MCLELLAN’S FIRST OILERS LINEUP

Jordan Oesterle (in photo, by Rob Ferguson) can wheel. Todd McLellan’s Oilers are going to have good motors, forecheck like demons and let the blasted puck do much of the work. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s have a chat. In the spring, I spoke to Derek from FEAR THE FIN about McLellan’s teams and what they looked like up front and on the back end (among other things). Since we’ve seen a bunch of transactions since the conversation, I thought it might be an idea to see what Peter Chiarelli did to make this more of a McLellan team.

EVEN STRENGTH

  • Derek/Fear the Fin: “He plays a bit of a conservative system in the neutral zone, there’s a lot of dump and chase hockey but it works unlike your average dump and chase team because they play a very aggressive forecheck. It’s the two-on-two offensive forecheck the Kings and the Blues have had a lot of success with. The defenseman on the strong side will pinch to keep the puck in the zone and the extra forward (high forward) will cycle back to cover him on the point.”

Peter Chiarelli added some speed to the forward group (Korpikoski is a fast train, McDavid is a bullet train, Letestu is faster than Gordon) and the addition of Andrej Sekera should help in all offensive situations. If the Oilers are going to win battles on the forecheck, one suspects names like Benoit Pouliot, Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov may become more useful in the McLellan deployment. One player who may have a hard time with the forechecking? Teddy Purcell. He isn’t fast and winning puck battles isn’t a strength. One player who might adjust well to a forechecking role on the wing? Leon Draisaitl. He’s big and faster than he’s given credit.

DEFENSE

  • Derek/Fear the Fin: “For most of his (San Jose) tenure it was pretty much a puck mover with a stay-at-home type on the blue line. We saw a bit of a shift the last few years as the Sharks acquired more puck-moving guys. For the most part I think he’s going to look to shelter more offensive types with a defensive defenseman.”

This is interesting, as the Oilers have sufficient puck movers and stay-at-homes to complete four pairings (Sekera—Fayne; Klefbom—Schultz; Nikitin—Gryba; Ference—Reinhart) before hitting the outskirts of Kern county. If there’s a shift, I’d really like to see Sekera—Klefbom and Nurse—Fayne, and in fact that’s what I see as the top 4D by the time Rexall closes in the spring.

TODD MCLELLAN’S OPENING NIGHT ROSTER (PROJECTED)

  • Goal: Cam Talbot (Ben Scrivens)
  • D1: Andrej Sekera—Mark Fayne
  • D2: Nikita Nikitin—Eric Gryba
  • D3: Oscar Klefbom—Justin Schultz
  • L1: Benot Pouliot—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jordan Eberle
  • L2: Taylor Hall—Connor McDavid—Teddy Purcell
  • L3: Lauri Korpikoski—Anton Lander—Nail Yakupov
  • L4: Matt Hendricks—Mark Letestu—Rob Klinkhammer

If the Oilers had two Eberle’s this would be much easier, and maybe Leon Draisaitl imposes his will here and knocks Purcell (and Korpikoski plus Klinkhammer) down one line on the depth chart. This team is bigger than it was, with the additions of Sekera, Gryba and Reinhart, as well as forward Korpikoski. Speed is better because of Sekera, Korpikoski and Letestu. They are not there yet, but you can see the areas Chiarelli wanted to address, and it’s also true that men like Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov are lower on the depth chart than they were under the MacT administration. I do believe we’re going to see a lot of in-season transactions and next summer could be mammoth.

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26 Responses to "MCLELLAN’S FIRST OILERS LINEUP"

  1. sportsjunkie007 says:

    I’ll vouch for Draisaitl’s speed. Watching him in Kelowna it was amazing. He’s got a hideous stride, but amazing speed. First few games here I heard other fans saying how they’d heard he wasn’t much of a skater… at the start of the game. Within a shift or two they would always say how wrong that rumor was.

  2. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    Every year I tell myself I won’t get sucked in. I’ll be reasonable.

    It never lasts.

    We’re going to be awesome.

    Plan the parade.

  3. JD¡™ David O'Connor's Reel says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!,

    It might take some time, but I can’t help but think having a bonafide coach is going to do more to quell the chaos than most people think.

    Also, I sincerely wish the San Diego Gulls all the best this season. I wonder if they’re going to re-brand The Swarm™ to The Flock™?

  4. Stelio Kontos (Formerly Zangetsu-Formerly Thinker) says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!,

    I usually have come down by now though. I really do think we should be disappointed with anything but playoffs this year.

