45 Days

by Lowetide

We’re closing in on opening night, or at least projected opening night. We’re not at the point where I can start the “Riesen to Believe” posts but this is probably a good time to finish arguing about lines and pairings. Let’s proceed to the hammer room.


I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.


This isn’t my preference, merely offering some different looks for lines and pairings on opening night.

You know, friends, we used to go hammer and tong on these pages over where people were supposed to go opening night. I argued Sam Gagner should be sent back to junior but that didn’t happen.

On September 26, 2007, Craig MacTavish said (in a post-game scrum) “you want to give the young guys some time to gain some confidence” and says Cogliano “has more speed than (Gagner) but Sam has a high degree of hockey sense. Two fairly similar players.” That’s the night I knew both would make the team.

I think, at some point, the hockey Gods worried about the population of this blog. We got so wrapped up in arguing about lines and pairings, and then having MacT explain his decision, and us parsing that decision, there came a tone of logic and reason to the blog. You can’t have a blog when everyone agrees. You need friction. The Gods sent us Pat Quinn.


  • Line 1: Jean Francois-Jacques-Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky
  • Line 2: Patrick O’Sullivan-Mike Comrie-Ryan Stone
  • Line 3: Dustin Penner-Gilbert Brule-Andrew Cogliano
  • Line 4: Ethan Moreau-Sam Gagner-Zack Stortini
  • D1: Sheldon Souray-Steve Staiois
  • D2: Denis Grebeshkov-Tom Gilbert
  • D3: Ladislav Smid-Lubomir Visnovsky
  • G: Nikolai Khabibulin

Of the 12 men who skated at forward for Edmonton opening night 2009, just over half of them (seven players: Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Cogliano, Gagner, Moreau, Stortini) were in the opening night lineup 2008 opening night.

Gone from opening night 2008 were Erik Cole and Kyle Brodziak (traded), Fernando Pisani and Marc Pouliot (injured) and Robert Nilsson was a healthy scratch. The blue was pretty much identical and the goalie was new.

The Lowetide blog was on fire with these settings. Gagner on the fourth line was a misuse of his skills even if you didn’t like him at center. Jean-Francois Jacques on the top line was jaw dropping, and Dustin Penner on the third line was bat bleep crazy. I remember being especially crazed post game when looking at the even strength playing time for the defensemen. Remember, Lubo came at great cost and was making crazy money:

  • Souray 18:26
  • Grebeshkov 18:26
  • Gilbert 18:00
  • Staios 17:31
  • Visnovsky 12:32
  • Smid 11:11

Honestly, Mr. Quinn. I wrote “You know what’s crazier than playing Staios 5 more minutes at EVs than Lubomir Visnovsky? Paying Lubomir Visnovsky 5.6M beans to play 5 less minutes than Steve Staios. If this trend continues, Lubo is gone, baby gone.” He was in fact gone, in March. Playing time for centers that night:

  1. Brule 14:42
  2. Horcoff 13:48
  3. Comrie 10:08
  4. Gagner 9:25

Comrie’s ass was stapled to the bench in the third period, but he still beat Gagner at even strength. Horcoff remained the team’s best center, but Brule had a helluva game and earned the extra playing time. Wingers at even strength:

  1. Cogliano 14:22
  2. Hemsky 13:14
  3. Jacques 13:10
  4. Stone 12:48
  5. Penner 12:03
  6. O’Sullivan 11:22
  7. Moreau 10:17
  8. Stortini 9:16

The Oilers lost, Khabibulin had a poor game. Goals were Penner (O’Sullivan, Comrie), Brule (Penner, Visnovsky) and an unassisted goal by the shunned Sam Gagner. David Moss scored the winner from Rene Bourque with 49 seconds left in the game.

It was a disappointing night in a disappointing year. It would end with talk of the lottery, for the first time in Edmonton.

What does it all mean? Be good to each other. Things could be worse. Dave Tippett seems to have a handle on this, maybe he’ll find some unique chemistry out among the stars.


