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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What to expect from Joakim Nygard?

What have we here? A brand new mailbag for a brand new week! I hope all of you had an excellent practice retirement and that the overall punishment on your livers was kept in check. With everyone back at work for another week, I wanted to put together something to read and help you kill off a few minutes of company time and ease yourselves into this Monday. As always, I’ve sent your wonderings out to the writers and waited for all of their worldly wisdom to come back to me. I still need questions for next week, so if there is something Oilers related (or not) that you want to ask, feel free to hit me up by email or on Twitter. Enjoy.

Jan 16, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Arizona Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett with his players on the bench against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at Rogers Place. Oilers won the game 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

1) Stacey asks – Bob McKenzie tweeted out earlier in the week that Dave Tippett Dave “is not only the leading candidate in EDM but, for the moment, the only candidate.” Does this approach make anyone else nervous at all? I know that Tippett is a legitimate coaching option but why does he seem to be the only choice?

Jason Gregor:

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My sources tell me they have spoken to other coaches, but last week they had focused in on Tippett. He is the guy they want. If he says no, then they will circle back to the other people they have already spoke with. But he will be the next head coach.

Robin Brownlee:

Not nervous at all. Tippett is a solid coach. I can only assume interviews have been done. If Tippett is the clear leader in Nicholson’s mind, then that’s how the process has played out.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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It just feels like Chiarelli/McLellan 2.0 with these hirings. The Oilers told us that they would interview lots of candidates and while they did, the jobs are being given to candidates who didn’t have to interview and were just offered the job. There’s no denying that Holland and Tippett are very worthy candidates, but the fashion in which they got these jobs does make me a little nervous.

Christian Pagnani:

That’s a little concerning. I wonder if it’s just an odd choice of words from the Bobfather. It sure sounds like they’re focusing on one ‘known’ candidate for the head coaching position again, like McLellan.

Chris the former Intern:

Lately, I’ve been trying to be positive so I’m trying not to read TOO much into it. You have a point though, I’m also curious why there have been no other coach discussions.

Baggedmilk:

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Since it’s coming from Bob McKenzie, I tend to put more stock into it than I otherwise would. That said, I think Holland is too smart to only have a one-man list and even if this thing goes sideways with Dave Tippett, I believe he’ll land a qualified candidate.

2) Clay asks – If you were to guess, what will happen with the assistant coaches? Do think any of them will stick around?

Jason Gregor:

Hard to say, but I suspect only one stays, if any.

Robin Brownlee:

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I think Yawney joins Todd McLellan in LA. I also see at least one of Gulutzan or Viveiros out the door as well. If Tippett is the coach, I expect him to be looking at Jim Playfair and Mark Lamb, two longstanding assistants on his past coaching staffs, as candidates.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I could honestly see Glen Gulutzan and Manny Viveiros sticking around. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the two of them and their relationships with the players. I think it’s important for there to be some sort of familiarity heading into next season. As for Trent Yawney, there are already rumours that he could be heading elsewhere and I wouldn’t be surprised if he heads back to California.

Christian Pagnani:

You have to let the new coach bring in his own guys. No more forcing assistants on new coaches coming in. I think at best one stays on while the rest find new jobs, maybe with Todd McLellan in Los Angeles.

Chris the former Intern:

I really like our assistant coaching group so I hope most of them stick. However, whoever the new coach is, I totally expect and understand if he brings in a favourite crew of his.

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Baggedmilk:

I’ve heard Manny Viveiros is a guy the players really liked so I could see him sticking around. Maybe Trent Yawney on defence? Who knows. All guesses right now.

Photo by: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

3) Cal asks – I know that MacT has moved on, Duane Sutter was let go, as was the communications guy, but do you think Holland has made enough changes in management? I can’t help but think that there are still plenty of folks around that contributed to the Oilers being where they are and I don’t understand how three or four guys are the only ones to be let go.

Jason Gregor:

It is three people from management: Chiarelli, MacTavish and Sutter. And there will be changes in pro scouting. Pro scouting and pro trades were the downfall of this team. That is a large portion of the people who were involved. I think it is a significant change.

Robin Brownlee:

What number is enough? I doubt very much that Holland is finished. We will also see changes in the coaching staff, so things are far from settled right now. If you’re looking for Kevin Lowe to be shown the door, that’s a pound of flesh you’re not going to get. He’s not in hockey ops and the only way he’s gone is if he decides it’s time to move on into retirement and enjoy himself. Howson appears safe based on his participation in the transition from interim GM Keith Gretzky to Holland. Does another pro scout go? Maybe.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think Holland is giving lots of people fair chances to prove they deserve to stay in the organization. The changes he made thus far are very encouraging because it shows that he isn’t afraid to move on from people who were in the organization for a long time. I know some fans wanted the whole front office to be gutted, but that’s not realistic. I wouldn’t be worried that the list of departures isn’t longer and I believe that Holland will dismiss more people when he sees fit.

