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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Who are the NHL offseason winners and losers so far?

Can you believe it’s been already been a whole week since the last mailbag? I guess time flies when you’re riding the wave that is being an Edmonton Oilers fan, amirite? As always, you’ve submitted your free agency-related questions and I’ve sent them off to our panel of mental warlords for their thoughts and ideas. If you have a question for the Mailbag, you can always hit me up through email or on Twitter. Until then, enjoy the free learning opportunity.

1) Trevor K. asks – In your opinions, what was the craziest contract given out so far in free agency and why?

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t like the Sergei Bobrovsky contract. I like the player, but he’s 31 and I wouldn’t want to be on the hook for seven years at $10 million a season like the Panthers are now.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The only answer to this question is Kevin Hayes. It happened before July 1st, but it’s ugly. Philly will be feeling some major regrets in a few years. I have no problems with Kevin Hayes as a player, but he simply is not a $7 million player. Brandon Tanev getting six years AND over $3.5 million from Pittsburgh is almost as bad.

Christian Pagnani:

Sergei Bobrovsky’s seven-year contract, Brandon Tanev’s six-year deal, and Ben Chiarot’s three-year contract are all contenders. Bobrovsky is obviously good, but not worth $10m a year. Tanev somehow got six years and Chiarot is a replacement-level defender.

Baggedmilk:

I think the Bobrovsky deal is going to look bad in a few years. I don’t understand why Pittsburgh thought Brandon Tanev needed a six-year contract when the guy has never hit 30 points in his career, but I suppose free agency is the time for weird choices, right?

2) Levi asks – Of the remaining available free agents, are there any realistic options that you could see the Oilers pursuing or are the players of interest too expensive for the limited cap space the team has left?

Robin Brownlee:

I think Ken Holland’s next move is a trade. Outside of maybe Derick Brassard, I don’t see any remaining UFA’s who are worth overpaying for.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

If Ryan Dzingel can be had for $3.5 million, they should be all over that. But I doubt that he’ll come that cheap. It will likely take $4.5 to get him done, which is unfortunate because he’s a great fit. I wouldn’t mind one of Derick Brassard if he’s cheap or Riley Sheahan. Both would be good third line centres on short term deals.

Christian Pagnani:

I wrote about this last week. I’d go after Ryan Dzingel, Derick Brassard, and Josh Archibald, but if Michael Ferland, Thomas Vanek, or Oscar Lindberg want to come here for a reasonable price for one or two years, I’m all ears.

Baggedmilk:

I’d love to see the Oilers find a way to make a Dzingel contract work but I doubt they have enough space to do it unless Old Dutch has a sneaky good trade up his sleeve.

3) Stephen asks – In his Canada Day press conference, Ken Holland said that he would still like to acquire a 20-goal scorer and I’m wondering who might be a comparable or player that you think would be realistic? Seems to me that they wouldn’t be able to afford a Dzingel type so who might he be talking about?

Robin Brownlee:

He said he’d like to acquire somebody capable of scoring 20 goals and that’s different than a 20-goal scorer, which implies a player who has done it already. Dzingel isn’t going to get the $5M a season he’s looking for. No chance. Like I said above, if Holland gets this potential 20-goal guy he’ll do it via trade.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

If he’s going to get a player of that calibre, we’ll have to see a trade. Either a deal that brings in a high-end winger, a deal that sheds cap space, or both. The only issue is that after buying out Andrej Sekera, you really can’t deal Kris Russell without an NHL defenseman coming back and the Sam Gagner contract is going to be hard to move without attaching an asset to it. Going to be an interesting month of July waiting to see what Ken Holland has up his sleeve.

Christian Pagnani:

Has to be through trade but I’m not sure who he means. Maybe Mike Hoffman in Florida?

Baggedmilk:

I’m thinking we’re going to see a Puljujarvi + defensive prospect + pick type of trade that will land a guy to play in the top six. Why do I think that? I have no idea, but that’s my guess and I’m sticking with it.

Apr 19, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (41) watches the puck against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

4) Brianna asks – What is your honest opinion of the Oilers’ goaltending duo of Koskinen and Smith? Are they good enough?

Robin Brownlee:

Too much hope involved in this tandem. Can Koskinen be more consistent? Sure. Can Smith bounce back at his age after a tough regular season last year? Maybe. If the answer is no on either one of them, where does that leave the Oilers?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

They certainly could be good enough. Each goaltender had really strong, nearly elite stretches during last season but they also had long stretches where they hardly looked like competent NHL goaltenders. If the Oilers get lucky, the two will just alternate hot streaks all season and goaltending won’t be a problem. But what are the odds of that?

Christian Pagnani:

Not even close. Smith is a curious bet given his age. Koskinen is probably a backup goaltender on the wrong side of 30 making too much money. What a tandem.

Baggedmilk:

I’ll readily admit that I’m very nervous about how this duo performs, but these are the cards we’ve been dealt so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Buckle up, Nation, things could get weird… or be awesome. Who knows, at this point?

5) Lyle asks – My question for the panel is quite simple: When you factor in the NHL Draft and free agency, who are the off-season winners and losers so far?

Robin Brownlee:

NY Rangers drafted Kaapo Kakko and added Panarin and Trouba. Colorado drafted Bowen Byram and acquired Nazim Kadri and Andre Burakovsky. They’re my winners.

Winnipeg lost Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers. Columbus loaded up on free agents for a playoff push and they’re all gone now. They’d be my losers.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The big winners are the New York Rangers (adding Panarin, Trouba, Kakko, and Fox) and the New Jersey Devils (stealing away PK Subban, drafting Hughes, signing Wayne Simmonds). That Metro division just got a lot more entertaining. The big losers are the Pittsburgh Penguins (awful Tanev deal) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (obvious reasons).

