WORD ON A WING

It is a Saturday night in mid-January, and Leon Draisaitl is pumping those legs and driving up the middle of the ice. As he approaches center, he commits and passes to Teddy Purcell and presses toward the blue line. Purcell quickly gains the zone, and sees a passing lane to Taylor Hall as the Calgary defense gives up the line so they can contain Leon. It is beautiful, clinical and deadly effective.

I love that Leon, but cannot decide if that version is better than the one we saw playing right-side with Nuge and Taylor Hall earlier in the season. The big man is a load no matter, but the finesse side of his game—including those gorgeous backhanders to glory—seems more apparent on the wing.

Is it important? Yes, yes it is. If the Oilers use Draisaitl as a winger, we can look forward to a top 6F that has size on the wing on both lines:

  • Hall—Nuge—Draisaitl
  • Pouliot—McDavid—Eberle/Yakupov/Kassian

If the German stays at pivot, the look of the top two lines changes a lot:

  • Hall—Draisaitl—Eberle
  • Pouliot/Kassian—McDavid—Yakupov

In this scenario, I see Nuge on a third line, with perhaps Pouliot or Kassian and an inexpensive winger like Iiro Pakarinen or Anton Slepyshev.

WHEN WILL WE KNOW?

A lot of this depends on how the summer shopping goes. I also think we could see a signing this month (Purcell) that would heavily impact things. If I were king, my forward keeper list would be McDavid, Hall, Nuge, Leon, Eberle—until at least 2019. I suspect we see that group broken up long before then, possibly as early as this summer.

kassian capture

CONDORS PLAY TONIGHT

The Bakersfield Condors play tonight, it might be the last AHL game for Zack Kassian for exactly one long time. We could see Griffin Reinhart recalled as well, and I would not rule out a roster move Monday (McDavid, Davidson coming off IR, getting mighty crowded). One of the things I like to do around this time each season is to check 20-year old AHL scoring. Here is last year:

 

  1. Charles Hudon (HAM) 43gp, 11-25-37
  2. Brendan Leipsic (MIL) 39gp, 4-27-31
  3. Connor Brown (TOR) 41gp, 11-20-31
  4. Mikhail Grigorenko (ROC) 36gp, 10-20-30
  5. Alexander Khokhlachev (PRO) 36gp, 10-20-30
  6. Emile Poirier (ADI) 34gp, 12-15-27
  7. Connor Carrick (HER) 40gp, 6-21-27
  8. Kerby Rychel (SPR) 38gp, 12-14-26
  9. Chris Tierney (WOR) 24gp, 6-17-23
  10. Tuevo Taravainen (ROC) 33gp, 6-17-23
  11. Nick Kerdiles (NOR) 43gp, 8-15-23
  12. Derrick Pouliot (WSB) 27gp, 7-15-22
  13. J-S Dea (WSB) 37gp, 10-9-19
  14. Henrik Samuelsson (POR) 41gp, 8-11-19
  15. Ryan Culkin (ADI) 34gp, 1-17-18
  16. Justin Auger (MAN) 38gp, 6-12-18
  17. Taylor Leier (LEH) 39gp, 9-9-18
  18. Ryan Pulock (BST) 29gp, 12-5-17
  19. Ville Pokka (ROC) 38gp, 6-11-17
  20. Bogdan Yakimov (OKC) 38gp, 6-11-17

And this year:

