It’s your favourite time of the week! The mailbag is back with all the answers to the questions you’ve always been wondering about. Curious about something hockey or life related? Email your question to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter. The mailbag is your time to shine, Nation, so get creative. Until then, I present you with another week’s worth of wisdom. Enjoy.
1) @EtownDre asks – Who do you see as the third line centre going into this season?
Jonathan Willis:
Leon Draisaitl in terms of minutes, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in terms of perceived role. In other words, Nugent-Hopkins is likely to be the guy that Todd McLellan leans on, but that also means he’s likely to take on tougher minutes than Draisaitl. Given the experience differential between the two, that’s entirely as it should be.
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Jason Gregor:
Good question. My gut says Leon Draisaitl, but he won’t be a third line checking centre. It will more be softer minutes and he’ll play fewer than RNH and McDavid, to start at least. My wildcard is Jujhar Khaira, if they consider moving Draisaitl to the wing. He would have to have a great preseason, and I would be surprised if he is, but I think he is someone who will play some C in Edmonton this year.
Jeanshorts:
Barring a free agent signing/PTO, to me it looks like it will be Mark Letestu. I think McLellan is gonna keep both Nuge and Draisaitl in the top six, with Drai on the wing to start. If Anton Lander finally rediscovers any semblance of offence he may also be a candidate, but going into camp it’s probably Mark Letestu’s spot.
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Lowetide:
I think Leon Draisaitl will play 3C a lot, maybe on a soft minutes line with Patrick Maroon and Jesse Puljujarvi. When Draisaitl moves up on RW, the obvious choice is Mark Letestu—but that is not a strong option (he does not bring enough offense). There is a hole there.
Jason Strudwick:
The easy answer is Nuge or Draisaitl. A line that can contribute some offence would spread the pressure to score around.
Robin Brownlee:
My best guess is the Oilers will start with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the third-line guy, but that’s assuming Leon Draisaitl is No. 2 behind Connor McDavid. If Draisaitl moves to the wing, that changes.
Matt Henderson:
I think Draisaitl as the 3C taking off softer competition with Puljujarvi and Maroon/Pouliot would be great to see. The pressure for Draisaitl to follow up a strong first full season will be high. I think this would allow him to ease into that scoring role pretty well.
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Baggedmilk
I actually think the Oilers are going to start the year with Draisaitl on Nuge’s RW and have Letestu playing at 3C. I’m not saying it’s the best idea, but that’s what I’m thinking is going to happen. 
2) Hockeydad asks – During a recent interview, Klefbom said something to the effect of “whilst he (Hall) always played amazingly well when we were up towards the somewhat less good teams.” However, he was fantastic when we played inferior teams.” I’m curious what the panel makes of this quote?
Jonathan Willis:
Not much. It’s a hockey truism that it’s easier to play against bad teams than it is against good teams, and it holds for pretty much every player. I can’t imagine the Oilers organization was all that happy with the quote.
Jason Gregor:
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Dumb quote, and one he quickly changed. He also said Hall was their best player for five years. You can look at Hall’s numbers and see he had good years against top teams, and a few where he struggled, which is similar to many players on Edmonton and around the league. Much ado about nothing in my eyes. Until a player has gone through a full season grind, I’d recommend not commenting on the difficulty of playing against tough or weak competition.
Jeanshorts:
It’s a non-event to me. It was only a partial quote (Klefbom went on to clarify that ALL the top players on the team have needed to step their game up if the Oilers ever want to see the post-season again), that was partially lost in translation from Swedish to English. Not that I’m shocked a mountain was made out of this molehill, as we Oiler fans feast on any little bit of information during the summer like the pack of hockey mad piranhas we are!
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Lowetide:
I think it is impossible to know if the quote is (as we take it in) as it first appeared—language, tone, facial expression, even translation can impact it. The quote itself does not look good, but from what we know of Klefbom he is not the sort of person to throw a teammate under the bus. 
Mostly I think it is impossible to know the relationship. The results on the ice will tell us if this version of the Oilers is better, but I would caution against drawing a parallel between an improvement in performance and Hall’s exit/relationship with team. Klefbom’s quote—if correct—makes it easy to connect these things (should they happen) and I do think it unfair.
Jason Strudwick:
Interesting quote taken from an interview done in Sweden, in a different language. I wouldn’t like it if I were Hall. It wasn’t like the Oilers as a whole were great against the top teams. Klefbom is a good D, one I hope develops into a minute munching player. At this point in his career he might want to tone it down with these types of quotes.
