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Roundtable 3

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Our final installment to the roundtable sees the panel answer questions about the second season and the upcoming expansion draft.

Mama told me not to come.
Mama told me not to come.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Wrapping up a three part series, once again we've got  Shona, Sunil, Minnia, Scott, Corey and Matt to tackle Edmonton's chances at a second season, and a little about the upcoming expansion draft.

It's been a long, dry desert for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans.  If you look at the percentages today, it looks like the Oilers have a very good shot at the second season, but until they're in, there are no guarantees.  Will this club finally be able to play some extra games after the regular season?

Shona:  I would hope so since my Oil Kings can kiss the playoffs goodbye. But honestly, this depends on injuries and if the Oilers can snap themselves out of this post-All Star Game funk. If McDavid or Talbot get injured before the Oilers clinch, I think that will take the wind right out of the Oilers sails. So pray everyone stays healthy because that’s how they make the post season.

Sunil: I'm confident that they will, but it's going to be close. San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles are going to make it tough for the Oilers, and I don't think the Oilers are playing at a competitive level right now. The team has relied heavily on McDavid and Talbot, so it'll be critical for those two to stay healthy the rest of the season

Minnia:  For the sake of my heart, yes. The losses have not been concerning to me because they played well enough to win, just didn't get a few bounces their way. It's also been refreshing to see the media and fans not go to hysterics after three losses for once.

Scott:  Yes, I think they will. And I think it'll be a lot of fun.

Corey:   Yes, many of the best models have had them at over 90% recently. Not making it would be a near Falcons-esque post-all-star break collapse. Anything beyond making the playoffs would be delicious gravy. But, I'd be legitimately crushed if we don't make it, at this point.

Matt: Barring injury to McDavid and Talbot (I think an injury to either is enough to seriously jeopardize their chances) I think they'll make it, which is awesome, but I am not looking forward to all the atoadaso's.

Finally, expansion is coming soon.  The Oilers will have an option to protect seven forwards, three defenceman and Cam Talbot, or they can protect four forwards, four defenceman and Cam Talbot. Thankfully, Connor McDavid is protected from all of this.  Which combination do you select, and who do you keep?

Shona:  I’m taking seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie because the Oilers really only have three contracted defensemen that are integral to their defense. I protect Talbot because you’ve got nothing else at goal. The defense is likewise simple. Klefbom because that contract is awesome, Larsson because he cost a lot, and Sekera because I don’t trust the others. The forwards I keep are Lucic because grit or whatever, Draisaitl for skill, Maroon because I think he’s got a couple good years left and he’s not overpriced, Lander because he can be what Letestu is on the fourth line for half the cost, Letestu for my penalty kill, one of RNH/Eberle (probably Eberle) but only one because I want to dump one of those contracts, and I leave one spot based on who shows up in the last part of the season. If they’re playing poorly, chances are better that no one is taking them.

Sunil::Right now, it looks like the Oilers will go the 7F-3D-1G format and protect Talbot, Klefbom, Sekera, Larsson, RNH, Eberle, Draisaitl, Maroon, and whoever else (Kassian, Letestu, Khaira, etc). Personally, I keep Pouliot and find a way to keep Davidson.

MinniaD: Klefbom, Larsson, Sekera F: Maroon, Draisaitl, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Lucic, Letestu, Kassian

I hope Davidson actually doesn't find his game later this season because I would really like to keep him. Please.

ScottMy feeling is that, because of these rules, the Golden Knights will have a lot of defensemen available to them, but not many offensive forwards, so I'd lean toward the 7-3-1 set. I'd protect Talbot, Sekera, Klefbom, Larsson, Eberle, Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, Pouliot, Maroon, and Letestu. I didn't look until after putting down this list of names, but these also happen to be the ice time leaders (who need to be protected) this season at all three positions.

Corey:   This is a hell of a tough call. Basically, unless you have an opinion on a certain player that falls well outside the norm, this comes to a decision between Maroon and Davidson. I had to keep Maroon, and my final call goes like this:

7 Fs- Lucic (NMC), Draisaitl, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Maroon, Pouliot, Kassian

3 D- Sekera (NMC, but still a no-brainer), Klefbom, Larsson

G- Talbot (NMC, but even more of a no-brainer)

a couple of alternate scenarios that I could be talked into:

- Expose Maroon instead of Davidson. I don't really like this option, but if Maroon is just a replacement level 28 year old having a flash in the pan season (which is possible, though a little depressing), it's the right call. Pouliot and Kassian would also be left unprotected in this scenario.
- Keep Lander or Khaira instead of Kassian, or both instead of Kassian or Pouliot. Khaira could develop into the most useful of the four of them, especially considering Pouliot's age. I like Pouliot, but at 30, this could be the beginning of the end, rather than just a slump. Also, Lander has to be given another real chance, he's too dominant in the AHL to not be somewhat successful at the next level. Seriously, he's like having a cheat code in the A.
- Keep Davidson over Larsson. This would never happen, but you would save about $2.7M in cap space. If you think you could do a half-decent job of replacing Larsson with an undervalued defenseman, for that price, and keep Davidson (who I really like), this could be the play. Keep in mind that if Davidson is going to be the defenseman that he was when he was healthy last year, for the rest of his career, it would be stupid to let him go. He was amazing. Yet, we haven't seen enough of him for me to be this aggressive with my convictions.
- Expose Nuge, go the 4-4-1 route, protecting Davidson, as well as Lucic, Draisaitl, Eberle and Maroon. I don't like writing this, but, given that he has a $6M cap hit, it's something to consider, at least briefly. I've heard people suggest the same thing for Eberle, for the same reason. But, frankly, that's ridiculous. Eberle has been a bona fide 1st line producer since entering the league. Eberle consistently produces more offensively and has a better impact on shot-based stats and xG every season. Ultimately, losing Nuge for nothing is too much for me to stomach. He's a quality player, even if he never turns into the player most of us thought he could be. But $6M is a lot of money towards the cap with which to play. The only way the Oilers could do this is if they knew for sure that they could sign a suitable replacement with the money they would be saving. Unless that's the case, I wouldn't overthink it, and just keep Nuge.

Matt: Good god. 7-3-1 and some combination of Sekera, Lucic (must keep), Larsson, Klefbom, Eberle, RNH, Maroon, Draisaitl, Talbot and then you can make a case for a bunch of guys being worthy of the last two F spots. I don't really care that much either way. Probably Letestu, maybe Kassian, but I mean. Can you make a case for Lander? Or Khaira? Probably, if you tried hard enough. This is the level of player we're left to decide over. Trying hard isn't my MO, however, so I'll leave the last two with you.

Thanks to all of our participants!