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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Zack Kassian’s New Contract

Hello, hello! Welcome, friends, to another edition of the mailbag where I’ve taken your questions and turned them into a little bit of free learnin’ on a Monday morning. This week, we look at Zack Kassian’s new contract, Giordano’s knee on McDavid, Joakim Nygard’s injury, and a lot more. If you want in on next week’s mailbag, just fire me an email at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Until then, I encourage you to sit back, relax, and waste a few minutes of company time. Have a good week, everybody.

Jan 11, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

1. Barrett K. asks – What is everyone’s opinion on Zack Kassian’s new contract?

Jason Gregor:

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In a perfect world I think a three year deal at $3m would have been ideal, but I don’t have a major issue with it. Kassian adds more than just scoring and because he skates so well I don’t think speed will be an issue in the final year of the deal.

Robin Brownlee:

One year longer than I would have liked, but the AAV comes in exactly where I thought it would. Like it overall because Kassian brings multiple dimensions to the team — he can skate, he can score some, he’s nasty and he can move up and down the line-up.

Christian Pagnani:

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Bad contract. To put it simply, you don’t pay guys whose production relies heavily on Connor McDavid. Last year Kassian was an overpaid fourth liner. Now this year he’s suddenly worth a four-year deal and an AAv over $3M? This is a classic case of overpaying a guy because he’s tough and well liked. Ken Holland signed that terrible Justin Abdelkader contract and it appears he didn’t learn much. I like Kassian and I think he’s a fine player, but the nice thing about having McDavid is you can swap out guys there for dirt cheap. Holland didn’t take advantage of that.

Nation Dan:

It’s easy to pretend that every contract should be better, shorter, and cheaper. We talked about it on the ONRadioPodcast this week, but if you go to Puckpedia.com and look at people around his contract number, he’s far and away better than all of them. I like it.

Baggedmilk:

I think it’s probably a year too long and a shade too high, but I’m not going to spend much time complaining about it. The guy is having a great year to go along with a better personal journey, so I’m going to give him props for landing the deal. I hope Connor gets a commission on this one.

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2. Hank asks – Can someone please explain how the NHL had representatives all over the Oilers vs Flames game on the 29th and no one seemed to care about the near knee on knee attempt from Giordano on McDavid? What is the point of having them at the arena (or even in general) if they’re not going to do their jobs?

Jason Gregor:

It wasn’t a knee on knee. It was an interference penalty. Nothing more in my eyes. It should have been a penalty.

Robin Brownlee:

The on-ice officials call the game. I thought it was a minor for interference. How far up the food chain is a missed minor supposed to go? I understand why McDavid was so unhappy because he just worked his butt off to rehab that knee, but that doesn’t necessitate a hearing for the play in question.

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Christian Pagnani:

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It was a two-minute penalty that was missed. You can’t suspend based on missed calls and the fact that player came back from a significant injury. I thought it was a bit cheap to try and get a piece of him when he was clearly beat, but hard to discipline them when the refs decide not to call a penalty.

Nation Dan:

I believed a phone call from Parros to Giordano was warranted. He (Gio) has gained a reputation for this kind of play. Did he stop himself/McDavid avoid it? Sure. But reminding him that if he had connected that was going to be a long long suspension would have been a good idea.

Baggedmilk:

Because the NHL has absolutely no consistency with its referees and they’re generally embarrassing. I feel like that covers it.

Jan 4, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Joakim Nygard (10) during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

3. Oilers Fan in Van asks – How do you believe Joakim Nygard’s injury impacts Ken Holland’s approach to the trade deadline?

Jason Gregor:

The Oilers need a top-six winger. Nygard wasn’t that, so I don’t see it changing Holland’s approach that much. He might add a veteran depth winger, but Sam Gagner has played quite well the past three games and while he doesn’t have Nygard’s speed, his experience and competitiveness adds other elements. Also, Tyler Benson is a rookie like Nygard, albeit younger, so he fills that void.

Robin Brownlee:

Could depend heavily on what we see from Benson during his time here. He’s slotted into the bottom six but is he capable of moving up to fill a top-six void?

