Article content

With the playoffs a month away, you’ve got questions about players, management and the makeup of the team, which prompted one Oiler fan Tes Boonerat to jokingly wonder “does the team usually get theirs from Sephora, or do they get high-end stuff from a fancy downtown store and management? Thanks, Tes.”

So here we go.

Article content

1. How confident are you that we re-sign at least one of Connor or Leon? (Jason Hoosen).

Advertisement 2

Article content

About 97 per cent. True, Gretzky was sold to LA by Peter Pocklington (a good but complicated owner, clearly not Peter’s finest hour) but I just don’t see McDavid leaving under the Daryl Katz umbrella.

He’s a legacy Oiler like Sidney Crosby is a legacy Penguin.

Katz will make Connor, whose contract ends after the 2025-2026 season, the highest-paid player in the league, up to the max of 20 per cent AAV on the team salary cap ceiling. That could be close to $20 million a season as the cap goes up. Next season’s cap is reportedly going up to $87.7 million. By 2026, maybe it’s it closing in on $100 million. Now, maybe McDavid takes a bit of a haircut to help them keep Draisaitl, too, and they’ll have Evan Bouchard on a rich new deal, too.

All we know is McDavid is currently vastly underpaid at $12.5m, 33 points from 1000 and only just turned 27.

Leon’s situation, as we all know, is trickier. He only has one year left on his contract after the 2023-24 season before he becomes a UFA so the clock is really ticking. He’s the NHL’s best bargain at $8.5 million (a Hart trophy, a scoring title, three 50-goal seasons). Kudos today for former GM Peter Chiarelli getting that contract done.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

It’s all quiet on the Draisaitl contract front today, nothing is leaking out, but there’s two ways he can go if he wants to stay. He can sign a four-year deal like Auston Matthews did in Toronto, not knowing where the cap is going to go, leaving himself room for another contract at 32. Matthews cap hit is $13.25 m and Leon would want at least that, maybe a tad more..

Or he can go eight years like fellow centre Nathan MacKinnon’s deal in Colorado. MacKinnon took a hometown discount, at an AAV of $12.6 million, but the Colorado stud signed his based on a current cap of $82.5 million. I don’t think they’ll get Draisaitl for a number under 13 and the Oilers will want to know that pretty soon.

One thing for sure: they can’t let Draisaitl get into the 2024-2025 season as a UFA. I think Leon sees himself as Malkin to Crosby and those two have been coupled for almost 20 years with the Penguins. He wants to win, here. But, the Oilers will want that commitment, and fairly quickly, because we all know he could get more in free-agency somewhere else.

You don’t think the Bruins would move heaven and earth to get Draisaitl?

Advertisement 4

Article content

2. Who’s the weakest link on the team? And why is it Ceci? (Jeff Wiens) 

Every team seems to have one defenceman with a bullseye and that is Cody Ceci with many fans today. It once was Tom Poti here (skated well, not aggressive enough). Same story with Tom Gilbert (lots of points, not physical). Even good soldier Cory Cross was booed unmercifully, and it says here, wrongly.

I do believe the Oilers are still a defenceman short, also a top six forward after the trade deadline. They’re a very good team going into the playoffs but not best in class and Ceci, while hard-working, has to be better.

He’s perfectly fine for his cap hit ($3.25m) if playing with Darnell Nurse but really he’s better suited as a 5-6 defenceman on this Cup contender than top four. People have looked at Ceci, eyes askance, since he was signed to replace Adam Larsson as a right-shot, defensive D. Ceci is closing in on 800 games, and he’s only 30. But yeah, he’s not Larsson, who is nastier, and definitely a shutdown guy.

After they didn’t get Chris Tanev as a right-shot top 4 D, yeah, the Flyers Sean Walker, another UFA right-shot, would have helped. Clearly, Colorado went after him and gave up a first-rounder, and he had his first-ever two-goal NHL game against the Oilers 10 days ago. The Oilers had a first-rounder, too, but they decided, maybe early on, the 2024 first-rounder instead should go in a package to get UFA’s Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick (for two needed forward) holes from Anaheim.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Recommended from Editorial

Right now, the Oilers seem very undecided on where to play Ceci. Back with Nurse, who has been going with Vincent Desharnais for a good run now, or in a third pairing with Brett Kulak. That pairing isn’t fine on paper at $6 million total for the team bean counters. On the ice, they haven’t been totally comfortable as a pair but really this 5-6 equates to others on Cup contenders. Winnipeg has Dylan Samberg and Nate Schmidt; Florida, when healthy, has Niko Mikkola and Josh Mahura.. Bruins have Mason Lohrei and Andrew Peeke.

At the draft or later in the summer, there’s a strong likelihood, for cap reasons, that either Ceci or Kulak will be traded. Kulak to open up a spot for left-shot ($862,000) Philip Broberg; Ceci because they’ll need money for a new deal for Deharnais, and maybe trade deadline add Troy Stecher (also UFA) could be re-signed for cheaper.

3. Where do you plug Holloway in come playoff time, Jimmy? (Joe@Northernshark).

Dylan has his nose pressed up against the Oiler playoff glass because the team is the oldest (29.9 average age), in the win-now mode, not in the give-a-young-player-a-look scenario. Holloway may stay in the AHL and get post-season reps before rejoining the Oilers. They might recall Broberg as eighth playoff D before Holloway as the 14th forward with the versatile Derek Ryan as the 13th.

Advertisement 6

Article content

They sent Holloway back to Bakersfield before the trade deadline, because they still don’t see him as one of the top 12 forwards, certainly debatable. Off his speed and also his physicality, he is. They could use that in their bottom six, certainly his wheels.

But unless he’s used on the PK and he’s one of their three pairs of forwards who are out in shorthanded situations, Holloway hasn’t carved out a defined role here. Maybe if he scored more, even in limited minutes, that would force the coaches to rethink things in the top 9. But he hasn’t.

Here’s the rub with Holloway. He’s proven he can score in the AHL (21 goals and 42 points in 57 games) but he has 13 points (six goals) in 83 NHL games. He has yet to earn the trust of the coaching staff. Neither Jay Woodcroft nor Kris Knoblauch.

4. What are biggest differences in relationships between sports reporters and players today, compared to the 80s? (Vitamin Jay@342Monkey).

Hmmm! Wayne Gretzky once came out of Rexall Place into the lot where players and media parked, and asked if I needed a boost when he could see my wife’s 1968 Rambler (the car I was driving for a day) wasn’t starting on a -25 C day. I was a tad embarrassed (old car and Gretzky had a Mercedes, I believe).

But back then you built relationships with players easier. In part, because you were on the same planes on road trips, flying commercial (no charters), and had lots of down time in airports between connecting flights to sit and chat and then settle in for a 10-minute interview. There was hardly any travelling media in the 80s, and again on the same planes.

Article content

Source link

By admin