Happy Monday 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 moving the first round pick, the salary cap, the Oilers’ struggles at home, and a whole lot more. If you’ve 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) Cliff asks – A lot of us expect that this will be the year Ken Holland finally moves the first round pick for some help at the deadline, but I wonder what everyone thinks would be an acceptable return if we’re moving that kind of asset out? Can you do it for a rental? Does it have to be someone with term?
Jason Gregor:
I’d rather give up a 1st rounder for a player with term. But I’m not sold on Joel Edmundson being that guy. Florida gave up a 1st for Chiarot and it didn’t work out and they couldn’t afford to re-sign him. If it was me, I’d like to get a player with term, or someone I’m fairly confident I could re-sign.
Robin Brownlee:
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You can do it for a high-end rental that makes a real difference in the stretch and post-season, but the first week of January is a bit early to make that call. Let’s see this team with Evander Kane back, with the defence playing — hopefully — better than it is now. The list of players available will change over the next several weeks. Also, what is your definition of “term?” One more year? Two? You can get a roster player with term remaining for a first-round pick, but I’m not sure how often you can get a player who makes a significant difference for that pick.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think it can be for a high-end rental. I’m talking Toews, Horvat, or a legit top-pairing defenseman. I wouldn’t scoff at the idea of moving it for a forward with term and a low-cap hit but I don’t think they should be looking for a defenseman with term unless it’s a player like Jakob Chychrun. Ex: I wouldn’t move the first for Joel Edmunson.
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Baggedmilk:
If I had my preference, Holland would be using the first on a trade for a guy like Chychrun that would both help now and in the future because he has term.
Nov 1, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane (91) celebrates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) Tanya asks – Once Evander Kane returns to the lineup, the Oilers will need to make roster moves to clear the cap needed for #91. Who do you see being waived or traded to make room?
Jason Gregor:
Shore will go down and then they need to send one more forward with a cap hit of at least $1.25m, maybe even $1.5m as I haven’t tracked the official cap hit. They could just send Janmark, who was down for cap reasons to start, but Woodcroft has liked him so I don’t see that happening, which means it is likely one of Foegele or Puljujarvi who is waived or someone with a high enough cap hit is injured and goes on LTIR.
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Robin Brownlee:
Not sure, but Jesse Puljujarvi would be high on my list of candidates — if Holland can call in a favor to get him gone. What about Warren Foegele?
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It’ll be one of Ryan or Janmark in my opinion and just based off the fact that Janmark already cleared waivers once, I would assume that it’ll be him. I think another option would be to trade one of Foegele or Puljujarvi once Kane is back and grab another draft pick to use as currency at the deadline. A potential 3rd round pick plus the extra money would be very valuable for Ken Holland.
Baggedmilk:
Good question. I’m gonna guess Janmark or Ryan goes down along with Niemelainen. I think they’ll have to go with a short roster, no?
Jan 7, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche defensemen Cale Makar (8) celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – What are your thoughts on why the Oilers have performed so poorly at home? Last season, playing at Rogers Place was a strength for the club but that has not been the case through the first half of the season.
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Jason Gregor:
Very good question. I don’t have an answer. They seem to laid back for long stretches of games.
Robin Brownlee:
Stretches of sloppiness and lack of attention to detail has resulted in giving away points here and there. That loss to Seattle Jan. 3 after waxing them 7-2 in Washington comes to mind. They got dominated by a Colorado team depleted by injuries at even strength Saturday.  They’re just not right — as vague as that answer is.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I have no idea honestly. They’ve lost some very winnable games and it’s just flat-out unacceptable. Last season they were lights out and home and beat up on most of their division rivals. if they want to make the playoffs, they’ll need to start doing both of those things in the second half of the season.
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Baggedmilk:
Amazing question. I have no idea, but it’s driving me crazy. The Oilers are giving up points on home ice and it’s a problem.
Nov 30, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) warms up before a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
4) Hank asks – Reading Jason’s interview with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from last week, it seems like RNH is feeling good about his game and that it’s translating to on-ice results. What are you seeing from him this season that maybe we haven’t in the past?
Jason Gregor:
Main difference for me is where he is shooting from. He’s closer to the net, and I think part of it is confidence. He had a good start and just kept building off of it.
Robin Brownlee:
I’m seeing what he talked about with Gregor. RNH is going to the prime scoring areas more often and is using his snapshot with a bit more mustard (velocity) on it,
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Tyler Yaremchuk:
Part of it is just luck. He battled through some brutal puck luck last season and it reflected in his shooting percentage. He’s also adapted a bit more of a shooter mentality. He likely isn’t going to score 40 goals like he’s currently on pace for, but 30-35 is seeming like a lock at this point. Hopefully, he keeps firing the puck at a high rate and driving offense for the Oilers.
Baggedmilk:
He looks confidence and he’s trusting in that laserbeam shot he’s got. That snapshot is deadly when he’s on his game and it’s nice to see him feeling good about it again.
Jan 3, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Seattle Kraken celebrate a goal scored by forward Jaden Schwartz (17) during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5) Andy asks – We’re halfway through the season and I’d like to know what is the biggest surprise in the Pacific Division so far?
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Jason Gregor:
Seattle. They are averaging over four goals/game on the road for goodness sake. I never thought they’d score as much as they have.
Robin Brownlee:
Vegas is much better than I thought they would be. I thought they’d be scrambling just to stay in playoff contention. I didn’t expect Seattle to be close to this good either.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Seattle is the obvious one. I’ll throw LA up their as well. The way these two teams keep getting great results with sub-par goaltending is remarkable. I can’t believe it. The Oilers will need at least one of those teams to fall off hard in the second half of the season.
Baggedmilk:
Seattle is the easy answer. I’ll also say Vegas because I didn’t think their goaltending would be as good as it has been.
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