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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Who comes back out of RNH, Barrie, and Larsson?

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to your weekly Mailbag. As always, I’ve taken the questions you’ve sent me from over the past week, emailed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their words of wisdom right here on the ol’ Internet for your education and enjoyment. Today, we’re looking at some of the latest Connor McDavid going supernova, UFA predictions, 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.

Jan 30, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) carries the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Rogers Place.

1) Oilers fan in Van asks – Connor McDavid is playing at a level that I haven’t seen from him and I’d like to know what if anything everyone is seeing in his game that may be a little bit over and above where he’s been at in the past?

Robin Brownlee:

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He’s been more assertive in terms of taking the shot when it’s there. After Saturday’s win over the Jets, McDavid is averaging exactly four shots on goal per game. His previous high was 3.34. It adds up. Over the course of a 56-game schedule that’s an extra 37 shots and an extra five goals based on his shooting percentage. It’s no coincidence he’s tied for the league lead in goals with 21.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

This season he’s been shooting the puck more. His shots/60 at both 5v5 and on the powerplay are higher than they’ve ever been in his career. If teams want to take away his passing options, he’s showing that he can rip the puck home. It’s making him an even more dangerous offensive threat.

Baggedmilk:

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The guy is going supernova and I absolutely love it. We all wondered what would happen with nearly a full year of training time and what we’re seeing is our captain turning into some kind of Game Genie.

Feb 19, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) skates against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.

2) Trey asks – After listening to Oilersnation Radio this past week, my question for everyone is if you were to give a way too early guess, how many of RNH, Barrie, and Larsson will be back with the Oilers next season?

Robin Brownlee:

There’s no reason they can’t all be back if they want to be. The biggest question is Barrie because he’ll command the most money at the pace he’s playing now. He’s playing himself into a great position. He took a discount to come here. Will he take one to stay if he feels there’s a chance to win?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I personally think it’s a lock that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be back. Then I believe one of Adam Larsson or Tyson Barrie will be back. In an ideal world, you would know about the health of Oscar Klefbom, because I think that would really help make that decision. Also, there’s a chance the Oilers just get outbid by another team when it comes to Barrie. As much as I want him back, they need to be careful not to overpay him. If both Barrie and Larsson are back, then that means a young defenseman is likely getting traded. That might be the most likely possibility if the Oilers go on a run this season.

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Baggedmilk:

I could see all three coming back but it depends how much Tyson Barrie wants to secure the bag. Nuge’s deal will be flat(ish), Barrie will get a raise and that’s scary, Larsson would be solid if he takes a haircut. That said, it all depends on what happens with Klefbom.

Mar 3, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Jujhar Khaira (16) during the game between the Stars and the Oilers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

3) Tristan asks – The Oilers seem to be very active in utilizing their taxi squad and I wonder if anyone thinks this is an idea the NHL should carry forward beyond this season?

Robin Brownlee:

It’s worth looking at some version of it with tweaks over an 82-game season.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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I don’t hate the idea, but I wonder if you’d have a tough time getting players to agree to it. I’m sure coaches would love to keep it going.

Baggedmilk:

I love the taxi squad but I don’t know that the NHLPA would like it as much. That said, I definitely think it’s an idea worth exploring.

Mar 1, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) makes a pass in front of Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (88) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

4) James in Peterborough asks – It seems clear that the road to the North Division title will run through Toronto. What piece(s) do you think the Oilers need to add before the deadline to challenge for the division title?

Robin Brownlee:

Does it seem clear? A month ago it did, but now? I’d look at a top 6/9 winger who can score some, but everybody wants those. The challenge in making a deal outside the division remains COVID protocols, which limits trading partners.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Well, the way they’re going right now they might not need to add much. With that being said, the one move that would turn this current team into a legit Cup contender in my opinion would be a scoring left-winger. If they can add that, they would have an even scarier-looking top six. Of course, the goaltending would need to hold up as well. Long-term-wise, a legit number one goalie is their biggest need but for now, it’s a scoring winger.

Baggedmilk:

It may have seemed obvious a few weeks ago but thinks are changing around here, baby! GOILERS! Honestly, though, I don’t think the Oilers will be very busy at the deadline. They just don’t have that many assets to give up.

5) Tejinpal asks – With Tippett’s contract expiring after ’21-’22, does he get extended? Or does Holland look at what Woodcroft is accomplishing, and has accomplished, in Bako and promote him (and the entire coaching staff)? What’s your best guess?

Robin Brownlee:

Won’t even try to look that far down the road. Results, as always, will dictate. Unless the Oilers drastically under-achieve, why would Ken Holland even consider replacing a coach he knows and trusts?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The results will decide that. If the Oilers don’t win a playoff round in one of the next two seasons, then he likely won’t be back. If they have success, they’ll no doubt re-sign him.

Baggedmilk:

Holland loves keeping his coaches longterm so I’d be very surprised if he gasses Tippett without some kind of crash in the standings or something.

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