  1. Mikko Rantanen (SA) 26, 13-19-32 (he is 19!!)
  2. Michael McCarron (STJ) 42, 13-15-28
  3. Jason Dickinson (TEX) 45, 10-18-28
  4. Nick Ritchie (SAN) 30, 15-11-26
  5. Anthony DeAngelo (SYR) 41, 4-21-25
  6. Chase De Leo (MAN) 42, 11-13-24
  7. Jordan Subban (UTI) 35, 7-16-23
  8. Jordan Schmaltz (CHI) 42, 3-19-22
  9. Tobias Lindberg (BIN) 30 4-17-21
  10. Adrian Kempe (ONT) 31, 8-12-20
  11. Ivan Barbashev (CHI) 37, 7-13-20
  12. Nic Petan (MAN) 27, 3-17-20
  13. Nikolay Goldobin (SJ) 32, 11-8-19
  14. Vladislav Kamenev (MIL) 27, 8-11-19
  15. Chris Bigras (SA) 37, 6-13-19
  16. Sergey Tolchinsky (CHA) 39, 5-13-18
  17. Justin Bailey (ROC) 44, 6-11-17
  18. Adam Erne (CHA) 30, 8-8-16
  19. Shea Theodore (SAN) 28, 4-12-16
  20. Madison Bowey (HER) 40, 3-13-16

Edmonton’s top 20 year old is Kyle Platzer (32, 5-8-13) who is about where Bogdan Yakimov was offensively a season ago. The most impressive October-to-January 20 year old in recent Oilers AHL history? Teemu Hartikainen (50, 14-18-32).

 

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53 Responses to "WORD ON A WING"

  1. böök¡je says:

    Wait, aren’t we supposed to get angry at people who call Nuge a 3rd liner.

  2. pocession charge says:

    Why not alternate Nuge and Leon on that top line depending on the matchup? I’m sure Nuge would very capable on that RW, too.

  3. flyfish1168 says:

    pocession charge:
    Why not alternate Nuge and Leon on that top line depending on the matchup?I’m sure Nuge would very capable on that RW, too.

    I agree. This way they can take F/O on their strong side or if one gets thrown out we still have another centerman ready. This would be good for possession.

  4. Bails14 says:

    flyfish1168: I agree. This way they can take F/O on their strong side or if one gets thrown out we still have another centerman ready. This would be good for possession.

    Leon and Nuge are both lefties, but the second point about having another centre step in is nice.

  5. Bank Shot says:

    León is already better than Nuge on face offs as well so I guess you could have him taking all the draws and then switching to the wing afterwards.

    I think you almost have to play RNH in the top six to keep up his value and justify his salary.

    If the Nuge ends up playing March /April with Pouliot/Hendricks I don’t think he’ll be posting much offence.

  6. Loyal2theoil says:

    Sorry for being Nitpicky hahah

    Nick Ritchie plays for ANA farm team, Texas would be Brett! A good player no doubt.

  7. AsiaOil says:

    You are degrading RNH’s value as a top line center by playing him on the 3rd line – might as well trade him now if that’s the intended deployment and get a Berglund type who will put up similar numbers in a 3rd line role. No if you are keeping RNH then you play him with Drai and Hall onte top line and ramp the hell out of his numbers and trade value.

  8. godot10 says:

    1) The scoring rate of Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Draisaitl in the few games they were together was eighty-esque. They are going to revisit it to see if it was real. Draisaitl isn’t remotely scoring goals at the rate he was when he was on wing with those Hall and Nugent-Hopkins. If one has an unstoppable line, one plays it till someone stops it. McLellan and Chiarelli both have a history of having six centres on the roster and playing two of them on wing. The model for this line is Krejci between two big wingers in Lucic and Horton.

    2) They are going to look at McDavid and Eberle. They have to look at all the possibilities before they trade Eberle. Yakupov back with McDavid can wait since Yakupov isn’t on the trading block.

    3) Lucic is not feasible without trading Pouliot.

    4) Shattenkirk or Burns at $7 million per season in an area of desperate need is worth paying full value for. Stamkos at $10 million when you have Draisaitl, McDavid, and Nugent-Hopkins is a waste of money.

    5) Even though Lander has only two points. He is earning 50% of what it would cost to replace him on the UFA market. If he is replaced, it will be by Jujhar, not by a $2 million dollar UFA. Dirt cheap players filling out the roster are necessary if you want Shattenkirk’s and Lucic’s.

  9. flyfish1168 says:

    Bails14: Leon and Nuge are both lefties, but the second point about having another centre step in is nice.