Christian Pagnani:

Not really. Nygard is fast, but he only had nine points in 33 games. I don’t think he changes much for Holland.

Nation Dan:

The addition of Yamamoto and now we can see what Benson does will have more of an impact than the loss of Nygard.

Baggedmilk:

You don’t ever want to see a guy get hurt but I doubt losing Nygard makes much difference in terms of how Holland approaches the deadline.

Jan 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) during the fastest skater event in the 2017 NHL All Star Game skills competition at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4. Danger Pay asks – Seeing as how McDavid is no longer the fastest skater, do you think it’s time to add who can skate the fastest lap With the puck?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t think one skating competition at the skills means Matt Barzal is now faster than McDavid. Not by a longshot. I don’t need more competitions at the skills. Be confident in knowing McDavid is the fastest with or without the puck.

Robin Brownlee:

Why? He’s the fastest skater. Doesn’t need validation in a non-game contest. Fans would probably like it though.

Christian Pagnani:

Nah, McDavid’s still the fastest. He’ll reclaim it next year.

Nation Dan:

Give Connor a running start and stop the Dylan Larkin nonsense too.

Baggedmilk:

I’d watch that. That said, I bet Connor wins again next year.

Sep 28, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

5. Michael K. asks – Why does taking away from the blue line (i.e. Adam Larsson) to add a top six forward make the Oilers better? I do not think the Oilers should try to fix a potential problem, by creating a definite problem.

People are clamouring for a top-six forward via trade (presumable from the Oilers’ “wealth” of defensemen), but I do not see the need. The Oilers have recently fielded Neal-McDavid-Kassian(Archibald) and RNH-Draisaitl-Yamamoto to great success and over an eight game stretch. So if you trade for a top-six winger, say Kasperi Kapanen, who are you taking out and why? The poorest performing player in our top six (at 5 on 5) is probably Neal, but even he has been +4 since New Year’s Eve. Add to that the fact that the Oilers do not have an abundance of proven top-four defensemen to trade. The most commonly “traded” defensemen is Adam Larsson, but the same people say that (offside) K. Russell, Matt Benning and (offside) Caleb Jones cannot handle full-time top-four duty and I think they are right. Am I insane? What am I missing?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t think it guarantees they are better this year. But in the summer, after Jones and Bear have more experience I could see Holland moving Larsson for the right top-six winger. I don’t see it happening before the deadline because, as you stated, it creates a hole on the right side. Larsson would fetch a bigger return than Russell this summer, so I understand why some are considering moving him, but I’d look at other options…like packing Puljujarvi and something for a top-six winger before I’d move Larsson.

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Robin Brownlee:

Trading Larsson doesn’t make sense to me. This blueline has some depth, but much of it is largely unproven over the long run and inexperienced. I don’t think you’re missing anything.

Christian Pagnani:

It’s more about trading a guy who is probably overrated and plays at a premium position. Larsson’s still a decent player, but I’d strongly consider moving him. I think it’d be a case of trading a guy a year early rather than a year late. I don’t see the Oilers re-signing Larsson and you could probably get a younger skilled winger in return. Of course then who plays in his spot beside Oscar Klefbom? Promoting Evan Bouchard there would be a thing the Oilers of the past would do, though I think he could do it. Maybe you give Joel Persson another shot? Larsson isn’t important enough to not explore trade opportunities. Matt Benning in the top four after a stretch of injuries wouldn’t be good. Kris Russell shouldn’t be more than a third-pair guy at this point. It rests on how good you think Persson and/or Bouchard can be.

Nation Dan:

I agree with you that they can’t make a deal, dealing away a D man without a backup plan there. I have been saying it for a while now that they need more D depth. Can’t force Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear to have to play a consistent amount of minutes in the playoffs.

Baggedmilk:

I think that the way Yamamoto has played since being recalled is really quieting some of this down, but at the same time, the yearning for more scoring won’t go away any time soon. That said, the Oilers need cap space so moving a more expensive guy on an expiring deal makes sense from an asset management perspective.

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