What a day! At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running with all kinds of breaking news. Moderna has a vaccine that’s close, and I mean real close, and it’s 94.5 percent effective based on studies. We could hit the beach by Febru–late spring! Plus, Oilers new thirds are a colour explosion and more! Geoff Ullrich from Draft Kings will chat The Masters and Dustin Johnson’s impressive win at 10:20, and later in the hour Chris Meaney from the FTN Network chats NFL weekend and the Monday nighter. Jason Gregor from TSN1260 will chat Oilers season to come and the possible game-changer that is a vaccine. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!


You may also like

4.8 10 votes
Article Rating
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Harpers Hair

Well…this is interesting.

Greg Tolan (@Greg_Tolan) Tweeted:
BREAKING: Former head of Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons tells Government of Alberta in secret meeting that ‘COVID’ measures are ridiculous and that ‘COVID’ is just a “bad flu” and all PCR testing should cease immediately. 





Haas and Nygard – Analytics department is putting together shifts of the players. Lots of shifts of players. Haas is playing a solid game, the type of game we expect him to play in Edmonton. Nygard is still just getting back from injuries and he wants to see more.


They would have done it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids (Tippett and the mysterious Oilers Analytics Department OP mentioned up above… who are these guys? why are they not on the Oilers website? has Katz allowed them to have computers? access to the internet?)

Stop the press!

The Oilers have an analytics department?

Nice how OP tried to slide that in there like it wasn’t a big deal.

This is breaking news, no?


Holland has referred to it on several occasions that I am aware of. No idea how large it is or what they do precisely but this isn’t the first time I have heard it referred to since this management/coaching team took over.


Richard Roma

Kassian can’t produce at a fourth line rate without 97…

This is one of my favourite narratives because it’s so demonstrably untrue.

Kassian’s career 5on5 P/60 is 1.56.
If you remove the last 2 seasons (time with McDavid) his P/60 is 1.49.

3rd line scoring rate over the last 3 seasons is 1.63-1.35P/60, so Kassian has done surprisingly well without McDavid.


Johnny Johnny yes Pappa…

In fairness, Kassian had about 0.45 p/60 at 5v5 at the start of 2018 (36 games played) before he was promoted to play with 97.


It’s true that’s part of his record, but I showed the whole record (career and pre 18-19). Clearly there is good with the bad.

That stretch you mention is a big reason why his career mark only jumped from 1.49 to 1.56 in the past 2 seasons. Since becoming a primary McDavid wwinger he’s scored scored 2.21/60 (essentially equal to Nuge in the same span, and top 50 in the NHL).

Do you think the first 36 games of 18-19 are MORE relevant than that?


There is a segment of posters here who can’t stand Kassian, no matter how good (or bad) he plays.
My favorite Kassian opinion was that he would be a worse player in the top 6 than he was as a 4th liner. Because of course, most players are worse when you put them with better players 🙄.

Richard Roma


November 16, 2020 9:01 am

Nugent-Hopkins / McDavid / Puljujarvi

Kahun / Draisaitl / Yamamoto

Ennis / Turris / Neal

Chiasson / Khaira / Kassian

I have a feeling Tippett might surprise us..

Ennis / McDavid / Turris
Kahun / Draisatl / Yamamoto
Puljujarvi / Nuge / Kassian
Archibald / Khaira / Chiasson

Richard Roma

Turris was quite smart to look at the Oilers.

Teams will throw out all they’ve got against two separate lines of 29 and 97 leaving him the dregs if he’s centering the third line.

Otherwise, the Oilers are light on the wings and he shoots right.

Turris could find himself on 97’s wing and on the first unit PP.


I see the chances of that lineup happening as 0.0001%

Richard Roma

Let me paraphrase, you see the chance of Tippett moving Turris up the lineup when the Oilers are pushing for a goal at 0.0001%?

Okay, then.

Move along.

Kassian can’t produce at a fourth line rate without 97…


Where did you say anything about “when pushing for a goal” – you provided that as the potential lineup.

