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Monday Mailbag – Maintaining composure down the stretch

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
7 months ago
Happy Monday, dearest Internet friends! As per tradition, we’re back with a brand new Mailbag to help you get your week started and make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about Evander Kane’s future, Brett Kulak, scoreboard watching, and more. If you’ve got 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.
Feb 14, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) warms up before the game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
1) Trent asks – This is obviously a guess for everyone but do you think the way Evander Kane is playing will give him more options than he expected when the season is over or is there a real chance he comes back to the Oilers?
Jason Gregor:
I thought Kane would score 20 goals, and he’s right on pace for it. He was San Jose’s best forward last year so I’m not surprised he is producing more playing with McDavid and Draisaitl. His on-ice play is what the Oilers have needed for years. A true power forward who is skilled, fast, physical, and smart. He makes really good plays with the puck, and he has helped the Oilers below the hash marks considerably.
His re-signing will be depending largely on what happens with his arbitration case with San Jose. If he gets 50% of the money owed (which would be around $11m) then he doesn’t have to go to the highest bidder. But if he gets nothing, I’d understand why he would go to the team that offers the most. His on-ice play isn’t really a surprise. He’s been good for many years, and now playing with an elite centre he is showing fans how a #1 winger should produce. The question will be are teams leery he will become an off-ice distraction in the future?
Robin Brownlee:
Of course it will give him more options. Given his financial circumstances off the ice and how arbitration might play into it, Kane is probably going to go where the money and term is even if he really likes playing with the Oilers. The next contract will be the last significant contract for money/term of his career. Don’t see how that works here.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think it will give him a few options this summer and that is part of the reason I don’t think he’ll be back. I think there will be a team that is itching for offence next season that is willing to pay him north of $5 million per season on a longer-term deal. I think it would be a mistake for the Oilers to sign a deal like that considering Kane’s past. If Holland can offload Barrie and Kassian, then I think they can possibly give Kane around $5 million on a short-term deal, but that’d be as far as I’d be willing to go.
Baggedmilk:
I absolutely think Ken Holland will try to bring him back but I also think other teams are going to look at the season he’s having and be willing to pay more. Kane will have options here. My guess is that it’s less than 50/50 that he’s back. 30/70 maybe.
Mar 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak (27) skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2) Alex asks – Brett Kulak seems to be fitting in nicely over his first few games and I wonder if anyone would be interested in trying to extend him provided that the terms are right? Too soon?
Jason Gregor:
No need to rush. See how playoffs go and what their salary cap situation looks like. Kulak has loved playing close to home and that could benefit the Oilers in negotiations. Holland is going to have to move some salary out to re-sign players he wants to keep.
Robin Brownlee:
There is no reason to rush this. Let Kulak play. Decide how/if and where he fits in the big picture. Figure out what that will cost and if you can pay it this off-season based on what you’ve got to spend after getting more important contacts (Yamamoto/Puljujarvi etc) done. So far, he looks pretty good to me.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
He hasn’t been so good that I’m really itching for the Oilers to bring him back but I think they should explore it. The only issue is that both Nurse and Keith should be back on the left side next year and they have Broberg and Niemalainen waiting in the minors. They’ll need players to contribute on ELCs next season and that third pair LHD spot seems like a good place for a young player to slide in. Again, if they move Barrie and feel comfortable with Broberg on the right side then bringing back Kulak makes more sense.
Baggedmilk:
I would bring back Kulak if they can get rid of Duncan Keith. Is that a rude thing to say? They’re both third pairing guys to me and I’d rather have the hometown boy than another 40 year old.
Mar 28, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his first period goal against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place.
3) Stephen asks – Do you find scoreboard watching down the stretch to be fun, stressful, or something you avoid entirely? What advice would you give to Oilers fans over these last few weeks?
Jason Gregor:
Playoff races and playoffs are much better to cover than draft lottery races and draws. My advice would be enjoy it. You’ve spent over a decade not being involved in a race. The Oilers have the 4th best P% in the NHL under Jay Woodcroft? Why would they suddenly suck? There is no reason to be nervous. The Oilers are tied with Boston for the most points in the NHL since Woodcroft arrived and they have the 4th best points percentage. Vegas has won five games in a row and gained no ground on the Oilers.
Robin Brownlee:
I do it to make sure I know where everybody is, but there’s no stress involved. As for advice, I’d say enjoy the ride. Why would you voluntarily do anything that causes you ongoing stress or aggravation? It’s a game.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I love it. I like watching hockey in general so this is great. Playoff pushes are what make being a fan fun!
Baggedmilk:
It is sooooo stressful. It’s also forcing me to watch games that I don’t care about because I’m cheering for team A or B to win or lose depending on the situation. April is going to be a long month.
Mar 26, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) screens in front of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
4) Oilers fan in Van asks – Be honest, do you think the Oilers can honestly do something in the playoffs with the goaltending duo we have right now? I know things can change once you’re in but I’m having a hard time feeling good about the inconsistency between the pipes.
Jason Gregor:
It is a valid concern. Under Woodcroft Koskinen has been fairly solid. He has a .906Sv%, but if you remove the Calgary game then he has a .915Sv%. That was a bad game for the entire team, and five goals on 12 shots drastically alters his overall numbers. Edmonton can win a round with their goaltenders. Winning more will require solid play from the goalie.
Robin Brownlee:
Can they? Sure. Will they? Big swings in performance — the winning and losing streaks the team has had this season — make that a tough call. We’ve got the team that went 15-5-0 to start the season and the team that won just three times in 16 games in December and January.I’d feel better with Koskinen and Stuart Skinner as the tandem.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
If they run with @Mikko Koskinen they’re capable of beating the Kings in round one. After that I wouldn’t have much confidence in them.
Baggedmilk:
Lol at this question. It’s a good one but I honestly don’t know the answer. I hope so. I really do.
Sep 26, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek (20) during the first period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
5) Claire asks – I know it’s early but would anyone have an appetite to bring back Brett Kulak provided that the money works out? I can’t help but think he’s a better third-pairing option than anyone the team currently has but maybe I’m missing something?
Jason Gregor:
He has been solid and I think he is getting more comfortable each game and we are seeing him be more involved offensively lately. He’s a great skater and I’d like to see him involved in the rush a bit more. The question will be what does Holland do with his overall cap space, and do they want Broberg as the third pair LD to start next season.
Robin Brownlee:
Same answer as above in question 2.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Move Barrie, sign Kulak to a 3-year deal worth $2.25m per year, and run Kulak/Broberg as your third pairing. I like that plan. Let’s send it to Ken Holland.
Baggedmilk:
Keith retires, Kulak extended. Win-win, no? Duncan gets to enjoy his well-deserved retirement in the Okanagan and we get cap space and a dude that can play.

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