    I realize they are both lefties, they may still have a preferred side depending technique. Leon on the right wing side using his backhand is a thing of beauty

  10. Pouzar says:

    godot10: The scoring rate of Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Draisaitl in the few games they were together was eighty-esque. They are going to revisit it to see if it was real. Draisaitl isn’t remotely scoring goals at the rate he was when he was on wing with those Hall and Nugent-Hopkins.

    This.

    That line was sick. Admittedly it had nothing to do with Nuge.

  11. bigbadbruin24 says:

    If the Hawks are as interested in Purcell as rumoured elsewhere and you can snafu their first round pick out of them which is very likely to be in the 25-30 range, is that pick and Jultz then enough to get Hamonic from the Isles? Or one step further, what would you have to add to that pick to grab Vatanen from the Ducks knowing it would be more than Schultz of course.

    I purcellany (see what I did there) think Teddy is most likely at max value right now so if you can grab a 25-30 range pick you do it in a heartbeat.

    I am in the camp that thinks there will be multiple moves by the Oilers prior to the trade deadline this year. We shall see.

  12. leadfarmer says:

    A center is worth more than a winger. Quite a bit more. Drai is already mature with face offs and defensive side of centers responsibility. There is no reason to switch him to wing. Teams are trying to get 3 scoring lines and a low minute checking line cause if you don’t have the puck on your stick you’re being scored on. Why does it seem like our brain trust is always behind the game by a few years. For a while it was hoarding defensive defensemen when everyone else realized that you have to be able to skate and make a pass in the new NHL. Now our coach has been gifted with the possibility of 3 scoring lines and he scoffs at it cause the game is passing him by. If you have NcDavid Drai and Nuge you need to play them 19 min a night, move LaTestube to wing and help with face offs as needed and fill in when injuries happen and not give a rats ass what scrub plays 4 min a night killing penalties on the 4th line, or as I call it perfect Lander deployment. This is a gift for this team and they are trying to build a team for 2010 not 2016.

  13. Water Fire says:

    I looked at the best teams and compared their rosters to what Gary said and he isn’t reflecting truth as usual, unless players earning 1M or less are skill players.

    All NHL players have skill – see Rob Klinkhammer in AHL and skills comp. Skill doesn’t mean what you think it means Gary.

    Nobody good has 3 expensive centres playing centre. Most have a lot tied up in 8 players, typically 4 forwards 3 defense and a goalie.

    If you pick the best 4 overall forward players the Oilers have

    4 F McDavid Hall Nuge Leon

    3 D Sekera Klef Nurse

    G Talbot

    Everyone else over 1 – 2 M will have to move and any other upgrades mean one of these has to go in the next 3 years. This is the core as it stands. Having 3 great centres in it doesn’t suck.

  14. leadfarmer says:

    bigbadbruin24,

    There is no way anyone is going to give you a first round pick for a Purcell rental.

  15. nelson88 says:

    Rantanen gives a taste of the riches were we fortunate enough to select Laine.

    if we can’t make the playoffs a nice back 1/3 of the season and 20th overall with a win in the “3rd pick lottery” would be fine with me. Matthews is nice but no need to get greedy….

  16. leadfarmer says:

    Water Fire,

    Exactly. Having a number one center in the ice pretty much every minute of every game is a gift. If you can keep the guys happy you run with it. When Pittsburgh had Crosby, Malkin and Staal they weren’t going around trying to get rid of one. They ran with it until Staal wasn’t happy anymore. You need to spread the wealth around to keep everyone happy enough that the buy into what you are trying to do

  17. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “The big man is a load no matter, but the finesse side of his game—including those gorgeous backhanders to glory—seems more apparent on the wing.”

    Would one say the same of Thornton, I wonder?

  18. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    “The big man is a load no matter, but the finesse side of his game—including those gorgeous backhanders to glory—seems more apparent on the wing.”

    Would one say the same of Thornton, I wonder?

    Probably. The thing about Draisaitl is we are still getting the scope of him.

