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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – NHL Trade Deadline Predictions

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to your weekly Mailbag. As always, I’ve taken the questions you’ve sent me 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 Connor’s McDavid’s goal scoring, trade deadline 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.

Feb 11, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) reacts with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at the Bell Centre.

1) Blake asks – Now that we’ve seen games re-scheduled in the North Division. Do you think a full 56-game season is realistic or do you suspect we might have to rely upon points percentage to determine the playoff picture?

Jason Gregor:

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Yes. They will have all teams play the same amount unless there is a massive outbreak on teams in the coming weeks.

Robin Brownlee:

Good question. There isn’t much room left to fit in make-up games and maintain the timeline the NHL has established if we see more of what happened with Edmonton and Montreal. We’re already over 40 games postponed. Now, we’re seeing COVID numbers spike again. With teams having 20-25 games remaining, I find it unlikely we won’t see more postponed. It’s either expand the timeline or use points-percentage across the board.

Cam Lewis:

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It seems they’ve already figured out when they’re going to re-schedule these games. If it was Edmonton and Ottawa, maybe not. But Edmonton and Montreal are both playoff teams and this head-to-head is important for seeding.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The fact that they made it this far is very encouraging and it seems like they have the ability to reschedule things a bit. I’m going to be optimistic and say we get all 56 in and points percentage won’t matter. Of course, as we saw this week, things can change really quickly and with basically no warning. But for now, I’ll stay optimistic.

Baggedmilk:

I bet the NHL will want to play the full schedule so I’m guessing we’re going to see the missing games crowbarred in here somewhere. That said, who knows what’ll happen if more teams than Edmonton and Montreal get postponed.

Mar 6, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the Calgary Flames in the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Kevin asks – Connor McDavid is in the hunt for the Rocket Richard Trophy for the first time in his career and I’m wondering what everyone thinks he’s doing differently?

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Jason Gregor:

He is shooting more as he is averaging 3.97 shots/game. His previous high was 3.34/game. He also worked on shooting on the rush, and we’ve seen him be more assertive on two-on-ones where he is shooting more. He said at the start of the season he felt he needed to improve his decisions on odd-man rushes and he has.

Robin Brownlee:

He’s shooting more. He’s averaging 3.91 shots per game. Previous high is 3.34.

Cam Lewis:

He can hear us all yelling SHOOOOOOOT from our living rooms.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

Shooting the puck more! His shots/60 at both 5v5 and on the powerplay are up. He’s showing a shot-first mindset more than he ever has in the past. It’s making him a more dangerous goal-scorer and an even harder player to stop. Teams will soon try to adjust and start to be more aggressive in taking away the shot and when they do, he’ll just burn them with his playmaking ability. It’s another weapon in his arsenal.

Baggedmilk:

I think he’s figuring out that he’s so much better than everyone else (Draisaitl excluded) that he’s just as well to shoot the puck himself or dish it off. We’re watching him level up and that’s going to be terrifying for the rest of the league.

3) The trade deadline is coming up in a couple of weeks. What do you think Ken Holland will do? Is there any area you’d like to see him address?

Jason Gregor:

Adding a 2nd pair LD or a 2nd line LW are the biggest needs, but also cost the most. Frank Seravalli mentioned a right shot C, but unless it is Ryan Getzlaf, I don’t think Luke Glendenning is that much of a need. He’d help in faceoffs, no doubt, and they are important on the PK, but I don’t see that as a main priority.

Robin Brownlee:

According to Frank Seravalli of TSN, Holland might be looking at Red Wings defensive forward Luke Glendening. “It might not be splashy but I think the Edmonton Oilers have their eye on a very specific piece at a very specific price. That’s a right shot centre who can take faceoffs, and win them on the penalty kill where they’ve struggled this year, just 42 per cent shorthanded that can help their kill,” Seravalli said on Insider Trading Thursday. “So who fits that bill? Well, how about Luke Glendening who’s not coming back to the Detroit Red Wings.”