Christian Pagnani:

Winner has to include Toronto. Dubas has shown some serious salary-cap wizardry. I like what Chicago’s done. Same with Colorado. Losers to me: Vancouver, Edmonton, Islanders, and Pittsburgh.

Baggedmilk:

I hate that Toronto has done a bunch of work that’ll make them better next year. I also like what NJ got done with the first overall pick and trading a case of Gatorade for PK Subban. But, to me, one of the big winners of the off-season so far has to be the New York Rangers. They landed Panarin, traded for Trouba, and got Kaapo Kakko at the draft — that’s a fine haul.

As for the losers, Winnipeg is the first team that comes to mind based on the fact that they haven’t done anything other than lose players and Patrik Laine remains unsigned.

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  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Winners: Toronto, New York, New Jersey, Florida, every other team except Edmonton.

    Losers: Edmonton.

    Goalie tandem? HA! We have a goalie who can’t use his glove hand, and a goalie who gets injured. But sure, they’ll get us into the playoffs.

    Still waiting on that top 6 winger Ken. I mean it’s not like you’ve had two opportunities to get one, OH WAIT A MINUTE!

    This season is going to be a long one. And before anyone says I’m being “negative”, it’s called being realistic. And reality is often kind of negative. But hey, keep getting brainwashed and believing that “next year will be our year”. Maybe when McDavid leaves via free agency, you’ll finally wake up. Somehow I doubt that though

    • RJ

      I think it’s better to be honest about the next season, so i have no problem with these comments. Let’s pick a few areas and see what’s likely;

      1) goalies – Koskinen is no Binnington. He’s going to need a quality goalie to pair with. So they found a ready for retirement partner when goalies like Mrazek and Lehrner were available.
      If Smith is injured at all, they’re likely worse than last year.

      Defence: they removed a respected veteran to free up cap space (to sign Chiasson?). They didn’t add any veterans. They’re relying on hopes and dreams for improvement. Will Nurse continue to improve and finally become that #1D that we have been talking about since Pronger left? Will Klefbom get an infection trimming his toe nails and miss six months? KH didn’t add anything at all we can point to that improved the D.

      Top six scoring: talked about adding a potential 20 G scorer, but added no one we can point to today that fills that spot. Maybe these Euro free agents come in and light it up. Maybe Benson makes the team and does well. But no improvements yet

      Bottom six – signed a bunch of fast UFAs, but no locks.

      If some of these FAs stick, then the bottom six will be faster. A whole summer of skills work might help Lucic take a pass and become a useful player. But back to back 50 G scorers are rare, so Drai plays better but scores less.

      All in all, I don’t see improvement. Could have just left Keith Gretzky there and the team wouldn’t be any worse.

    • TKB2677

      Florida gave 10 mill for 7 yr to a 32 yr old goalie. They gave Stralman a going to be 33 yr defensive dman a 3 yr, 5.5 mill deal. They gave a 4 yr deal to NHL 3rd liner in Connelly for 3.5 mill per year. I don’t see how any of those are a good contract.

      New York gave Panarin 11.6 mill. He had 87 pts. The chances of him living up to that contract are very low.

      I am not a guy drinking the kool aid for the Oilers but you seem to be basing your comment on the fact the Oilers didn’t go out and give too much term, money or both to UFA’s who in all likelihood best years are behind them.

      I think the best contract last season was Chiasson. 22 goals for 650K. So I would think its best to see what happens before declaring a winner or loser in early July.

  • Neilio

    The winners and losers of Free Agency 2019 will not be the same winners and losers by the end of next season. Most of these deals will look bad within the calendar year. And some will be millstones that will prevent teams from doing what they need to do for years, like the Lucic contract.

    You might say that the Oilers are losers because they didn’t land a big fish. But that’s kind of assuming that would be what fixes this team. Which it won’t. We’re not one Dzingle away from the cup.

    I think the right move was keeping the powder dry, and not handing out ridiculous term. Barring injury, we should be a playoff contender. If we’re close at the deadline, you make a move if you can, to get you there. I wouldn’t swing for the fences just yet. Try to get Lucic’s value pumped up a bit. Maybe find a taker for Russell. Get some young players some games in the bigs. The changes and solutions will probably be internal. Its not always smart to pay a guy for what he did with another team.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      It’s not about winning the cup, it’s about making the playoffs, which this team hasn’t been able to do in 12 of the last 14 years. Winning the cup shouldn’t be the priority right now, it should be making the playoffs. When we have 2-3 playoff appearances under the belt with this core, then we can talk about going for the cup. There is 0 pressure to win the cup. There is tons of pressure to make the playoffs.

      • Shameless Plugger

        So to get this right, the goal should be to just “get in the playoffs” then who cares once your in, because it’s not about winning the cup ?

        It’s always about winning the cup. That’s what you get in the playoffs for.

        • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

          No what I’m saying is that when they’ve had a few playoff appearances under their belt, then they should focus on winning the cup. They make it so rarely that the initial goal should be making the playoffs.

      • Serious Gord

        Winning the cup should always be the goal.

        Losing battles – not making the playoffs for example – is sometimes a necessary thing when you are trying to win the war. There are literally billions of examples of this.

      • blobbo

        Two years from now, “this core” could be McDavid and Draisaitl. I’m just guessing but those two might know how to perform in a playoff game.

        How many decades did the Leafs make dumb, short term moves just trying to make the playoffs? If Holland was to listen to your advice and constant whining, we would be in for another decade of darkness, probably more.

  • Hockey Bunker

    If Holland is looking for 20 foals with speed to keep up with McDavid and add an element they are missung at a very low cost Jake Virtanen of the Canucks is the guy. Cost would be high but he would excel there. However the Oil are probably stuck with Kassian.