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Monday Mailbag – How confident are you that the Oilers will make the playoffs?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
6 months ago
Happy Monday, dearest Nation Citizens, and welcome to a fresh edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and keep you updated on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re discussing coaching adjustments, incorporating youth in the lineup, panic moves, and much 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.
May 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft looks on from the players bench during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights in game six of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
1) @xporpoisex asks – With the beginning of the season off to a bad start. What would you like to see coaching do to get things moving in the right direction?
Jason Gregor:
There is only so much a coach can do. Players play the game. Kane and Bouchard were lowered in the lineup and both responded and played well. I’d look at doing that to some others who aren’t  doing much. The problem is the entire bottom six isn’t doing much, so hard to demote or promote anyone.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s on the players and Jay Woodcroft got good reactions from Evander Kane and Evan Bouchard when he shook things up a bit. The problem up until the win Sunday was the entire bottom six forward group had done very little, Can’t change out that many players.
Liam Horrobin:
The forward lines need to be changed up. I thought Warren Foegele should’ve been elevated to the top line instead of Mattias Janmark, when Connor McDavid was out. Now that McDavid is back, the team is better when McDavid and Leon Draisaitl don’t play together. Jay Woodcroft needs to find a way to spread out his stars and find them consistent line mates.
Baggedmilk:
I think using the currency he has available to him — ice time — to exercise more accountability. We saw it with Kane and Bouchard already, and I think that’s the way forward. That said, he also needs to reward guys that are playing well, such as popping Foegele up onto the first line against the Flames.
Oct 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Jack Studnika (23) scores a goal during the second period against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) @MomesHontario asks – Why does every other NHL team seem to be able to incorporate young guys into prominent roles, and the Oilers can’t?
Jason Gregor:
Didn’t Stuart Skinner do that last year? Similar with Evan Bouchard? Which young players did Vegas incorporate into prominent roles last year? Or Colorado. Or Boston. I’m not sure every team does it to be honest. I don’t see many Cup contending teams just giving young guys prominent roles. If they are ready for it, I don’t see a coach holding them back. I don’t see any young guys in Edmonton who are ready to take on a prominent role.
Robin Brownlee:
Evan Bouchard and Stuart Skinner have moved up to take more prominent places in the line-up, no? What other young players on the roster or in the organization have proven beyond a doubt they deserve bigger roles? I don’t see anybody. Do you?
Liam Horrobin:
Stuart Skinner, Dylan Holloway, Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard are the Oilers young group right now. Skinner was a Calder Trophy finalist, Evan Bouchard is a top end offensive defenceman and Dylan Holloway has arguably been the Oilers most consistent forward this season. Broberg has also had a nice start to the season. With that, the Oilers are doing it too.
Baggedmilk:
Old man Stuart Skinner as our starting goalie is a prime example of not giving way to youth. 😉
Oct 19, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) skates back to the bench as Philadelphia Flyers right wing Cam Atkinson (89) celebrates his goal with during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
3) @foleyboy16 asks – What is the biggest issue this year? Goalies? Defence? Forwards? Lack of a true finisher? Or is it just bad luck?
Jason Gregor:
I haven’t seen much bad luck being the issue. Goalie, D-men and forwards have all taken turns being the issue. Entire team’s lack of consistency, commitment is the issue now. The entire group will need to improve if they want to get out of this funk.
Robin Brownlee:
Overall consistency is an issue. Players at every position hve taken a turn struggling at times.
Liam Horrobin:
All of the above? Not ideal is it!
On a serious note, the team needs to find ways to work for goals. Sometimes it feels like they want the other team to just let them score, which is never going to happen. Goals need to be earned in the NHL.
Baggedmilk:
Everybody is taking a turn being the problem, and while I wouldn’t necessarily say the Oilers are having bad luck, they’re not exactly having good luck either.
Sep 27, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor Brown (28) protects the puck from Vancouver Canucks defensemen Quinn Hughes (43) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) @cgycraig asks – At what point should Jackson/Holland turn their attention to next season & beyond? One (but not the only) example is Brown gets a $3.25M bonus in a couple of games, which limits flexibility next season.
Jason Gregor:
The Brown to minors suggestion is peak overreaction. It is seven games for a guy who missed all of last season. Yes, I get the savings, but they aren’t worried about next year only seven games in, or 10 games for him. Brown is a legit NHL player coming off an injury. It likely will take 10-20 games for him to get comfortable. If they put him on waivers I’d suspect a team claims him as his cap hit is only $775K this year. Yes he has the bonus for next season, but many teams would take the risk as he’d be solid value this year once he gets his legs under him. Now is not the time for emotional, knee-jerk reactions like losing Brown for nothing.
Robin Brownlee:
Next season? Now? Let’s not write-off Connor Brown after eight games. That makes no sense. He’s a proven NHL player, so let’s not get carried away with an unproductive start. He’ll come around.
Liam Horrobin:
Whenever the Oilers season ends this year. Connor Brown will never be put on waivers so everyone needs to stop wasting their breath.
Baggedmilk:
It’s not going to happen. I mean, how do you think other players in the league that you would be potentially targeting to sign would think about this franchise if they pull moves like that?
Oct 17, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Zach Hyman (18), Warren Foegele (37), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by Foegele during the second period of their game against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
5) James in Peterborough asks – On a scale of 1-10 (1 being, No Way; 10 being, No Question in My Mind) how confident are you that the Oilers still make the playoffs, and why?
Jason Gregor:
I’d say 10. They aren’t suddenly this bad. They will get their act together. I do think the chance of getting home ice advantage after the first round is quite low not though.
Robin Brownlee:
10. They’re 2-5-1 eight games in. The Oilers have gone from Cup contenders in the eyes of many to possibly missing the playoffs? There’s some issues, but that’s panic city right there.
Liam Horrobin:
I’m at a 10 because they are a much better team than they are showing. Literally everything is going wrong for them right now. Nobody is scoring, McDavid was injured and the defence was in shambles. Eventually that will all turn positive for them.
Baggedmilk:
I’m at a 10 that they’ll get in. I just don’t think they’ll win the division anymore.

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