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Monday Mailbag – Improving the Oilers defence

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baggedmilk
8 months ago
Happy Monday, Internet, 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 the Stanley Cup playoffs, realistic Oilers trades, prospects, 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.
May 24, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
1) Ed asks – The SC playoffs have boiled down to a Sun Belt battle. How much has the give-a-“you know what” meter dropped because of this? Will this help the NHL profile in the Sun Belt or will the NHL still rate somewhere below Cornhole?
Jason Gregor:
My interest doesn’t change based on which teams are in. The end prize is the same and these four teams will battle as hard as any others. I can understand if the average fans says they don’t care, but why would watching NJ or Boston make it that much better for fans in Edmonton?
Robin Brownlee:
I can’t speak for fans elsewhere, but my interest isn’t what it would be with the Oilers or another Canadian team involved. Hockey is a secondary sport in most U.S. markets and that’s the same in what you call the Sun Belt.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
My interest level hasn’t dropped because of the location of the teams, my interest just usually wanes off a hair for a couple of weeks after the Oilers get bounced. I’ve caught pieces of most of these games and they’ve actually been decent. Plus, getting some new die-hard fans in a non-traditional market is probably good for the sport.
Liam Horrobin:
I just wanted to see Vegas lose – that’s all I care about. As for your second question, I am sure it won’t hurt the NHL down south. Fans just want to see a winning product.
Baggedmilk:
The Oilers are out so I don’t care who wins. But would I care more if it was a major market club in there instead of what we have left? Probably not.
2) @steenj7 asks – If the only thing you could do to improve the team this summer is make one trade. What would it be? Realistic enough proposal that the other gm doesn’t immediately hang up
Jason Gregor:
I’m freeing up cap space so I’d move Yamamoto to Chicago for a 5th. They currently have eight forwards signed for a total of $12m. They need to get to the floor but likely don’t want players locked up long-term. Yamamoto gives them an NHL player, who has scored 20 goals, and a cap hit high enough to help them get close to the cap floor. If he plays well they could re-sign him.
Robin Brownlee:
I’d see what caliber of defenceman I could get for Nugent-Hopkins. Shop him and find out. We won’t see another season from him like he just had. I’ve gone pretty cold on Yamamoto as well. My second choice would be to move him along for a draft pick/prospect/cap space.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Trade Cody Ceci for a 2024 third-round pick and then move Kailer Yamamoto and a 2024 second-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for Dylan Demelo. Use the savings to sign Connor Brown.
Liam Horrobin:
Dylan Demelo might be good from Winnipeg. I also would like to see the Oilers pursue Travis Konecny and maybe dangle Xavier Bourgault.
Baggedmilk:
Firstly: How dare you, Robin. How dare you. I’d move Cody Ceci and Kailer Yamamoto for picks or unsigned prospects and use that money to sign Damon Severson.
3) @MidnightFalcon4 asks – Do you think one of Bourgault or Lavoie will be a contributing, full-time roster player in the upcoming season?
Jason Gregor:
Lavoie likely starts the season in Edmonton. Bourgault has only played one year of pro. I could see him getting recalled during the season, but he’d be better served in his development playing big minutes in Bakersfield.
Robin Brownlee:
Might be a year early, but not dismissing the possibility of seeing Lavoie. I can’t imagine Holland and Woodcroft want to completely revamp the roster, so if both these guys are two of the changes, how many others are left? It’s too early for Bourgault to start the season here.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think there’s a chance that Lavoie can crack this team at some point next season, but I think Bourgeault will need another full year.
Liam Horrobin:
I don’t think Bourgault will play full time but he will be the first call-up. As for Lavoie, yes I think he will be on the team more regularly. He’s a cheap option plus he is now waiver eligible so you’ve got to keep him or trade him.
Baggedmilk:
I think Lavoie will get a longer look because he has to clear waivers. Not to mention, that right side is wiiiiiiiiiide open.
Apr 21, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) warms up prior to game three of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
4) @13Mike31 asks – If Oilers wanted to make a big deal, what could they get for Nurse? What would you want them to pursue? My rationale is he’s $9.25MM and Ekholm is better 1D. Would they be okay with Kulak 2D and Broberg 3D? Could Broberg potentially bump Kulak down?
Jason Gregor:
I’d argue your rationale is short-sighted. You need two legit top four LD to win and Ekholm doesn’t skate like Nurse and in the coming years, I don’t see him getting faster. You want to build a team that has a chance to be a serious contender. The Oilers are finally that and people want to trade Nurse because he’s one million overpaid. Stop the insanity. Nurse, Ekholm are both needed if you want to win. Full stop.
Robin Brownlee:
Keep both. Ekholm is 33. He won’t be here forever. I don’t get the desire to trade Nurse.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
They aren’t trading Darnell Nurse. He’s expensive, he’s a part of the core, and he has a no-movement clause. Not happening, not entertaining the idea.
Liam Horrobin:
The Oilers would be significantly worse without Darnell Nurse and they should never consider trading him (which they aren’t). The entire blueline downgrades significantly if they were to move on from their top defenceman.
Baggedmilk:
I know that Darnell Nurse makes too much money — we all know that — but trading him doesn’t make this team better. I refuse to believe it.
Apr 25, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Evander Kane (91) during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings in game five of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5) Gregg asks – I’ve seen a few people talk about how losing can be part of the process for teams to take the next step towards becoming champions. Can you explain how that makes sense? Every season, 31 teams lose and most will never win the ultimate prize.
Jason Gregor:
Well 16 don’t make the playoffs, and losing in the regular season isn’t gut wrenching like in the playoffs. To me, it can be a lesson or feeling that deep pain like the Oilers felt this year. They were good enough to win. They had two terrible second periods in games five and six and that cost them. Learning you can’t let up, you can’t gift goals. You need to stay focused. Their heartache was much deeper this year, and listening to Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and other leaders talk about their need to not beat themselves (give away easy goals) showed me they finally understand it. Many teams have experienced that before.
Tampa in 2019. Colorado in the bubble. Washington for years. Not every learning experience is the same, but I believe it isn’t directed at all teams, just those who are legit contenders who find ways to lose. However, it doesn’t guarantee you will win in the future. Ask the San Jose Sharks.
Robin Brownlee:
31 teams lose? Sure, but how many of those teams are close to winning anything? You recognize this, right? The losing potentially being part of the process talk refers specifically to teams that are very close to getting over the top but that might lack experience and gamesmanship. It’s real.
Liam Horrobin:
I think the only answer is to learn from your mistakes. It is very difficult to win, and hopefully, this is a hard lesson for the team and they can bounce back next season.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Winning is very difficult. That’s why I don’t love people who have a Stanley Cup or bust kind of mentality. Obviously, you want your team to win but it isn’t a total failure every year that it doesn’t happen, you know? Winning a division? Solid accomplishment. Going to the Conference Finals? Very impressive. Making the Stanley Cup Final? A huge accomplishment.
Baggedmilk:
Practice makes perfect, right? I think the same lesson applies here in that losing out to good teams in the playoffs lets you know how dialed in you have to be to win the Stanley Cup. I expect losing to be a motivating factor for the boys and I expect them to be better next season.

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