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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Zack Kassian’s future with the Oilers

It’s a Monday morning yet again and that means we’re back with a brand new Mailbag to not only get your week started but to help you make sense of everything that’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers! This week, we’re looking at season Brendan Perlini’s preseason success, new guys on the roster, goaltending, 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.

Sep 28, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Brendan Perlini (42) tries to screen Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord (35) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Clare asks – How much stock do you put into preseason performances? To me Brendan Perlini has played very well so far but it’s hard to read too much into since a lot of is happening against subpar competition. 

Jason Gregor:

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Everyone is playing against the same competition and Perlini has done more than other guys battling for his spot. His speed and shot are impressive. I don’t expect him to produce this many points in the regular season, but he’s significantly outplayed Tyler Benson for the 4th LW spot.

Robin Brownlee:

It depends on the number of games played and the level of competition. It varies. If Perlini and pick-a-player dress for the same games against the same level of competition — good or bad — and he outperforms those he’s competing for a job with, that’s a positive for him. With players who aren’t established, what they do in pre-season games is how they’re measured. What are the other options?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

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It’s a moving scale. Early on, I don’t really put any stock into the results or how players are playing because the level of competition is usually pretty low. The Oilers blew out the Kraken last week, but it was against essentially their AHL roster. As we get closer to the final games though, I keep more of an eye on things and that’s when players competing for a roster spot can really win a job.

Baggedmilk:

At this rate, Brendan Perlini could be the greatest player to ever play for the franchise. Alright, so I’m lying but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be impressed by what he’s done so far in the preseason. Whether or not that translates to a spot on the roster and regular season success remains to be seen, but you have to respect the way he’s battling to earn a job.

Apr 15, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Cody Ceci (4) moves the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Philadelphia won 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2) Oilers fan in Van asks – Is anyone concerned about the number of new players the Oilers have on the roster this year and how long it will take them to get up to speed? Even though we’re back to an 82-game season, a slow start can put you in a hole that’s hard to climb out of.

Jason Gregor:

They are all NHL veterans, except for Bouchard. So I don’t see it being a big issue overall. I do wonder about the PK with so many new faces there, but Foegele, Hyman, Keith, Ryan and Ceci have lots of NHL experience. I think they will have a much better chance of early success compared to the past years when Edmonton introduced players like Haas, P. Russell, Nygard and others who didn’t have any NHL experience.

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Robin Brownlee:

Not concerned. Pretty clear upgrades in most cases — Hyman, Foegele, Ceci and Keith — and they’re experienced players.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I agree that a slow start can be hard to climb out of, but I think they’ll be fine. Duncan Keith missing the start of camp isn’t ideal, but I’m sure he’ll be able to get back up to speed in no time. Zach Hyman clearly fits in well in the top-six too. No concerns from me when it comes to guys potentially getting off to slow starts.

Baggedmilk:

I’m worried about the defence for this exact reason because there are a couple of new guys slotted in important positions that simply cannot falter. I know it’s a long season but I don’t want to see the Oilers in an early hole or read the narratives that would accompany a slow start.

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3) @nolanschumann asks – Friedman and Marek brought up the Oilers goaltending again on 32 Thoughts, so who would be everyone’s pick for an ideal mid-season trade acquisition?

Jason Gregor:

I’m not sold they are looking for anyone right now. If they have goalie issues then Holland will likely look to address it at the deadline, but until then I don’t see it being an issue. I will say I don’t understand why some think Korpisalo would be an upgrade.

Robin Brownlee:

Who will be available at mid-season? We need to start there. Lots of room for variance in terms of team/individual performance and injuries over the span of 35-45 games, no?

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The situation in Dallas is worth keeping an eye on. When Ben Bishop gets healthy, they’ll have to move on from one of him, Anton Khudobin, or Braden Holtby. That might be a team that Ken Holland makes a call to. The dream scenario would be that the Blackhawks tank this year and become open to the idea of moving Marc-Andre Fleury at the deadline, but that’s not exactly realistic.

Baggedmilk:

Doesn’t it feel like Anton Khudobin is already an Oiler somehow? I don’t know why I get that vibe about the goaltending situation but he would absolutely be my pick for being the next guy that gets brought in.

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.

4) @Therb771 asks – If Kassian is having a good season, should we make a trade to have some flexibility with the Yamo and Jesse contracts next year? Or if he’s having a good season do we need him in our post-season lineup?

Jason Gregor:

Odds both Yamamoto and Puljujarvi have big offensive seasons is low. If Kassian is having a good season, there is a good chance Yamamoto isn’t since he and Kassian are likely going to battle for the 2nd RW spot this season.

Robin Brownlee:

I’ll have a better idea when Kassian actually shows up to play. Once that happens, we’ll take it from there.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Strictly from a financial perspective, you’ll likely have to move Kassian next offseason. So if he has a good season here, that will not only help the Oilers win games, but it will also help them find a taker for his $3.2 million cap hit next offseason.

Baggedmilk:

Kassian will need to go for sure if the Oilers are going to re-sign both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto next summer. Regardless of what he does this season, his contract will need to be moved to make it work. That’s life on the NHL streets, man.

Aug 11, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (90) makes a save during warmup against the Chicago Blackhawks in game one of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Kevin asks – We’re only in the preseason and there is a lot of hockey to play, but what are everyone’s guesses as to how the top three teams will look in the Pacific Division? Everyone seems to have Vegas as the default winner but I’m not so sure about that.

Jason Gregor:

Edmonton first, Vegas second and Vancouver third. I believe Edmonton will be better than many think and that Vegas will take a small step back.

Robin Brownlee:

It’ll be Vegas and Edmonton. Not sure in what order. My sense is the Oilers are going to be pleasant surprises — and I don’t say that very often. I like this set of forwards and the addition of experience. I could flip a coin with Calgary and Vancouver after that.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’ll say one of Vegas or Edmonton will win the division and I have the LA Kings as the third playoff team in the Pacific. The other five playoff teams in the west will likely come from the Central (Colorado, Winnipeg, Dallas, Chicago, St. Louis, and Nashville should all be in the mix there).

Baggedmilk:

I’ll go Edmonton, Vegas, Calgary. Why do I say that? Because I can see the future. That’s why.

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