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Monday Mailbag – Making sense of the Calgary Flames exodus

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
9 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 the Connor Brown rumours, signing college free agents, the Flames implosion, 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.
Oct 5, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Connor Brown (28) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
1) Chase asks – Connor Brown has been tied to the Oilers a lot over the last week but I want to know if everyone thinks he’s a fit? Brown played only four games for the Caps last year and I struggle to see how much of an upgrade on Yamamoto he would be.
Jason Gregor:
He has been a model of consistency for six seasons with point totals of 28-43 points. His last three seasons his points/game were 0.61, 0.63 and 0.61. The past two seasons Yamamoto has been 0.41 and 0.50. Brown is a clear upgrade in consistent point production and he didn’t play with McDavid or Draisaitl. He’s also bigger and 30 pounds heavier. Missing one season with a torn ACL, doesn’t make him suddenly terrible. He will have been out almost a full 12 months when the season begins, so he will be fully healthy. He’s a clear upgrade.
Robin Brownlee:
How much will he cost? That’s the biggest question for me.
Liam Horrobin:
The biggest upgrade is the contract. You can likely pay Brown less than what you paid Yamo which is a huge win. Additionally, I think he’s better both ways that Yamo makes him a great fit for the team. In the playoffs, having another scorer will go a long way.
Baggedmilk:
Brown has a more proven track record of producing offence and he’s bigger, so I would definitely give him the edge over Yamo. That said, we’ll have to see if there’s a deal to be had with him before getting excited about anything yet.
Feb 1, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Gaetan Haas (91) celebrates his penalty shot goal with goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during the third period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
2) @yegoilbaron asks – Do you think that the Oilers need to increase their rate of signing college free agents and European players to fill out their prospect pool and help our young players in Bakersfield?
Jason Gregor:
Most NCAA free agents are the most overrated prospect in hockey IMO. I’d rather find a few good AHL veterans to mentor the young players. NCAA players who are 21 or 22 with no pro experience won’t help them much, they will be in the same boat of inexperience.
Robin Brownlee:
The rate? No. Sign the best available players wherever they are from. Looks like there was a fair amount of experience on that roster to end last season.
Liam Horrobin:
They probably will next season considering they only have three draft picks this time around. It’s all about fit though. The Oilers shouldn’t just sign players for the sake of it.
Baggedmilk:
Bring back Gaetan Haas! Honestly, I don’t mind taking swings on free agents because you don’t have to give up anything other than money to get them, but I also remember when Drake Caggiula was a highly touted college UFA.
Apr 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
3) @ajroediger asks – I’ve heard people throw around the idea that getting rid of a newly acquired free agent that the Oilers just signed a year ago would hurt them with future free agent targets. How much stock do you put into that narrative?
Jason Gregor:
Are you talking about Jack Campbell? I don’t see why it would hurt them to sign future UFAs. He had a tough year, but I expect him back. If he struggles again, you don’t keep him just because he was a UFA signing, and I doubt any future UFAs would consider that a bad move.
Robin Brownlee:
Hockey people? Fans? If a free agent comes in and he’s luggage, cut him loose. I don’t want any potential free agents who can’t hack that concept. That’s how it works.
Liam Horrobin:
Some decent stock. I think if the Oilers were in Vegas, for example, it would be a lot different. However, with our location, they probably have to give disappointing free agents a longer leash. With that, I don’t think they need to be untouchable if the deal is there.
Baggedmilk:
I can’t imagine it helps. Players talk and news about having a bad experience in any market is sure to spread.
Mar 28, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Elias Lindholm (28) and right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) waiting as a play under the video review during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
4) @cavesteven asks – With a mass exodus seemingly coming in Calgary, if you had to move for one player on the Flames who would it be?
Jason Gregor:
Toffoli makes the most sense due to his position, experience, and skill set.
Robin Brownlee:
I’d look at defenceman Rasmus Andersson. Entering his prime years and coming off seasons of 50 and 49 points.
Liam Horrobin:
Tyler Toffoli. He would be a massive upgrade over Kailer Yamamoto on the second line.
Baggedmilk:
Tyler Toffoli would be a perfect addition to the RW, but there’s no way Calgary would move him to Edmonton for anything less than a king’s ransom.
Mar 16, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving during interview prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
5) Ed M. asks – I’m sure I’m not alone in looking at the Flames’ situation with a bit of glee. How many of the players on the team that sat near the top of the league in 2022 will be there in October? Not many. But my question is this… There have been a number of articles suggesting that players and others in the organization had their fill of Sutter and wanted out. Treliving quit, he was not fired. He left after the end-of-year exit interviews, so he likely knew the situation Sutter was hired from the owner’s suite. Is this fiasco another example of a meddling owner messing things up?
Jason Gregor:
I’m not sold Sutter was hired solely by the owner. Treliving signed him to the extension. Things went worse than he expected and he made decision to leave. Sutter was a big issue last year, no question. His communication skills were not good. It wore on players, but many of the same players had career years under him the year before. I think many just want to scapegoat Sutter for everything, but players have to take some responsibility.
Craig Conroy has a tough job, and it will be interesting to see what return he gets for his players. I think not signing all of them to long-term deals will actually help the Flames long-term.
Robin Brownlee:
It’s an ownership group in Calgary. Are you speaking about one of them in particular, like chairman Murray Edwards?
Liam Horrobin:
I haven’t heard much about the ownership so don’t know for sure. I think just everything combined in the last year or so has left Calgary a mess. The player power movement is underway in the NHL!
Baggedmilk:
I think Craig Conroy has a free pass to make all kinds of changes this summer now that the news is out, a bunch of his players have no interest in re-signing. I think it’s a good spot to be in where you can basically throw your hands up and say, “They didn’t want to re-sign, what was I supposed to do?” As for how much the owner is responsible for putting them in this position in the first place, I have no idea. I don’t know much about him or his tactics tbh.

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