The mailbag is back after a 1 week hiatus, and our writers are here to teach you a few things.  If you’ve got a question you want answered, email it to me at [email protected] and I’ll get it posted as soon as possible. Sit back, enjoy, and kill as much work time as possible.

1) Arien asks – Which centre would you play Yakupov with? Does a combo of Draisaitl and Yak have disaster written all over it?
Jason Gregor: 
It would be a challenge on the road when the opposing team gets last change, but at home Eakins could give them soft minutes and better match ups. I’d play Yakupov with Perron and Arcobello to start the season and have Pouliot, Purcell as veteran wingers with Draisaitl. Line combos will change throughout the year, but if the roster looks the same now as opening night, I’d start Yak with Arcobello.
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Brian Sutherby: 
I guess it would be Arcobello. I wouldn’t have him and Draisaitl together in fear of defensive zone disasters, and I wouldn’t put him with Gordon because it will hurt his offensive game.
Jonathan Willis: 
Given the current roster, there seems very little choice but to play Yakupov with Draisaitl. They’re going to be getting butter-soft minutes, so it’s probably workable, and they’ll have a veteran (my money is on Pouliot) on the line. Ideally, of course, the Oilers bring somebody else in and have Draisaitl make the team only if he’s impossible to keep off it. If they manage to do that, of course, than Arcobello might get paired with Yak, and he seems a pretty good fit in terms of having a complementary skillset. 
Lowetide: 
Hmmmm. I’ll say Leon Draisaitl, but ideally a veteran like Horcoff (who did the time with Hall-Eberle early on). Nail is a talented but raw player, needs a mentor.
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Jason Strudwick: 
I expect Yak to be a lot more attentive to details this season with playing a more complete game. I won’t expect him to ever be a great two way player but he must earn the trust of the coaching staff and his team mates again. Outside of Gordon there is not a centre on the Oilers that can carry his own and Yak’s defensive responsibilities at this point in their careers. So you have to protect him with who he plays against. I don’t put he and Leon together but I would hope to be able to in a few years. Offensively I really think there could be chemistry.
baggedmilk:
Putting a rookie on a line with a guy that can’t play defence? WHAT COULD GO WRONG! Eventually, I think this is a pairing we’ll see a lot of. Once Drai and Yak can find their way in the league, it makes perfect sense to have a pass and a shooter on the same line.
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2) Mark Drebert asks – Are trades ever made that look lopsided to fans, but the reason is because one of the guys involved is awful in the dressing room?
Jason Gregor: 
Players have been dealt who don’t fit in, that is for sure, but off the top of my head I can’t think of an example. The Neal/Niskanen for Goligoski trade was incredibly lopsided, but Goligoski was not considered a bad seed, it was just a bad trade.
Brian Sutherby: 
Probably
Jonathan Willis: 
Probably. The question that follows is whether the rationale of adding a good in the room guy – or subtracting a bad in the room guy – is worth the cost of making a bad hockey trade.
Lowetide: 
I’m sure that’s true, the Flyers sent away Carter and Richards with that kind of rumor surrounding both deals. Shayne Corson would be an Oiler example.
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Jason Strudwick: 
Absolutely! A player that is a big problem in the dressing room can drag down a whole team.
baggedmilk:
You’d have to think so. Guys aren’t going to want to battle for each other if they don’t respect one another. 
 
3) Shane Shoemaker asks – Last season Marc Arcobello replaced Gagner and posted okay numbers. Are we really so bad off with Arco as the 2C?
Jason Gregor: 
Long term they are, but for one year it is okay. Gagner hadn’t shown much improvement in his two-way play, so I don’t see Arcobello as a major downgrade in that department. Arco might not get as many points, but his defensive zone play is better. Ideally Draisaitl becomes the 2nd line C next year.