I won’t dismiss a report by a plugged-in guy like Seravalli, but I see more need for a left winger who can score some — of course, those guys are harder to find.

Cam Lewis:

I expect a similar deadline to 2017. A minor addition, perhaps with a roster player going out and a veteran coming in. I don’t see, given the team’s cap situation and lack of draft pick capital, how a big move could happen right now.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I would love to see him add a scoring left-winger but I just don’t think it’s realistic. We might see a depth centreman or a left-shot defenseman added, but I’m not expecting any major moves.

Baggedmilk:

Did you see how small the second line is when Draisaitl is moved off? They need a 2LW to replace Kahun because I think he would be way more effective lower down in the lineup. Will it happen? I doubt it.

Feb 8, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) takes Ottawa Senators right wing Connor Brown (28) off the puck in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

4) James in Peterborough asks – Darnell Nurse has had his best year, to date, in the league. Do you see him as a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate as some have suggested?

Jason Gregor:

He will be in the conversation. He plays a lot of minutes and he plays 78% of his 5×5 TOI against elite or middle tier forwards. Victor Hedman has played 62% against elite/middle while Jeff Petry is at 70% and Drew Doughty is at 73%. Nurse leads D-men in 5×5 goals and points. For sure he should be in the conversation.

Robin Brownlee:

If you’re asking if he’ll get some top-five votes, I say yes as of right now. He’s first in ES goals with 11, first in ES points with 22, top-10 in overall scoring with 26 points and fourth in ice time at 25:37. He plays tough minutes. He produces. You can’t ask much more.

Cam Lewis:

He’ll get votes, for sure. It’s really difficult to predict these things because voters can be all over the grid. But there’s no doubt he’ll be in the conversation. Oilers fans will ensure that’s the case, and he deserves recognition for his season.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think he can be in the top-five, but I’m not sure if he’ll have enough support to win the award. It’s been great watching him take the step forward that he has though. I’ve really changed my opinion on his long-term future with the organization and I hope they keep him around for a while.

Baggedmilk:

I think he’ll definitely get some love and be in the conversation at the end of the year, but I’d be surprised if he wins. Can’t have too many award winners on the Oilers, you see.

Apr 22, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Referee Tim Peel (20) waves off a Colorado Avalanche goal in the second period against the Nashville Predators in game six of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

5) Danger Pay – With the Tim Peel controversy occurring, do you see any officiating changes happening over the summer? Ie: A video ref in the building who can stop the game and have an on-ice view a play, interviewing the refs after games.

Jason Gregor:

I don’t see interviewing refs as helping much. Just have the NHL make clear guidelines to call the rule book. I put more blame on the NHL. The GMs and Board of Governors should not have a say or be speaking with officials about calls. It muddies the waters and send mixed messages. Start with a more direct approach. Tell them to call the rule book as is, and the players will adjust. It isn’t that difficult, but the NHL has yet to show they have the courage to make the right decision. The referees aren’t the problem. The direction from the NHL is and until that changes, we won’t see much improvement.

Robin Brownlee:

The NHL should look at it, but I don’t see interviews after games or an eye-in-the-sky official who can over-rule the on-ice guys — beyond what happens now with goals and offside. Do the on-ice guys want to be second-guessed on other calls? I don’t think so. A for interviews, why would officials want to do that? Nobody is going to come to them to talk about calls they got right, it’ll be about calls they got wrong. My guess is the officials are going to have an issue with having to wear microphones in the wake of the Peel incident. Peel didn’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. Officials talk amongst themselves all the time. We just heard it this time.

Cam Lewis:

The NHL used Peel as a scapegoat for a reoccurring problem and, ultimately, this will get swept under the rug when something else major inevitably happens. Nothing will change.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

No. I don’t think the league is going to do much other than maybe tell the refs to cool it with the game management. I would love to see an overhaul, but I’m not expecting one.

Baggedmilk:

Peel got caught saying the quiet part out loud, but this won’t change anything nor will asking the refs questions after the game. The league is getting the officiating they want here.

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