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As the summer rolls on and NHL rosters start to take shape, I find myself wondering (again) what the plan is here in Edmonton. This time around, I look at the top-six, cashing in on the low cost bets, and that damned Jesse Puljujarvi situation.

Here we are on a sunny Sunday in July and your old pal Baggedmilk is worrying about the Oilers again. I find myself pacing around the house asking, “what’s going on with the roster” or “when is Holland going to trade somebody” or “is it possible for Connor to get 200 points?” It’s not necessarily that I don’t trust the new GM, I’m certainly willing to give Holland a chance to navigate the hellish path left for him by Peter Chiarelli, it’s just that we’ve been hurt so many times before that it’s hard to let one’s guard down and respect the process. So I do want to give him the benefit of the doubt and some time to figure things out. That said, I can’t help but look at the roster as it currently stands and wonder how the hell this patchwork crew of random humans is going to turn the ship around and get us back in the big dance. Could Gaetan Haas be The Answer? What about Joakim Nygard? I certainly hope so, but what’s plan B or C going to be just in case they don’t work out? As the title of the article suggests, I have questions.

THE TOP SIX

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried to check out from thinking too much about how the current top-six group can reasonably be expected to produce more given that it’ll basically be the same people pencilled into those slots as we saw last year. At this stage of the off-season, there’s not really much point in worrying too much about how little scoring depth the Oilers have at their disposal, right? At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. Then, on Thursday, Dusty was filming another episode of Inside the Nation and started playing around with what the line combinations might look like if Dave Tippett decided he wanted to roll with the three Cs having their own lines, and, needless to say, it was not pretty.

Here’s what he came up with:

Anybody think that’s good enough? No? Cool. Heading into the Draft, I wondered if Ken Holland was going to be able to get something done that would could help alleviate some of the pressure from the big three. Obviously, those concerns have yet to be addressed but I think it’s important to remember how much of the load those three guys carried in 2018-19:

In 2018-19, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins accounted for 119 of the Oilers 232 goals which works out to 51% of the team’s total offence. Add in Alex Chiasson’s 22 goals and that number jumps to 61% which is obviously not nearly good enough. Needless to say, it’s pretty tough to win hockey games when the bulk of your offence comes from three or four guys and it’s a situation that Holland will need to address sooner than later but how he gets that done will be anyone’s guess.

If the Oilers are going to have any success this season, they’re going to either add another piece to a top six that desperately needs one, or get bounce-back/career seasons from basically everyone else. They simply cannot have as many nights where McDraiNuge are the only ones scoring and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it. To put it another way, when you look at the roster above, do you see a team that won’t be wasting another year of Connor McDavid’s contract? Thoughts and prayers, friends.

WILL A SCRATCH TICKET PAY OFF

With not much money to play with in his first season as Oilers GM, Ken Holland chose to run with a volume play to upgrade the bottom six rather than fish for high-cost free agents on July 1st, a plan that makes sense given how ineffective those two lines were any time they were on the ice. That said, it was definitely risky to leave the top-six effectively the same (so far) while using what they had for cap space on scratch tickets like @Joakim Nygard, @Gaetan Haas, @Tomas Jurco, and @Markus Granlund. Outside of Granlund, the other three players have yet to prove that they can play at the NHL level and I do wonder if any of these guys will be able to justify their spot on the roster. Don’t get me wrong, I hope that all of them come in and crush it, but that’s still too much hope in that equation for me. Given the $2.6 million spent on Nygard, Haas, and Jurco, I think it’s fair to have questions about whether that money could have been better spent on more of a “sure thing.”

JESSE PULJUJARVI

I know it’s been beaten to death already so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but I can’t help but wonder if this summer is going the way that Jesse and his agent thought it would? We all know that the kid wants out of Edmonton, we’ve been writing about it here for months, but you have to believe that the Puljujarvi camp thought that they would have won this game of chicken by now. Instead, Old Dutch dug his heels in and called Markus Lehto’s bluff about Puljujarvi spending the year in Europe, something the agent has recently denied even saying which is a bold strategy when the conversation was on the record, and I wonder if they saw this result coming. Personally, I like the way Ken Holland is letting this play out. You absolutely know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Peter Chiarelli would have caved already had he been in this position so I appreciate the way that Holland is refusing the let the inmates take over the prison.

Obviously, there is still a lot of summer left for a trade to be made, but as a new season draws closer, I’m starting to feel like it’s more likely that Puljujarvi will be back in an Oilers jersey when October rolls around. With his value at an all-time low, wouldn’t it make sense for him to come into camp in the best shape of his life, bust his ass, and increase his value to a point where Uncle Ken can find a deal he likes? That way, both sides would get what they want in the end, though it would take a little bit longer than the Puljujarvi side would probably like. But really, how this will end is anyone’s guess at this point.

WHAT SAY YOU?

Like I said up top, these are just a few of the thoughts that are rolling around in my mind now that we’re heading into the dead space that is August in the NHL. Obviously, there is still plenty of time for Ken Holland to make a deal and improve what looks like a very thin roster right now, but I do wonder how long we’ll have to wait and what it’ll look like. Now that I’ve emptied my brain of the few thoughts I’m able of producing, I’m curious to know what you guys think and what are the biggest questions you have as we roll through July. Is there something specific you’re looking forward to seeing how it gets handled? Something you’re nervous about? Let me know in the comments section and we can get to work on solving these issues together.

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday). Tee off at 2 p.m.
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.


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