  5. fifthcartel says:

    Re: Yakupov and Schultz

    One thing I found interesting was when Stauffer was on Reid Wilkins’ show on July 22nd, and around 36:30 he mentions that “there’s two guys, Yakupov and Schultz, that I don’t have penciled in 100% as long-term keepers here”.

    Stauffer then said he has 5 forwards (Hall, Eberle, McDavid, RNH, Draisaitl) and 3 defensemen (Nurse, Klefbom, Reinhart) that is essentially the ‘core’/whatever to build around, and said the coaching staff will make sure to put both in positions to succeed and that they need to have good years.

    I found this pretty interesting as I wonder if these are the guys that Chiarelli isn’t really convinced about, and think this could play into your “mammoth summer” idea.

  6. hags9k says:

    I think it will be Yakupov imposing his will during TC and we will see:

    Poo Nuge Ebs
    Hall McDizzy Yak
    Korp Letestu Purcell
    Hendricks Lander Klink

  7. hags9k says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!:
    Every year I tell myself I won’t get sucked in.I’ll be reasonable.

    It never lasts.

    We’re going to be awesome.

    Plan the parade.

    </blockquote]

    So true. Every August we are 100% going to the cup. GOILERS!!

  8. godot10 says:

    Eakins screwing up Anaheim’s farm team, perhaps one of the best farm systems in the last decade, is a summer bonus, considering Anaheim is poised to be the dominant team in the division.

    Murray and McNab are going to be despondent in a few months with their fallback choice for the job when they couldn’t get Travis Green.

  9. Hammers says:

    Like your idea of Leon with McDavid and Hall , pushing others down a notch but I would also go with Yak Lander , Hendricks

  10. kinger_OIL says:

    – I don’t doubt that LT gets the inside scoop these days, so this lineup is very believable

    – No Nurse or Reinhart to start is good: and they will be on stand-by, but…

    – …Good grief that D is brutal. Gryba, NN, Jultz: one should be a 7th D on a good team, because they each do some things ok, but none are currently bone fide. Gryba on bottom-pair at best

    – If Yak isn’t playing top-6 trade him to a team that will play him and treat him as such. If he doesn’t work with McD and Hall, he should be traded…

  11. Melman says:

    hags9k,

    I’m not sure about Letestu jumping Lander, but the table is set for Yak to come in and grab the 2R spot. He finished the year well, he’s going into his 4th season, fresh coaching staff – it’s all there for him. There’s rust and bumps for all teams over the first 10 games as they work the kinks out and the potential reward of a Hall-McDavid-Yak line is worth starting the season that way to give them a shot. Playing with those 2 will make him keep his feet moving and it’s pass the puck and head to the slot. The big IF is whether he can cover in his own end and avoid turnovers. If he can do that, the top 6 is a nightmare for other teams.

  12. Melman says:

    kinger_OIL,

    If he’s 3R after 40 games then it’s time to start shopping him…unless he’s pumping the net 🙂

  13. Cahoon says:

    Hammers,

    If Dr. Drai pushes the issue, what about Korps -Lander- Yak?

  14. Hammers says:

    Cahoon:
    Hammers,

    If Dr. Drai pushes the issue, what about Korps -Lander- Yak?

    Also a believe able solution. Biggest problem maybe utilizing Yak the right way and fitting Leon into the line up . What would Leon look like on rw with McD and Hall ?

  15. Dominoiler says:

    I really like the look of Kelfbom – Shultz as the third pair, compared to how they’ve played top pairing minutes last season. Can Gryba hold down a shutdown / Fayne type role, can Nikitan really hold it together with him? Those are big question marks. Im curious how Fayne will respond to a better pairing / zone start role, if he were to be paired w Sekera. We wait to find out.

    Also, for me, Lander is another guy (like yak) that could come into camp with a ton of confidence and get significant minutes this year. I think Lander could be a legit 2-way centre w playmaking ability and added intangibles (leadership, going to the net, screen the goalie, hard worker, extremely coachable).. thinking he could be the third line centre, but that he could play up w Hall and ‘McDizzy’ for faceoffs / offensive possession / quick change off with Letestu covering third line shifts when he gets caught out for longer.

    Poo Nuge Ebs
    Hall McDizzy Yak
    Korp Lander Purcell
    Hendricks Letestu Klink

    If yak cant click with anyone after this coming season then the 2R is a big hole
    (but Drai could work, no?.. extra centre / faceoffs, big body, good speed, more than enough skill to compliment.. hope that is a next year conversation, give those kids some time to man up in the A earning top minutes)

    We wait..

