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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Where does Alex Chiasson fit in the lineup?

Happy Monday, fair citizens, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag where I’ve taken your questions about life, emailed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their answers right here on this very website for your education and enjoyment. This week, we’re Alex Chiasson’s spot in the roster, expectations for Jesse Puljujarvi, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got one, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

1) Yves asks – What do you expect from Jesse Puljujarvi in terms of production this year? I know that he had some scoring success in Finland and that’s a great thing but the NHL is a different animal entirely.

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Jason Gregor:

A good season would be 23-25 points. That would be quite good in a 56-game season. I’m basing that on him playing on the third line regularly. He likely will be on the 2nd PP unit, but they won’t see much PP time. It is difficult to score a lot of points if you aren’t on the PP.

Last season (which had an average of 70 games/team) only 54 forwards averaged 0.5 points/game at 5×5. If JP scores 23-25, and let’s say 20 of those are at 5×5 it would be a good season. If he plays really well and ends up getting 5×5 time in the top-six, then he could score more. But 23-25 would very productive for me.

Robin Brownlee:

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Yes it is. Every time I look at a player’s production in the KHL and try to figure how that might translate, I think of Patrick Thoresen, who couldn’t make it here but ended up scoring 65 points in 54 games with Ufa Salavat Yulayev and had a bunch of seasons among the scoring leaders. Jesse is a much different player, bigger and stronger, and I think he has a chance to be productive here. It will, of course, depend largely on where and with whom he plays, but he’ll start with Kyle Turris and get third-line minutes. I think something in the range of 10-12 goals and 25 points is a reasonable expectation because it looks like he’ll get some second-unit PP time.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think some people are getting carried away with their optimism and setting the bar too high as I explained on Oilersnation Radio this week. With that being said, I think he’ll score 11 goals this season. That seems like a fair amount of expect from a skilled player who will start the season on the third line. The people saying he will score 20+ are just simply setting the bar too high.

Baggedmilk:

My prediction is 12 goals and 20 points, and I think that’s a solid total in a compressed year for a young player in his first season back in the NHL. Obviously, I’m hoping for more than that but I also think it’s a reasonable bet.

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Alex Chiasson (39) during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2) Kevin asks – Looking at the line combinations from training camp and assuming Josh Archibald moves back to the right wing when Kahun rejoins the group, I don’t see where Alex Chiasson fits in the lineup. If Chiasson is in the lineup, who comes out on the right side?

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Jason Gregor:

I’m not sold Archibald moves back. I could see him playing with Turris/Puljujarvi or with Khaira/Chiasson and that leaves Ennis, Kahun and RNH as the other  LW to start the season. Neal won’t be ready to start the year, and this lineup needs some size in it and Chiasson is a solid vet who battles, and is very good on the PP. HE will be in the opening night lineup. Injuries will occur during the year, or COVID will likely sideline a player, so having depth is good. But I see Archibald and Chiasson in the starting lineup next Wednesday.

Robin Brownlee:

Until Kahun and Neal are completely ready to go, that’s tough to say. What’s to stop Archibald from playing LW behind RNH, Kahun and Ennis with Chiasson staying on the right side to start?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I honestly don’t know. With James Neal out of the lineup, I think we will continue to see Archibald on the left and Chiasson playing RW on the fourth line, but once everyone is healthy, I just don’t see how Chiasson fits into this lineup.

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Baggedmilk:

I think Chiasson will be in the lineup on the fourth line with the possibility of getting some PP time in there too. Tippett seems to like Chiasson and despite the overpay, I think he’ll be able to provide reasonably solid minutes for the team when he’s on the ice.

Dec 31, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett is seen out on the players bench as they played the New York Rangers during the third period at Rogers Place. Oilers won the game 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

3) Adam asks – Are there any adjustments you’d personally like to see Dave Tippett make behind the bench in his second season with the Oilers?

Jason Gregor:

The only one is to have the players shorten their shifts in OT.

Robin Brownlee:

I want to see how he handles the PP units. So much success last year, but this time around you’ve got to factor in Barrie, a right shot, and Puljujarvi, who weren’t here. You don’t want to mess too much with something that was so successful, but there are new faces in the mix and that right shot from the point. Also interested to see how he distributes games/minutes with his 6th and 7th D-men and who gets those slots most often.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The first season was such a massive success that it’s hard to pick one out. The powerplay and penalty kill were both tremendous and he made some great moves like putting the Nugent-Hopkins-Draisaitl-Yamamoto line together. I guess the one thing I’ll say is that he needs to do a really good job of handling the goaltenders in a shortened season.

Baggedmilk:

Reunite NugeDraMoto, please. Thank you.

July 28, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA; Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the first period of an exhibition game against the Calgary Flames prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on July 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. Mandatory Credit: Andy Devlin/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports

4) Stephen asks – What do you think is the plan for the Canadian champ once they reach the 3rd and 4th rounds of the playoffs? Will they move to the US, quarantine, and then play all their games in the other team’s rink? Or is the NHL crossing their fingers that the border restrictions will loosen between now and then?

Jason Gregor:

The third round won’t start until June, and by then the vulnerable should have been vaccinated and some people in society. If travel across the border hasn’t be rectified, then the Canadian team will need to travel to US. Possibly play all the games there, but with no fans, I see very little home-ice advantage.

Robin Brownlee:

No idea. Looking weeks ahead, let alone months, is tricky given COVID. Everything can turn on a dime. With what’s already happened with Dallas and Columbus, I’m still waiting to see what the post-holiday COVID numbers look like and if they’ll impact the scheduled start Wednesday and the first few weeks of the season.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think the NHL is hoping that border restrictions will loosen by that point. I could see them moving to a bubble for the final two rounds though. It would take less than a month to play if the schedule is condensed so the players might sign off on it.

Baggedmilk:

We don’t even know if we’re going to get our games on Wednesday and Thursday because of the Canucks cancelling their practice yesterday, so I’m not even going to try and come up with a guess as to what happens a few months from now.

5) Ed asks – The WJHC gave many people their first real look at Philip Broberg and Dylan Holloway. What are people’s evaluations of these two?

Jason Gregor:

I like both. Broberg suffered a charley horse in practice early in the tournament and that impacted his play. Holloway was excellent on the forecheck and his skating and tenacity impressed me. I expect him to play this year and at least next season at Wisconsin where he will get stronger and likely gain more confidence offensively as he will play on the powerplay and a lot at 5×5. He is the type of forward the Oilers will need in the future. A skilled winger with some size and good skating ability.

Robin Brownlee:

Broberg was less than 100 per cent because of injury for most of the tournament, so we didn’t see that effortless skating stride. That said, you could still see the skill he has in that blowout win over the Czech Republic. Holloway also was slowed by injury, but I like his pursuit of the puck and the mix of grit and skill in his game. We didn’t see either of them at their best.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It sucks that Broberg wasn’t fully healthy for most of the tournament, but I’m still very high on him. I think he’ll be a top-four defenseman in the next two seasons. As for Holloway, I was very impressed with his speed and how he was able to create turnovers off the forecheck. He wasn’t the most skilled player on Team Canada but he was one of their most important and impactful forwards.

Baggedmilk:

As everyone else said, it was a bummer to see Broberg get banged up, but I thought that Holloway was fun to watch. He’s big, fast, hard on the forecheck, and that’s the kind of player the Oilers need more of in their lineup.

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