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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – How many goals for Connor McDavid in 2022-23?

Happy Monday, Internet friends, and welcome to a fresh Mailbag to help you get your week started and break down what’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re looking at Connor McDavid goal predictions, whether Jay Woodcroft is feeling any pressure, and a whole lot 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.

Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) before the game against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1) Marv asks – Question for ya… Is there any official word with Mike Smith’s IR/Retirement? Has he officially packed it in or will he still work on his game and be ready just in case something happens to one or more of the Oilers goalies? What are the odds of him playing another game? 0%??? Full disclosure: I have him in a keeper league.. save a roster spot and IR him as soon as the season starts OR cut bait.

Jason Gregor:

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He will be on LTIR all season. He will not retire as he’d lose the money owed to him, but he will not be playing.

Robin Brownlee:

Ken Holland has already said he doesn’t expect Smith to play next season. He’s expected to be on LTIR.

Cam Lewis:

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Hey, this is Mike Smith we’re talking about, so never say never. Seeing him come back and make a start late in the season would really be something. That said, Ken Holland has made it clear the expectation is that he’ll collect his money on the LTIR and then retire next summer.

Zach Laing:

Latest word was that Smith was destined for the LTIR. He could retire, but with a year left on his deal, why not just take the LTIR money?

 Baggedmilk:

Gimme that cash, baby! LTIR all day.

Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

2) Hank asks – Last season, Connor McDavid set a career-high with 44 goals in 80 games played. If you were to bet right now, do you think he goes over or under that total in 2022-23 and why?

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Jason Gregor:

He will go over. He is shooting more each of the past few seasons, and he had the lowest SH% of his career last year at 5×5. That won’t happen again.

Robin Brownlee:

He can match or better that if he generates 300-plus shots again. His shooting percentage of 14.0 was a percentage point below his career average, but he had a career high with 314 shots — 40 more than his previous high.

Cam Lewis:

I would guess that he badly wants to reach the 50-goal plateau as it’s one of the few statistical milestones that he hasn’t hit yet in the NHL. We’ve seen Connor McDavid start to shoot more than he did when he was younger so it’s fair to assume he’ll break 50 in a healthy season.

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Zach Laing:

I’ll take the over. Don’t know how hot this take is, but he’s scoring 50 goals for the first time next year.

 Baggedmilk:

Life is too short to take the under.

May 18, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft on his bench against the Calgary Flames during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

3) Anne asks – With a new three-year contract now signed, how much pressure do you think there is on Jay Woodcroft to keep moving this team in the right direction?

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Jason Gregor:

There is always pressure in the NHL, but I don’t see him having more than any other coach on a competitive team.

Robin Brownlee:

There’s always pressure to win. It’s far better to have that pressure with three years of cheques guaranteed than working with a bad team on an expiring contract, no?

Cam Lewis:

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Yes and no. Jay Woodcroft built up a lot of goodwill around here given the way the team performed when he took over. But things can change in a hurry and the expectation is to at least reach the Western Conference Final again. I don’t think there’s pressure in that he could get fired if the team goes into a rut but that goodwill among fans won’t last if the team doesn’t seem to be moving in the right direction.

Zach Laing:

The pressure is there, for sure. The bar is set making the Western Conference Finals and that’s where the Oilers, at the very least, need to be next year. The window is officially, finally, wide open. There are three years left on Leon Draisaitl’s deal and four on McDavid’s. The Oilers need to win one in that time frame.

 Baggedmilk:

The pressure is on but I’d also imagine he’s putting a tonne on himself. Woodcroft will do great.

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Mar 12, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) tries to hold up Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan McLeod (71) during the third period at Rogers Place.

4) Clay asks – Is anyone else concerned that the Oilers have yet to sign Ryan McLeod or make the trade that’s likely needed to become cap compliant?

Jason Gregor:

His contract will be easy. He signs for $900K-$1m and a one-year deal. He will be signed before training camp begins.

Robin Brownlee:

Not concerned.

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Cam Lewis:

Not at all. There are still 18 unsigned restricted free agents out there. This is standard.

Zach Laing:

To be honest, not really. There’s still lots of time left until the ink needs to be dry. Players and teams are starting to make their way to their respective cities, so I’d expect conversations to start picking up soon.

 Baggedmilk:

Nah. Not at all.

5) Jayson asks – When did you know you wanted to cover sports as a career and how did you get started? My son is 12 years old, a huge hockey fan, and has shown interest in covering the game when he’s older but I’m an electrician and have no idea how to help him get started.

Jason Gregor:

Career aspirations change a lot during our teen years and even as young adults. Best advice is if he is passionate about it he will watch a lot of sports and read about them. Nowadays he can start his own blog, just to practice writing if he wants. The key will be having passion, if he has that he will be happy and that makes any career more enjoyable. When he is close to graduating high school, and if he is still leaning in that direction please tell him to email me and I can chat with him about options.

Robin Brownlee:

At 12 years old lots of sports appeal to kids but that doesn’t mean covering those sports turns into a career. The employment landscape and the journalism business is changing so fast, I don’t know what it will look like in 5-10 years. My start in journalism, which began 40 years ago, has so little to do with how things are done today that it’s comical. My journalism class had typewriters in it, not laptops etc. I loved playing and watching sports growing up and I had some decent writing skills, so I went down the journalism road. I think the best thing you can do is provide support and encouragement no matter how his interests evolve in the coming years. You’ll never go wrong that way.

Cam Lewis:

I think the best way to get into this career is to find a niche that you enjoy doing, whether that be writing analysis, doing a podcast, making videos, designing graphics, whatever, and just keep doing it until it feels natural. There are so many ways in the digital media landscape to create interesting content so the key really is just figuring out what you’re good at, doing it over and over, and getting better. You don’t have to be singularly focused on becoming a journalist or a broadcaster in order to talk about sports for a living.

Zach Laing:

I grew up in a household where my dad was a rabid Oilers fan, so for me, it was natural to fall in love with the game. I was 10 years old during the ’06 cup run, and that was the year my dad finally let me stay up to watch the games. When I was in high school, I started writing on one of BaggedMilk’s old blogs and that’s how I got my start. Soon after I realized I could get paid to watch hockey for the rest of my life and that sounded pretty cool to me. I went to journalism school and worked at a few newspapers before I joined Oilersnation part-time in 2016 and before I moved here full-time in 2020.

My suggestion would be to get your son to watch a ton of hockey. Start with the Oilers and try and catch a few others here or there. On top of that, encourage him to read as much as he can too from multiple different outlets. There’s a lot that can be learned through osmosis that way, but in my eyes, schooling is imperative if he really wants to make it.

 Baggedmilk:

Start a blog or podcast or video series or whatever gets you to start making content. The landscape has changed these days so you can get noticed for doing your own thing rather than following traditional paths from yesteryear.

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