Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
Monday Mailbag – What happened to the secondary scoring?
By baggedmilk9 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 Stuart Skinner, the lack of secondary scoring, the salary cap, 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.
Apr 8, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) watches the puck during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
1) Alex asks – How would you describe Stuart Skinner’s first post-season run with the Oilers? I think he’s been ‘okay’ but I don’t know that being average is good enough in the playoffs.
He never started this many games in a row all season. I said after game five I’d have started him in game six. It is taxing physically and mentally. That being said, many top goalies had sub .900Sv% in the playoffs. There is more offence around the NHL, but Skinner didn’t have enough games where he made key stops.
The .890 save percentage ultimately tells the story that Edmonton’s rookie goaltender wasn’t as good in the playoffs as he was in the regular season. But the important thing to take from Stuart Skinner’s season is the goalie he was for weeks and months at a time rather than who he was during his first go-around at the big dance. Skinner is a big part of Edmonton’s future and nobody should be down on him after the year he had.
Obviously, you’d want to get more than a sub-.900 save% but I also don’t think Stu has been as bad as the numbers might suggest. Tough question with a complicated answer tbh.
Apr 5, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Zach Hyman (18) celebrates his empty net goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the third period at Honda Center. Nugent-Hopkins provided an assist on the goal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2) Greg asks – Is anyone else as surprised as I am about the way the Oilers’ secondary scoring has completely evaporated in the playoffs? We went from being the highest-scoring team in the NHL to relying mostly on Connor and Leon again, and of all the reasons to lose, I did not see this one coming.
I’m not seeing this lack of scoring. In the regular season forwards not named McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, Hyman and Kane scored 80 goals in 82 games. They scored 10 goals through 12 games. One more goal and they’d be at the same pace as the regular season. RNH has struggled the most with only one goal in 11 games, but he does have 11 points. Offence wasn’t the reason they lost in my eyes.
You have to give some credit to the teams they faced in the playoffs, especially the Vegas Golden Knights for doing a very good job at playing excellent defensive hockey.
During last year’s run, Kane, Hyman, and RNH had 30 goals in aggregate by the time the playoffs were over. That same trio had seven ahead of last night’s game. They’re all so much better than that.
May 12, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates after scoring a goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the second period of game five of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – There’s no doubt that the Vegas Golden Knights are a strong hockey club, but why do you think the Oilers have struggled to string together quality performances in this series?
Give the opposition some credit, but Vegas hasn’t strung together quality performances either. Edmonton’s main challenge was their inability to hold a lead early in games. In games 1, 3, and 5 they scored first but allowed Vegas to score within a minute. In games two and four that didn’t happen.
Vegas seemed to get a big boost when Adin Hill took over the net for the injured Laurent Brossoit. Hill was rock-solid and Vegas played very good defensive hockey. They’re not an easy team to gain momentum against, either from shift to shift or game to game.
Lots of penalties and can’t score at 5v5. Tough combo.
Mar 6, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard (2) takes a shot on goal during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
4) Anna asks – The Oilers are certainly a very good hockey team but is it realistic that they’ll be able to improve the roster next year with such limited cap space available? Will someone have to go?
Their main core is here. Bouchard will continue to improve, Dylan Holloway will likely grab a roster spot. The challenge will be deciding which of the bottom six guys to re-sign. They can’t afford them all. Bjugstad might be too pricey. Kostin likely files for arbitration Edmonton might have to let him walk as a UFA, rather than risk what the arbitrator awards. But they are only filling out the bottom part of the roster. They’d like to shed Yamamoto’s salary, but that might have to wait until the trade deadline like Puljujarvi did this past season. Although I don’t see a team taking all of Yamamoto’s salary for nothing as Carolina did. Raphael Lavoie will come to camp with a shot to make the team on the RW. He has a very important summer ahead of him. There are spots up for grabs on RW.
The other question will be what they do on the blueline. What do they project Broberg to be? Could he fill Brett Kulak’s skates next year? If not, then I wouldn’t trade Kulak. I don’t see significant moves in the off-season. I think the moves will be closer to the trade deadline.
Having the team that rolled from the trade deadline onward for an entire season will be an upgrade. That said, there will be tough decisions to make this summer in order to save the cap room needed to bring back the likes of Derek Ryan, Nick Bjugstad, and Mattias Janmark.
Someone will absolutely have to go. I don’t know who that is just yet but it’s the only way unless the cap surprisingly shoots up.
Apr 18, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) looks up at the scoreboard during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
5) Yves asks – When you look at what happened in Toronto against Florida, do you think that team is on the verge of being dismantled or would you give the group another chance to build on their “best” finish in years?
The challenge with moving your best players is you rarely win those trades. I don’t like their defence and I don’t think their GM ever did enough to address it over the past four years. He made changes, and the Muzzin injury hurt, but Dubas’ biggest flaw was not upgrading the blue line. I’m very curious to see what they do. They need to decide quickly on their GM and head coach because they can’t talk extension with Auston Matthews until he knows who the GM and coach are. It will be fascinating to see which direction they go.
Run it back. Look at the Washington Capitals, even the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not everyone does what the Chicago Blackhawks did. Experience makes teams better.
Keep Nylander, trade everyone else.
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