19
Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Does Leon Draisaitl get enough love?

A new week means a brand new Mailbag is here to help you get your Monday started and also to make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about Leon Draisaitl being underrated outside of Edmonton, the new guys through 17 games, 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.

Nov 9, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Warren Foegele (37) and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider (53) battle for the puck in the first period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

1) Rob asks – The general consensus of Ken Holland’s moves before the season began was that the offence had been improved but the defence was a bit a question mark. Now that we are a few weeks in how are you guys feeling about the changes on the blue line?

Jason Gregor:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Oilers team defence hasn’t been consistent enough. They have gifted too many goals. The past two games have been better, but they need to improve as a group.

Robin Brownlee:

Not a great time to evaluate that with Nurse out, but Evan Bouchard impressed me against Chicago even with the one costly turnover and we got a look at Broberg, who didn’t appear overwhelmed. Good start for the blueline as a whole, but a long way to go.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I think I feel the same. Derek Ryan has been fine when healthy, Warren Foegele has been really good, and Zach Hyman has been a dream fit. On the blue line, Cody Ceci has been better than expected while Duncan Keith has been average at best. So I don’t think my opinion has changed at all. He improved the forward group this summer but the defence didn’t improve enough considering how much money/assets he spent.

Baggedmilk:

Without question there is more depth scoring on this team and that’s good news. The defence, however, can still be spotty at times so I’d love to see Holland figure out a way to pick up another 2LD to push everyone down a bit.

Nov 11, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) smiles as he is congratulated at the bench after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Anna asks – This may seem like a weird question given that he leads the NHL in scoring, but is Leon Draisaitl underrated outside of Edmonton simply because he plays on the same team as Connor McDavid?

Jason Gregor:

Yes. Too many think he benefits solely from playing with McDavid. It is such an inane statement considering others play with McDavid and don’t come close to the production Draisaitl has. The other factor is how well he plays away from McDavid, and that Draisaitl kills penalties and takes key faceoffs. I’d argue his overall game is better than McDavid’s right now.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Robin Brownlee:

Not by anybody with even a faint hint of a clue. Fans around the NHL have seen Draisaitl play at this level for years now, not just weeks or months.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Absolutely. I think a lot of die-hard NHL fans know how great he is, but I think a lot of casual fans and media who don’t watch the Oilers play at all just look at him and go “Oh well, he’s only good because he plays with McDavid,” which is insane because he has an MVP trophy. Maybe a second Hart Trophy will lead to him getting more respect.

Baggedmilk:

Yes. He absolutely is underrated everywhere outside of Edmonton, in my opinion.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Oct 7, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Duncan Keith (2) trips up Vancouver Canucks defensemen Jack Rathbone (3) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) James in Peterborough asks – Given how great McDavid and Draisaitl are, and some of the issues with the defence corps, would you see any benefit to dressing seven defenders and one fewer forward, to have those two get even more 5×5 time?

Jason Gregor:

No. D-men don’t like rotating seven as there isn’t much continuity. Not sure why a seventh D-man, who can’t crack your top six, will make the team better defensively on a nightly basis.

Robin Brownlee:

No. And especially not right now with Nurse out.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

That’s a really interesting idea and I haven’t really considered it before. It might not be a bad idea but Dave Tippett doesn’t really strike me as a coach that would do that. The idea of giving McDavid and Draisaitl extra shifts and also having an extra defenseman on the bench doesn’t sound like it’d hurt their chances of winning.

Baggedmilk:

As much as I love to watch those two guys do their thing, they’re already playing 1/3 of the game and I don’t know that it would be a great idea, in the long run, to have them out there too much.

Dec 6, 2019; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) and forward Leon Draisaitl (29) discuss a play during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

4) David asks – Between McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have three of the top eleven players in the league in TOI/game. As rough as the results on the third and fourth lines have been, isn’t the early part of the season where we’ve built a cushion in points a chance to say “ok, let those guys play through their issues so we don’t grind our stars to dust so we can be in first place on November 16?”

Jason Gregor:

McDavid and Draisaitl are used to playing big minutes. They can handle it just fine. Fatigue isn’t a factor. I don’t see them being overplayed. RNH, they might want to reduce his TOI a bit, but he is on the PK, so it is difficult to do.

Robin Brownlee:

Saw a lot of life from the third line against Chicago. It’s nothing but a positive to have the bottom six forwards contributing or consistently holding their own at the very least. Having the luxury of giving top players a chance to cut back minutes without hurting results is a big plus. We’re seeing some of that early this season.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Right now, that makes sense. However, when you’re in the heat of a game it’s hard to say, “Well, let’s sit back and play our bottom six more here.” Points in November matter just as much as points in March or April. I understand wanting to get everyone going, but you still have to do everything you can to win every game and for the Oilers, their best chance to win is when their big three plays a lot.

Baggedmilk:

Connor and Leon are actually playing fewer minutes than they have in the past and I think that’s because there is more depth up front than we’ve had in a long time. Take Saturday night against the Hawks for example: I thought the third line had its best game in a while and was rewarded with more minutes, which is exactly what we need to happen if this team is going to take a step forward.

Nov 18, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (26) tries to screen Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

5) Stephen asks – Last year Stuart Skinner wore #50. This year he is wearing Ethan Bear’s old #74. Do they have a stack of #74 sweaters that they need to use up? I see this happens too often with this team. Hyman is wearing Neal’s old number. There are about 50 other numbers that never seem to get used on the team so I’m curious to know why they always seem to recycle the same numbers?

Jason Gregor:

Skinner wanted #74. His oldest brother was 71, next oldest 72, next 73 and Skinner is the youngest of the boys so he picked #74. Teams let players choose the number they want once they are established NHL players. It would be odd to tell Zach Hyman he can’t wear 18, because James Neal wore it last season. I see this is a non-issue.

Robin Brownlee:

“Too often” with this team? Is there a set of standards for the appropriate number of times a number is worn, when it’s worn and who wears it? I keed. The Oilers have had 29 different players wear No. 15 and 28 players wear No. 20. I don’t know why. A dozen guys have worn “unlucky” 13. My guess is there are as many reasons for picking any given number as there are numbers. With Skinner, No. 74 is something based on numbers he and his brothers had as kids.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s just a coincidence. The Oilers aren’t forcing guys to wear similar numbers to save money or anything like that.

Baggedmilk:

Zach actually wrote about this a few days ago, and the number basically comes as a shout out to his brothers.

MAILBAG IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY CORNERSTONE INSURANCE

For 90 years and four generations, Cornerstone Insurance has been a family and employee-owned business in Edmonton with all of the insurance products you need for your ever-evolving life. Citizens of the Nation can get a discount here.