Christian Pagnani:

Nope. I agree completely. There’s no way an organization can be this bad and only a few people get the boot because of it. There’s a lot made about people doing good work and being good people with the Oilers, but if that was the case they wouldn’t have made the playoffs once in the last 13 seasons. Sure, these guys might be nice and accommodating to media or other people in the industry, but they haven’t contributed enough to make the Oilers a competent hockey team. There needs to be more change.

Chris the former Intern:

Nah I think there is much more to come. That’s a decent haul of moves though to get done in two weeks. I’m expecting more to happen as he gets to know the organization more.

Baggedmilk:

I’ll be curious to see if the amateur scouts get a shuffle as we get closer to the draft. Remember, when Peter Chiarelli rolled into town, the Oilers made changes in the amateur department right before the draft after all their meetings were done, and I wonder if we might see the same thing again.

4) Trent asks – We haven’t seen what Joakim Nygard has to offer at the NHL level so this question is purely a guess, but where do you see him fitting into the Oilers lineup? Does he crack the NHL squad?

Jason Gregor:

I see him as a bottom six forward, who will help on the PK, and might be able to slide up in the lineup now and then. Jason Strudwick played in Europe and he had a few guys who played with and against Nygard text us a scouting report. “Excellent skater. Very good on the PK. Don’t expect him to put up huge points. Average shot.”

Robin Brownlee:

Like you said, we haven’t seen him against NHL competition, so nobody knows. I certainly don’t. The ingredient he brings, speed, can be a fit up and down the line-up and the Oilers can use more of that. Helps his chances if the rest of his game is good enough. Could be a PK guy.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

I could see him playing solid bottom six minutes all year. He seems to have the speed to compete at the NHL level and that’s obviously very important. At the same time, European and college free agents are always very hard to project. Last year the Leafs signed Par Lindholm and he was supposed to be a really good third/fourth line center. He could barely crack their lineup. While I like the signing of Nygard, I think fans need to be a little cautious with their expectations of the player. He could score 15 goals, but he could just as easily be in the AHL after training camp.

Christian Pagnani:

Third or fourth line left wing and time on the penalty kill. The Oilers badly need useful bottom-six players and Nygard apparently has much-needed speed.

Chris the former Intern:

From what I’ve read on him, I do expect him to crack our roster. That’s also dependant on any roster moves that happens this summer. My guess is that he falls into the bottom six somewhere.

Baggedmilk:

Normally I would say that he’ll slot in on the third line, but since the Oilers have so few left-wingers that logic doesn’t really apply. At this point, I could see him playing anywhere from the first-fourth line, not because that’s where he should be but because they don’t have many options right now.

5) Stephen asks – Why do you think Canadians are so willing to get behind the Raptors and Jays but passionately hate the Leafs? It can’t only be because there is one Canadian team in the MLB and NBA, can it?

Jason Gregor:

Yes, I think it is that simple. Why do you think there are so many older Leafs and Habs fans in Western Canada? Because until 1979 there were no teams in the west, so hockey fans in the west cheered for those teams. Not every Canadian cheers for the Jays or Raptors, of course,  but because people in the west have no NBA or MLB team in their home province many gravitate towards a Canadian team.

Robin Brownlee:

That probably plays into it. The Raptors are Canada’s team by default.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

As a Leafs and Raptors fan, I can tell you that it is solely because they are the only Canadian franchises in their respective leagues. Credit to them as well because they really play up the “Canada’s team” angle when they do their marketing and it works. The hate towards the Leafs is mainly because they get way more media attention than the other six Canadian teams and their fans have a reputation of being rather arrogant. When it comes to the Leafs/Raptors, they can get all the media attention because there isn’t another Canadian team to cover. I expect the love for those two franchises will eventually fade once the NBA returns to Vancouver and the MLB returns to Montreal.

Christian Pagnani:

I don’t think you can discount the only Canadian team element. If the Leafs were the only Canadian team in the NHL I bet we’d see the same thing occur. It’s easier to identify with a team when you can see their games on TV and potentially go see them in person versus some random American team.

Chris the former Intern:

Nailed it. There are a ton of Canadian hockey teams to cheer for, but only one in baseball and basketball. Also, Leafs fans…

Baggedmilk:

I think it is because there is only a single Canadian team in both of those leagues, but also because Leafs fans are endlessly annoying. Remember when the Leafs won the Cup in November this year? Yeah, me too.


  • Serious Gord

    1. Tyler’s is the correct answer.

    2. “Tippett” will likely install his own old boys. And the oil will arguably regress to an older school of coaching.

    3. Those who left likely were already on the way out before holland arrived. Difficult to see how holland would know (or care) enough to make the PR guys firing on of the first guys he lets go.

    And, assuming that Tippett is the coach they are replacing key guys with guys who are even stronger friends of Katz and Gretz than the two who got let go. (And they are older too). And KLowe remains who along with WG are like some kind Rasputins to the owner.

