he brings. It will take him time to get up to speed, but handling the pain is going to be the major consideration, likely for the rest of the season. I’ve seen broken fingers, especially those requiring surgery, impact guys for the equivalent of an entire season.

Cam Lewis:

He should be fine given it was a hand injury. I’m no doctor but I think it’s easier to step in and play from that than it would be coming back from like an ACL injury. Glass half full!

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I expect him to be 100% after a game or two. It was a hand injury so his legs shouldn’t need very long to get back to game shape. He’ll help push everyone down the depth chart as well, which will make players like Russell, Nurse, and the lower-tier d-men even better. I expect him to really help this team win games. He’s without a doubt their best defenseman.

Chris the Intern:

The good thing about Klefbom’s injury is that he was able to continue skating through it all. His timing should need an adjustment but I’m hoping his condiitioning and foot speed will remain the same. A huge positive to his return is that he’ll be taking back ice time from other players who are playing too much. Even if Klefbom needs a bit of time to adjust to the speed, it’s a win.

Baggedmilk:

I think it’ll be important to remember that it’s going to take some time for him to really get back up to game speed. He’s missed almost two months with an injury that will affect how he shoots, how he passes, and basically everything he’ll need his stick to do. Regardless, Oscar Klefbom at 85% is better than a lot of what we’ve got so I appreciate every minute we get to see him in the lineup.

Dec 23, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Andrej Sekera (2) skates against the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Levi asks – In Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts, he mentioned that Andrej Sekera could be back relatively soon and my question for everyone is how they think the Oilers will be able to make it fit under the cap? What moves do you see happening in order to clear the necessary space for Andrej Sekera?

Jason Gregor:

We’ve discussed this on here for over six weeks. There is no easy move. They have to shed over $3m in salary to get Sekera back on. They might be forced to trade Talbot, but even then a team will be sending some salary back I assume. Few teams can just take $4m in cap space. Or they will try to trade other players as well. Sending Manning to the minors would shed $1m, but they’d still have to make others moves.

Robin Brownlee:

He’ll go to the AHL for a conditioning stint first. At Sekera’s age and with him coming off back-to-back significant injuries, I’m not even pencilling him into the plans until I see a long stretch at game speed. As for the cap situation, good luck with that.

Cam Lewis:

Finding someone to take Cam Talbot would free a lot of space. I could see Brandon Manning getting waived. There’s an off chance Matt Benning could get dealt too.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Well, they better have a plan in place if Sekera will actually be returning to the lineup. They need to shed between $1-2 million depending on how many players they have on their roster. I would imagine that they will be able to quickly flip out a d-man like Benning or Petrovic (or in a perfect world they send out Manning) and just get a draft pick in return. That’s the only real solution I see to their problem.

Chris the Intern:

I think moving Cam Talbot is the easiest way to do it right now. We’ve got an influx of depth defensemen right now so if Keith Gretzky moves one or two of those guys we should be okay to move forward with Sekera.

Baggedmilk:

Calling it here and now… this is the Talbot trade’s main purpose.

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  • Serious Gord

    Re: the Allstar Game:

    The league and the NHLPA should put 25 million on the table:

    Pay 100,000 – 200000 for making the AS game and attending. Pay more for winning or placing well in fan voting.

    Pay $100,000 per goal 50 k per assist, 50k per +/- point for defencemen and 250k for various goaltending stats.

    And for every dollar “earned” release the same amount from the player’s escrow account.

    Not only will this motivate players to attend and to play it will open up a panolpy of betting lines which will now be legal all across the US which will get the attention of a lot of fans and bettors.

    • Serious Gord

      I’m surprised at the down votes. The All Star game is a snoozefest with the only lame excuse being it’s “for the kids”. Well, anecdotally I hear that the kids are bored with it too – mostly tuning out within the first few minutes.

      Yet I have yet to read/hear any proposal that would motivate players to compete other than throwing some significant money into the game (MCCown et al)

      Boring product does not help the NHL’s cause. Fix it or drop it.

      • Kevwan

        Your proposal is to motivate millionaires with money. Not only that they didn’t make that money through hard work and business savvy but as a by product of being good at a sport. A couple of hundred grand mean way more to you and I than it would to Connor or Leon.

        Maybe give the teams from the winning division 3 extra days to report to training camp after summer break or an extra 4 day no practice break during the season.

        When you’re trying to motivate people the incentive has to be what they value. What does the modern player want?

        • Serious Gord

          And money does motivate them – just look at how well many of them play in the last year of a contract. It just has to be enough. And they also are motivated by keeping score – and this does both.

    • Gravis82

      Last years cup winning team reassembled vs. the rest of the all stars. Yes they might get crushed, but they also have every incentive to not get embarassed and have their pride on the line. Also history, not only did they win the cup, but they also beat a team made up of the best players in the rest of the NHL.

      They will also revert to playing a normal brand of hockey, and will force the all stars to play the same way. Make it a real game with real rules. I would watch that every year no question.