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Robin Brownlee:
That initial item has been followed up with Klefbom clarifying what he meant. In part: “It’s not that it was only Taylor, but everyone, including myself. The reason we have not taken us to the playoffs is that there are too many players who have underperformed when it is really needed.” My thought when the initial comments were posted was that something had been lost in translation.
Matt Henderson:
I think it’s a Swedish player saying something to a Swedish publication that makes the acquisition of another Swedish player seem better than it was being perceived. He immediately tried to backpedal as soon as it broke in North America and the accusation isn’t even accurate. Hall performed well against playoff teams. I think we’ve probably made too much of this already. 
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Baggedmilk
You have to think there was something lost in translation on that entire interview. That being said, it didn’t take long for Klefbom to clarify his comments. The interesting question is whether or not the organization asked him to do so. 
3) Stephen A. asks – Can you ask the writers what they think of the scouting and management shuffle? Any surprises?
Jonathan Willis:
There weren’t really any surprises there. We’ve seen this process play out before with both Steve Tambellini and Craig MacTavish — general managers always tend to hire their own guys. Keith Gretzky has history with Peter Chiarelli; Scott Howson doesn’t.
Jason Gregor:
Howson’s contract was up so easy decision to part ways. Chiarelli worked with Keith Gretzky before so he knows him, and usually a new GM hires his own people. I was surprised it took him this long to add new people, including scouts, but I assume owner didn’t want to pay more people not to work for him, so Howson was kept around until his contract expired.
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Jeanshorts:
The obvious play here is to just wait and see what happens, but it feels like the same old song and dance, just with a different band. People rightfully questioned the Oilers’ practice of continually hiring and promoting the same people who have been with the organization forever, and it’s now happening again, just with people formerly associated with the Boston Bruins. Not that it’s at all surprising that people would want to work with others they’ve already worked with and know well, but it feels like we’re just seeing the New Old Boys Club, and we know how well that worked out with the originals. 
Scott Howson needed to go, no doubt about that, but Keith Gretzky filling the AGM chair doesn’t instill me with tons of confidence since his drafting record between Phoenix and Boston leaves a lot to be desired, but like I said we’ll just have to wait and see. It is strange to me, though, that people who have been with the team during these darkest days continue to be promoted (Buchberger) or just kept around in general (HOW DO LOWE AND MACT CONTINUALLY DODGE THESE FIRINGS?? Do they just go hide in the crawl space when the pink slips start coming out?). An Oilers management position has better job security than any union in history! 
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Lowetide:
Not for me. Chiarelli hired someone he trusts and is comfortable with, suspect we would all do the same. I do like the addition of scout Frank Jay. He has a terrific reputation.
Jason Strudwick:
If I bought a Dairy Queen that had been struggling I would make changes. I would bring in people I trust to get the job done and turn it around. The Oilers are no different. I have no problem with the moves, and we won’t know if they are successful for the next few years. Why would DQ not have smarties to put into their Blizzards?
Robin Brownlee:
None. Bad teams have to change personnel. The writing was on the wall for AGM Scott Howson months ago. I’ll wait and see on the addition of Gretzky. 
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Matt Henderson:
Peter Chiarelli was always going to hire people that he trusts. It was only a matter of time. The only “head-scratcher” is that against all odds MacT is still allowed to keep a management position and Buchberger keeps getting promoted. The people responsible for bankrupting the team’s defense to the point that a fantastic player had to be traded for a significantly lesser one based on HANDEDNESS are still part of the decision making circle. Is it surprising though? Nah. Par for the course.
Baggedmilk
I wasn’t surprised at all. Regardless of which team or business we’re talking about, management always brings in people they’re comfortable with, and that’s what Chiarelli has done here. Now Scott Howson has lots of time to re-think that whole Nikitin pitch. 
4) Alex in Airdrie asks – Who is the most under appreciated Oiler currently on the roster and of all time?
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Jonathan Willis:
Mark Letestu has legitimate value on special teams. “Letestu on the power play” has been a punchline in the Oilogosphere for most of the year, despite the fact that he’s neck-and-neck with Jordan Eberle in points/hour both last year and over the last four seasons and that he’s one of the team’s few right shots. He’s also strong on the penalty kill. He played too much at evens and had a down year offensively at 5-on-5, but he deserves more credit than he gets. All-time is a much tougher question to answer, but the first name that came to mind was Kevin Lowe’s, simply because for younger fans his presence in management has obscured his playing career.
