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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Thoughts on Riley Sheahan?

It’s that wonderful time again, my friends. A fall chill is in the air, training camp is days away, and a new NHL season is nearly upon us. As always, the mailbag is back and we’re answering the questions you’ve always wanted to know about the NHL and life in general. Our panel of experts bloggers dove into the depths of their experience to give you every last juicy nugget of wisdom that their brains could muster and all for the low low price of absolutely nothing. I like to think of us as a much cheaper alternative to a college education. As always, this feature depends on you guys so I need you to submit your questions. If you have something you’d like to know you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. With that out of the way, it’s time to learn something. Enjoy.

1) David asks – In recent Oiler draft picks, I’ve noticed a tendency to draft with a strong emphasis on tools – examples such as Broberg, Lavoie, McLeod, Jesse Puljujarvi all have impressive tools and some questions about their hockey sense or motivation. When I think of a recent example that has solid skill but is praised mostly for vision and hockey sense, it’s more Benson, who seems to be their prize forward prospect. Are the Oilers overbalanced in focusing on the tools and not paying enough attention to whether the player has a toolbox?

Jason Gregor:

Who said they lack motivation or hockey sense? You need different types to win. Not every forward has to have elite hockey sense, but you need a few, especially some who can play with McDavid or Draisaitl.

Robin Brownlee:

I understand what you’re saying, but for me vision, being motivated and hockey sense are tools. Very few players, even at the top of the draft, check absolutely everybody box scouts looks for. Some, like skating, are weighted more heavily than others, but there are always flaws. If motivation is a problem when a young player has his whole hockey career in front of him, is a problem, then you’ve drafted the wrong guy. To answer your question, no, I don’t think the Oilers have focused on the wrong attributes but they’ve certainly had a blind spot for “hockey sense” in the cases of Yakupov and Puljujarvi.

Baggedmilk:

Remember when people said Leon Draisaitl was lazy and then he went on to pump home a 50-goal season? Let’s wait and see how these kids actually turn out before buying into the labels too much.

2) Blake asks – What is everyone’s opinion on the Riley Sheahan signing? Is he the 3rd line centre the Oilers have been searching for or is he that person simply by default?

Jason Gregor:

He will compete for the job, but I’m not sold he is a lock. He might start there, but the C with the best chance to contribute as a 3C in the future is Cooper Marody. Sheahan might play there for half a season. The other wildcard is Gaetan Haas. Haven’t seen enough of him to know if he can help or not. Sheahan is a short-term answer for the 3C, which is fine, but I don’t see him as the one they have been searching for.

Robin Brownlee:

I think Sheahan has a chance to be that guy because he has some NHL experience compared to some of the other candidates. The position is a question mark, but I wouldn’t go as far to say anybody is going to get it by default.

Baggedmilk:

Ideally, I think Riley Sheahan would be your fourth line centre, but that’s not where we’re at so we’ll have to hope he can handle the role, even if that means fighting above his weight class a little bit.

Feb 14, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Markus Granlund (60) takes a shot on goal in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

3) Joshua asks – I feel as though Ken Holland has done a very good job of adding new bodies and competition into a bottom-six that desperately needed it, and my question for everybody is who their bet is on the biggest impact acquisition for the third and fourth lines? I’m guessing Markus Granlund.

Jason Gregor:

Hard to say because we don’t know who fills out the top-six. Maybe Benson or Nygard play there….but if it is someone we assume will be mainly in the top=six, then I will say Khaira has a solid season. Will help on PK as well.

Robin Brownlee:

The biggest acquisition impacting the third and fourth lines could be a guy like James Neal. Not because he’s going to play there, but because he can push somebody down into a bottom nine position they are better suited for.

Baggedmilk:

Maaaaaan that’s a good question because there are a lot of scratch tickets slotted for spots in the bottom six. I mean, there’s no way they’ll be as bad as last year, right? Maybe? Bah. Anyway, I’m going to guess Joakim Nygard is the best of the bunch. Why do I think that? I have no idea. I’m guessing.

Jun 20, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Connor McDavid poses with the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay awards during the 2018 NHL Awards at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

4) Tina asks – My question is simple: why will this season be any different than last year? Will it be different?

Jason Gregor:

It will be different in there are many new players, a head coach and GM… Now will the result, missing the playoffs, be different? I will look at my crystal ball this month and I need to check the auras and chakras of the players before I can make an accurate GDB prediction.

Robin Brownlee:

Ken Holland is a huge upgrade on Peter Chiarelli. When adjustments and improvements to the opening day line-up need to be made once the Oilers are into the season, which is a given, I have a lot more faith in how he’ll handle them.

Baggedmilk:

Because the Dave Tippett trap will sort out a lot of the defensive issues this team has had for a long time. Wishful thinking? I’m open to that.

5) Oilers fan in Van asks – Over the past few years, the NHL has really changed in regards to young players signing big contracts out of their entry-level deal rather than later on in their careers. What do you think of this trend and do you think it will shorten the length of careers overall as there won’t be as much of the pie left for older guys?

Jason Gregor:

I’d rather sign long term deals to players when they are 21-23 than when they are 28-30. It is a valid question of whether it will force out some players earlier. It is possible, but I think moreso we will just see older players signing shorter term deals, thus lowering the risk of them not living up to their contract. I think the PA needs to realize there is a lot of dead money in buyouts and that isn’t good for players.

Robin Brownlee:

I think way too many young players get overpaid coming out of their first contract, but that’s the market right now. It puts a squeeze on players in the bottom half of the roster. In too many cases, you’ve got three or four guys making half the available cap money and everybody else scrambling to divide up the rest. It’s one of the reasons we’re seeing more players looking for jobs on PTOs. Not ideal.

Baggedmilk:

Personally, I’d rather bet on a skilled player heading into his prime than overpaying for a veteran whose best years are behind him. See: Lucic, Milan.