  19. Water Fire says:

    leadfarmer:
    Water Fire,

    Exactly.Having a number one center in the ice pretty much every minute of every game is a gift.If you can keep the guys happy you run with it.When Pittsburgh had Crosby, Malkin and Staal they weren’t going around trying to get rid of one.They ran with it until Staal wasn’t happy anymore. You need to spread the wealth around to keep everyone happy enough that the buy into what you are trying to do

    To me running the ideal id something like Lucic McDavid Nuge, and Hall and Leon on the other line. Yak may be able to stay if he keeps close to 3M and would be nice as the other RW.

    I’m not counting on Kassian yet but he could play the Lucic role Nuge McDavid Kassian.

    I think most of the action comes on the D.

  20. who says:

    bigbadbruin24,

    So you think Vatanen would cost more in a trade than Hamonic. Why? I think Hamonic is a much better dman with a better contract although Vatanen probably brings more offense.

  21. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Lowetide: Probably. The thing about Draisaitl is we are still getting the scope of him.

    Of course, we’ve got McLellan here. He seemed to figure out how to run a few scoring lines where everyone seemed to be a center.

    And, Draisaitl fills the viewfinder.

  22. G Money says:

    leadfarmer,

    This is correct. When the Pens had those three, the average ice time was 22, 22, and 19 mins. That’s 63 minutes … in other words, even taking into account OT, on average one of those three was on the ice every minute of every game.

    It’s instructive to look at the makeup of the D on that team as well.

    They had three puck movers (34 yo Gonchar, 25 yo Whitney, 21 yo Letang), and three big strong traditional defensive defenders (33 yo Gill, 29 yo Scuderi, 27 yo Orpik).

    The thing I would point out most is the enormous contrast in ages between their three centres (20, 21, and 22 years old) and their defense, where they were breaking in just one rookie, and he being 21 yo at that).

    If the Oilers can somehow keep their 3 young C, plus Taylor Hall – the 2009 Stanley Cup Penguins had NO WINGERS anywhere close to Hall in talent, their best was probably Ruslan Fedotenko or maybe Kunitz FFS – and add eg. any two of Hamonic/Shat/Buff/Vatanen – this team would likely have a core just as good or better than that team.

    That’s why I’m against the idea of selling off one of the Cs to buy a D, who for sure will not be a 1D.

    It’s not a model that makes sense given the particular unique assets this team has.

  23. supernova says:

    LT,

    Have you ever done this AHL scoring count for 21 year olds as well?

  24. Lowetide says:

    supernova:
    LT,

    Have you ever done this AHL scoring count for 21 year olds as well?

    A few times, but honestly the really good ones have been called up yonder.

  25. bigbadbruin24 says:

    who,

    Don’t get me wrong I like them both and would gladly take either on my team. I just think Vatanen would cost the Oilers more for two main reasons. First, with Hamonic wanting a trade to only a handful of teams, the Isles may finally let him go for a bit less and secondly, Vatanen may cost the Oilers more due to being in the same division with the Ducks.

    My personal preference would be to give a slight edge to Sami because of his power play proficiency but either one would be a great add for the Oilers.

    Cheers.

  26. who says:

    bigbadbruin24,

    Fair enough. Maybe we see them the same way but value their strengths differently.

  27. anonymous says:

    No to signing Purcell unless it’s in the offseason, cheap and for one year. Cap crunch is coming and Purcell has buyers remorse written all over him. Best bet is waiting and signing veteran depth off the scrap heap in the summer and seeing what works.

    I’d hate to lose Nuge or any of the young core because there’s too many Purcells and Pouliots that you can’t trade. This is a move I’d expect from previous management.

  28. leadfarmer says:

    G Money,

    That’s why listening to TMacs speak about two offensive lines a defensive line and a grinding crash and hang line drives me nuts. While most teams don’t have the luxury of 3 scoring lines, you don’t look at a center depth chart of MacDavid, Draisatl, and Nuge and go how can I turn one of these guys into a defensive grinder. Break the scoring lines into pairs plus a two way guy if you have to. If you can’t fix the defense without trading one in the future that’s understandable. I just don’t understand why TMac would reject the idea. I would be in heaven if I knew that one of MacDavid, Draisatl or Nuge would be on the ice every shift of a game.

