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Monday Mailbag – What’s the biggest issue you see with Oilers?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
10 months ago
Happy Monday, everybody! As always, I’ve got a brand new Mailbag set and ready to help you get your week started and also to make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about contributing factors to the losing streak, trade rumors, organizational changes, and more. If you’ve got 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.
Mar 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett speaks to his player in the second period against Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
1) Clay asks – Obviously there are a bunch of issues going on with the Oilers right now that are contributing to these losses, but if you were going to pick the biggest one of them all, what would it be and how do you fix it?
Robin Brownlee:
My feeling is it’s goaltending. Bad goaltending can torpedo good efforts by the team and can amplify bad efforts. You can’t win consistently with goaltending under .900. Yes, you need to score and you need to check and special teams have to perform, but Mikko Koskinen was the difference in the win over Calgary Saturday. Fix it? Find a goaltender who can give you .920 or so more often than not.
Jason Gregor:
The biggest current issue would be goaltending (but they have others also). Hard to fix externally right now as there are very few trade options available. That is Holland’s challenge, but also he is responsible for being in this situation. Edmonton will likely have to hope a combination of Koskinen, Skinner and Smith can find consistency. Not ideal.
Cam Lewis:
There are a few issues that hold the Oilers back from being legitimate contenders. The depth up front is non-existent, the defence is suspect, and the goaltending is shaky at best. I think the lack of even-strength scoring depth is the biggest issue but goaltending is the thing that can actually be fixed mid-season. A game-changing goalie can make up for a lot of problems.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Goaltending is a massive part of it and unfortunately, they can’t fix it right now. The trade market just seemingly isn’t where they want/need it to be. Hopefully, Koskinen can rattle off a few solid starts or Skinner can step back in and play well because I don’t think outside help is coming anytime soon.
Baggedmilk:
Just to be different, I’m going to say confidence is the biggest issue right now. The Oilers look like they’re playing not to lose rather than playing to win, but I think the only thing that can fix this problem is to have them rattle off a few wins. Here’s hoping Saturday’s BOA win will be the start of getting the ball rolling.
Nov 12, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) and center Connor McDavid (97) talk during a stoppage in play in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
2) Patrik asks – As usual when the team struggles the vultures appear with the usual narrative that McDavid and Draisaitl will want to be traded. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assume you don’t get to their level by being a quitter? If anything those guys probably have the mindset that they want to be the ones who turned it around in Edmonton. Any thoughts on that?
Robin Brownlee:
You’ve pretty much nailed it. Elite players, all players for that matter, at the NHL level are the most highly competitive people you will ever meet. Losing frustrates them. Reading more into that frustration is simply guessing — and usually guessing wrong. A lot of it is simply different fan bases giving each other a hard time.
Jason Gregor:
I don’t recall Mario Lemieux asking for a trade. He played a total of 11 playoff games in his first six seasons, all in one year. Joe Sakic never did either. I think it is more likely they don’t re-sign when their contracts expire than it is they ask for a trade before then. Many players are loyal, if Edmonton wins a round or two, or three in the next three seasons the pain of the first six years will be forgotten and their mindset would be much different.
Cam Lewis:
I don’t see a trade demand happening. If things are bad when their contracts run out, I could certainly see both of them walking elsewhere and neither would be viewed as quitters. But demanding a trade in the middle of these contracts? Warranted or not, it wouldn’t be a good look for either player’s legacy. I doubt either player wants the narrative of ‘you had to leave and get help to find success’ to follow them for their entire career.
Also, for Connor McDavid especially, it isn’t like he’s a powerless dupe here. He’s been involved in the decision to hire both general managers during his time in Edmonton and there’s no doubt that he’s consulted when the organization makes major roster decisions.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
When McDavid got drafted to Erie in the OHL there was a bunch of talk that he would ask out and go play for one of the league’s bigger teams. That didn’t happen. So I get where you’re coming from, but these guys are getting close to the halfway point of their careers and I wouldn’t be totally stunned if one of them said “you know what, it’s just not going to happen here”. It’s depressing to think about, but I don’t think it’s an insane idea anymore.
Baggedmilk:
I don’t even want to talk about this because it’s too painful to imagine that this team would take its lucky break and break it in two. Let’s cross that bridge when/if we get there.
3) @AndrewBennett97 asks – If the Oilers miss the playoffs this year, what do you wish happens the most? Big front office shake up, complete coaching change in all areas, major trade, all of the above, or something else?
Robin Brownlee:
Would have to see how and why it plays out that way over the rest of the season. Decisions aren’t best made when things are going very badly or very well because emotions get in the way. They aren’t missing the playoffs.
Jason Gregor:
It is too early to worry about Edmonton missing the playoffs.  But what if they don’t win a round in the playoffs? Then a coaching change is a for sure, and depending on how frustrated the owner is, Holland could also be on the block. If they actually miss the playoffs then GM is likely done, and even Nicholson as he hired both Chiarelli and Holland.
Cam Lewis:
Missing the playoffs this year would have to result in upper management getting the boot. Things can be turned around quickly if the organization shifts to a modern front office.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
All of the above. They would need to change coaches and they would have to make big changes to the roster. Sadly, I don’t think Ken Holland is the right guy to competently do that so I would also be hoping for a management change.
Baggedmilk:
We aren’t even at the halfway point of the season yet so there’s lots of runway left to turn things around, but if the team can’t make that happen, you’d have to imagine changes are coming… at least, I hope so anyway.
4) @sarcasticmarmot asks – What is your favorite cocktail/beer/wine to down your sorrows in?
Robin Brownlee:
I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ll take a good dark roast coffee any day.
Jason Gregor:
My cocktail of choice when I’m at a house party or going out is vodka water or vodka soda. Also mixing in a Jagger shot or two is common place.
Cam Lewis:
I drink plenty of water.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
My boy Dangersuede got me a very fancy bottle of Amaretto for my birthday so that’s usually my go-to. I’m also a big craft beer fan. Really just a fan of liquor in general.
Baggedmilk:
NATIONBEER FOR LIFE!
5) @BrandieBear88 asks – Because the Oilers are struggling let’s talk about something different. When we can all travel again and if you could go anywhere you wanted for a vacation what would be your dream destination?
Robin Brownlee:
My family loves Maui and the Mactan area near Cebu in the Philippines. For places we haven’t been, a road trip in the Florida Keys is in the plans.
Jason Gregor:
Right now going anywhere would be a dream. Our family goes to Maui annually, so I love it here. But dream destination I’ve yet to do is an African Safari. We are planning it when our son is a bit older. I can’t wait.
Cam Lewis:
I’ve always wanted to do a massive road trip through the United States that hits all MLB stadiums in one go. I think I would start in Seattle, go down the West Coast, through Texas, down to Florida, up the East Coast, zig-zag westbound, and finish off in Colorado.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Great question Brandie. I’m not a huge traveller but I think I’d like to do an all-inclusive in Mexico. I’ve never really done that before. Also, would love to go back to my usual travel spots (Vegas and Toronto for a Blue Jays game).
Baggedmilk:
I love Southeast Asia. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time there over the years and it’s so incredibly beautiful and affordable that I always end up going back there. I also want to travel more within Canada too. I’d love to rent an RV and cruise around for a month or two and work from the road.

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