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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Are you worried about the defensive group?

It’s Mailbag time again and that means we’ve got another dose of wisdom for you right here for free on the ol’ Internet machine. This week, we’re looking at the Oilers’ defence, Montreal making the Cup Finals, Koskinen’s future, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, 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 – How did Montreal do it?

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Robin Brownlee:

Carey Price is .934 through 17 playoff games. Start there.

Jason Gregor:

Price great in goal, solid blueline and very good penalty kill.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

Great goaltending, solid depth, and luck. That’s the recipe to success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that is exactly what has propelled the Canadiens to the Cup Final.

Baggedmilk:

Carey Price has been standing on his head and they’re getting timely goals from guys that need to produce. We’ll see if that holds up against Tampa.

Feb 6, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) is scored on by Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund (not pictured) during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome.

2) Tyson asks – What would it take to get rid of Koskinen? Would a late-round pick be worth the cap space to chase a legit #1 goalie this year? Maybe use cap space for a 1-year rental and get a #1 goalie next year.

Robin Brownlee:

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The Oilers have a legit #1 goalie. His name is Mike Smith. Your point is taken, though. They need help behind Smith this coming season because I don’t see him playing more than 50-55 games. Koskinen is good enough to be the back-up in a limited role, but Holland has to have a succession plan and he can’t just count on going out and replacing two goalies after this coming season. Buying out Koskinen costs $3 million spread over two seasons, so there is a savings but does Holland want to buy out James Neal and Koskinen?

Jason Gregor:

A team won’t take on $4.5m just to get a late round pick. I sense any deal involving Koskinen means Edmonton retains 50% and then gives up a 2nd or 3rd round pick. It won’t be an easy deal, but I see why they might just bite the bullet for one year and keep Koskinen.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

One idea I like is retaining 50% of his contract and trading him to a team that has agreed to buy him out. That means the Oilers and the other team would split his buyout and each have a $750k cap hit on their books for the next two seasons. That would allow them to likely get rid of Koskinen for a low-round pick and only have a small-cap hit for the next couple of years.

Baggedmilk:

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The more I think about it, the more I think they’re going to ride out the season with the same duo. I hope that’s not the answer — I’d like to see someone else backing up Smith — but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

May 4, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard (75) handles the puck against the Vancouver Canucks in the third period at Rogers Arena. Oilers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

3) Steph asks – If Tyson Barrie does indeed leave in free agency, are we comfortable with a right side that has so little experience overall? (Larsson, Bear, Bouchard)

Robin Brownlee:

It’s doable, but not ideal. I’d like to see some veteran help there without having to move Kris Russell to right-side duty.

Jason Gregor:

It isn’t ideal, but I think it works as long as they get a legit 2nd pair LD. That is the key. I believe Bear would start season with Nurse, but that Bouchard would eventually be Nurse’s regular 5×5 partner.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I am. I think Bouchard showed well in his few games this season and he should only get better. Ethan Bear is coming off an up and down season but I still love his upside. Adam Larsson is a solid veteran that Dave Tippett can rely on. I like the mix. I would also like to bring back Slater Koekoek as a seventh defenseman since he can play both sides. That would give them a nice insurance policy.

Baggedmilk:

It really would be rolling the dice a little bit. At some point, guys need to get the chance to play important minutes if they’re ever going to learn anything, but development has never been a straight line in the NHL, especially at this position. Not everybody is going hit the ground running like Cale Makar, but sometimes they do. Risk, reward.

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

4) Daconqs asks – With the new US television deal and terrible reffing in this year’s playoffs (ie McDavid getting no calls) do you think a change will happen?

Robin Brownlee:

I’ve written about this. My hope is that the new deal will be one of the factors that will prompt the NHL:to take a long look at referees and how games are officiated. It’s just not close to good enough right now. Pressure has to come from teams, the NHLPA and sponsors for a significant change.

Jason Gregor:

Until the Players’ Association decides to voice their displeasure in a meaningful way in closed-door meetings with the NHL nothing will change. It is up to the players to want the change and ask for the league, at the very least, to simply enforce the rulebook.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think we’ll get a big referendum on officiating soon. It wont have anything to do with the US Television deal, it will be when a group of star players decides to band together and go to the league with a plan to change it. If the NHLPA and the star players get involved, we’ll see change.

Baggedmilk:

The NHL seems to like this garbage officiating so I doubt we’ll see changes any time soon.

5) Darren asks – Just wanted to get your thoughts on how the Oilers were able to sign all their active roster players to contracts without any No Movement Clauses (NMC) including all their top players. If you look at the remaining teams in the playoffs they are full of NTC or NMC’s, why would a superstar such as McDavid sign a contract without one?

Robin Brownlee:

McDavid and Draisaitl both have NTC/NMC in their contracts that kick in for the 2022-23 season. Oscar Klefbom and Koskinen also have a NTC in their contracts. Many players have clauses that cover some but not all of their contract years.

Jason Gregor:

Because NMT/NMC don’t kick in until a player reaches unrestricted free agency age. Edmonton doesn’t have enough top-end players who were worthy of getting one. But in the coming years if Edmonotn signs a UFA to longer-term deal I’d expect they will have a NMC/NTC in their deal.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Because McDavid doesn’t really need one. The Oilers would only ever trade him if he asked them and I think this was him just showing that he’s committed to the organization.

Baggedmilk:

Mikko Koskinen has a NTC. Never forget what Peter Chiarelli did to this team.

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