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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Should the Oilers consider trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?

Happy Monday, Nation! The NHL is back in full swing after the Christmas break and your friendly Nation writers are back to start off your week by answering your questions and making sense of all things Edmonton Oilers. As always, I need you guys to make this feature work so if you’ve got a question you’d like to ask you can email it to me at [email protected] or DM on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Until then, happy deadline day, people.

Dec 8, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhaert (23) looks for a rebound in front of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Kris asks – I’d like to know what everyone thinks about the Oilers looking so different from period to period? Against New York, they played incredibly well for about 38 minutes and nearly blew that game. Against Buffalo, they played well for 20 minutes and stopped. What gives?

Jason Gregor:

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They aren’t a dominant team. They won’t be able to control game for entire stretches. They can play well, but other teams have talent and they will control games at times as well. They need to try and eliminate the length of the bad stretches.

Robin Brownlee:

Different scenarios. Against New York, they relaxed after going up 6-0 figuring it was going to be an easy game. Against Buffalo, they played not to lose when up 2-0 instead of playing to win.

Inconsistency takes many forms.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

It certainly seems like a mental thing. They get too comfortable with a lead and stop doing what works.  Finding ways to string together complete games is definitely something they need to work on. Sometimes they just need to simplify their game. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. Just focus on hustling to loose pucks and not turning the puck over at either blue line and you’ll be fine. They just can’t seem to do that.

Baggedmilk:

Can I use the old cliche that this team is still learning how to win and that closing out games is a part of that? You could say that they’re still working becoming mental warriors. Maybe? What the hell do I know?

Jan 2, 2020; Buffalo, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) takes a shot as Buffalo Sabres cednter Jack Eichel (9) looks on in the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

2) Bill asks – We’ve been constantly talking about the Oilers needing a top-six winger to play with Nugent-Hopkins and get him producing. What are your thoughts on instead trading Nugent-Hopkins for a centre that can better carry a line with lesser wingers? And who would you target in such a trade?

Jason Gregor:

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There are maybe five centres who can produce big numbers with lesser players, and even then they won’t score as much. You need good players to play with good players. I’d keep RNH with Draisaitl and Yamamoto for a bit and see what they can do.

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Robin Brownlee:

So, trade a proven commodity in Nugent-Hopkins for a center who can carry a line with lesser wingers? Who are the lesser wingers? Not sure what you’re looking for here. I like RNH where he is right now. Hand injury has slowed him.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Trading Nugent-Hopkins for a better center? Well, I’m not sure why another team would agree to do that. I have no problem with RNH. Is he a perfect player? No. He isn’t a legit number one centre, but that’s fine. He’s a really good second-line centre that can hold his own at 5v5 and needs a really good winger to produce offence. There is nothing wrong with that. To think that there is a magical trade out there for a player better than Nugent-Hopkins is foolish.

Baggedmilk:

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The good thing about having a bunch of centremen is that they can also play on the wing. Nuge is looking pretty good with Draisaitl and Yamamoto right now, what more do you want?

Dec 6, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and forward Leon Draisaitl (29) discuss a play during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Will in Winnipeg asks – At what point do you think Tippett will try something new in overtime because right now the trio of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Klefbom isn’t working?

Jason Gregor:

I wouldn’t overreact to a short term struggle. They have four OT losses this year. Against Arizona that trio wasn’t on the ice. Against Dallas, Klefbom was able to change, Nurse came on, but 97 and 29 were on at end of shift. And both losses to Buffalo in OT, the Sabres held puck, didn’t do much, then capitalized. I think it is foolish to panic and think that 97 and 29 still don’t give them the best chance to score. They dominated last year, and have struggled this year, but three OT losses with them on the ice wouldn’t cause me to switch it up.

Robin Brownlee:

I’d expect Tippett to continue to play his best players. If not them, then who? Play the percentages.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I don’t want him to change it. Overtime is a crapshoot. Sometimes you’ll win three in a row and sometimes you’ll lose three in a row. It’s just the way it goes. Play your most skilled players and trust that they can win the game for you. I still believe that the Oilers have the best chance to win the game at 3v3 when McDavid and Draisaitl are on the ice.

Baggedmilk:

Things will even out. The boys will be fine. I could see Tippett trying the second trio to start an OT period, though. Why not?

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4) Greg asks – On Thursday of last week, the Calgary Flames made the Frolik trade a pure cap dump and I’m wondering when the Oilers will start doing the same with players that are clearly not in their plans such as Gagner and Manning? Would there even be a market for them?

Jason Gregor:

Manning has no trade value, he was on waivers and no one claimed him. Gagner has a bit more, but he would need to be a regular in the lineup before they can move him.

Robin Brownlee:

Manning already waived. There is no market for him. Gagner is a handy guy to have around as an option. Might be a market for him closer to the deadline if he’s permanently stuck in the press box here.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Gagner and Manning really don’t have the ability to be impactful NHL players whereas I still believe Frolik can be a solid third-line player on a decent team. Credit to Calgary for getting rid of him, but I think Frolik can contribute in the Sabres top nine. I think the Oilers could get rid of one of Manning or Gagner, but it would need to be as part of a bigger deal.

Baggedmilk:

Would you trade for Brandon Manning?

5) Blake asks – I spent way too much money during the holidays and now I’m hoping that the panel can give me some advice for getting my finances back on track in 2020?

Jason Gregor:

Put down a hard budget on paper and stick with it for a month or two. Pay off Visa as quick as you can. But make sure you leave some “fun” money for beer or movies or sports, so you can still have some fun while you get money in order.

Robin Brownlee:

I’d resist the urge to ask for financial advice from strangers who to not know your circumstances. Create a budget. Spend less than you make. Beyond that, you’re on your own.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Don’t eat out. I find that’s the easiest way for me the save money. Instead of going to a bar/restaurant to watch an Oilers game and racking up a decent bill just hit up the liquor store and eat at home for a third of the price.

Baggedmilk:

Time to cut down on your variable expenses, my friend. Make coffee at home, bring lunch, make dinner at home… all of that has to happen until the balance is paid off. Interest is a killer.

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