Jason Gregor:
On roster, I’d say Eberle. Too many focus on what he doesn’t do, rather than the things he does well. All-time it might be Kevin Lowe. He was a hell of a player, and his managing shouldn’t diminish his ability on the ice. They are two different topics.
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Jeanshorts:
He was a little before my time, but I’m going with Kevin Lowe. He was obviously overshadowed by Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, etc, but he was a rock solid defensemen, exactly the type of player you need to win multiple cups, even on an unrealistically talented roster like the 80s Oilers. Six-time Stanley Cup winner, seven-time NHL All-Star, has played more games in an Oiler uniform than anyone else, and played the entire 1988 playoffs with a broken wrist and ribs! Say what you will about his legacy in the Oilers front office, but his on ice accomplishments speak for themselves. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. 
As for current Oilers I think it’s Benoit Pouliot. He’s a perfectly capable top six forward who is good at both ends of the ice. He’s the current incarnation of that one Oiler who a segment of fans do not like for whatever reason, despite the fact that he’s actually very valuable to the team.
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Lowetide:
Wow. Underrated on the current roster? I will go with Brandon Davidson. Fabulous player. All-time? Man. I will go with Charlie Huddy, who was a tremendous two-way defender and skated miles for the Oilers.
Jason Strudwick:
Brandon Davidson — this is a very steady player for the Oilers. He looked steady on a very unsteady blue line. He came out of no where which I love.
Liam Reddox — Could skate and I loved the red hair.
Robin Brownlee:
Might go with Matt Hendricks for right now. People roll their eyes at talk about “guys who are good in the room” but Hendricks is glue guy with a tremendous sense of team. He’s a real pro and a good example for the younger players. As for all-time, guys like Charlie Huddy and Randy Gregg, lesser lights on great teams, come to mind.
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Matt Henderson:
Current Roster: Benoit Pouliot. All-Time: Steve Staios (bear in mind I was seven the last time they won a cup).
Baggedmilk
Nuge is grossly underrated coming off a bad year. Last summer the kid was untouchable and now he’s soft, weak, blah blah blah… You name it, I’ve read someone who’s said it. Most underrated of all time? Todd Harvey. That moustache was impeccable. 
5) Trish asks – What is the worst fashion trend that you’ve ever participated in? (clothes/hair/music/etc) 
Jonathan Willis:
Oh, that’s easy: The fanny pack. Nothing else comes even close.
Jason Gregor:
My fashion sense is impeccable and often ahead of the curve, so no issues there. However, I did grow out my hair in grade nine and ten and I can safely say I would have been in running for worst hair in Canada and possibly ugliest fifteen year-old in the country. I had the “wings” that would flare out when it reached shoulder length. It was not a good look for me. Thankfully I wised up and in Grade 11, I kept it high and tight and was looking gooood.
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Jeanshorts:
The only time I’ve ever spent more than like $20 on sunglasses was when I spent almost $200 on a pair of white sunglasses, RIGHT as they were becoming synonymous as the go-to accessory for dudes with tribal tattoos and truck nuts. Other than that I’ve ALWAYS had impeccable style!
Lowetide:
Bell bottoms were pretty dumb, especially in a town where snow piled high. I bought a pair of jeans made all of patches once. That was idiotic. I bought platform shoes in high school and you could hear me for miles, that probably represents a misstep.
Jason Strudwick:
The baggy workout pants. The ones juice monkeys wear to bend the steel with!
Robin Brownlee:
I used to have lots of hair at one time, believe it or not, and I got sucked into the pony-tail thing that was happening in the late 1980s. Kind of a pre-cursor to the hideous man-bun and top-knot favoured by hipsters. Yuck!
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Matt Henderson:
My fashion sense has pretty much never been stellar, but I’ve never had a man-bun or worn a deep V neck shirt. My parent dressed me in some awful stuff in the late 80’s and early 90’s though. I’m pretty sure I had neon green pants for sure.
Baggedmilk
I used to wear giant pants in high school. I was at my dad’s place recently and he asked me if I wanted to take any of my old stuff and I threw on my old pants just for fun and funk me they were embarrassing. JNCO jeans for lyfe!

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