We know the Oilers roster is going to get a trim this summer, although the necessity of moving a big contract can wait until next June. One of the things I’ve seen suggested from time to time is running Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a soft minutes line. Considering he faced elite competition 42 percent of his 5×5 time last year, perhaps Nuge would benefit from playing softer competition, sharing the load with the team’s other top centers.
But a soft parade line? I don’t see it. First, Leon Draisaitl is likely to be more effective offensively against the easy competition. Nuge’s 5×5/60 numbers since his rookie season: 1.95, 1.12, 1.50, 1.92, 1.36 and 1.45 in 2016-17. I don’t know that his offensive outer marker is the equal of Leon.
Draisaitl’s numbers in his first two full seasons (2.20 and then 2.05 this past season) implies more impact offensively. Leon played a bunch with Connor McDavid, so we’d have to let some air out of them. Let’s compare their 2016-17 performances when away from 97.
- RNH: 10-14-24 in 1070 minutes (1.35 points-per-60)
- Draisaitl: 3-12-15 in 500 minutes (1.80 points-per-60)
I’d run the Nuge against elites (along with the McDavid line) and find a way (if possible) to get Draisaitl out there in good situations. Easier said than done, but then again three effective scoring lines are going to be a load no matter who gets the tough matchups. Someone is going to be getting a good situation.
POSSIBLE LINES 2017-18
Peter Chiarelli’s job is mostly about defense this summer, but there’s also an opportunity here to give Todd McLellan more things to work with next season. A lot of the faceoff innovation I’ve read about suggests ‘strong side’ deployment is ideal. If PC can find a RH center who can also play wing, that might be a terrific addition to the McDavid line. Candidates might include Mike Fisher, Calle Jarnkrok, Joe Pavelski, Claude Giroux, Derek Ryan, Travis Zajac, Mika Zibanejad, Tyler Johnson. Very few names in there seem plausible, I’ll note Zibanejad and Johnson, although Ryan would seem to be the most available. I don’t know that he has the offensive game to run with 97. Maybe they can teach Jesse Puljujarvi to win some faceoffs, he’s sure as hell big enough and when his man strength kicks in it could be a real advantage.
FLORIDA VIA VEGAS
The more I look at what’s out there, the more dealing for one of Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk or Jason Demers makes sense to me. The first two have been developed and should be ready for the hearts of their careers, and the third guy damn near signed here last summer. I don’t know if this gets done before the expansion draft or after, and of course it might not get done with Edmonton, but something is going to happen with that Panthers blue. Sure as hell.
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 15, 2017
Running around the Al Gore this morning, I’ve read folks talking about (not a rumor) Eberle for Phaneuf and Darren Dreger suggested interest in 14 from several teams, notably New York (Islanders) and Colorado.
We always talk about targets on these teams, but what if the Islanders are offering Andrew Ladd and his long, long contract in return for Eberle? There’s a difference between trading a guy and making your team better. If there was a value deal on the table, it would be done. That’s my take on the issue. Peter Chiarelli doesn’t have to make a trade right now, so that gives him some power in the negotiations. Remember, indifference as to the outcome of a negotiation is actually leverage. Does Garth Snow face more pressure to make a move than Peter Chiarelli? Suspect the answer is yes. I like Travis Hamonic as an option, have braced myself for Ryan Strome as a return, and wonder if there’s a bigger deal in there if Jaroslav Halak is included.
As for Colorado, haven’t seen too many mentions there this spring. My assumption with the Avs is they are after defense, so maybe it’s a three-way deal. Tyson Barrie gets mentioned a lot around these parts, he’s coming off a season that doesn’t inspire confidence. Colorado has a bunch of forwards I love, including Bullet Train Duchene who is a dream.
As for Dion Phaneuf, can’t do it. The Oilers need to get faster not slower. It’s the main reason why, as I prepare the 2017-18 RE, I have Jordan Oesterle ranked over some more famous prospects (and he isn’t even signed!). The NHL is now obsessed with that play where the blue races back and makes a play on the puck before the oncoming forward can engage. Double Dion isn’t able to do it, and that’s before we get to the contract.
Seems general managers may still be offering rowboats for battle ships, or, more precisely, rowboats for rowboats. We wait.
IF NOT EBERLE, THEN WHAT?
- Jordan Eberle
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Jesse Puljujarvi
- No. 22 overall
- Caleb Jones
- 2018 first-round selection
- Benoit Pouliot
- Anton Slepyshev
- Cap Space
- Jujhar Khaira
- Ethan Bear
- Griffin Reinhart
I think the top four pieces here are the only ones who can move the needle enough to get a top four defender or that two-way center under $4 million. Beyond that, it’s probably stand pat and that’s okay too. If the guy you’re trading has more value than the guy coming in, and the money is close, are you really headed for Stanley? Suspect at some point Peter Chiarelli may have to move on from Jordan Eberle as primary trade piece. We could be there already.