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Monday Mailbag – New Year’s Resolutions, defence, and Jay Woodcroft

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baggedmilk
29 days ago
Happy Boxing Day, campers, and welcome to a brand new edition of the Mailbag to help you start your week and break down everything that’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at New Year’s Resolutions, Jay Woodcroft, the defence, 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 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) punches Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev (13) during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
1) @Andre_Poitas asks – Besides improving internally, it’s clear the oilers need help in their own end amongst some other needs. Why do you think they haven’t made a move yet?
Jason Gregor:
Very few trades are made before January. The ask is often higher, especially if it is a rental. Adding one D-man won’t magically fix everything either. The fixes will come with the entire group playing more consistent hockey defensively and they have started doing that in the previous two weeks.
Robin Brownlee:
Who do you want in and who do you want out? No argument the Oilers need to be better defensively, but “improving internally” is a better option than you might think it is. We’ve seen the players here now be better.
Cam Lewis:
There aren’t very many teams willing to sell in December, so it would take an old-school Hockey Trade to make such an upgrade. The Oilers don’t have enough depth up front to swap a forward for a defender right now so they’ll have to wait until the sellers are willing to sell.
Zach Laing:
Not much cap space right now, and trades in the first half of the season are typically few and far between. Chatter will start to pick up in the New Year now.
Baggedmilk:
The Oilers don’t have a whole lot of tradeable assets nor cap space to get anything done. At least, in my opinion.
Dec 1, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
2) @MattCarson54 asks – With the Oilers entering such a crucial stretch of the season that sees them play 9 of their next 10 games against Western Conference teams and 7 of those matchups being against division rivals how many starts do you see the goalie split going? I see six for Stu, four for Soup.
Jason Gregor:
With only one back-to-back set and not a difficult travel I’d say it is 7-3 Skinner, maybe even 8-2.
Robin Brownlee:
Starting Tuesday against Seattle, the Oilers play eight of their next 10 games against conference opponents, not nine. Only back-to-back is San Jose and Vegas on the 13th and 14th with at least one day off before the other games. No reason Skinner can’t play a minimum of seven and even eight games if he’s in a groove.
Cam Lewis:
The only back-to-back in the next couple of weeks is San Jose and Vegas, so I could see them rolling with Skinner for six of the next seven games with Campbell getting that one against the Sharks. There’s a big stretch in late January and early February without any games so the Oilers can probably afford to ride Skinner this month.
Zach Laing:
The Oilers have 44 games left this season. If Skinner played 70%, that means he’ll play roughly 31 of the remaining games putting him at, give or take, 54 games on the year. I think that’s realistic.
Baggedmilk:
Doesn’t matter who the opponents are. I see Skinner handling at 7/10 of the games for the foreseeable future.
Jun 6, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft reacts during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
3) James in Peterborough asks – Curious on the panel’s thoughts about Jay Woodcroft this year. Many of us see him as a very good coach. Yet results this year are mediocre at best so how much of this rests at his feet? Do you see him “righting the ship” soon?
Jason Gregor:
I’ve seen improvements. Edmonton has the 7th most points and 8th best P% since Woodcroft took over. I didn’t expect them to be as dominant as they were down the stretch last season. He has done a pretty good job overall in my eyes. Hard to win many more games than he has when Jack Campbell is running with an. 876Sv% in 16 of the 38 starts. He has had to work more on trying to maintain the confidence of many players who have slumped.
Robin Brownlee:
Mediocre at best? At best, Evander Kane isn’t injured long term. At best, Jack Campbell is at least a competent option in goal. Just allowing for those two factors — now Draisaitl is out — the Oilers are playing at .553. They can be better than that, but the “at best” is hyperbole. Jay Woodcroft isn’t the problem unless you believe he has somehow morphed into a lesser coach since last season.
Cam Lewis:
The coaching bump wore off, which was to be expected. But the Oilers look like a better team this year than they have in previous years despite the ups and downs. Two major factors to their ho-hum record right now as the injury to Evander Kane and Jack Campbell being nearly unplayable. Neither of those two things are Woodcroft’s fault.
Zach Laing:
The coaching bump has definitely worn off. The Oilers have faced a ton of adversity this year: Jack Campbell’s poor play, Evander Kane’s injury, a banged-up bottom-six for extended periods. I think he’s been a little too set in his ways this season, but he also hasn’t had a plethora of options to work with. Heading into Sunday’s games, the Oilers are in a playoff wildcard spot with a 20-16-2 record and a +9 goal differential overall. Things could be worse.
Baggedmilk:
The injuries to key people like Evander Kane, McLeod for a while, and now Leon Draisaitl certainly don’t help. Jack Campbell coming up with a .900+ save% from time to time would go a long way too.
Oct 11, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) skates up ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
4) @tmarcotte19 asks – Should the Oilers look into the price of an Alexis Lafrenière trade? What’s the highest price that they should pay if the trade is there?
Jason Gregor:
You look for sure. He is battling to find consistency in his game, which many young players struggle with. If the Rangers are interested on trading him it would be wise to look. I think it is a bit premature to say they are done with him, but it is something to monitor. But Edmonton’s main priority is still adding a D-man, and if I was Holland I’d rather pay a high price for a D-man than a forward.
Robin Brownlee:
Guy gets healthy scratched and he’s up for grabs? We’ve had people in a handful of cities speculating in the last couple days about how he’d be a fit on their team. He’s playing behind Panarin and Kreider on the wing. No question he’s not making the impact, yet, you’d like to see. The Oilers could look, but unless the Rangers are actually dim enough to trade a blue chipper who just turned 21 in October, it isn’t happening.
Cam Lewis:
I’d be all for it but I’m not sure the Oilers and Rangers are a great fit for a trade, unfortunately. I can’t see the Rangers being interested in Jesse Puljujarvi as a change-of-scenery project, as he’s only got a couple of years of control left and he’s more expensive.
Zach Laing:
The Rangers would be foolish to trade him, but I’d absolutely look into it if he’s available.
Baggedmilk:
I would absolutely have time for Lafreniere if the Rangers are going to move him but I don’t see why they would. He’s still on his ELC, is cheap, and is likely to get better so I honestly can’t see it happening. Would I kick tires, though? You bet.
5) Gregg asks – What is one realistic New Year’s Resolution that you think would fit for the Edmonton Oilers that can get them back on track with our pre-season expectations?
Jason Gregor:
Resolve to be more unified on the penalty kill and get a few more saves from their goalies.
Robin Brownlee:
The return of Evander Kane.
Cam Lewis:
Better starts to games. Dictate the play, don’t spend the game trying to catch up.
Zach Laing:
Jack Campbell finding his game would be a big boost.
Baggedmilk:
Commitment to defence as a group.

NATION VACATION TO TORONTO

Do you want to come with us to Toronto in March for an HNIC matchup that we’ll be watching in a suite? Of course you do. That’s why I’m telling you to sign up for the #NationVacation to T.O. and join us for a weekend that no one will soon forget. Check out the details you need right here. 

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