Brian Sutherby: 
Based on Arcobello’s early season play last year I would say no, but the start of the season is always the easiest as well. It would have been nice to gauge him for a longer period mid-season in that role. It’s also tough to get much worse than the Oilers last year. Oilers 2C is still a gaping hole for a winning team.
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Jonathan Willis: 
Yes, and I’ll explain why. Arcobello isn’t a proven, long-term solution. He did very well in spot duty, but that doesn’t mean he’ll hold up when given the job full-time. It’s a big risk, and teams need to be risk-averse, which means plugging a guy like Arcobello in the No. 13 forward slot, or at right wing on the fourth line, or whatever until we have a better idea of what he is. Now, he may well turn out – he did absolutely everything he could do last year, and the team would be better off this year if the Oilers had left him in the role – but it’s a risk that a team with playoff aspirations can’t afford to take. 
Lowetide: 
I don’t believe Arcobello would be a disaster. He’ll have very good wingers with him, and he can pass the puck very well and mark his man. The concern I have is his shot and inability to score goals. It’s a thing.
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Jason Strudwick: 
Yes. If the Oilers were taking on the Ducks in the first round of the playoff would you feel comfortable with Nuge and Arco going against Getzlaf and Kesler for seven games? Same on you Shane.
baggedmilk:
I’d like to see a big sample size of success from Arcobello before handing him the job, but I’m open to seeing if he can do it.  He plays much bigger than his size would suggest, and he’s smart as they come – I’m pulling for him.
4) Gordon Reynan asks – With analytics becoming more and more important, which are the most important advanced stats for goaltenders? If there is none, which fancy stats would you like to see for goalies?
Jason Gregor: 
SV% is the most important, but it has been around for decades. I’d like to see one that focuses on scoring chances, not just shots. It would be difficult because most of us will have a different standard for what is a scoring chance, but I’m sure they could establish something.
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Brian Sutherby: 
Save percentage as always is big of course, and anything that tracks quality scoring chances against versus just a shot on goal that isn’t really a scoring opportunity. Some teams rarely give up grade A opportunities, others give up 10 a game and you might just see a 34-28 shot hockey game in the box score.
Jonathan Willis: 
At this point, even-strength save percentage. As for what I’d like to see, I think Chris Boyle is on the right track with his work.
Lowetide: 
I always look at even-strength save percentage. That’s the most important thing. If it isn’t available, save percentage is fine. Beyond that, I don’t pay any attention to goals-against average or wins. They’re not important. Seriously.
Jason Strudwick: 
I track scoring chances. Not every shot is a scoring chance. After that I would cross reference if I like a goalies’ mask with if I like his tape job too, plug that input into a quadratic equation and then multiply by pi to see if he will win the game that evening.
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baggedmilk:
The most important stat for goalies is save% but beyond that I’m not even sure what guys will be able to come up with.  We shall see.
5) Jayson Grennan asks – The Florida Panthers got rid of their cheerleading team. What about Octane?
Jason Gregor: 
San Jose added a dance/cheer team this year. Teams try different things. I wouldn’t copy anything Florida does off the ice. They don’t draw many fans. I don’t have an issue with Octane. They don’t distract me from the game.
Brian Sutherby: 
Didn’t Wanye make the Octane this year?
Jonathan Willis: 
Frankly, I think it’s a little embarrassing for any hockey team to have a cheer team. It says ‘we’re not a conventional market with real fans, and we have to do something to keep them interested.’ It’s tacky.
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Lowetide: 
I can say with authority that the games are not enhanced for me by the Octane presence. However, that’s not a reflection on the specific women who fill those roles, but on the roles they are filling. Perhaps it’s a generation gap, I’m old and a Dad to a teenage daughter, but suspect these are very intelligent women who could do impressive things given another avenue by the team. 
Jason Strudwick: 
Of all the eight sided shapes the Octagon is by far my favourite.
baggedmilk:
I’m not as opposed to Octane as some other people are. I’m into watching babes dance, and it’s not like they’re doing it during the play. I don’t see a big deal with it.