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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Grading Ken Holland’s Deadline Day

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) Tina asks – Simple question for everybody: How would you grade Ken Holland’s trade deadline work?

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Jason Gregor:

I’d give him an A-minus. He acquired Athanasiou for two second rounders, but AA is an RFA, so this trade could help the Oilers for many years. Added speed and skill to the wings and some depth on the blueline.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t know how he doesn’t get an A. That doesn’t mean perfect, but I don’t see how he could have done more under the circumstances — cap space, assets he was willing to move. Too bad Mike Green is out or we might be raving about his deadline work.

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Dustin Nielson:

If we are looking for a letter grade, it was an A. Excellent work by Holland as he managed to address three needs, including a top-six winger that is under control and didn’t give up any prospects or first rounders. Brilliant deadline.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I give him an A. He added two players who I view as top-six forwards and a solid third-pairing defenseman without giving up a first-round pick or any prospects. That’s a massive win.

Christian Pagnani:

I like the Athanasiou and Ennis moves. I thought it was a little bit much for Athanasiou, but I’m nitpicking a bit. I figured Athanasiou could be had for one second-round pick given his terrible plus/minus and being on a terrible Detroit team. Love getting Ennis for just a fifth and the Green trade is fine for me too.

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Baggedmilk:

I’m going to give him a solid B+ because I think there’s always room to improve. I like that Athanasiou will be around for a while and I might even bump that grade up to an ‘A’ if he can get Ennis re-signed to a cheap, short term deal. I like both of those players. Green was supposed to add some depth but is now on the shelf for the next month, though, we can’t blame Uncle Ken for that.

Jan 11, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

2) James asks – Do you think that working through the adversity of all of these injuries can help bring the team together even more?

Jason Gregor:

I only see it as a positive. They battled through a rash of injuries to some key players and head to Nashville in second place in the Pacific Division.

Robin Brownlee:

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It can, and teams like to say it does, but there’s more benefit to having a healthy lineup than scraping by without your best defenceman in Oscar Klefbom and a forward as effective as Kailer Yamamoto.

Dustin Nielson:

Going through a little adversity is never a bad thing, I’m just interested to see if their line up can stay healthy enough for everyone to develop chemistry.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think adversity can always be a good thing for a team. I also think that missing all of these players is forcing some players into elevated roles and some of them are thriving. Once everyone gets healthy, if your depth players can keep playing with confidence and being impactful, it’s a really good thing.

Christian Pagnani:

Of course. Seeing guys like Caleb Jones step up and succeed while key guys are out should be a huge source of motivation for the group.

Baggedmilk:

I mean, probably. At the very least, it will be nice to get a bunch of reinforcements back when this team finally does get healthy.

Oct 27, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) replaces goaltender Mike Smith (41) after Smith let in 3 second period goals by the Florida Panthers at Rogers Place.

3) @eakins_hair asks – Mike Smith will be 38 in March, is a UFA at the end of the season and made $2 million this season plus bonuses. Does Holland look to bring Smith back or do they look for another NHL goalie as the guys in the AHL don’t look quite ready to step into a backup role?

Jason Gregor:

Good question. Smith has been really good since a rough December. He battles, he competes and his puck handling skills really help the D-men. I think Holland will look at all options, but right not the youngest potential UFA goalies who have won at least one NHL game this season are Keith Kinkaid and Michael Hutchinson and both are 30 years of age. If Khudobin doesn’t re-sign in Dallas, even though he is 34, I’d look at him.

Either way, I think Holland will want to sign a goalie who is 24-26 who could be the #3 in case of injury.

Robin Brownlee:

It’s tough to not look at him as well as he’s been playing since the start of January. If this keeps up the rest of the way, you’d have to look long and hard to find somebody better at Smith’s price point. Is he really the back-up at this point?