    • ed from edmonton

      Why would we want an injury prone guy like Hall. Maybe a buddy for Sekera to rehab with. But seriously how do you think this trade has worked out for the Devils? He had an outlier year last year sandwiched between a 53 point year and thus year also trending to the 50s (if he gets off of IR). Serious question.

    • Serious Gord

      Did a bit of googling on said rumour and stumbled upon this:

      https://www.beerleagueheroes.com/laraque-drops-major-bombshell-on-taylor-hall-trade/

      ““Hall had problems off the ice, and went to rehab during the summer of his trade (2016),”

      ““When he got to rehab, word got out across the NHL that the Oilers were looking to move him because of it. It reminds us of the Zack Kassian case. When everyone in the league knows the player’s dirt, it’s normal that the player’s value is going to drop.””

      Don’t know how I missed it. Laraque is a flake to be sure but that’s a pretty libelous thing for him to put out there if it isn’t true… Goodness knows there was a lot rumoured stuff like this when Hall was here, but this is a public quote/accusation.

      • ed from edmonton

        There have been “rumors” about Hall’s attitude for years. Call it work ethic, professionalism or whatever. A string of people have brought up this question. And by people I don’t mean some anonymous somebody on the blogosphere. Hemsky’s comment about the leaders have to start being leaders, Laroque and Ferrance a few weeks. The MSM in this town were fully invested in Hall and will not tolerate any questions about their golden boy. A taboo subject not to be discussed.

  • Serious Gord

    I wonder if the owner is having a lot of say about what the team is doing at the deadline.

    We heard so much talk that a lot of the pressure to dump Chia was coming because long-term and season ticket contracts were renewing and sales were not going well. Is Katz the one applying the pressure to boost sales either directly or indirectly (through Nicholson et al? Is this the role that Lowe plays as vice chair?)

    In sum, will the conduct of Keith Gretzky at the deadline be determined by off-ice issues? I think it very well could be.

  • Serious Gord

    Re; Sekera and the cap

    How grim is it that likely some asset like Talbot will be traded for even below his meagre value because the other teams know that it is a forced sale?

    Dear Lord this team is so deep in the muck…

    • Gravis82

      Talbots value is low anyway, his contact is almost up but I hear you. The real mistake was not trading him at least year deadline and trading away broissiot.

      When you look at broissiots numbers there was nothing to suggest he was a praticularily terrible goalie when looking at the amount of high danger chances against he faced that year, there was actually an article about it that someone spent 1 hour on which concluded that they might still have a goalie there and should hang onto him.

      Now look

      Oilers gonna oil

  • CMG30

    The trade deadline should be the opportunity to start cleaning up Chirelli’s mess. First order of business is to start working on getting the cap situation under control. Talbot gone is the most obvious move there. You talk to guys like Lucic and Russell and see what it would take for them to waive their NTC’s. You then target playoff teams and try to convince them that the ‘character, leadership and other intangibles’ they bring are so valuable in a playoff scenario that they need to take these guys off your hands. Finally, any players that look to walk in the summer need to be moved for something, even if it’s a low pick.

    Business-wise, this organization needs to make the playoffs so you can bet your bottom dollar that’s going to play into what happens at the deadline…

    • Hockey Forever

      Great plan. The problem is, other than Talbot possibly being gone, none of those other things are going to happen.

      Other than the three or four players that the Oilers can’t afford to lose, they really don’t have much of value to trade. And every GM in the league knows that the Oilers are dealing from a position of weakness.

      It’s not going to be pretty.

  • ed from edmonton

    RE question 1, all star games in highly intense, fast games with plenty of body contact like hockey and football and basketball to a large extent don’t lend themselves to an all star format. The NBA all star game is typically what, 165-155, not really ay more of a game than watching the Harlem Globetrotters. The pro bowl has the NFL seal of approval and is therefore well received, but I think a race between a turtle and a tortoise would be watched if it had the NFL logo attached. Pro-bowl has the same intensity as first pre-season games, lets make sure no one gets hurt. Skills competitions in all of these are more interesting than the so called “games”. The NHL game is basically a series of line rushes.

  • camdog

    Larsson’s skating is an issue. He needs to play with a smart positionally strong player. If Kris Russell is playing 3 on 3 you need to ask the question – what’s wrong with the other d-man on the team? Larsson hasn’t played real minutes on 3 on 3 in 2 years now.

  • Odanada

    There was open concern about Chia’s competency going back at least a year.
    And while Chia heaped more tires on the fire in a desperate attempt to save his job, BN sat and watched…. and sat and watched. Chia then moved into panic mode and made egregious deals like Spooner and Manning, making things even worse.
    I don’t know how anyone can look objectively at BN and think that he will lead us out of the mire. The league was trending “faster” and Chia openly declared upon his hiring that the needed direction was “heavy”. While Chia had won a Cup in Boston, he left them with some difficult cap issues. Yet Nicholson hired him anyways and then hid under the desk while Chia danced around the burning tires. This is the guy to hire the new GM? This is the guy to make deadline decisions? Shouldn’t these decisions be left to someone who knows what they are doing?
    I have no faith in BN as the leader of the front office.
    It would be incumbent upon Katz to hire a real NHL hockey man (don’t ask me who) who will either shut the door on the OBC or show the door to the OBC. But this requires growing a pair, as well as objective and analytical thinking from Katz and I’m not sure that’s his strong suit.

