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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Let’s talk about Jake DeBrusk

Good morning, Internet, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag. As always, I’ve taken your questions from over the past week, emailed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their worldly wisdoms right here on the ol’ Internet for your education and enjoyment. Today, we’re looking at some of the latest Oilers rumours, the expansion draft, North Division surprises, 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.

Feb 21, 2021; Stateline, Nevada, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) during the first period in a NHL Outdoors hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe.

1) Chandler asks – We’re hearing names like Eric Staal and Jake DeBrusk in trade rumours over this past week, what would a potential trade for either one look like?

Robin Brownlee:

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Depends. I can’t imagine Ken Holland has a lot of interest in a way-past-his-prime player like Staal, but in the unlikely case he does, I can’t see him giving up much. I can see why some teams would be interested in Staal as a quick-fix addition or insurance because he’s a proven pro, but if he moves I’d expect he’d go to a team close to winning now. The Oilers aren’t quite there yet. As for DeBrusk, I imagine Holland would have to start by offering up a young defenceman like Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear, but it would take more than that. I’m not the Bruins want to move DeBrusk right now when his value is low because of a bad start to the season, but who knows? These types of rumors always circulate when a player gets off to a horrid start. Being a healthy scratch gets gums flapping.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see Stall helping the Oilers. Khaira is just as good now at 1/3 the cost. I don’t see a Debrusk deal either as Edmonton doesn’t have cap space. An Ethan Bear for Jake Debrusk trade makes little sense for Edmonton now because they aren’t sure if Barrie or Larsson will be re-signed. So I don’t see either one being realistic or really helping the team.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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I think the Staal deal might require future assets that the Oilers just don’t have. If they offer a second or third-round pick in 2022, I feel like a team will just offer the Sabres something better in this year’s draft. Honestly, I’m no crazy about the idea of paying that kind of a price for a rental anyways. As for Debrusk, I don’t think he gets moved before the deadline but if the Oilers wanted to make a pitch to the Bruins, the offer likely starts with Ethan Bear and I’m not sure if I’d do that anyway. I don’t think this is a fit.

Baggedmilk:

Staal deal is way more likely to happen than the DeBrusk deal. Why? I just don’t think the Bruins are Chiarelli-like enough to trade a guy that’s clearly struggling. As for what it would take to get done? I have no idea. I’d guess it would start with something from the deep left-side the Oilers have on defence.

2) Geoff asks – Considering the Oilers will likely have to expose a defenceman to the expansion draft, would you consider using one of them as a trade chip at the deadline?

Robin Brownlee:

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I’d consider it, but based on making a trade that makes sense more than looking down the road at the expansion draft. The DeBrusk scenario fits that.

Jason Gregor:

No. Oilers want to win in the playoffs. Every team will lose a player, so to trade one away just means you will lose another player.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Absolutely. If they are going to protect seven forwards and three defensemen (and are confident that Seattle won’t touch Oscar Klefbom) then it makes perfect sense to trade one of Jones or Laggesson for a quality forward or in a deal for a goaltender. No brainer for me. On top of that, if you keep all your good, young players protected, maybe Seattle would be more willing to take back a bad contract like Neal or Kassian. It could really work out well for Edmonton.

Baggedmilk:

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If the Oilers don’t start thinking this way then they’re not doing a very good job of asset management. My uneducated guess would be that Caleb Jones gets grabbed at the expansion draft or is traded ahead of that time to try and get another winger. Why do I think this way? Look how often Jones is a healthy scratch. If Russell isn’t hurt, he’s not playing.

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

3) Vince asks – Since it was announced this past week, how do you think Oscar Klefbom’s shoulder surgery will impact Ken Holland’s approach to free agency and the expansion draft?

Robin Brownlee:

It’ll depend on how Klefbom responds to surgery. He’ll be out until at least October. While it would be a gamble making Klefbom available in July, I think it’s a possibility Holland does that in the hope Seattle passes on him because of concerns about the shoulder.

Jason Gregor:

Not much. At this point it would be a risk to protect him, since there is no guarantee the surgery allows him to play regularly. I hope he can, but I’d guess Edmonton won’t protect him. And if a healthy, good value LD can be signed in free agency, I could see them looking at that as well.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’m not sure. I would hate to lose him for nothing in the expansion draft because I still believe he can be a top-four guy in the NHL and his contract is still very good. If he’s going on LTIR, then that will really change how Holland handles free agency as well. It’s a massive question and one that Holland needs to have an answer for by June, which will be three months after he gets his shoulder surgery.

Baggedmilk:

Man, that’s a good question. I have no idea what’s going to happen with this because it’s not exactly a scenario that I’ve seen before so I don’t even really have a guess on how it would. That said, it would be great to have Klefbom back because he would look REALLY nice behind/ahead of Darnell Nurse right now, wouldn’t he?

4) Brett asks – In his Thursday availability, Ken Holland suggested that he would be looking for an impact player rather than more depth. If you were to have a pie-in-the-sky guess, which position do you think he’s looking at and who might fit the bill?

Robin Brownlee:

Top-six winger. Jake DeBrusk.

Jason Gregor:

Mattias Ekholm. He has one more year remaining on a great contract ($3.8m) and he and Nurse would make a great top-two left defence.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

My dream acquisitions for this team are Rickard Rakell and Victor Arvidsson. Two scoring wingers who have each hit the 30-goal mark in their careers. On top of that, they’re both under contract for next season as well. There really the only names on the market that I’d be okay with Ken Holland moving a first-round pick for.

Baggedmilk:

I’d love to see Rakell or Arvidsson or Hall but I don’t think Holland does much this year as a result of the strange circumstances involving quarantines and the fact that they have barely any draft picks this year.

Mar 6, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Matt Tkachuk (19) and Edmonton Oilers forward James Neal (18) fight during the first period at Rogers Place.

5) Ashley asks – For good or bad, which North Division has been the most surprising and why?

Robin Brownlee:

Honestly, no surprises for me to this point based on where I had teams in pre-season. Toronto on top, Ottawa bringing up the rear and five teams jostling for three playoff spots in the middle. Winnipeg is looking marginally stronger than I thought they might be, but that’s partly because of a 7-2-1 run in the last 10 games.

Jason Gregor:

Winnipeg is better than I thought they would be. I expected Van and Ottawa to struggle, so the Jets being this good is a bit of a surprise to me. I think I underrated them at the start of the season.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

As it sits right now, this is almost exactly how I predicted things would go. I guess Montreals hot start surprised me and I didn’t think Calgary would be so bad that they would have to fire their coach. Other than that, I had Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg as my top three followed by Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver. Still plenty of time for me to be wrong on that though.

Baggedmilk:

I didn’t think Calgary would be as bad as they’ve been, but maybe Darryl Sutter’s take 26 is exactly what they need.

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