Material Elvis

They brought Turris in specifically to play 3C so I can’t see that happening. Plus, Nuge is a better winger than Turris. It’s also highly unlikely that KT gets 1PP time. That unit is etched in stone (substitute Barrie for Klefbom).



I think Samorukov makes the Oilers out of camp next fall, ahead of Broberg who has not played on North American ice. Broberg would be an excellent fill in if they put Klefbom on a load management plan.

While I’m not sure if Sammy makes the team out of camp in 2021/22, I 100% agree with you on the relative timelines.

The arrows have been pointing up for Broberg since drafted and, in particular since July, however I think many Oiler fans may have unreasonable timeline expectations. He is having a plus year in Skelefteea but his season has been up and down and he’s shown considerable struggles lately in a 2nd pairing role in the SHL. I just don’t think he’s “on the cusp” of NHL readiness quite yet and, 100% will likely need some time in the AHL to acclimatize to the North American game, and ice.

It will be very beneficial if the AHL is indeed playing this in the spring (which I think it will be) and Broberg can get a solid month of AHL games – it would really help his development and off-season training in my opinion. I fully expect him to be a Condor to start 2021/22.

Sammy, absolutely, he has a chance to make this team in 2021/22 – it will be his third year pro and what he’s doing for CSKA evidences a massive step – currently playing top pairing on a top team, playing 20 minutes per game and being among the KHL leaders in goal differential. The KHL is the 2nd best league in the world and he already has years on the North American ice. He’s in the conversation for 2021/22 opening night roster for sure in my opinion


Material Elvis

If Jesse can show that he is better defensively than Kassian it will go a long way with Tippett. He has a great opportunity and hopefully can make the most of it. I’m skeptical that he will be a top offensive player but he certainly has some physical tools

I would posit that Jesse may have been better defensively in his first couple post-draft seasons than Kassian is now. This isn’t meant as a bash of Kass but I remember Jesse being fairly responsible in all zones and Kass is prone to defensive mistakes and lack of commitment on the boards the defensive zone.


JP was absolutely lost in every zone
and His -14 in 46 games
Kassian has never been below negative double digits

Richard Roma

JP cheats for defense and backchecks quite well, but other than that, yeah, he’s lost in every zone.

Kassian is monumentally dragging down 97’s ga/60.


I don’t agree that he was lost in every zone.

Material Elvis

I’m not a big fan of plus minus to rate any player. That stat often fluctuates wildly from year to year so does not seem very useful. There really isn’t a good defensive metric for forwards, imo. Some like to use GA or xGA but that is better for evaluating defensemen. Corsi % might still be the most indicative of a forward’s defensive ability. In that regard, Kassian has been a possession drag nearly his entire career, both actual and relative. His only plus relative season with the Oilers was last year and he played with McDavid, and had 55% Ozone starts. His Fenwick numbers are equally bad. By eye, OP is correct: he looks bad in the Dzone on the boards and in shot blocking lanes. His giveaway:takeaway ratio was nearly 2:1. I mean, I’m not trying to shit on the guy, but it seems to me that Zack’s defensive acumen is very low.


I thought Puljujarvi was far more lost in his 3rd season than his first two.

The numbers seem to bear that out:
In his first two seasons he was +4 in goals, -13 in his 3rd (at 5v5).
He was at or above 50% in all the underlying metrics over years 1+2. Ugly stuff across the board in year 3.

That to say, he was a better player than we remember when we last saw him. Age 18/19 Puljujarvi was a positive in shots, goals, scoring chances player.

I guess that’s called optimism. I’m optimistic about Kassian too.


On other factor when trying to figure out opening night lines and pairings, training camp is anticipated to be VERY short (perhaps as short as 8-10 days) with no exhibition games.

There won’t be much time for experimenting and not real game action to help the decision process.

This may lead the coaching staff to lead towards familiarity to start the season, familiarity such as:

– McDavid with Kass (short leash for Kass if he struggles early and/or Neal or Puljujarvi start engaged)

– Neal with Chiasson

– Nurse wth Bear

– Jones with Larsson

Just a thought.


