Monday Mailbag – What’s the biggest difference from Jay Woodcroft to Kris Knoblauch?

Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
6 months ago
Happy Monday, fair Internet friends, and welcome to a fresh edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and keep you updated on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re discussing roster decisions, Olivier Rodrigue, regression toward the mean, and much 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.
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
1) Ed M. asks – The Oil can either continue with the “Cup or bust” philosophy and try to salvage something out of this season, or alternately look to the future and start off loading assets. Specifically someone like Foegele who they won’t be able to re-sign anyway. What should JJ do?
Jason Gregor: They are not giving up on the season. Zero chance. No reason to.
Robin Brownlee: Look to the future? Holland/Jackson are looking at it right now. By off-loading assets are you suggesting it’s time to rebuild 20 games into this season?
Baggedmilk: I don’t know that I’d pull any triggers yet, but I would absolutely start making phone calls about what certain players might fetch in a trade. Specifically, I’m thinking about how we could get some or all of Connor Brown’s bonus money on this year’s cap instead of having it drag into next season.
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
2) Yves asks – It’s still early but what do you see as the biggest difference from Jay Woodcroft to Kris Knoblauch?
Jason Gregor: The penalty kill. It is 89.6% in seven games under Knoblauch. In 13 games with Woodcroft they allowed 15 goals against.. In seven games with Knoblauch they’ve allowed three, but have scored three shorthanded goals and their net PK is 100%.  Now, they did score a lot of SHG last year, so I’m not sure it is a major coaching change, but their PK success has been better.
Robin Brownlee:  Tough to say with Knoblauch so early in his tenure. He seems a little more reserved than Woodcroft in his assessments of the team in post-game scrums, but he’s still feeling his way into things.
Baggedmilk: Too early to tell, but one thing I do notice is how calm he is in ever post game interview regardless of the results. He seems like the kind of guy that keeps the highs and lows as even as possible, and I think that trait will do well for him in this market.
3) Harry S. asks – Do you think there is any chance of Rodrigue being called up in the near future? I keep hearing this talk of the Oilers considering acquiring a goalie on the open market, yet they have a perfectly good one developing nicely on the farm. Why not give him a shot?
Jason Gregor: I’d be surprised, they would need to see some consistency from the team defence first. Recalling a rookie and playing him behind a porous team defence wouldn’t be wise. He has also only played three games in the AHL. It is clear their first focus is to let Jack Campbell try and find his game.
Robin Brownlee:  He’s played very well in limited duty this season. Really good numbers. I’m not sure Olivier is ready for NHL primetime yet, but he’s proving he can play at the AHL level. More of the same gives him a shot down the road.
Baggedmilk: I don’t think Rodrigue is ready for NHL minutes just yet and that’s perfectly okay. I’d rather him turn into a big fish in a small pond a little bit before coming up to the Oilers and getting shelled, if that makes sense.
Nov 24, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on Washington Capitals goaltender Charlie Lindgren (79) in the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
4) David O. asks – Whenever I read about the Oilers disastrous start, there’s a lot of reference to regression or bad luck or a general confidence that “this will turn around, these players are too good, etc.” When I think of the peak ages for an NHL player, I think it’s the three year window from about 25-28. From the Oilers core, I see only a very few players in that age range, with quite a few with an age starting with the number 3. Is it time to stop thinking this is a short term effort or coaching problem, and wonder if the roster just has too many guys on the downside of their career?
Jason Gregor: I don’t see them as old.
24- McLeod, Hamblin and Bouchard.
25- Skinner
26- McDavid
27- Foegele
28- Nurse
29- Draisaitl
RNH is 30, Kane 32 and Hyman is 31, but the latter two have been great at year, and Nugent-Hopkins has woken up lately with seven pts in six games. Ekholm is the oldest at 33 among their core guys. His foot speed would be only concern for me in the next few years.
Oilers simply weren’t playing close to their potential. They finished the first 20 games at 7-12-1. They will be much better in the next 20.
Robin Brownlee:  Overall, the core of this team isn’t old — with 30-somethings Ekholm and Kane duly noted. So, no, there aren’t too many guys on the downside of their careers.
Baggedmilk: Time is a cruel mistress, isn’t she? I don’t think the Oilers are old by any means, but I get what you’re trying to say. At the same time, winning cures everything and this was never ever a thought last year even though the average age wouldn’t have changed all that much.
Oct 24, 2023; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save against the Minnesota Wild in the second period at Xcel Energy Center.
5) Nathan asks – We’ve had multiple losing streaks, prominent goaltender waived, and a coaching change, if those “wakeup calls” haven’t kickstarted this team then what is it going to take? Is a trade next in the playbook?
Jason Gregor: I think they have finally woken up. They aren’t a perfect team and there will be frustrating games, but their best players have found their stride. Even the best players in the world can battle confidence issues at times.
Robin Brownlee: What happened in Washington? Fluke? One-off? This isn’t about wake-up calls, it’s about finding consistency and tightening the swings between the best and worst performances. Do that and this group can climb out of the hole its in.
Baggedmilk: Next step is to change the team’s name. If THAT doesn’t work then we’re really in trouble. I know that’s a bad answer but I joke because I hurt.


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