  16. vishcosity says:

    Pretty believable lineup. The Sekera for Petry seems like a wash, MM for Gryba same. So only two marquee variables: everyone a year older, and coaching. Hunter’s 2nd annual poll should be interesting.

    In other news, shot not heard around the world it seems that China has dumped its peg to the USD. This follows another article suggesting that China had pegged to gold.

    EDIT: I finally got html to work in a comment! learning. I’ve heard about this.

  17. jm363561 says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!,
    I usually have come down by now though. I really do think we should be disappointed with anything but playoffs this year..

    Slight downgrade on this – I will be disappointed if we are not playing meaningful games in March.

    Pretty believable lineup. The Sekera for Petry seems like a wash, MM for Gryba same. So only two marquee variables: everyone a year older, and coaching. Hunter’s 2nd annual poll should be interesting.

    I have seen the Petry = Sekera comments numerous times. The difference on D is we now have much greater Depth. When the inevitable injuries etc. occur we can plug in decent replacements unlike the last few years.

  18. mit167 says:

    I think I’d still like to see

    Hall RNH Draisatl
    Poo McD Ebs
    Korpi Lander Yak
    Hendy Letestu Purcell

  19. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    vishcosity: So only two marquee variables: everyone a year older, and coaching.

    I’m going to state the obvious here: McDavid.

  20. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    BTW: Today is John McCarron day.

    Happy John McCarron day everyone!

  21. anonymous says:

    A Gryba/ Nikitin second pairing is nightmarish.

    I don’t believe Yak is further down the list post Mact. The previous administration focused on his weaknesses. A smart GM/Coach wouldn’t have tried to turn a number 1 overall into a checking forward. If this was the need/plan he should have been traded immediately.

    People use Bowman/Yzerman as an example but Yzerman was over 30 and was the furthest thing from defensively responsible prior to Bowman. Eakins failed Yak miserably and Macts’ blind love for him failed the team. Looking forward to the door hitting him on the way out.

  22. Really? says:

    It seems that most posters ignore player types when putting together line combinations.

    Draisaitl on a line with Hall and McDavid ignores the fact that all 3 players are puck carriers and this is their personal strength. The same problem arises when you match Leon with RNH as they are both puck carrying playmakers.

    The foregoing suggests that Draisaitl should perhaps be considered for the 3C position. This will allow him to establish himself as the dominant player on that line and make use of his extraordinary puck distribution skills.

    If he is used as a Winger it may require LD to change his entire style of play. This could carry some risks.

  23. Mr. D. says:

    No doubt Gryba can play second pairing. When he was called up to replace Karlsson he jumped into first pairing Minutes with Marc Methot and that pairing did very well. If he’s put with a weak defender of course he will be less impressive. He’s here for a reason and it’s defence. No one can completely cover up for your partners errors. His strength is winning board battles, breaking cycles, and creating (boxing out) space for his goalie to see.

  24. Ryan says:

    Mr. D.:
    No doubt Gryba can play second pairing. When he was called up to replace Karlsson he jumped into first pairing Minutes with Marc Methot and that pairing did very well. If he’s put with a weak defender of course he will be less impressive. He’s here for a reason and it’s defence. No one can completely cover up for your partners errors. His strength is winning board battles, breaking cycles, and creating (boxing out) space for his goalie to see.

    He sounds like Ricki’s type of dman. How’re his Ricki’s magic box stats?

  25. cmuth says:

    Hall and McDavid won’t start together on the same line this year, there is way too much risk. Mcdavid is obviously a special player, but if you put him with Hall, he will most likely be playing against top pairing Defenceman like Weber, Doughty, Giordano etc. Put Hall, Nuge and Ebs together to take the heavy lifting, and give Mcdavid some big bodies that can produce like a Pouliot, Purcell or Draisatal while facing lesser competition. Remember Hall’s first couple years in the league? He was playing against top opposition and he consistently got crushed. There was a couple times where I thought he was dead on the ice. He’s lucky he didn’t get concussion problems. Give McDavid number 1 power play time, but let him ease his way into the NHL. Rushing the best prospect in decades into tough NHL minutes is an insane idea with no form of logic. Let Nuge, Ebs and Hall handle the top pairing Defenceman for at least half the year then maybe think about putting hall and mcdavid together.

  26. Mr. D. says:

    Ryan,

    I’m not a firm believer in many of the stats for D first players because they are based on offense. I wish d stats could be developed that solely depict defensive skills. Sure there are d zone face offs but that only tells what zone a player is in before the face off.

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