I did want to note that, in 2017/18, Nurse and Larsson played over 800 minutes together at 5 on 5, won the possession battle and had a goal share of over 56%.

They were poor together in 2018/19 but did have a history of real success before that.

I don’t think its a pairing we see near from Tippett and Playfair but I do think that it the past success should be factored in by the staff.


Brogan Rafferty’s Uncle Steve

The Oilers D depth chart is just not good enough. Using LT’s pairings:






In a likely shortened season, there will be a higher chance of injury! The Oilers are only four injuries away from having to dress Alex Chiasson at D! Yikes!

That fifth pairing is actually more likely Lennstrom and Niemelainan……

Samorukov isn’t available until after his KHL season and playoffs are done and, while Broberg is technically available at any time, unless Holland changes course or his mind, he will be finishing the season in Skelefteea and potentially joining the org in North American after (presumably straight to the AHL) – I anticipate Berglund may join him on the flight.


Elgin R

Best opening night line-up options in many, many years. Actual NHL players will not start in the first game – who would have thought.

Season will depend on so many players looking for bounce-back years (Turris, Khaira, JP, Barrie) and progression (Bear, Jones, Kahun). If it comes to pass, Oilers will go far. Good looking team (even with Smith).

ln addition to actual NHL players not making the opening night lineup, there are very few forward positions where players are clearly playing above their proper slots – Kassian perhaps (and he may have the likes of Puljujarvi pressing).

In addition, there are a few players that are actually slotted in below where they may be able to perform. Leon Draisaitl is slotted in as a 2C, that’s a bit below his established level in my opinion. All three members of the likely skilled third line may prove to be actual top 6 players – Jesse is a wild-card still, Ennis, probably best suited as a top 6 cover (like he is) but Turris is a legit top 6 center offensively, even without a major “bounce-back”.



Nugent-Hopkins / McDavid / Puljujarvi

Kahun / Draisaitl / Yamamoto

Ennis / Turris / Neal

Chiasson / Khaira / Kassian

Nygard / Haas / Archibald

I think there is also a chance Lavoie turns some heads in camp but RW is pretty deep.

Benson could possibly be the 1st callup in spot to succeed with Turris and Neal.

Lavoie is certainly having a solid start to his pro career – almost 20 minutes per game as the best player on a terrible team in Allsvenskan. At the same time, I posit he’ll need significant AHL time which I hope he receives starting in early 2020. I anticipate he will also spend the majority, if not all, of 2021/22 in the AHL developing.

I do think the lineup you post above is a potential option for Coach T. I don’t see him starting the season with Jesse as a full time 1RW – 18 minutes of 5 on 5 ice against top comp is alot to ask. I see Kass as the likely guy on opening night but we know that Coach T. will move Kass down when he struggles and Jesse will hopefully earn and opportunity (and maybe some shifts with Connor here and there in the normal course as well).

I see James Neal as a wild card option at 1RW for spots as well.

Material Elvis

Tippett also went to Archibald at 1RW on more than one occasion last season. I sure hope Kassian is highly motivated coming into training camp after the play in debacle.

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

Regarding JP, it’s best to keep expectations modest. Less chance of disappointment as a fan and less pressure on the player. 3rd line deployment is where Jessie belongs at the start of the season.

My view is that Jessie’s primary competition is Kassian. Jessie needs to develop into a better Kassian if he is going to play regularly on Connor’s line. Right now he is not there but I definitely could see them pushing each other hard to the overall benefit of the team.

Material Elvis

If Jesse can show that he is better defensively than Kassian it will go a long way with Tippett. He has a great opportunity and hopefully can make the most of it. I’m skeptical that he will be a top offensive player but he certainly has some physical tools.


Brantford Boy


I think I read a great blog not long ago, the title was “The Key Is Jones”…

I think there may have been a Pouzar…. er, I mean a poster that has been positing the same ever since the Klefbom news broke…..


Broberg played just under 17 minutes today – he was even in a 3-2 OTL – did have four shots on net. Nice to see him NOT finish minus on the day – he’s had a December 2019 Drai type run of minuses recently.


