Monday Mailbag – Is Woodcroft playing McDavid and Draisaitl too much?

Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
1 year ago
Happy Monday, Internet friends, and welcome to a brand new edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and break down all things Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at how many minutes the Dynamic Duo play, Tyson Barrie, 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.
Dec 1, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) and center Leon Draisaitl (29) look on prior to the game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
1) David O. asks – Looking at ATOI stats, McDavid is #2 among forwards and Draisaitl is #4 (#1 and #3 in total TOI). I feel like this question has been asked before and the panel has given answers along the lines of they are young, they want to play lots, and it’s not an issue. Well, now they’re 7-8 years into their careers, Draisaitl seems to often have some nagging issues. In the last 15 games, the Pittsburgh game is the only one McDavid has been under 20 minutes in despite six of those games being decided by more than 3 goals (in which you’d assume he could find a few extra shifts to take off, to say nothing of the close games where the Oilers *were* up 3+ goals). At some point, should there be a focus to make sure our big two guys are healthy and rested for the playoffs over fighting for an extra place in the seedings?
Jason Gregor:
They are both always in the top three for best cardio on the team. MacKinnon and Rantanen play more 5×5 than McDavid or Draisaitl and both of them are older and have won a Cup. I see zero reason to play McDavid fewer minutes. He isn’t fatigued. Every year he plays better in March than any other month.
The Oilers are not in a position to rest them. I don’t expect it.
Robin Brownlee:
Yes. Not sure about it being a focus, but if situations allow, there’s no downside to a rest here and there. McDavid is up about a minute over his career ice time at this point. Draisaitl is up about 90 seconds.
Sep 28, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie (22) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2) @HobsonRylan asks – Not saying I want to trade Tyson Barrie because I absolutely don’t! But I believe he gets you a 1st round pick with the price of defensemen these days! What do you guys think in a hypothetical situation?
Jason Gregor:
Trading Barrie for a 1st rounder? Seriously. That would be terrible. He’s their best RD right now, and by a significant margin. What would a late 1st round pick do to help them in the next three years? Nothing. It would be an awful decision. Zero chance they are trading him before the deadline for a 1st round pick.
Robin Brownlee:
Yes you do. When you start any question with “Not saying,” you are saying. If you’re the least bit interested in winning now then you don’t trade Barrie for any draft pick at this point.
If I’m being honest, I don’t really see why anyone wants to trade Barrie yet. He’s having a solid year from my side of the TV screen. Ceci has struggled this year, why aren’t we talking about him? It’s just interest how we think as Oilers fans sometimes, ya know?
Nov 7, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft (M) talks to his team during a timeout against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
3) James in Peterborough asks – The 11-7 lineup has been very good under Woodcroft. Focusing on the “7”, what do you think is working specifically in this setup? Should they be using this exclusively with the current roster?
Jason Gregor:
I think if they had more experienced blueliners in the third pairing they likely wouldn’t run 11-7 as often. It works now because Desharnais helps on the PK and offers a different skill set than Bouchard. It also works now because the Oilers’ 6-11 forwards are much more productive than in past years. The Oilers, with McDavid and Draisailt on the bench, have outscored the opposition 30-15 at 5×5 since January 1st.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s been successful, but injuries play into the options Woodcroft has. One example, what’s the timetable for a return by Evander Kane?
I would play Connor McDavid for 60 minutes if I could. Leon is a big man and needs some rest from time to time. Quick breather and a Gatorade break kinda thing.
Feb 21, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Minnesota Wild defensemen Matt Dumba (24) and Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) battle for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) @gramfreccenhl asks – How about instead of going for EK they go for hometown boy Dumba? It’s cheaper, he could sign a hometown discount contract in the summer too and fits a lot of boxes?!
Jason Gregor:
Dumba isn’t a hometown kid, but is a Western Canadian guy. His cap hit $6m makes it difficult, and the Wild are battling Edmonton and other teams in the wildcard race, so I’d be a bit surprised. If you bring him in then you’d have to move one of the RDs out.
Robin Brownlee:
Dumba is from Regina. He hasn’t shown much since his career season in 2017-18. He’s not in the same stratosphere as Karlsson, so he’s a completely different acquisition at this point. More of a depth player.
I like the way Dumba hits and shoots but I also don’t think he’s the style of d-man that we need at this stage.
Chris Pronger #44 of the Edmonton Oilers passes the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during game three of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 10, 2006 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
5) @MidnightFalcon4 asks – If you could bring back any ex-oiler Defenceman(regardless of cap implications) to help this blue line, who would it be?
Jason Gregor:
Pronger or Coffey would be the first choice, but they actually need a RD more, so the best right RD would be Boris Mironov. Big body, can move the puck, and is physical. He was a legit top-pair RD.
Robin Brownlee:
Chris Pronger.
Chris Pronger and it’s not really close. I know things ended on a sour note but the guy was dominant in his season with the Oilers.


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