Dustin Nielson:

Nobody in the AHL will be ready, and I don’t think they’ll have much more than $2,000,000 to improve the situation so another year of Mike Smith could very well be in the cards.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

With the bonuses, he could make close to $4 million and I wouldn’t bring him back for that. For the most part, I have really enjoyed watching Smith play this season but there’s a part of me that hopes Holland goes out and looks for a more long term fit between the pipes.

Christian Pagnani:

I wouldn’t. I know Smith has been on a bit of a run, but he’s still at .905 save percentage for the year. Find a more long-term solution, or just a younger option that isn’t closer to 40-years old. There should be a ton of goalies available too. You can’t rely on Koskinen to start 50+ games, so you’ll need a better option than a 38-year-old Mike Smith.

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to go with my default answer of “what the hell do I know” because I never would have expected Mike Smith to be the Oilers’ goalie this year. Could it happen? Absolutely. I could also see them fishing for someone younger as well.

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

4) @madhatter91 asks – At the time of submitting this question, there are 18 games remaining. Leon is sitting at 99 pts and Connor is sitting at 87. Does Connor McDavid catch Leon Draisaitl in the scoring race? And how much does internal competition push these two players and play into the team’s success?

Jason Gregor:

No. Draisaitl is 13 points ahead with 17 games remaining. He’s averaged 1.57 points/game this year compared to McDavid at 1.51. Those two want to win, first and foremost, and I’m sure McDavid would love to win another Art Ross, but he’ll be just as happy, and maybe more, to see his close friend win his first this season. The only way Draisaitl doesn’t win is if he gets injured.

Robin Brownlee:

No, McDavid won’t catch Draisaitl. It’s 102 to 89 with 17 games to play after Saturday. If Draisaitl gets, say, 15 points the rest of the way to get to 117, then McDavid needs 29 in the same stretch to pass him.

Dustin Nielson:

I’d say there is about a 20 percent chance Connor can catch him. Don’t let anyone tell you internal competition doesn’t drive them. Leon wants to prove every night he is just as good as McDavid.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I don’t think so. Leon is playing at an incredible level and he’s the trigger man on the best powerplay in the NHL. I don’t think anyone in the league will catch him and that includes McDavid.

Christian Pagnani:

I say McDavid catches Draisaitl. McDavid ends up with 125 points, Draisaitl with 123. They play the Ducks twice, Sharks once, Senators once and Blackhawks once. There are enough poor teams there to go on a bit of a run.

Baggedmilk:

If anyone can do it, it’s Connor McDavid. I don’t think it will happen but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does either.

5) @rhysalbrect asks – Rank these cold beer drinking experiences:

Warm beach on winter vacation
Backyard after cutting the grass
7th tee box after getting a birdie on 6
Patio of your favourite restaurant
On or by a lake

Jason Gregor:

Mine would be:

Warm beach on winter vacation.
Patio of your favourite restaurant.
On or by a lake.
7th tee box after getting a birdie on six.
Backyard after cutting the grass.

Beach all day because it means I’m out of the winter for a few weeks. Patio means I’m with good company. Lake is very peaceful. I rarely get birdies, and if I do, then I’d chug, so not that satisfying. I grew up on a farm with a massive lawn. Mowing it was a job. Today, I enjoy mowing and trimming my backyard, but it isn’t as fun or relaxing as the other four.

Robin Brownlee:

Watching a Stanley Cup parade in Edmonton.

Warm beach on winter vacation
Backyard after cutting the grass
7th tee box after getting a birdie on 6
Patio of your favourite restaurant
On or by a lake

Dustin Nielson:

1. 7th tee box because birdies are so rare.
2. Patio
3. Warm beach
4. Lake
5. I have the folks from AIM Lawncare take care of my grass, so no need for a beer haha

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Golfing, then the lake, then patio, then warm beach, then post lawn mowing.

Christian Pagnani:

Patio of your favourite restaurant. Rest don’t matter.

Baggedmilk:

Beach on vacay
Patio
Lake
The other two don’t really apply as I don’t golf much and the townhouse maintenance crew cuts my grass for me.

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