SP would probably have to weigh in but I wonder if it’s due to the competition adjusting to Broberg, or him being a young man going through a development lull.


It is nice to look at the line-up and not get nauseous. This is the most balanced line-up of the McDavid era. The F depth is going to force those that don’t show up every night, to show up every night or take a seat upstairs. This difference from recent years past cannot be understated. Some minor concerns on D given Klef out for the season and 2G/3G, but you can’t have everything…well in another year or two maybe we can 🙂


Of note, Samorukov played over 20 minutes in the 3-1 win – the most of any d-man on the team. He was plus 1 with a shot in the 3-1 win.


He is forcing his way into the conversation more every game. 😉


Samorukov did sign for the full season, I think. He is not an option until the KHL season is over.


Sorry, I should have been clearer. I got in a hurry because my bread timer was dinging & I had to go get it in the oven.

I know he is there for the season. I meant he is forcing his way into the conversation as a legit top 4 NHL dman at some point in the next two seasons.

OP and I have been trading comments on Samorukov for some time attempting to establish ourselves as to which one of us is his biggest fan. 😉


He is one of my favorite prospects for sure – just has such a wide range of skills and can play the game in many different ways.


And to think I was so foolish as to think it was me! I have been a huge fan since his world junior tournament where he played big minutes for the Russian team. He is the complete package complete with the requisite amount of nasty!😊


Aghhhh, OP proven the winner – my fandom started during his first World Junior, the year before he played those minutes, when he started 3rd pairing but earned the trust of the coach and moved up the lineup with more minutes as the tourney went on……..

unca miltie

Hey, you two guys stand in line. If you can find my posts from the game last November that I went to in Bakersfield, you can see that I became a big fan that night. loved the effort, thought he was better than Bouchard. i say this somewhat tongue in cheek about standing in line.


I actually remember your post quite well and your report was much appreciated 😊


For sure – of note, there will be lots of AHL (and NHL) season left when the KHL season finishes. Even more for the SHL I believe and I am hopeful that Broberg gets a good month or more of AHL time – that would go a LONG ways to his development – some time on the North American ice with the North American game.


I think Samorukov makes the Oilers out of camp next fall, ahead of Broberg who has not played on North American ice. Broberg would be an excellent fill in if they put Klefbom on a load management plan.


Injuries aside. The top 3 centers are set. The 6 wingers for those centers will be determined at camp. You really don’t know where JP will land. You really don’t know where Kahun will land. I believe a lot of scuffling will occur. Just call me Mr. Obvious.

Scungilli Slushy

Much as LT reminded us MacT telegraphed Gagner and Cogs would make the team, Holland stated what would happen with the roster.

He and Tipp are loyal to players and that indicates players will likely have their ‘spots’ to start.

The caveat is Holland believes all NHL players can play defensively, if they want to.

And if they didn’t want to, they’d find someone who did want to.

There are also enough NHL qualified players to allow Tipp to slot those in wherever, who are executing the plan.

I see Kassian on a short leash excepting when teams feel having a go at Connie a good idea. If he zones out he’ll get demoted.

Neal and Chiasson will have to play well (and produce) or they will go with speed which is the stated direction of the team, if scoring points aren’t coming either way.

My hope is that it isn’t a constant blender outside of in game adjustments and we see a structure develop, which is what the players prefer.

Its hard to develop knowledge of your teammates’ tendencies without some TOI.

Scungilli Slushy

Connor not Connie.

My phone isn’t liking the edit function


l’ve been crying for a third line Centre since Holland got here. Turris contract with the buyout money is perfect no pressure (Tippett) he can play his game carve minutes off of the ridiculous amount Connor and especially Leon were playing game after game. We are going see in real time what a huge signing Turris will turn out to be for the next 2 years for this storied franchise.


Dave Tippett on Oilers Now just now – a high level summary:

Tippett is still in Arizona waiting to see how things play out.

With the uncertainty of start date – try and keep in contact with as many people and players as they can. Still hearing January 1 so going with that target date.

Lots of contact with his coaches and Holland.

