Monday Mailbag – What are the biggest items on the Oilers’ offseason to-do list?
Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
By baggedmilk6 months ago
Happy Monday, Internet, 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 Ken Holland’s offseason to-do list, Jay Woodcroft’s line deployment, cap circumvention, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
1) Clare asks – Outside of signing a Bouchard extension, what is Ken Holland’s biggest item on his summer to-do list if the club is to improve by October?
To decide what happens on the blue line. Will Ceci or Broberg be moved?
I’d put deciding what to do with Kailer Yamamoto high on his to-do list. He’s not a $3M player with the other signings Holland has to get done.
I’ll say it’s improving the right side of the blue line. Upgrading the top pairing slot next to Darnell Nurse is a big need for this team.
Finding a fresh face to play on the right side, likely with Darnell Nurse. Cody Ceci did a good job in year one but trailed off a lot in year two. The team can’t sit and wait for a comeback season from him. They need to be proactive and change the body there.
Need to upgrade the blue line and find some extra depth on the right side. If Yamo gets moved, as an example, we’ll need players that can score on the right wing.
Mar 27, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft reacts in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
2) @AJroediger asks – Woody constantly tinkered with the lines throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. Do you think the lack of continuity among the lines hurt them come playoff time? Players seemed like they had to react to one another as opposed to playing more instinctually.
They played with different players all season and the Oilers scored the most goals. I don’t think it was an issue. I didn’t like that he played RNH and Yamamoto with Draisaitl. I’d have Kane and Hyman on different lines ideally.
No. I don’t think the lack of continuity was a problem. The best teams are capable of changing things up. I didn’t like every line combination Woodcroft put together, but no big beef from me.
No. We saw this team have plenty of success at different points during the playoffs and regular season when Woodcroft would mix up the lines. There were games they won when he used 10 different combinations of players for more than a minute at 5v5. Everyone was very used to being on the ice with each other.
No, I think the lack of scoring from the tier-two players hurt the Oilers the most. If they got consistent production from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, and Zach Hyman then they would still be playing. Those guys played in that top six all season so unfamiliarity with each other isn’t a good excuse.
Coaches mix up the lines all the time so I don’t think that was an issue. What I do think was a problem, though, was the lack of secondary scoring we got through two rounds. RNH, Kane, and Hyman needed to be better. MUCH better.
May 27, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference before game one of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
3) @mo_schesnuk asks – Is it time for the league to revisit the playoffs cap space? It happened a few years ago with Kucherov and Tampa Bay and then again now with Stone and Vegas. Not saying that was the reason the Golden Knights beat the Oilers but it certainly was a factor!
Easy solution, just have the salary cap continue in the playoffs. You could submit a 20-man game-day roster, and that has to be cap compliant, which would still give teams a bit of leeway as most carry 22 or 23 players all season.
You wouldn’t see it as an issue if the Oilers used it to their benefit. So when you start off with “Not saying . . .’ you actually are saying.
I think the easy move would be to say that your roster for a game but be cap compliant but I don’t think they’ll ever do that.
If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying!
It is a cheap way to get around things for sure. With that said, many fans were screaming from the rooftops for the Oilers to LTIR Evander Kane. LTIRing players doesn’t always work too, Minnesota had Nyquist on there and they got knocked out in round one.
I think the league has bigger issues to worry about, like starting games on time and not changing the date of playoff games after they’ve already scheduled them.
This problem would all go away if teams had to be cap compliant for the playoffs just as they are for game 82 of the regular season. Make that change and this whole conversation goes away.
May 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) reacts with teammates after being defeated by the Vegas Golden Knights of the third period in game six of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
4) @probey360 asks – Did the weakness of the late season schedule cost the the Oilers in the playoffs? It always seems that teams that coast in have a tough time matching the desperation.
Not at all. They played six tough games against LA, then the first four games v. Vegas were split evenly. They lost the 2nd period in games five and six and that cost them the series. What happening in early April had nothing to do it with that.
First, I’d ask, what weakness? Second, I’d say no, it didn’t cost the Oilers. The Oiler beat Los Angeles twice, Vegas, and Colorado during their nine straight wins to end the season. How is that coasting? What examples can you cite of teams having a hard time “matching the desperation” after coasting in? Do you have an example?
I don’t think so. If playing weak teams hurts your ability to play your best hockey come playoff time, then you have some bigger issues.
The Oilers did play eight games against playoff teams in their last 14 games. They also played an Arizona team that didn’t want to lose games anymore and put up a good fight. The team was tested enough that they should’ve been more prepared but the team defence wasn’t good enough. They need to tighten up in the playoffs. You can’t win every game 5-4 and expect to win.
The Oilers played some tough games down the stretch so I don’t buy that. I would much rather go into the playoffs on a heater than I would with a limp.
5) @Spiced_Oil asks – After the marathon Panthers/Hurricanes game from this week, how many Overtime Periods would you realistically be able to sit through, would there be a limit where you left?
If I was live at the game, I could sit through six, seven or more. I don’t see it being an issue. At home on the couch or in bed is much more difficult, especially if it isn’t the team I cover, and I assume same for fans if it isn’t a team they cheer for. But in the rink, I’d have no issue staying awake.
I covered the April 27, 1999 playoff game between Dallas and Edmonton that Dallas won 3-2 on Joe Nieuwendyk’s goal at 57:34 of OT, or almost three full extra periods. I didn’t have the option of leaving and the game story I wrote sure sucked at that point. I don’t think I could or would want to last that long as just somebody watching.
If it was an Oilers game, there’d be no limit. Any other game, I’ve now learned that my limit is three.
I would stay until the final buzzer. FREE HOCKEY!! Hopefully, the beer sales continue though.
If it was an Oilers game, I’d sit there until I’m dead if needed. I don’t care whether I’m at Rogers Place or at home, I would sit there all night for the Oilers. Any other team, however, I’d have been long sleeping by the time Tkachuk cashed in the OT winner.
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