Monday Mailbag – What do the Oilers need to do to take the next step?
Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
By baggedmilk8 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 mistake management, taking the next step, equipment upgrades, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Mar 25, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal by forward Nicolas Roy (10) during overtime against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1) @JSALM1971 asks – How does the team manage and work on errors committed in previous games? There seem to be a lot of repetitive errors that should be disappearing yet they still occur time and time again.
Errors will always happen and will never disappear. The game isn’t perfect, nor are the players. You just hope they learn from them and they diminish. The game is faster than ever, so you can never avoid errors. If there were no errors there would be very few goals.
Repetitive errors such as . . .? Teams constantly work on things like eliminating giveaways and cutting down on defensive lapses, but no matter how often you work on them they don’t disappear completely. Constantly adjusting in structure and in process is part of the game.
The Oilers are a high-risk high-reward team. It is their identity and I feel like it is encouraged to maybe make that pass that is a little riskier. They need to tone it done a little but that’s just the Oilers’ brand. To work on it, they need to simplify what they are doing in some areas.
The one area I wish the Oilers would tighten up on is their breakout. The way they run it is obviously by design, but I also think they get caught cheating for offence too much. Mistakes happen, but there are some details that can certainly be cleaned up.
2) @humantorch asks – What’s one additional deadline move you wish Holland had made?
Hard to make more with no cap space. Also, there weren’t many veteran RD available who were better than Desharnais. Ideally, adding a top-six RW would have been great, but cap issues and not many available made it difficult. Adding Kostin, Ekholm, and Bjugstad during the season has helped.
Based on realistic scenarios like cap space, I haven’t found myself saying, “I wish he’d done this-or-that.” Ekholm, as we’ve seen, is a great get.
I wish he added another right-handed defenceman. The Oilers lack depth in that position throughout the organization and it worries me slightly.
Maybe a veteran RHD, but that was pretty tough to pull off with no cap space to play with.
Mar 22, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Connor McDavid (97) during overtime against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3) @chriscurtola asks – How do the Oilers go from playoff team to yearly cup contender for the next five years?
They are that right now. The Oilers are a Cup contender and will be as long as one, or both, or 97 and 29 are on the team for the next five seasons.
I’m not sure you can go five years out unless you know what McDavid and Draisaitl are doing contract-wise. If they’re going to be here then it’s obvious you continue to build around them. There is no formula for guaranteeing Cup contention over a five-year period, although Tampa Bay has done a pretty good job of that since 2015 or so. If there’s one addition I’d make to push the group over the top, it’s a top-pairing defenceman. If I get two, I start the clock on Jack Campbell and see if I need to find another goaltender to work in tandem with Stuart Skinner. Bottom line, I think the Oilers are pretty close to what you’re looking for right now.
I would say getting better defensively. The depth scoring is there, and the goaltending with Stuart Skinner is strong but they still make mistakes defensively. However, I do believe the Oilers are Cup contenders even with that flaw, but I’d like them to become more consistent with a more defensive approach at times.
I think they could win the Stanley Cup right now. Call me biased all you want, but the Oilers are a damned good hockey team and you never know what can happen in the playoffs.
Nov 19, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Warren Foegele (37) during the first period against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) Ed M. asks – Thursday AM and the Oil have just won five in a row. But have hardly made any ground in the now tough-as-nails Pacific division. How impactful will finishing 1st or 4th make to their chances? Would it be worth say playing Skinner back-to-back next week to try to move up a spot?
I don’t see them finishing 4th. Right now 3rd place seems the most realistic unless they can sweep the two remaining games vs. LA. I would not play Skinner back-to-back because the Oilers are in the midst of five games in eight days. I wouldn’t burn him out.
Finding the balance between Skinner being rested enough and sharp is the top priority for me at this point. Anything else is a distant second.
As long as they finish in the top three of the division I don’t think it truly matters. The Pacific Division is very good and if the Oilers want to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals then they need to beat good teams. As a fan base, we sometimes forget that the Oilers are a really good team too, and other teams will also fear them in the playoffs.
“To be the best, you have to beat the best.” Just get in and let’s go.
5) David O. asks – With Evander Kane’s injury and the story of the Finnish women’s player getting badly cut by a skate, there’s been recent talk about anti-cut protective equipment at the GM meetings. If the panel was the poobah of hockey, what new change to equipment would you make mandatory (examples – anti-cut protective gear, neck guards, full cages, maybe something else)?
Most players are wearing Kevlar socks to prevent cuts, and I think you will see more wear the arm guard versions. I don’t see any other necessary equipment changes.
Mandatory? Not at the NHL level. A lot of companies are making cut-resistant apparel now with Kevlar socks and underwear or sleeves that address short-cuff gloves etc. That equipment, as opposed to neck guards, impacts far more instances of injuries. Cut resistant doesn’t mean cut-proof though.
Anti-cut protective gear would be the first step for me and maybe neck guards. I don’t think you need to go to full cages in the NHL ever. It is alarming though how many times we have seen players get cut by skates this season.
I’m always surprised that every single player in the NHL doesn’t wear Kevlar for this exact reason, but that’s just me. I also remember Luke Gazdic telling me on the Real Life Podcast that there are players in the league that don’t wear cans, which is something my brain can’t even begin to comprehend.
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