Happy Monday, dear Internet friends, and welcome to a brand new edition of the Mailbag to help you start your week and break down everything that’s happening with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at roster construction, filling the Evander Kane void, Stuart Skinner, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
1) @MattCarson54 asks – Do you think the Oilers’ issues right now are related to roster construction or are they just getting too much in their own heads and letting other teams dictate the terms of the game?
Jason Gregor:
I don’t think it is in their head at all. They haven’t played consistently defensively. They’ve allowed too many quality chances in some games, and in a few others, they didn’t get good goaltending.
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Robin Brownlee:
“Roster construction” seems to be popular jargon these days. Are there holes in the Oilers’ roster, areas that could be upgraded? Sure. That holds true for every team to some degree. Slow starts are a problem. The penalty killing has been a problem. Is that the roster, preparation, or both? At the bottom line, you might be closest to the problem when you mention letting other teams dictate the terms of the game.
Cam Lewis:
A lot of us probably underestimated the loss of Duncan Keith and Mike Smith, especially for what they meant in the team’s play defensive zone. Keith directing traffic and essentially serving as an on-ice coach plus Smith being able to make the first pass were both very valuable and it’ll take time for players to adjust. If the solutions aren’t internal, Ken Holland will have to seek upgrades before the trade deadline.
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Baggedmilk:
I mean, losing two of your top six players (Kane, Yamamoto) would be tough for any team but I also think it’s not uncommon to have holes in your roster anyway. That said, the defence needs an upgrade and I’ll keep saying it until we get one.
Oct 1, 2021; Everett, Washington, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett watches play against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Angel of the Winds Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
2) @OilersFans49ers asks – Is this team legit in trouble? Tippett Era tendencies at the forefront? Do we miss Schmiddy battling?
Jason Gregor:
Not at all. The Cup isn’t won in November. Oilers are fine.
Robin Brownlee:
No. No. No. Some uneven performances so far that have nothing to do with Tippett tendencies — whatever those are — or Mike Smith.
Cam Lewis:
No, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s give them 40 games to sort things out before we panic.
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Baggedmilk:
I love the early season overreactions. We’re a spicy bunch and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nov 12, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) makes a save during the second period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
3) @estephan0 asks – How long will we go until Skinner is labeled our #1 goaltender?
Jason Gregor:
I don’t think there needs to be a rush to label him the #1 guy. He has played well and deserves more starts and I suspect he will get them. They need two goalies playing well, and Campbell needs to find some consistency in his game. The Oilers will have a few solid days of practice this week with only two games this week (Wed and Sat).
Robin Brownlee:
Don’t have to label anybody anything. Best guy gets the net. Let performance speak for itself. If you’re willing to tell Campbell 15 games into a five-year contract to step aside because he’s not the No. 1 guy, you’re doing it wrong. Play better. Get the net.
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Cam Lewis:
The plan all along was for Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner to be a tandem, with something like a 45-35 split. There will be ups and downs for both goalies throughout the season and the move is to ride whoever’s hot.
Baggedmilk:
The Oilers play two games this week, and I would play Skinner in both while Campbell works out some kinks in practice. That doesn’t mean Skinner is the #1 but he’s certainly the hot hand right now and deserves to get the starts based on his play. We know that’s going to change at some point in the season, but right now he’s the clear better option in net. Nice insurance to have tbh.
Oct 29, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
4) Hank asks – Evander Kane is expected to miss 3-4 months and that’s obviously a massive loss, but do you think Ken Holland will make a trade to help fill the void?
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Jason Gregor:
Kane isn’t expected to miss the rest of the regular season, so any move that is made, needs to leave Holland space to add Kane from LTIR later in the year. I think he will give some players a chance to see how they do before making a move. I still think the first priority is for this team to add a legit top-four defender.
Robin Brownlee:
I’d guess the odds are better than 50-50 he will, but that will be based on performance and we haven’t had enough time to see how the team reacts without Kane in the lineup. Like I wrote last week, better goaltending and an improved PK can mitigate the loss of Kane.
Cam Lewis:
They don’t want to find themselves in the same situation that Vegas was in last year when they were desperately looking for ways to dump contracts mid-season to activate players from the LTIR. The bonus cushion from Kane being injured will allow the Oilers the space to call some players up from Bakersfield to show what they can do.
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Baggedmilk:
Kucherov him! Is it doable? I believe.
Nov 10, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) celebrates his goal past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) during the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
5) Blake asks – There is little doubt that the Oilers are struggling right now in many areas, but if you were to pick the biggest problem what would it be? How can it be fixed?
Jason Gregor:
They are 9-7. I understand expectations are higher this season, but the Oilers aren’t playing that poorly in my eyes, but they do have areas to improve.
Campbell has to be better. The PK must improve.
Depth scoring needs to pick up.
If I had to pick one of those three, I’d go with the PK. You simply can’t win long-term when you give up that many PP goals.
Robin Brownlee:
Did you write this question after the win over Tampa Bay or the loss to Carolina? I ask because I see some shortcomings, but I don’t see the team struggling in “many areas,” although it can seem like that after the waxing they took in Carolina. As I said earlier, better starts and a better PK will make a world of difference.
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Cam Lewis:
The best way to fix the problems ailing the team right now is patience. The Oilers are far from hitting their stride and they’re 9-7-0 despite a pretty difficult schedule early on. Some noticeable issues right now are weak play in the defensive zone, poor penalty killing, and maybe a little less depth scoring than you’d like. If the issues haven’t been fixed internally by February, it’s time to look to make external additions.
Baggedmilk:
The PK is hands down the biggest problem right now. They can’t stop anything right now and it’s a major issue.

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