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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What will be considered a successful season?

It’s Monday morning and that means we’re back with a brand new Mailbag to not only get your week started but also to make sense of what’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers! This week, we’re looking at potential PTOs, team toughness, what would make for a successful season, 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) Cliff asks – Seeing as the Oilers are low on cap space, do you think they will be able to offer some PTOs to anyone ahead of training camp? If so, is there anyone that interests you?

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Jason Gregor:

If possible a veteran RD… Jason Demers would be a good addition.

Robin Brownlee:

Nobody that interests me a great deal, but Jason Demers is an experienced right-shot D-man who is still out there. Not too ancient at 33 and would provide an option in the case of injury.

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Cam Lewis:

I see no issue with adding more veterans. One name that makes some sense to me is Eric Staal. The team was apparently interested in acquiring him ahead of last year’s trade deadline and he was solid for Montreal during their run. Staal would be best on the wing but could be a 3C contingency as well.

Baggedmilk:

I’m always down for PTOs, to be honest. I think if a hungry guy comes into training camp and works his way into a spot then that’s great news, but I don’t necessarily have anyone that I think might fit that bill. As Gregor and Brownlee already mentioned, bolstering the depth at the RHD spot might be a good idea.

Feb 8, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defensman Erik Gudbranson (44) fights with Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre.

2) @David_Butler97 asks – Do you think the Oilers have enough toughness on the roster? We can’t have Nurse fighting anymore and I don’t think we know what we can expect from Kassian.

Jason Gregor:

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For today’s NHL it is likely tough enough. Nurse will fight once or twice a year, because he plays that style.

Robin Brownlee:

Are you connecting toughness to fighting, as in the Nurse reference? Fighting isn’t as much of a factor as having a team capable of playing a physical game when that’s what is dictated. For me, toughness is defined as not being pushed out of games when things get physical. Toughness is a state of mind. I’m not concerned about the Oilers not having enough toughness on the roster.

Cam Lewis:

They have players who will drop the gloves if necessary, like Nurse and the newly-added Zach Hyman, plus Zack Kassian is still around. That’s more than enough in the modern league.

Baggedmilk:

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There are a few guys on the team that can scrap but I don’t know how much that will matter this season. Frankly, I’m more concerned about the goaltending.

Feb 15, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) is replaced by goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Claire asks – Based on how the team is built today, do you think the Oilers have made enough improvements to not only make the playoffs but to get past the first round?

Jason Gregor:

I think they are better than last season and I could see Holland adding a blueliner near the deadline to strengthen their team.

Robin Brownlee:

I think the Oilers are deeper and more balanced at forward and marginally better on the blueline, although that will hinge on Evan Bouchard’s readiness to be a full-time player. Biggest question for me is in goal. If I have to say today, I see the Oilers and Vegas battling it out atop the Pacific Division. I see the Oilers making the second round.

Cam Lewis:

The forwards are better this year than last but the blueline is a huge wild-card, as is the goaltending. I think a large part of how they’ll do in 2021-22 will come down to how far their goalies will take them. A plus is playing in a very weak division.

Baggedmilk:

I think the forward group is certainly better but I worry about the consistency of our goaltending tandem as well as the the revamped defence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some major questions that will need answers.

Feb 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (11) plays the puck against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

4) Alec asks – Which newcomer are you most interested to watch in their first season with the Oilers and why?

Jason Gregor:

Duncan Keith. He will likely average the most minutes of any new player, and thus his play (good or bad) will play a significant role. I think he will be better than some think.

Robin Brownlee:

Toss-up between Zach Hyman and Duncan Keith. Hyman’s value goes beyond his numbers. I wonder what he can do playing with McDavid or Draisaitl. Oilers are only tied to Keith for two seasons, but he can have a significant impact on the blueline group. He’s a winner and he can be a mentor.

Cam Lewis:

I’m interested to see what Duncan Keith can do in a more reduced role than what he was playing in Chicago. Keith being good is very, very important to the team’s success.

Baggedmilk:

Without a doubt, it’s Zach Hyman. I’ve watched a lot of his highlights this offseason and I think this is a guy that will be able to make a difference. Second place would be Warren Foegele.

Oct 2, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The 2019-2020 Edmonton Oilers are introduced the fans prior to a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Daniel asks – As we approach the start of the 2021-22 NHL season, I wonder what everyone would consider to be a successful season for the Edmonton Oilers?

Jason Gregor:

They have to win at least one round in the playoffs.

Robin Brownlee:

My minimum as a first step would be to make the second round of the playoffs.

Cam Lewis:

Don’t lose in the first round.

Baggedmilk:

They need to get through the first round to make this a success for me. Not an easy task to be sure, but we have to raise the bar around what’s acceptable around here.

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