33
Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Where would Jesse Puljujarvi fit with the Oilers?

Welcome, Internet friends, to a fresh edition of the Mailbag which gives you not only a dose of free knowledge but also a much-needed break from the start of your workweek. In this week’s Mailbag, we take a look at Jesse Puljujarvi’s potential return, defensive changes, free agency, and a lot more. As always, I need questions for next week so if you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter. Have a great week, everybody!

1) @McCanada2112 asks – If Puljujarvi does come back what kind of role would you expect him to play and do you think he would accept whatever role Tippet is going to give him?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Jason Gregor:

Whichever he earns and shows he can handle. I’d guess on day one of camp he’d start on the third line, but if he plays well he could easily find himself getting a shot in the top six.

Robin Brownlee:

The role I expect Puljujarvi to play is that of somebody who shuts his mouth and does what’s asked of him wherever and whenever it’s asked of him. This isn’t about the Oilers showing what they can do for Puljujarvi, it’s about him showing what he can do for them. Puljujarvi has to go out, bust his ass and prove what he can do no matter what role he’s asked to play. Prove the critics wrong. Instead of expecting anything to be given, he has to go out and take it. I hope he does.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Cam Lewis:

Starting him on the third line probably makes sense, especially if Ken Holland finds a good, responsible, veteran two-way centre for him to play with. But, big-picture, I would love to see Puljujarvi play alongside Connor McDavid. The two have been quietly very good together in the past.

Zach Laing:

I could see him playing with Connor McDavid and Tyler Ennis out of the gate. I think Ennis gets re-signed and I like that trio. Puljujarvi has had success with McDavid in the past.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’d like to see him start on the third line, playing with a centreman that’s good offensively (Oilers need to find a way to add one of those this offseason). I would like to see him get a little bit of powerplay time as well. I would also hope that he comes to camp with the mindset that he needs to earn everything and accept wherever Tippett puts him.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Baggedmilk:

I think he’ll start somewhere in the middle-six and move from there depending on how he performs. If he comes in and grabs the opportunity by the balls then I could see him playing with either Draisaitl or McDavid, but if he can’t, then it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear (74) during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2) Tristan asks – How many of the current defencemen do you expect to be back next year? If you have changes happening, who’s heading out?

Jason Gregor:

I think Bear, Nurse, Klefbom, Jones will be back for sure. One of Larsson and Russell will be moved, possibly both, and they might lose Benning to free agency as it is unlikely they qualify him at $2m, and if I was Benning I’d see what was out there rather than sign for less.

Robin Brownlee:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I can’t imagine they’ll return any fewer than four of the top six in the starting line-up here. If the Oilers are going to move Klefbom or Nurse they better make damn sure they’re getting value back. They could move one of the top two along with a lesser player like Kris Russell. I can’t foresee more change than that.

Cam Lewis:

I don’t see major changes on the backend. Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson, Bear will remain as the top-four. I think Russell will get moved as a bit of a cap dump as Caleb Jones is ready to be an everyday player. And I also wouldn’t be shocked if Matt Benning gets sent out in order to recoup some draft picks. Evan Bouchard appears ready for the third right defenceman gig and a cheap veteran on a one-year deal can do what Benning does.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Tuesday 10 Thoughts: NHL Draft, RFA Concerns and More

Zach Laing:

My guess is five defencemen are back: Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Matt Benning and Caleb Jones. Edmonton needs to trade Larsson for a middle-six winger and Russell for cap space.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think Klefbom, Nurse, Jones, and Bear are all close to locks to being back next season. I would imagine that Ken Holland will try hard to move Kris Russell. If he can’t move Russell, then he might be forced to look into trading Adam Larson or Matt Benning too. The latter two could also be moved for some forward help.

Baggedmilk:

I’m going to say that Russell and Benning are not back. The rest stays the same.

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3) @jeresells asks – Do you think the Oilers will go the free agency route or the trade route when it comes to getting another goalie?

Jason Gregor:

Good question. Free agency is a better option as they don’t have to give up anything. Matt Murray might be available, but Pittsburgh wants to shed salary so they won’t take salary back. I’d guess Holland goes the free agency route. I’d look at Greiss, assuming that they won’t be in the mix for Lehner.

Robin Brownlee:

While teams almost always overpay for free agents, the flat cap means there might be some better deals in the market this year. Emphasis on “might.” As has been discussed. who they go after is going to depend on how they intend to use Mikko Koskinen. Unless Holland finds a way to move out money, looking for a new starter at $6 million-plus makes no sense if you’re paying Koskinen $4.5 million to be a back-up. Given the situation, I’d be inclined to look for a less expensive option who can work in tandem with Koskinen like Mike Smith did — regardless of if it’s via trade or free agency.