  29. leadfarmer says:

    anonymous:
    No to signing Purcell unless it’s in the offseason, cheap and for one year. Cap crunch is coming and Purcell has buyers remorse written all over him. Best bet is waiting and signing veteran depth off the scrap heap in the summer and seeing what works.

    I’d hate to lose Nuge or any of the young core because there’s too many Purcells and Pouliots that you can’t trade.This is a move I’d expect from previous management.

    Really, I actually would say trading an established player for a second round draft pick who only has a 25% chance of becoming an established player is something you would expect from previous management. If they can sign him to a decent contract than I would do it, if not then goodbye.

  30. anonymous says:

    leadfarmer: Really, I actually would say trading an established player for a second round draft pick who only has a 25% chance of becoming an established player is something you would expect from previous management.If they can sign him to a decent contract than I would do it, if not then goodbye.

    I guess it depends on what a decent contract is. Purcell was on the scrap heap not long ago. He’s going to want to cash in and they just paid a good amount to Talbot for what is roughly a 50 game sample size. I can’t see liking a contract Purcell signs before the deadline.

  31. Pouzar says:

    Heat scores a SH goal

    1-0

    EDIT: 1-1

  32. Pouzar says:

    Leggs!

  33. Pouzar says:

    Bakersfield Condors ‏@Condors 2m2 minutes ago
    CONDORS GOAL!!!! @JLaLeggia21 answers right back on the PP. His 7th. Tied for the rookie d-man lead. 1-1 with 9 min. left. #Condorstown

  34. Pouzar says:

    Leggs from Oesterle, Khaira PP

    1-1

  35. Lowetide says:

    Laleggia, from Oesterle and Khaira on the PP. 1-1 now.

  36. leadfarmer says:

    anonymous,

    He’s got to know he’s taking a pay cut next year and a sizable one. It depends on how happy he is here and how reasonable his demands are. If you can sign him for under 3 mil for next year or 2.5 mil for 2 years I would do it.

  37. wheatnoil says:

    Pouzar:
    Bakersfield Condors ‏@Condors2m2 minutes ago
    CONDORS GOAL!!!! @JLaLeggia21 answers right back on the PP. His 7th. Tied for the rookie d-man lead. 1-1 with 9 min. left. #Condorstown

    Does he count as a rookie D-man if he’s played half his games on the wing?

  38. Pouzar says:

    wheatnoil: Does he count as a rookie D-man if he’s played half his games on the wing?

    Yeah good question.

  39. MrEd says:

    I wonder if Chia is wondering about turnover this year?
    Obviously this team has holes but man does starting fresh with a new roster every year get tired.

    Leons(L) is a centre Imo. He seems smart. And strong. The dot seems like something he’ll want to learn to own.

    McDavid(L) will finesse the dot. Because he’s better than the other guy.

    The Nuge(L) is stuck on the dot. I blame his whippy stick. Seriously. I don’t think RNH has much of an upside taking face-offs. This point is a big deal.

    Lander(L), Letestu(R) and Chase(R) represent the current coverage.

    So:
    Nuge can’t be responsible for the traditional “3rd line” coverage position as a C.
    A RH centre committed to the craft will be a possession giant. Physics says so Imo.

    I don’t think Letestu can cover 3rd line C.

    Next year:

    Hall-Leons-xxx
    xxx-McDavid-Kassian
    Hendi-xxx-xxx
    xxx-Letestu-xxx :up front.

  40. MrEd says:

    Lowetide,

    There is reasonable and then there is hope. Let’s hope we’re right.

  41. anonymous says:

    leadfarmer,

    Prefer 1 year but can’t see him signing either before the deadline.

  42. eastcoastoil says:

    So i went back and looked and there were only three games where we ran:

    Hall-Nuge-Drai–20 points

    pou-mcdavid-yak–3 points

    extreme production from one line but the other, meh

  43. oilfaninvan says:

    Lowetide,

    Where can you watch the game?

