It looks like the Edmonton Oilers extended preseason (five games of NHL play) has ended and the club has decided on their group for 2014-15. The team boasts an 0-4-1 record and are solidly behind the 8-ball, but the lineup itself makes sense finally after the Leduc sessions today:
There’s a lot of talent here, led by the top line that should top 80 goals this season (currently has three, all from Hall). WG’s point about offensive zone starts is well taken, we should look for an increase in the Tampa Bay and Washington games next week. The second line gives Yakupov some size and two-way ability in Pouliot and a solid center in Arcobello who can play a complementary role offensively and offer cover the other way.
The Draisaitl line is the perfect spot for the German, I think we’re at a point now where we can make the call on him for this year but the Oilers don’t have a lot of options outside Leon at this point. If he plays his 9 games and they aren’t convinced, look for Yakimov to get the call. Four line is in fact the 2line, they’re dreamy.
Several have mentioned Ference as having a strong game last night and he does seem to be better outside the Schultz triangle. Speaking of which, I like the practice pairings in Leduc today that have Marincin with Schultz. That duo played well in OKC (cover photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved) and if they can find the magic a major major hurdle will have been overcome.
Nikita Nikitin has been poor poorer poorest, Fayne is improving with each game. I think the ankle has hurt Nikitin, but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brad Hunt draw back in if the struggles continue.
ONE MORE TO GO
I think it’s time we began the discussion about Leon Draisaitl as an NHL player this season. No disrespect to his considerable talent, and maybe not even (this year) completely for the player, but I don’t think he’ll stay. The Oilers need an actual NHL player in the middle, and failing that there is zero reason to flush an entire season of the entry level deal for this level of play. The club could recall Bogdan Yakimov or even Anton Lander in the interim and perhaps grab someone off waivers or make a smaller deal as the season wears on.
One final item: I think we saw this fall a little bit of Craig MacTavish falling in love with his players. Draft picks Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl and Bogdan Yakimov have already played this season in the NHL, and Brad Hunt was kept over the far more capable Martin Marincin.
The story on Marincin was maybe there was a lesson to be learned by heading to Oklahoma City. Perhaps the GM can learn a lesson too, in that these kids are good/great but they need to develop in lesser leagues and that takes time. I don’t know what went on in training camp this fall, but the inertia in decision making may have contributed to this very slow start.
So, we add to our mantra. Find good players, keep good players, decide on players earlier and play them all in the final pre-season game for crying out loud.
A little wordy, but it gets the point across.