      • Kool-Aid Man

        In 2015, BN was supposed to be the first step in the solution.

        Now we wait until he announces the hiring of Charelli v2.0, and he will be chosen at the next series of “wine summits”. LMAO!

    • Kool-Aid Man

      Katz supposedly picked Bobby Nicks personally, so no, he’s not going anywhere. Fans thought this circus show was bad before BN, it’s actually going to get worse. The only thing Katz is concerned about is money. As long as people keep on paying for the lack-lustre entertainment, overpriced season tickets, watered down beer and terrible food there will be no reason to change anything. When he stops making money off of the Oiler brand then maybe that will get his attention.

  • Fireball

    What do I do at the trade Deadline?? I decide if I’m renewing my season seats.. I work out of town and rely on selling seats to make up for when I’m not there. I’m lower bowl row 4 isle.. I can’t give them away most nights., no kidding, they have sit empty at least a dozen games this year alone. I refuse to exchange them for less than I have paid ( which is way less than ticket master face value ). So for anyone saying just sit on it and sell.. see what the new guy brings.. hmm pretty sure myself and many thousands of financially suffering Season ticket holders are going to walk. Sorry but season ticket holders are where the mass of the money comes from., so from a bisness standpoint ya better do something and get this team into the playoffs.. and to you who say Oh why bother if they get in they’ll just loose.. hmm pretty sure everyone said Cowtown wasn’t going to the cup final in 04 or the oilers in 06.. pretty sure the 93 Habs weren’t the best team either.. they got hot and had a goalie who wouldn’t take no for a answer .. pretty sure that was Pete’s reasoning for not spending the extra 6 mill in cap we had two years ago.. imagine if he’d got a Top 4 D or a big name Centre with that money he didn’t spend instead of David D. Might had been in the western final.. anyhow the point being they have no choice but go all in .. and anyone in the playoffs can Win !!! Just saying

    • Fireball

      This team isn’t much different than the one that was ranked 2nd to win the cup at the start of last season.. the league has changed but the playoffs are still heavy. Don’t count the underdog out.

  • ed from edmonton

    RE question 5, I’m quite surprised no one even questioned the assumption that Sekera will actually get of IR this year or ever. So far Sekera’s rehab has gone from “doing great in December and possible return in January”, to Hitches statement “won’t be playing games before February”, to the cone of silence in January. Did he have a practice with the tea last week? I still think there is at least some chance he is “Lupuled”. Better a Lupul than a $5.5M marginal Dman. Given that Koskinnen has been less than average lately (not that Talbot has been any better) as long as the Oil are trying to make the playoffs or Koskinnen wakes up, they can’t trade Talbot.

  • Redbird62

    I don’t get the math that suggests the Oilers have to clear $3-4 million to fit Sekera back on the roster. There is a lot of different information out there about the cap. I tend to rely on Capfriendly since they put in the effort to look at it every day. If they are correct, including Sekera’s salary, the Oilers are about $1.2 million over the cap for which the Oilers are currently getting LTIR relief. That is based on the annualized cap hit total of all players on the current roster, plus injuries, buried, buy outs and LTIR totaling ~$80.7 million less the $79.5 million cap. There are other considerations to being cap compliant but that seems to be the key constraint right now for the Oilers.

    To activate Sekera, it would seem the Oilers need to clear the $1.2 million off the roster. With both Klefbom and Sekera activated, the Oilers would have 24 on the roster and would have to send one player down anyway. Of the 24, 9 would be defensemen, so presumably you would send down at least 1 d. Sending down either Petrovic or Manning would save the Oilers $1.025 against the cap if either were to clear waivers, and would save the full amount of their salaries if one of them is claimed. $1.025 is the most that can be saved by sending a player to the AHL. That would leave about a $200,000 to $300,000 problem. Still requires some manuevering, and maybe the solution is not ideal, but I don’t see the Oilers having to dump a major salary like Talbot just to make it happen.

    If someone understands the cap hit math differently, please explain.

  • Derian Hatcher

    When a business has a poor product, they generally don’t react or change anything unless the revenue decreases. In this case, Daddy Warbucks may be realizing that fans have had enough and his precious bottom line might suffer. Then Chia gets fired, but Bobby Water Taster remains to try to get something right he failed at miserably. And round and round she goes. How anyone has any respect for the owner and his fan boy minions is truly puzzling.

  • Oiler Al

    One way to get back at Burger Bob is to boycott his burger stand at Rogers!
    Don’t buy a single thing, and the place gets shut down and he loses half a yard or so.Take your brgers and get lost. Take your buddy Lowe as yoy are leaving.

    • Kool-Aid Man

      I’ll take it a step further and suggest not going to games at all. Be a teir 2 fan and watch the games at home or at an sports restaurant that serves better burgers.