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Monday Mailbag – Are we getting the same Oilers team for next year?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
8 months ago
Happy Monday, Nation Citizens, and welcome to another fresh edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and break down all things Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at what can be done with limited cap space, our goaltending duo, the NHL Entry Draft, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
1) John asks – Given the lack of cap space, how likely is it that the Oilers bring back the same team without any adding anything substantial?
Jason Gregor:
Unlikely. There will be some changes. I don’t expect Yamamoto back and there will be a few changes in the bottom six. Maybe there is a change on the blueline, but I think it is less likely.
Robin Brownlee:
Highly unlikely. After RFA’s Kostin, McLeod, and Bouchard (even on a bridge deal), there’s not enough cap space left for UFA’s Bjugstad, Janmark, Ryan, and Shore.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I’d say there’s a greater than 50% chance that the only two things we see are Kailer Yamamoto being traded or bought out and a new right winger brought in through free agency. I know people are clamouring for a big upgrade on the blue line, but I think that is unlikely because of their lack of cap space.
Liam Horrobin:
Very high. Last week, I asked Frank Seravalli on Oilersnation Everyday if there is a player on the team who are part of the core that won’t return and he said no.
Baggedmilk:
We’ll get some minor changes, but I don’t think any of us should be expecting anything substantial. Bouchard’s new contract is going to eat most of whatever space the team has available.
2) Clayton asks – Are you expecting Ken Holland to acquire more draft picks given that the Oilers have only three heading into what has been described as a deep class? Any candidates you see for a player for pick swap?
Jason Gregor:
Unless he trades their 2nd rounder and moves back to acquire two picks, I don’t see a significant increase in draft picks. If he can get a mid to late round pick for Yamamoto he would.
Robin Brownlee:
Yamamoto is probably the likeliest candidate because of the saved cap space factor.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I’m not. Unless he can grab a late-round pick for Kailer Yamamoto. I don’t think there’s a magical way for him to get into the first round if that’s what you’re asking.
Liam Horrobin:
If they decide to trade Yamamoto, Ceci, or Foegele then I think a draft pick will be involved in the deal.
Baggedmilk:
I could see Holland trading his 2nd round pick for more picks further down in the order. He’s done it before, and I can see it happening again. I’d be stunned if they get back in the first round, though.
Apr 8, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) watches the puck during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
3) @ryspot asks – How can our goaltending improve over the summer? We’re committed to Campbell and Skinner, but how can they get better? Is it the coaching? The team in front of them?
Jason Gregor:
It will be a combination of things. Skinner having more experience and more game video to look at will allow him to focus on specific areas. Campbell won’t be as bad as last year. He will have all summer training in his new gear and will also focus on some technical changes. And the team defence will want to eliminate the glaring giveaways. They don’t need elite goaltending, just be solid and consistent.
Robin Brownlee:
First, no, it’s not the coaching. Campbell had a bad start to the regular season and Skinner dropped off during the post-season. Both can and will be more consistent/better.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Campbell should bounce back and have numbers closer to his career average. Skinner now has one full season under his belt so that experience should help him. Goaltending is also voodoo though and trying to predict things on a year-to-year basis is very difficult. In short: I think the Oilers should get better goaltending next year simply because Campbell’s numbers probably can’t be that bad again.
Liam Horrobin:
In the regular season, it was Campbell that needed to be better. However, in the playoffs, the defence and Skinner needed improvements. I don’t think we will see how good this duo can be until the playoffs.
Baggedmilk:
Campbell was pretty bad last year and I almost feel like there’s no way he won’t be better. That in itself will make a huge difference. I believe in Stu.
May 12, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) celebrates with Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel (9) after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the second period of game five of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
4) David O. asks – With the trumpeted “Sun Belt” Cup final, does the panel think this will provide real sustainable growth in potential high-value US markets like Florida, or will this just be a “when the team is good, the fans care and when they stink, Oiler snowbird fans come in and get tickets cheap” type deal?
Jason Gregor:
Vegas has a good fan base. This will help Florida regardless of if they win or not, but earning new fans takes time. It doesn’t just mean they have sellouts every game next season. The Oilers didn’t have sellouts every game last year and Edmonton is a hockey mad market.
Robin Brownlee:
Florida made it to the SC final in 1996 but, outside of one season (1998-99)), they’ve been stuck in the bottom third of attendance year-by-year. Tampa Bay has been at or near the top of attendance figures since 2011-12, so winning matters. Vegas has had good fan support to this point. The NHL is a third or fourth option behind other pro leagues in most U.S. cities, “Sun Belt” or otherwise.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I’m torn on this. A run to the Cup Final will undoubtedly create more die-hards in those markets, but will it be noticeable in two or three years time? I’m not sure. I really hope it works and this turns Florida into a much better market, but it’s not a guarantee.
Liam Horrobin:
I think if you put a winning product in those areas then people will come. Vegas has proven that since they came into the league and Arizona has proven the opposite.
Baggedmilk:
Panthers fans will show up when the team is in the playoffs, but that arena still won’t be full during the regular season.
5) Ed M. asks – Who has the more difficult job, Dubas or Treliving? Why?
Jason Gregor:
Dubas by far. His core is much older. How long can Crosby, Malkin, and Letang remain elite? Three years at the most, likely less and they don’t have many top prospects coming.
Robin Brownlee:
Treliving. The Maple Leafs haven’t won squat since 1967. Plus, the analytics guys in TO who worshipped the ground Dubas walked on will be angry now that he’s out and will be looking for a reason to drag Treliving. Dubas has his work cut out with a fast-fading Pittsburgh roster, but TO is a tougher market that chews people up.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Dubas. Treliving has a better team and some future assets. Kyle Dubas has an aging core, basically no A+ level prospects, and not a lot of cap space. He’s in a brutal spot.
Liam Horrobin:
Kyle Dubas for sure. That Pittsburgh team is bare bones in some departments and the contract situation isn’t pretty. I know we all love to hate Toronto but they did make it to the second round last season.
Baggedmilk:
I think it’s Treliving because the expectations are so high in Toronto. I get that Dubas will have to navigate the end of the Crosby era, but I think his leash will be a lot longer with the fanbase than what Treliving gets in Toronto.

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