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Monday Mailbag – Should Kris Knoblauch be a contender for the Jack Adams?

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baggedmilk
21 days ago
Happy Monday, Nation, and welcome to another brand new Mailbag to help get your week started and keep you updated on all things NHL. This week, we’re discussing Kris Knoblauch as a Jack Adams candidate, Michael Bublé at the All-Star Game, the skills competition, and 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.
Feb 2, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) competes in the stick handling competition during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Arena.
1) Kevin asks – The NHL changed up the skills competition and format for this year’s All-Star Game, and I’m wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on how it went.
Jason Gregor: It was the most entertaining skills competition I’ve seen, even with Nikita Kucherov’s lacklustre performance. I watched it with my son when I got home Sunday and we both enjoyed it.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I loved the new skills competition. Most of the players seemed engaged and there was actually a reason to watch right up until the final event. It still took a bit too long for my liking, but it was a fun evening. Way better than in the past. The game will never be fully competitive but that’s fine. Making the skills competition the marquee event is where they should go with this thing.
Zach Laing: The worst part of it all was the fantasy draft, which felt odd and clunky, but everything else was awesome. The skills competition was a blast, and the All-Star game itself was fun to watch, especially the last game where you could feel things ramping up a bit with $1-million on the line.
Liam Horrobin: I thought it was the best all-star game we’ve had in a long time. The competition level in the skills contest was great, and the game itself was watchable. The draft was a miss but overall a solid weekend put on by the NHL.
Baggedmilk: I wrote about it on Saturday night, but I thought this was the best all-star weekend the NHL has had in forever. Outside of the painfully boring player draft, I thought everything went about as well as you could hope for on a weekend last that.
2) Clay asks – Michael Bublé was the star of the all-star draft, and I wonder what everyone thought about his confession to being on mushrooms?
Jason Gregor: A terrible look for him and the NHL. The All-star event is mainly for kids, and having so many adults act as though a celebrity on an illegal, illicit drug is harmless fun for the NHL was stunning to me. It isn’t. For me, it is a sad if people view him as the start of the draft.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Hilarious. The sport needs more personality and making headlines is good. It was also harmless so there’s nothing wrong with it.
Zach Laing: Instantly a “Mount Rushmore” hockey moment for me, in terms of hilarious things to happen. He tried to downplay it afterwards, but that quote will live on forever.
Liam Horrobin: It was arguably the moment of the weekend and maybe even the quote of the season.
Baggedmilk: That was probably the most interesting thing that’s been said at an NHL press conference in the history of the league. Michael Buble was without question the most interesting person at the ASG, and it wasn’t really close.
Nov 13, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch looks on against the New York Islanders at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – Should Kris Knoblauch be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Award for the way he’s turned the Oilers’ season around?
Jason Gregor: If it continues, I think he could be a finalist. Will be hard to beat out Rick Tocchet as he’s taken a bad Vancouver team to the top of the NHL. The Oilers weren’t a bad team, they were a good team playing poorly, but no question Knoblauch, and Paul Coffey’s, approach has helped the Oilers immensely.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I’ll say no. I think there are enough other quality options right now, like Tocchet or Tortorella, but you never know, by the end of the season, he could be a finalist. I just don’t think he’ll pass Tocchet.
Zach Laing: Absolutely. The Oilers have a .813 points percentage under his tutelage, blowing by the rest of the league. The only other coach in franchise history to win one was Glen Sather in 1985-86.
Liam Horrobin: If the Oilers somehow win the Pacific Division, then 100% yes. However, anything short of that and I can’t see him being in the running.
Baggedmilk: I think he’ll get nominated if the Oilers end up in a home-ice position at the end of the year. If they win the Pacific Division or get close then he has a chance at winning it. Remember, they were in 30th place when he took over.
Feb 3, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Team McDavid center Connor McDavid (97) of the Edmonton Oilers shoots the puck against Team MacKinnon goalkeeper Jeremy Swayman (1) of the Boston Bruins in the 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
4) Yves asks – What is the most memorable All-Star weekend moment that you can think of?
Jason Gregor: Gretzky scoring four goals in the third period in 1983 to win the MVP.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I remember the Ovechkin thing from the game in Montreal. I was a kid and thought it was so funny. Other than that, I’d say covering my first All-Star weekend in Vegas two years ago is my number one memory. Being at these events in person is really cool.
Zach Laing: The Phil Kessel draft story is a classic, but how could we ignore the first NHL All-Star game in 1947, when there was a a stick-swinging line brawl?
Liam Horrobin: Easily when Phil Kessel was picked last in the draft. It was a storyline that last two years and then the NHL canceled all the fun. I am glad the draft is back but it needs to be better.
Baggedmilk: Either John Scott winning the MVP after being a write-in vote, or Owen Nolan picking his spot back in the day. I used to love the All-Star Game when I was a kid, and that Nolan moment always stuck out to me.
Mar 11, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) scores a goal and celebrates with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Arena.
5) Damian asks – I recently had a discussion on social media with someone who claims Tavares is elite, I say he isn’t. He’s been a very solid, consistent performer his whole career up to this point, but not elite. Not everyone who’s good is elite, it cheapens the meaning. My question is, who do you think is truly elite in today’s game and what really sets them apart?
Jason Gregor: I would agree there are only a select few who are elite in the NHL. I’d have McDavid, Matthews, MacKinnon, Kucherov, Pastrnak and Draisaitl as truly elite forwards. Tavares never was elite. Never led NHL in goals, assists or points in one season or over a period of seasons, so to me he isn’t elite.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Players who consistently show the ability to take over games. McDavid, Kucherov, MacKinnon, Matthews, Crosby, Draisaitl, Pettersson, Makar, Pastrnak, and even both Quinn and Jack Hughes. Those are my elite players.
Zach Laing: That’s a great question. Tavares’ game has dropped off in recent years, but he’s still in the “very good” category for me. The term elite is thrown around far too much, and trying to say, “Well, if a player scores in the 95th percentile, that must mean he’s elite.” The problem with that is there’s a total of 45 players who fit in that group this season and among them, players like Matt Duchene, Clayton Keller, Mathew Barzal, Robert Thomas, Mitch Marner, and Sebastian Aho, for example, who I wouldn’t consider elite. The 99th percentile of scorers has ten players: Quinn Hughes, Sam Reinhart, Elias Pettersson, Artemi Panarin, Mikko Rantanen, Connor McDavid, J.T. Miller, David Pastrnak, Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov. You could make the argument all of them are elite, based on that alone, but I would also say guys like Reinhart and Miller, who are having great seasons, aren’t elite. It’s largely a subjective thing.
Liam Horrobin: There are probably about 25 elite players in the NHL. You’ll know who they are because they can dominate the game at any given moment. From an Oilers perspective, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are great players but not at that elite status. They’re not able to turn the game upside with one play.
Baggedmilk: I guess it depends on your definition of elite. I’ve heard people say that Burger King is elite when I wouldn’t feed it to my dog, so it depends on where you draw the line. For me, Tavares is a damned fine hockey player but he’s not elite. Connor McDavid is elite. Leon Draisaitl is elite. Nathan MacKinnon is elite. Auston Matthews is elite. There’s a difference.

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