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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Thoughts on the Ekman-Larsson rumours?

As we do every Monday, the mailbag is back with the answers you’ve always wanted to know about the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL, and life in general. This week, we’re looking at the Seattle expansion, Andreas Athanasiou, the Stanley Cup finals, and more. As always, this article 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) Graham asks – How, if at all, does the upcoming Seattle expansion draft factor into the Oilers draft and trade plans for this year?

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Jason Gregor:

I’m sure it will. You don’t want to give up a good asset, if it means the player you acquire might have to be exposed in the draft, or you have to expose someone else. It will be a factor, but I don’t think it will stop Holland from making a deal that he believes can help his team.

Robin Brownlee:

Teams can protect one goaltender along with seven forwards and three defencemen or they can protect one goaltender and eight skaters. I suspect they will choose the latter, which would likely mean Koskinen plus McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH (if he is re-signed), Yamamoto, Nurse, Klefbom, Bear and Jones. If they were to go 7-3, they could lose one of those four D-men. As for trades, we’d have to know what those plans are to know how they might change. I do wonder if Ken Holland will try to convince Seattle to take James Neal off his hands by offering a sweetener.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s something to keep in mind for sure. If Holland goes out and acquires an impact forward, he needs to be aware that it may cause him to lose a good defenseman like Caleb Jones in the expansion draft. He needs to be mindful of it, but it shouldn’t stop him from going out and trying to improve the roster.

Baggedmilk:

It probably factors into some of what he’s doing, but I also expect that side deals will be made with the Kraken in regards to who they take and who they leave alone.

2) @AhmedMayta asks – What are everyone’s thoughts on all the OEL stuff?

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Jason Gregor:

Very good player. No question he would be an upgrade on the blueline, but at what cost and is the recent dip in his play due to being tired of losing or is he starting to slow down? That is the big question. I think a change will help him, but his recent dip combined with seven years at $8.25m there is some concern.

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Robin Brownlee:

He’s still really good, but he’s got more good years behind him than in front of him. Paying players big money into their mid-to-late 30’s is usually a bad idea. Pass.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I don’t think it’s smart for the Oilers to bring in a player that makes $8.25 million a season until he is in his mid-thirties. He’s coming off a bad year and that contract could be a tough one to swallow in the final few years. It would improve them for this coming season but might create more headaches down the road. They’re biggest needs are between the pipes and at third-line centre, they don’t need to spend the assets necessary to get OEL.

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Baggedmilk:

I would be all over this trade five years ago, but OEL’s price tag and age make me think it’s a hard pass. He’d definitely be an upgrade on the blue line, but probably not for the length of his current deal.

Feb 29, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Andreas Athanasiou (28) skates during warmup against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Sara asks – Does anyone think that the Oilers should take Andreas Athanasiou to arbitration as he is wrapping up a poor season and may not get awarded the $3 million he’d get as a qualifying offer?

Jason Gregor:

The lowest the Oilers can offer him in arbitration is 85% of his contract, so $2.55m. And his agent would ask for more and then the arbitrator likely lands in middle and he’d be right around $3m. Taking him to arbitration is not a realistic option in my eyes.

Robin Brownlee:

Holland is trying to move him before qualifying offers are due Oct. 7. He’ll take a hit on the return, but I’m guessing he’ll explore every possibility via trade before deciding. No way he qualifies him at $3M, so arbitration is an option, although not one I have much faith in.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s very risky because his camp could point to his 30 goal season as a reason why he deserves a raise. Arbitration scares me. I’m not against bringing him back at $3 million but still, the best-case scenario is to either sign him for two years at around $2 million or trade him for another team’s RFA, preferably a centre.

Baggedmilk:

This whole scenario is annoying to me. I wonder if there’s any appetite to qualify him at $3 million and find that space my moving Chiasson and Khaira, as an example? I don’t think that arbitration is the answer, but I don’t know what the right path is either.

4) @Brandiebear88 asks – Mikko Koivu is not being re-signed by the Wild. Do you think he would be a good 3C for the oilers if the price is right?

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see him signing for $1m or $1.5m in Edmonton. He has made over $73m in his career. He is 37 years of age. He either retires or signs with a true Cup contender.

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Robin Brownlee:

Trying to patch holes with 37-year-old players like Koivu is a losing strategy. Reminds me of the Oilers taking a chance on Adam Oates at the end of the line years ago. Oates was superior to Koivu in every way and it didn’t work out. So, no. He wouldn’t be a good fit at any price.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

He would be a good fit here, but I don’t think he’d be overly interested in coming to Edmonton on a one year deal worth around $1 million, which is what the Oilers can afford. I have a feeling that he will either retire or play somewhere in Europe.

Baggedmilk:

Doubt he would ever sign here, to be honest. I bet he goes to a contender in the city of his choosing, wraps up his career in Europe, or shuts it down altogether.

Photo:Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports

5) @amacrae29 asks – Who is everybody cheering for in the finals? Maroon’s second win in as many years, lifting the Cup at Rogers Place after scoring the first goal in the rink’s history. OR us paying Reggie Sekera to not play for us and win the Cup here? I don’t know who to cheer for.

Jason Gregor:

I picked Tampa at the start of the season. Took them against the field at the beginning of playoffs and I’ll stick with them. They have been the best team, by a far margin, the past two seasons. Their biggest challenge might be staying healthy. Bolts in six and Stamkos returns to the lineup.

Robin Brownlee:

Sounds like you know who you want to cheer for by the way you framed the question. I’ll take the other team.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m not really cheering for anyone, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Lightning win. They’re such a good team and it would be nice to see that organization get rewarded for all the great work they’ve done over the last five-plus years.

Baggedmilk:

Tampa in six, baby!

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