Hi everyone. How’s your week off treating you? Good? That’s great.
The Oilers are right in the thick of the Pacific Division playoff race. We’re a little late this year for the midterms, but we’ve got a week off and it’s roundtable time.
We’re doing things a little different this year. Along with our internal roundtable, we’ve reached out to some of our readers to get their feel for how the season’s gone so far.
Today, it’s the readers who get the floor. This is a two part series that will conclude on Thursday. Our staff’s responses will come out tomorrow and Friday.
The readers and Copper and Blue staff have been asked the same questions.
Now that you’ve gotten the score sheet, let’s begin.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
- Right now, the Oilers are right in the thick of things when it comes to the playoffs. A five game run could give them a big cushion in the crowded Pacific, an 0-4-1 could really rock the wheels off. If there’s one move that the Oilers can make to improve the club for a stretch run, what is it?
@Jackie_Bee16: The Oilers still need to find some scoring power. Although the team is starting to get some secondary scoring now, it’s not enough. With the recent contract of Caleb Jones, you have to think that there’s a possibility that it makes another defenseman expendable - which makes me think that Kris Russell is on the trade horizon. Losing his contract would open up some cap space to bring in a left winger that could play with Nuge and potentially put Leon and Connor back together. In saying that though, with the way the lines are right now, the team has looked a lot better and they’ve proven that they are capable of putting together a win streak - but they need to find some consistency. Playing 40 minutes a game isn’t going to cut it. So long story short, a power forward, consistent effort for 60 minutes and good goaltending are all keys to going for a longer playoff run. I wouldn’t want Holland to make any crazy moves to change the dynamic of the team right now and he’s limited in what he can do, but those are some tweaks that I’d like to see in the immediate future. Also - please for the love of god - break up Nurse and Bear - they are not a good defensive pairing.
@OilerDadMike: If I were Ken, I’d move Kris Russell and picks for a 3rd line C. There’s the obvious Pageau, but I doubt we have enough to make that deal.
@Avry: I’m not sure what the asking price is right now for a Jason Spezza but I’d love to see him as a rental for the stretch drive. Adding a veteran center who still has some offensive ability couldn’t hurt. It wasn’t that long ago that he was still able to put up 50 points in this league in Dallas in 2016-17. Yes, Spezza has 18 points so far with Toronto, but I wonder where his totals would have been if he started the year by having Sheldon Keefe as the bench boss and not Mike Babcock who had a habit of giving Jason a nice warm seat in the player’s suite at Scotiabank Arena
@KkevrockK: This is going to be shocking but the team is on a pretty good roll right now so the biggest move they can make is not making any as long as they don’t go into a slump. If scoring drops off and they slump I think we need to see Benson called up though.
2. An especially unkind December could have pushed Mike Smith off the roster. Since January has begun, he’s compiled four wins in his last five games. Will his usage go up? Does this change anything for Mikko Koskinen? What should we expect from MIke Smith between now and the end of the season?
@Jackie_Bee16: Mike Smith seems to be pretty on par for where he was last season - so I really don’t know what to expect from him. My hope is that he continues to play as well as he has been, and just like most goalies in the league, the more games they play, the better they seem to play. I do think that Tippett is smart in playing each goalie for runs of games at a time to keep their head in it, but I find that the first game they come back after the switch is a little shaky for them. I don’t think Tippett is going to switch that up much - but he’s definitely riding the hot hand of Smithers right now. I would imagine that we’ll see Smith and Koskinen playing stretches of 3 or 4 games at a time. There’s no clear number one goalie there in my opinion so I feel like it’s more of a waiting game to see who’s hot that’s going to determine what happens as we roll later into the season.
@OilerDadMike: Smith’s been either hot or cold. I think at this time of year, Tipp will run with the hot tender. Whether or not that’s Smith or Koski. Unless it’s back to back. Allegiance is to winning.
@Avry: I think until he hits another bump in the road, Dave Tippett keeps turning to him for the foreseeable future. I admit I’ve been one of the biggest critics of Smith this season but he’s been getting the wins in between the pipes this past week even if his save percentage still concerns me. I don’t want to crown Smith the true #1 right now because we’ve seen him hit cold spots. If I’m Mikko the last thing I do is see myself as a backup right now.
@KkevrockK: I don’t think anything has changed with our goaltenders, and barring a further sickness/injury we can look forward to a full 1A/1B scenario with a fairly even split of games.
3. As of January 19th, 2020, Kailer Yamamoto has been with the big club for eight games. In his time, he’s scored six points (2-4-6). Has he seen his last game in Bakersfield? Why, or why not?
@Jackie_Bee16: Yamo has impressed me - which is kind of amazing because the last time he was called up - I thought he was too small and living the “AHL For Life” motto. This season, he’s definitely proven that he can play bigger than he is and can put points on the board. I love his game right now and if he keeps playing the way he is, he won’t be going to back to Bako.
@OilerDadMike: Yammo is up for good, he’s had a couple cups of coffee in the bigs. He’s better prepared mentally and physically to handle the rigors of the NHL. He’s hones his craft in Bako, done what the caches expected of him. Now it’s time to find consistency at this level. Sounds like he may have a more important role with some PK time coming after the break. Makes other expendable (Looking at you JJ and PR)
@Avry: I truly want to believe he’s played his last game in Bakersfield, he’s been fitting in nicely in the Oilers top six forwards and hasn’t let his size hold him back at this level. Kailer has a scoring touch that’s needed among this group, if he struggles at times let him figure it out he’s only 21.
@KkevrockK: Kailer has seen his last days in the AHL, I don’t feel there’s any question that he’s brought chemistry to the second line with Draisaitl and Nuge and he’s going to be a key part in the second half push now.
Thanks again to these folks for their time. They talk contracts, Zack Kassian and the playoffs on Thursday. Join us tomorrow, and then join us on Thursday. Join us Friday too. It’s a bye week.