Cam Lewis:

Ideally, they take the free agency route rather than giving up assets in a trade. There are quite a few goalies on the market and there aren’t that many spots for them, so that could work in Edmonton’s favour.

Zach Laing:

I’m 50/50. I could see Holland testing the trade market with St. Louis and Pittsburgh, but in free agency. Robin Lehner is the crown jewel. There are some other good options available too in the FA market.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

That’s a really hard question to answer because we don’t know how much money the Oilers will have. I do think there will be some really good goaltenders on the trade market and if Holland goes that route, then he might be able to find a good, long term fit.

Baggedmilk:

I’d love to see them try and swing a trade for one of Columbus’ goaltenders — Elvis Merzlikins specifically — but my bet is on a short term stopgap like Thomas Greiss.

Feb 27, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) skates the puck during the second period against the Dallas Stars at TD Garden.

4) Tony asks – We’re moving into the second round of the NHL playoffs and I’m wondering which team everyone thinks has the had the most impressive showing so far? The Colorado Avalanche were absolutely dominant in their series win over the Coyotes and I just don’t see how anyone is going to stop them.

Jason Gregor:

Avs looked good, but they and Vegas were playing the two weakest teams in the first round. But I still see Avs as the favourite in the west.

Robin Brownlee:

Yes, the Avalanche were impressive against Arizona, but they’re in tough against Dallas. The Stars can win that series. I like the Vegas Golden Knights a lot. Going into last night I thought the Vancouver Canucks might have a shot in that series, but it didn’t look like it in Game 1.

RELATED ARTICLE:
TSN predicts who the Oilers will protect in the Seattle Expansion Draft

Cam Lewis:

Vegas hasn’t played a real team yet, but they look amazing. I’m not sure anybody will be able to stop them. Colorado might, but they’re toast if Phillip Grubauer is out for an extended period of time. The four teams left in the East are very well balanced.

Zach Laing:

I’m quite impressed with Vancouver. They’re a young team that’s playing very well. After all, they took out the defending cup champs and I don’t think many people had that predicted.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s clear that the two best teams in the West are Colorado and Vegas. They’re so deep up front, have defensemen who move the puck well, and good goaltenders. But I must say I have been very surprised with Vancouver, as a lot of people have. That core group is going to have them contending for Stanley Cups for a long time, which is bad news for Oilers fans.

Baggedmilk:

I hate to say it, but I think Vancouver has been a lot of fun to watch. They have a young, talented core that works extremely hard and they’re playing some very good hockey. It’s an annoying truth.

5) Steph asks – There are a lot of teams that will be struggling with cap space this offseason so the Oilers are not alone. With that in mind, do you expect more or less player movement with fewer teams having the means to be able to add salary as normal?

Jason Gregor:

I think (admittedly this is a hope) we might see more movement as teams will want to make some roster changes, so we will see trades that even out in cap hits.

Robin Brownlee:

Less movement and a lot less money involved in the deals that are made.

Cam Lewis:

We’ll see more hockey deals, I figure. Bad contract A for bad contract B kind of thing. I don’t think we’ll see any blockbusters at all, though. Just a lot of smaller swaps. I also think this will shaft the free agents on the market this year given there will be fewer teams bidding. We might see a guy like Taylor Hall take a short one- or two-year deal to join a good team and then try looking for his big contract once the salary cap is going up again in a few years.

Zach Laing:

Logically I think a tighter cap could mean fewer moves, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a lot of deals done in the offseason.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Teams will be wanting to move salary around, but it will be hard to do when over half the league is trying to do the same thing. Teams will have to get creative and it might result in some big names getting moved though, which could make it exciting. So I guess my answer is that I don’t think we’ll see a lot more trades, but we could see more big names moved around.

Baggedmilk:

I bet there will be a lot more lopsided trades from the teams in cap trouble over to those with available space. I think teams that have room and an owner that’s willing to spend will be able to get players for pennies on the dollar.

OODLE NOODLE IS OPEN FOR TAKE-OUT AND DELIVERY

During this time of pandemic, Oodle Noodle will be donating 10% of all takeout and curbside delivery sales will be donated to local charities on a weekly basis. To order pick up, call into the store directly or order at the till. If you’re staying in and practicing your social distancing, no-contact delivery is available at www.oodlenoodle.ca.