    4. Don’t care – he’s not going to be a key part of this team’s future.

    5. What the group said – the raptors are the only nba team in the country. That noted, the leafs are the number one hockey team in Canada in terms of fan numbers and were they ever to get to the finals they would have the highest audience numbers in Canada for and NHL game ever. They are also a lot of fan’s second choice for a team to follow if not openly root for.

    • Hemmercules

      Well, hopefully Holland and Tippet drag the team further into the toilet so you can tells all how right you are eh? Give it some time before writing the whole thing off. At least give it to Christmas to see what these guys can do.

          • Serious Gord

            You would rather I join the crowd in supporting and cheering on these decisions rather than call it as I see it. I make my predictions in advance and stand by them until proven otherwise.

            For over a decade now I and many others have been right far more often than we have been wrong on how bad this org is and why.

            I find it very interesting that the vast majority of fans agreed at the end of the season on two things: the selection of GM and coach should be via an exhaustive search process and that the selections should not be close friends of the owner and executives.

            Exactly the opposite happened in both cases and now we have those a same fans trying to quiet and criticize those who point it out and express reasons why these two hires could be just a continuation of the already record-long failure of this org.

          • Hemmercules

            Your hindsight comment still makes no sense but I see where you are coming from.

            I look at it this way: The entire situation is out of our control. We dont vote in the next guy. The guys I wanted to get hired didn’t get hired but they didn’t hire a guy with no experience and they didn’t hire an idiot. I could cry about it or look forward and hope for the best. I need to see the type of moves Holland makes and the see response from the roster and coaching to start the season before I can really say this is more of he same or another terrible move.

            I can’t really say if Tippet is the right or wrong guy, I don’t know a ton about him or the other good options available right now but they may even hire someone else so we will see what happens there.

            I have said it before, if Holland and Bobby make the Oilers an even bigger laughing stock than they already are I cant continue to support the team in any fashion until a full purge goes down. Im banking on them finally getting it right this time.

        • SlovakOiler

          Hope the Nygard signing pans out. I would love an article with possible targets from the world championships. I would think there are some Fins who we could see in the NHL next year. Plus the Czech guy (Dominik ???) who was the best goal scorer in the Swiss league…

    • jesse says yep

      The fact you believe the guy basing observations on the same info we are privy to instead of someone who has actual inside sources who contradict your narrative shows that you will never be content. Unless of course you think Gregor is a liar.

  • Shane

    I hope Nygard can turn into a Todd Marchant type. Solid PK, speedy, 3rd line player. As seen in the World’s though it’s a different game though so who knows. I wouldn’t be suprised if it took him up to a year to adjust.

  • Biomass

    Minor point Jason, but Vancouver joined the NHL in 1970. However, I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t a ton of Canucks fans outside BC … reasons for this could fill several blogs

    • IRONman

      Leafs are capped out. Mitch is going to get 10.5 minimum or offer sheets will come. Only 2 first round picks for 5 x 10.5. They Oilers better mind the cap. Have to pay Nurse, Bouchard ect.

  • TKB2677

    I like the Nygard signing. Those are the types of bets that the Oilers are going to need to do given the cap situation. 1 yr, 2 way deal. It doesn’t get anymore low risk than that.

    I’d be curious to know if Nygard was already on the radar and scouted by the Oilers pro side or is he a Holland guy? Holland always seemed to be good at finding Europeans.

    • The Whispererer

      Yes and maybe. The Oilers and about 20 other teams were after Nygard. Until recently Ottawa and Calgary were considered the top contenders, so it would not be illogical to guess that the management changes in Edmonton influenced his final choice to sign here.

  • Abagofpucks

    I can’t really see this Nygard being much, but i hope i’m wrong. He’s coming from spending most of his career in a soft non nhl league so when he starts in the nhl its going to be a bit of a shock likely, but good luck to him.

    Anytime i see Mr bung or serious gorde or the like same other’s i never read their posts anymore and i don’t bother to trash or cheers, i recommend this to all.

  • Slick77

    Oilers LWers – One of Drai or RNH, Lucic, Benson, Khaira, and Nygard. That’s 5, so it will be tough for Nygard to make the team, unless they buyout Lucic’s contract or make him a health scratch.
    Nygard and Benson are the only two who can be sent down to Bakersfield without having to go through waivers. Lucic has a NMC and can’t be sent to Bakersfield.

  • RJ

    As it relates to Nygard, if we believe the media reports there were teams interested in him both last year and this year (supposedly over 20 teams).

    I know the Oilers track record is pathetic these past 13 years, but with that many teams looking at him, he must have some talent (and a ton of speed). If it turns out he sucks, they only have him for one year and they can walk away from him next summer. This is about as low risk as it gets.

    This doesn’t seem to be a classic Chia move overpaying an unproven player from overseas.