It was a fun day to be an Oilers fan, as we got to see Todd McLellan run the troops through their paces and use the universal language of hockey (WHERE would the industry be without the F-Bomb?) to begin a ‘culture change’ in the organization. I wrote about the need for two-way players today over at ON and for me Todd McLellan’s search over these weeks will involve finding responsible players.
Interesting tidbit… #Oilers McLellan went out of his way to bring up Lander-Draisaitl-Yakupov line today. Said they can be dangerous.
— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) September 18, 2015
Anton Lander took his time to emerge as an NHL player, you could make the case he didn’t show his entire arsenal until January 2015 (5.5 years after he was drafted)—but I would counter that the blame lies in an organization unable to differentiate between an emerging talent in need of seasoning and a player who had taken a significant step forward and stood out in a (very) short sample size. As it stands, Lander looks like a key component on the 3line for 2015-16 (although this is early days) and if he can hold that job Edmonton has a major issue solved.
Leon Draisaitl has several things that make him unique among Oilers forwards. Although I would count passing as his main strength, Edmonton has so many of them now it will (literally) make our heads spin. Leon’s size, strength, puck protection ability and determination are things that stand out and it’s little surprise Todd McLellan was on him right away as a possible option.
Nail Yakupov is the prime candidate for “shooter” among Edmonton’s forwards and it’s something Todd McLellan clearly values. That is NOT the sum of Yakupov’s game (he’s an excellent passer and can bring a substantial physical game—ask the Jets!) but could be a big part of his value this season to what could be an emerging line.
5×5 shots per 60 (Oilers forwards 2014-15)
- Nail Yakupov 8.43
- Taylor Hall 7.55
- Matt Hendricks 7.18
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 7.10
- Jordan Eberle 6.33
- Teddy Purcell 6.23
- Todd McLellan: “The interesting line for me is that Draisaitl-Lander-Yakupov line. If we can get them gelling and playing the right way, they can be very dangerous. That’s a goal of ours anyway.”
I imagine a lot of what will be required is finding the soft parade for this trio. At home, that’s an easier item, but on the road there may be some heavy shifts and some difficult nights. Anton Lander’s role on this line should not be underestimated, it’s a major increase in prominence for the young Swede. I’m absolutely thrilled with the possibilities for Yakupov, who should also get a power-play push based on those shooting numbers.
It’s been a good day.
Photo by Trevor Wear. All rights reserved.