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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Where does Alex Stalock fit?

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag where I’ve taken your questions from the past seven days, emailed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their worldly wisdoms right here on the ol’ Internet for your education and enjoyment. This week, we’re looking at the Oilers’ horrible series against the Leafs, Alex Stalock, Adam Larsson, 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.

Mar 3, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Darnell Nurse (25) tries to knock the puck away from Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alex Kerfoot (15) during the first period at Rogers Place.

1) Taylor asks – What lessons did you learn about this team after the disastrous series against the Leafs? Were the Leafs that good or were the Oilers that bad or both?

Jason Gregor:

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The Leafs were very disciplined and motivated the entire three games. Edmonton could learn many lessons from this. They need to be more invested in one-on-one battles. Take pride in the small details of the game. And the importance of not playing from behind. Sometimes being embarrassed is better than losing by a goal, and I think those three losses will be great teaching tools moving forward.

Robin Brownlee:

Learned more about the Leafs than the Oilers — they have more dimensions than I thought and are capable of being really sound defensively. They have some really good players outside the big-name core guys. As for the Oilers, nothing new. Play from behind at your peril. Chasing games, especially when you give up a couple of early goals, is a recipe for defeat.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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It really was a combination of both. By all accounts, the Leafs played their best hockey of the season last week and the Oilers did not exactly bring their ‘A’ game… or their ‘B’ game for that matter. If the Oiler’s play would have played as well as they did in February, they would have won at least one game in that series. That being said, I think it was a good wake-up call for the Oilers. They now know what it takes to compete against one of the best teams in the league.

Baggedmilk:

I want to preface this by saying that the Leafs are a very good team, but I don’t think they played as well as the Oilers did bad. Edmonton gave up way too many early goals and sunk their own ship before those games had ever really started and I think that’s the biggest story of the series.

Feb 28, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock (32) tends net during the second period of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

2) Brandon asks – Do you actually see Alex Stalock playing all that much after his quarantine ends or did the Oilers pick him up just to avoid having Dylan Wells as the third-stringer?

Jason Gregor:

He’s a massive upgrade over Wells for sure at #3. I also think they will be looking for him to play some games. The Oilers did go hard after Markstrom this summer, so it is clear they weren’t sold on Koskinen or Smith as the main starter. I’m not sure if Stalock is much better to be honest based on what Kevin Woodley said on my show this past Monday, but I think Stalock will get in some games once he gets up to speed. He hasn’t played a game all season, so he will need some practice time after being in quarantine.

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Robin Brownlee:

It’s simply depth. You can’t be in a situation of riding one guy too hard, as was the case with over-playing Koskinen when Smith was injured. Stalock is an average NHL goaltender, but he’s way ahead of Wells at this point. Barring injury, I doubt he plays much.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think they’ll be forced to give him a shot if both Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen don’t figure out their games by the time his quarantine is up. Considering the numbers he posted last season with the Wild, Dave Tippett would be foolish to not at least give Stalock a look. Having healthy competition going between the pipes wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Baggedmilk:

Good question. I have no idea, but it is entertaining to see this weird goalie carousel roll on as the year progresses. I feel bad for these dudes.

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Feb 23, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat (53) checks Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) in the first period at Rogers Arena.

3) Oilers fan in Van asks – We’re nearly halfway through the season and I’m wondering what are everyone’s team grades for the Oilers at the midway point?

Jason Gregor:

I had them finishing in the top two in the North and they are very close. I’d say a solid B. They still need to be more consistent defensively, but they’ve made strides. When they have a bad night defensively it is usually really bad. If they can eliminate the games allowing five more goals they will be very good in the second half. In 27% of their games they’ve allowed 5+ goals. That number has to come down.

Robin Brownlee:

Grades? Meh. Perceptions can change in a hurry and so can their position in the standings. They lose three straight to Toronto, which likely costs them any real shot at finishing first in the North, then bounce back against Calgary and now they get three straight against Ottawa, which gives them a chance to move up. They’re right about where I thought they would be, although farther back of Toronto than I expected. If you want a grade today, then B.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

Their offence has been a B in my opinion. Decent depth scoring and some great performances from Draisaitl and McDavid but still room to improve. I’ll give the defence a B+ actually. I think Nurse has taken a huge step forward and despite some injury issues, I don’t think the defence has been a problem very often. The goaltending I’ll give a B-. Despite some good flashes, they’ve been a little bit too inconsistent for my liking. Still, not terrible. Maybe I’m being too nice on the team though.

Baggedmilk:

I don’t know if this is so much of a grade as it is an observation, but the way I see the Oilers this year is with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When they’re playing at their best, they can hang with any team in this division. When they’re not, people start to wonder what the hell is going on. So my point here is that they’ve been wildly inconsistent and it’s hard to give them a grade that can fit, especially since my opinion may swing wildly a week from now.

Sep 17, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (6) and Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin (77) reach for the puck during the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

4) Robyn asks – Just wondering what you think the Oilers are going to do with Adam Larsson as his contract is up at the end of the season? Do you think he sticks around through the end of the season or will he be gone at the deadline?

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Jason Gregor:

Look at Toronto’s blueline. A mixture of puck movers, veteran defenders and size. If you don’t re-sign Larsson the right side has three offensive D-men and only one with size, and none who are physical. I would look at re-signing Larsson. The only concern is his back injury history. So if I sign him I’d like it to be three years.

Robin Brownlee:

Fair question. I’m in no hurry to take experience out of the blueline mix until I know Bear, Jones and Bouchard are ready to play on a regular basis. Larsson brings a hard defensive edge that every team needs. Can’t just have offensive-minded puck-movers. I think the kids need more time and we don’t know what is going to happen with Barrie. If I could sign Larsson for 2-3 more years at something close to the cap hit he has now, I’d be tempted to keep him.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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If he can be brought back for under $4 million a season, I would consider it. But if he wants to get a raise, I think he’ll have to sign somewhere else. There’s also no way that they bring back both Barrie and Larsson. Considering the fact that Bouchard should be ready for full-time duty next season, I think it’s actually more likely that Larsson sticks around. He can kill penalties and is decent at 5v5.

Baggedmilk:

Unless he’s interested in a sizeable haircut then he’ll be gone at the end of the season. I very much doubt Holland would trade him at the deadline, though.

5) Jake asks – The trade deadline will be a strange one this year because of the quarantine angle so what is everyone’s best guess at what Ken Holland might look to do?

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Jason Gregor:

I don’t see him being as active as last season. The Oilers are a deeper team this year. If he could land a top-six, scoring left winger I think he’d do it, but not if he has to overpay.

Robin Brownlee:

Deadline moves are for tweaks, not overhauls, so it’ll depend on where the Oilers are then. From the deadline on, they’ll have 11 games remaining. The quarantine period, as you mention, will be a factor. Is there a top-nine left-winger out there in the North Division that’s available?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think he’ll make a small move or two and will be looking to get that done before April 1st so the new addition can have 10 games in the lineup. Maybe a veteran LHD and a right-handed centreman for the fourth line.

Baggedmilk:

Who knows what Holland is thinking but I bet GMs get things done earlier than the deadline because of the quarantine implications that come with a cross-border trade.

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