  44. Lowetide says:

    eastcoastoil:
    So i went back and looked and there were only three games where we ran:

    Hall-Nuge-Drai–20 points

    pou-mcdavid-yak–3 points

    extreme production from one line but the other, meh

    Extremely small sample size. I did like that line, though. Crazy skill.

  45. Water Fire says:

    Purcell and Gryba are probably summer signings depending on what happens with acquisitions. Purcell is scoring but one dimensional IMO and doesnt fit the heavy thing. If any of the heavy wingers hit UFA Chia will pass if he can get one or two.

    Gryba will depend on if they can get more than one D. They seem to like him but he’s limited and they may want an offensive option there until somebody else gets their PP mojo together.

  46. slopitch says:

    Sell high on Purcell now. Purcell is not the river pusher on the line. He’s well liked and a good fit but he’s not a 4.5m player. I think he’ll need to hit the market to see that 3m is prob all he’ll get. He’s a good fit but he’s replaceable.

    When was the last trade and sign the oilers pulled off? Marty Reasoner?

  47. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Pouzar: This.

    That line was sick. Admittedly it had nothing to do with Nuge.

    The winning goal against Montreal with 1:02 left in regulation says hi. Leon’s first game, he was the goal scoring hero, but it was Nuge’s steal & sauce that made it happen. Just one example that springs to mind, but there were more.

  48. JDï™ says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Just one example that springs to mind, but there were more.

    Nuge should have been charged for indecency on that play. Filthy-foul-filth-foulness.

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/draisaitl-oilers-canadiens-recap-1.3295832

  49. Bruce McCurdy says:

    JDï™: Nuge should have been charged for indecency on that play. Filthy-foul-filth-foulness.

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/draisaitl-oilers-canadiens-recap-1.3295832

    Yeah that’s the one. Just as I remembered it. 🙂

  50. OF17 says:

    wheatnoil: Does he count as a rookie D-man if he’s played half his games on the wing?

    As per Laleggia on Oilers Now, he only played 6 or 7 games at wing, it just came at a time when they were only playing twice a week so it seemed like a lot more.

  51. square_wheels says:

    MrEd,

    This ! If Chia trades Nuge it’s due to him being inadequate in the FO circle and not the 5×5 point producing equal of Leon and McD. This forward core has some serious possession and retrieval skill gaps, so if we run the Gmoney sponsored 3 C’s, I’d have some reservations about Nuge unless he’s able to absolutely dominate at EV. It may mean finding him a replacement Ebs that likes to cycle, but there is no debating this team is comical if it doesn’t win a draw.

    We can’t rely on Letestu and Hendricks players to drive offence but we need them to win FO’s ?

    Not saying I agree with the trade scenarios involving the Nuge but this is what’s causing our GM heartburn.

  52. leadfarmer says:

    Can someone wake LT up. My coffee is ready and I’m ready for my hockey fix. I would do it but I live 2000 miles away.

  53. haters says:

    MrEd:
    I wonder if Chia is wondering about turnover this year?
    Obviously this team has holes but man does starting fresh with a new roster every year get tired.

    Leons(L)is a centre Imo.He seems smart.And strong.The dot seems like something he’ll want to learn to own.

    McDavid(L) will finesse the dot.Because he’s better than the other guy.

    The Nuge(L)is stuck on the dot. I blame his whippy stick. Seriously. I don’t think RNH has much of an upside taking face-offs.This point is a big deal.

    Lander(L), Letestu(R)and Chase(R) represent the current coverage.

    So:
    Nuge can’t be responsible for the traditional “3rd line” coverage position as a C.
    A RH centre committed to the craft will be a possession giant.Physics says so Imo.

    I don’t think Letestu can cover 3rd line C.

    Next year:

    Hall-Leons-xxx
    xxx-McDavid-Kassian
    Hendi-xxx-xxx
    xxx-Letestu-xxx:up front.

    No idea what the heck your going on about here. Sorry.

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