Monday Mailbag – Which Oiler is most likely to have a breakout season?

Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
9 months ago
Happy Monday, dear Internet friends, and welcome to a fresh edition of the Mailbag to get your week started and keep you up to date on all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re looking at the Adam Erne PTO, which player could have a breakout season, Pacific Division predictions, 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.
Mar 12, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Adam Erne (73) celebrates his goal during the second period against the Boston Bruins at Little Caesars Arena.
1) Alex asks – Seeing as the Oilers have plenty of left handed forward options, how likely is it that Adam Erne turns his PTO into a contract? Where would he even fit?
Jason Gregor:
If he earns a contract it would be to start in the AHL. Likely a two-way deal is my guess. But the challenge is finding a balance for how many veteran forwards are in the AHL.
Due to the cap, the Oilers will start with 12 forwards in the NHL. If we assume Ryan and Janmark are on the roster, that means one of Lavoie, Pedersen, Malone, Sutter, Caggiula, Gagner, and Erne will make the team.
Will the Oilers have all six, who don’t make the team, in the AHL along with Bourgault, Hamblin, Tullio, Savoie, Berglund, Grubbe, Chiasson, Petrov, Griffith, and McKegg? That would be 16 forwards. I don’t see it. Erne is a long shot to earn a contract based solely on numbers. I actually think there is only room to sign one of the PTO players. Let’s say Sutter is signed and sticks, then Lavoie, Caggiula, Malone, and Pedersen go down and that is 14 forwards in Bako (assuming none are claimed on waivers). I’d say the odds Erne signs a contract is low.
Robin Brownlee:
Unlikely. Highly unlikely. The Oilers aren’t desperate to fill holes to the extent that they’ll keep a marginal player like Erne just because of the way he shoots. The Oilers have lots of candidates looking for jobs and Erne doesn’t do anything well enough to warrant a contract.
Liam Horrobin:
If Adam Erne were to slide in anywhere it would likely be in a 4th line role. He would have to beat out Mattias Janmark or Dylan Holloway, which feels unlikely.
Maybe he starts with the Condors, if he does get a contract? I’m actually not sure where he fits on this one but that’s my best guess.
May 12, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers players watch a faceoff against the Vegas Golden Knights near the end of the third 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
2) Blake asks – What would you say is the biggest deficiency in the Oilers’ game from last season that needs to be corrected in 2023-24?
Jason Gregor:
Reduce the easy goals against and the “gift” goals.
Robin Brownlee:
The big mistake. Defensive lapses and mistakes that lead directly to goals.
Liam Horrobin:
Goaltending. Stuart Skinner was great throughout the regular season but struggled in the playoffs. Then, there’s Jack Campbell and we all know what happened there. If the Oilers can get more consistency from both of them then they’re going to be fine.
Stop giving up goals immediately after scoring one yourself. I don’t know how any times exactly that this happened last year, but the answer was way too many.
Oct 27, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
3) Erin – Who would be your pick as the Oilers player most likely to have a breakout season?
Jason Gregor:
There aren’t many choices considering so many had career years last season, but I will go with Ryan McLeod. He’s ready for a larger role.
Robin Brownlee:
Dylan Holloway. Let’s see what he can do.
Liam Horrobin:
Warren Foegele. He finished last season strongly so perhaps he can keep that momentum. Plus, it’s a contract year for him so if he wants to get paid then he’s got to score some goals.
To be different, I’m going to go with Dylan Holloway. I think his rookie season gave him a taste of what it takes to make it in the big leagues and I also think he’ll be better this year because of it.
Apr 29, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers and center Connor McDavid (97) celebrate the victory against the Los Angeles Kings in game six of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
4) Oilers fan in Van asks – Who are your way too early picks from the Pacific Division to make the playoffs and what order will they be in?
Jason Gregor:
Edmonton, Vegas, LA, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, Anaheim and SJ. VAN will be in the mix to cross over and grab the final Wildcard spot.
Robin Brownlee:
I see the Pacific as Edmonton, Vegas, Seattle and LA with Calgary scrapping for a wildcard spot.
Liam Horrobin:
  1. Edmonton
  2. Vegas
  3. Seattle
  4. LA Kings (WC)
Edmonton, Vegas, Los Angeles, and Calgary will be the top four. I think Calgary rebounds a bit and gets a wildcard spot.
May 6, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Jonathan Marchessault (81) deflects the puck wide of Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) during the third period of game two of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
5) Ed M. asks – There has been a lot of noise this summer about how the Oil’s defensive structure (i.e. being man-to-man-ish rather than zone-ish) cost them the LV series. When I look at some stats I see the Oil had advantages in Corksi, Fenski, high-danger scoring chances, and xgoals.
But in goaltending it was the other way: Skinner sv% 875, high danger save% 660. Oiler PDO was 950. Aidan Hill sv% was 934.
Are people overanalyzing this zone vs. man-to-man thing, trying to ignore the elephant in the room, or did Woody/Manson cost them a cup with their defensive system?
Jason Gregor:
I think you answered your own question. Edmonton dominated the first period of game five and led 2-1 with 7.5 minutes to go in the second. Then they took two penalties in 44 seconds. Vegas scored 30 seconds after the second one on a 5-on-3, then 29 seconds later on the PP. Then Nic Hague had a point shot beat Skinner and it was three goals in 1:29. None were due to the system.
Look at game six. Vegas scored 24 seconds in. Skinner has time, shoots the puck up the boards, Vegas knocks it down, and then in the ensuing battle Ekholm slaps the puck and it goes to Reilly in the low slot. He rips it home. Oilers recovered and scored 31 seconds later to tie it and then 2:19 after the opening goal Foegele gave them a 2-1 lead. EDM dominates the rest of the first. Can’t score. And a bad second period cost them.
In the second period, watch the tying goal. RNH has his man but lets him go to the net and Marchessault taps home the goal into a wide open net.
On Marchessault’s second goal, Draisaitl turns the puck over, Vegas gets it, puts it to the Martinez at left point. He takes a long, high shot, Skinner makes a save but directs the puck straight up in the air. It comes down in the crease, and Marchessault taps home the go-ahead goal. The system is not an issue.
And then Marchessault finishes his natural hat trick. Vegas was on a four-on-three, and Yamamoto’s penalty just expired, but he didn’t get back in the zone before Marchessault was able to walk in from the left circle and beat Skinner. Again, the system a non-factor.
Don’t buy into online myths that get repeated. The system didn’t cost them. Bad decisions, costly turnovers and average goaltending were the main reasons they lost games five and six.
Robin Brownlee:
Woodcroft and Manson? No. Make fewer bad decisions and giveaways. Stop more pucks. Win more games.
Liam Horrobin:
The Oilers didn’t get saves when they needed them and Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman didn’t show up to the party. I think it’s pretty simple what the problems were.
Goaltending and an inability to lock things down defensively cost the Oilers that series against Vegas. I’m not blaming anyone specifically, however, but rather suggesting that there were a lot of things that went wrong at the same time.


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