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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Trade Deadline Edition

What have we here? A brand new trade-centred mailbag that’s hot and fresh out the kitchen on deadline day? With the NHL’s final shopping day of the season upon us, I wanted to put together something to read and help you kill off a few minutes of company time until teams start making some moves. 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.

1) @samakehurst91 asks – As I write this, the Oilers are sitting 1st in the pacific.

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You’re Ken Holland. You have all the power in the world. What is your deadline game plan? Is it to load up and make a legit run at the Cup this year by mortgaging a bit of the future? Or do you go into it with the idea to “load up” on a roster player (or two) with term and then let the horses run to see where you shake out and then worry about loading up next year?

If 2017 taught me anything my heart is saying load up now and go for it, but my brain is saying wait until we’re a bit deeper. What are your thoughts?

Robin Brownlee:

The reality Holland is working with is far different than the “all the power in the world” scenario you are putting forth. First, he has salary cap issues, which makes big moves difficult. Second, I don’t believe Holland sees a run at the Stanley Cup in the cards this year, but he talked about wanting to add and will conduct himself accordingly.

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The acquisition of pending UFA Mike Green late Sunday fits that — he’s a good player and Detroit is apparently retaining some salary (reports are 50 per cent). Green doesn’t break the bank as a rental and the Oilers got him without giving up a roster player or a prime prospect. I expect Holland to make another tweak today — Tyler Ennis might be that guy.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see Holland mortgaging much of the future. I think a winger who can score will be a good add. Injuries might have had something to do with adding a depth D-man as well.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The dream would be to find a scoring winger who is under team control for another season. That might cost you a first round pick and maybe more but if Holland finds a player that he believes would be a good fit with McDavid, he should pull the trigger. I expect he would spend significant assets in that situation but I do not expect him to be a major player in the rental market and I understand that. In his first season with an organization, I can see why he would be hesitant to mortgage the future.

Christian Pagnani:

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I think you can load up without mortgaging the future. I’d try and acquire a top-six winger and another depth guy like Tyler Ennis.

Baggedmilk:

Honestly, I’m expecting a slow day for the Oilers today as Holland has already said he’s not moving his first rounder for a rental, which leads me to think that we’re probably in line for a depth player or two outside of the Mike Green trade that happened last night.

2) Trent asks – Are there any trades that have happened so far where you really thought that the Oilers should have been on it, or was the cost of acquisition simply too high for your liking? Players like Blake Coleman and Tyler Toffoli come to mind.

Robin Brownlee:

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We are led to believe the Oilers were in on Blake Coleman. Sounds like the ask was too high for Holland’s liking.

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Jason Gregor:

Coleman made sense as he has another year on his deal, but I understand why Holland wouldn’t give up a first for him and another top prospect. The Oilers don’t have that much depth in their organization to give up two big pieces for Coleman.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

There honestly has not been one. I thought the Canucks paid too much for Toffoli and while I like Coleman and didn’t hate the asking price, I understand why Holland didn’t pay that much for him. Ask me this question later on today and my answer will probably be different.

Christian Pagnani:

I didn’t mind the Blake Coleman trade. The term makes giving up a first less costly, plus that prospect doesn’t blow me away either. Looking at Tyler Madden’s NCAA numbers and he looks like a very good prospect. I like Tyler Toffoli a lot, but I can see why Los Angeles dealt him for that package. Toffoli’s a good player whose scoring doesn’t reflect his entire impact. I’m not sure I make either trade from an Oilers perspective.

Baggedmilk:

Blake Coleman would have been cool but I’m not bummed that Holland wouldn’t go above the price he was willing to pay just to get him. Toffoli was a pure rental and the chances of him sticking in Vancouver are negligible when he has the chance to cash in on UFA money so I think the Canucks paid a lot. Again, I like Holland sticking to the prices he’s willing to pay and not going all Chiarelli just because he feels he needs to make a move.

Feb 1, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

3) James asks – Of course it is early to think about this, but it is fun to do so. What first-round playoff matchup would you most like to see when the Oilers return to the playoffs in April and why?

Robin Brownlee:

Oilers-Flames. There’s finally some passion back in the BOA. Lots of storylines.

Jason Gregor:

Oilers against the Flames or Canucks. Both would be intense and the fans in both cities would be emotionally invested.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I have two answers. From an entertainment standpoint, I want to see them play Calgary. From a purely hockey perspective, I think they might have the easiest time beating Arizona. Honestly, I think they could beat any team in the Pacific Division in a best of seven series. I would just be nervous about getting Nashville in round one.

Christian Pagnani:

Calgary is the obvious one, but I wouldn’t mind a Vegas series or one with Vancouver. Edmonton and Arizona would be boring.

Baggedmilk:

Calgary. Hands down. It would be so much fun.

4) Andrew asks – It’s clear to me that the NHL Player Safety has been wildly inconsistent with their suspensions (or lack thereof) so far this season. What would you do to improve what has transpired so far?

Robin Brownlee:

I’d start by firing George Parros. I’d also insist DOPS starts getting serious about taking hits from behind out of the game. I’d do a full review of on-ice personnel — if you aren’t willing or capable of showing reasonable judgment and discretion on the ice when interpreting what is an infraction and what’s not, out the door you go.

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Jason Gregor:

They have shown they can be consistent on some things. If you squirt water at a player, even if you don’t hit him with it, you get fined. If you kick a player, even if it isn’t hard or dangerous, you get suspended. So simply: if you hit someone from behind into the boards, make it a suspension. The players will adapt. Blaming only George Parros is recency bias. The entire department needs to reset what they view as dangerous.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I honestly have no idea. I don’t know how to fix this problem but I know it is a problem and there are people being paid a lot of money who need to be more consistent. Not even in the length of suspensions, but in deciding what is and isn’t receiving supplemental discipline.

Christian Pagnani:

Make suspensions actually matter. Stop having former enforcers like George Parros in charge of things. More transparency and actual discipline for players. They need to take it seriously. Make the league more about your stars than the depth guys.

Baggedmilk:

The NHL needs to put a third party type of organization in place that isn’t comprised of former players that are still buddies with some of the guys they should be suspending.

Dec 12, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Smith (41) makes a save during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

5) Yves asks – Is anyone concerned with the number of games Mike Smith is playing considering the bonus elements of his contract, or is this simply a situation where you get as many wins as possible and worry about the cap ramifications later?

Robin Brownlee:

Not concerned at all. Play your best guy.

Jason Gregor:

No. They need to win. I expected he would play 30 games for sure, and he will do that against LA. If he plays 41 and ends up making $1m in bonuses in the regular season and the Oilers make the playoffs, it is worth it. The goal is to make the playoffs. The only concern is that the bonus overages carry over to next season. Holland can’t do that in my eyes, as they already have almost $4.6 million in dead cap space next year in buyouts to Andrej Sekera, Benoit Pouliot and retained salary in Milan Lucic. I expect the Oilers to be better next year so to add more dead cap space would be a bad decision.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Nope. If he’s playing it’s because he’s helping them win games. As much as you don’t want a cap penalty for next season, you also want to make the playoffs and have home-ice advantage in at least the first round. If Mike Smith gives you the best chance to do that, keep playing him and forget about the bonuses.

Christian Pagnani:

Nope. If Tippett feels like Smith gives them the better chance to win than Koskinen then you go with Smith.

Baggedmilk:

Sure, I get the cap implications of having Mike Smith playing as often as he is because of his bonus structure but this team needs wins and that’s what matters first.

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