Thinks cap will be short.

Likes Holland’s moves – thinks they’ve added depth the roster and lineup.

Puljujarvi – watched most of his games. Early in the year putting up lots of points. Not a lot of points lately but still playing a real solid game. Think he’s anxious to get back (talked and texted with him a few times). Jesse thinks he’s a different player and watching him looks like he is.

Haas and Nygard – Analytics department is putting together shifts of the players. Lots of shifts of players. Haas is playing a solid game, the type of game we expect him to play in Edmonton. Nygard is still just getting back from injuries and he wants to see more.

Feel like there is more depth up front – added to the skillset. Archie will still be a valuable player but with adding Turris and Kahun and Puljujarvi and bringing back Ennis, and still having Neal and Chiasson and JJ, there is lots of depth. Feel much better about the depth.

Very fortunate to sign Barrie – Barrie is really excited to be an Oiler.

Caleb Jones is ready to take another step. Coach is very excited about him. His ability to skate and move the puck is great. Of note, Tip brought up Jones out of nowhere – Stauff didn’t ask him about Caleb.

As a group, need to continue to try and defend better and the best way is to defend less – the increased ability to move the puck out of the defensive zone should help. Need to have the puck a little more. With that said, we can defend better at 5 on 5 than they did last year. Need to be a better all around 5 on 5 team – some of that is having the puck more and some of that is defending better.

Goaltending – it was solid during the regular season last year. Smith had a tough December but came back strong. Playoffs, we didn’t defend well enough and didn’t get the big saves when we needed them. We need to defend better in front of them.


NHL.com has their new top centers ranking out.

1 – McDavid
2 – MacKinnon
3- Drai

16 – Elias Petersson

Last edited 10 months ago by OriginalPouzar

Pettersson is the next Joe Colborne.


That’s what the evidence shows….

Harpers Hair

Pettersson is the next Pavel Dastyuk. Unlike many of the show boats ahead of him on the list, he is actually an accomplished two way player.

Darth Tu

The list for defenders:

1: Brogan Rafferty
2: Hedman
3: Josi

At least that’s what I was led to believe happened.

Harpers Hair

Funny you didn’t mention anything when the NHL announced the top 20 defensemen in the league…you know those guys who play 25-30 minutes a game.


if you consider that the next 10 places would also likely not include an Oiler D, it is abundantly obvious the Oilers don’t have a top pairing D.

Its quite sad actually.


I don’t know if it is sad or not but I agree the Oilers do not have a top pairing dman.

When healthy – and both Larsson & Klefbom have had trouble doing that – I would say it is something like this.

Klefbom – above average two way 2nd pairing dman
Larsson – above average shutdown 2nd pairing dman
Nurse – above average two way 2nd pairing dman
Barrie – average 2nd pairing dman with 1st pairing offensive skills
Bear & Jones – still too soon to know but appear to have potential for average 2nd pairing dmen
Russell – above average 3rd pairing dman.

Something like that.

Defence by committee. No glaring weakness but no glaring strength either. And the injuries really don’t help.

Even with an average goalie this team would be a force with a #1 dman simply because the two centres are so good.

Harpers Hair

You also failed to mention that the Oilers don’t have a single player among the top 20 wingers in the league.


So here we are, two great centres with a huge boost from the draft lottery and an assortment of B level players surrounding them.

Same as it ever was.


It’s funny watching you take the bait and get whipped up into a frenzy.


Pasquale took another loss today – gave up 3 goals on only 14 shots and Yaroslav fell 3-1.

If that doesn’t get Konovalov his net back, I give up.


It is a Russian contract negotiation. You get to play when you sign an extension! -).


Bah – that scenario does not work for me – I require the NHL contract come spring.

Doug McLachlan

Ok, here is my take at the game 1 line-up.

Nuge – Drai – Yamo (should never have been broken up)
Kahun – McDavid – Kassian (lots of shakeup coming, but pre-blender go with this game 1)
Ennis – Turris – Puljujarvi (as we’ve been discussing for months)
Neal – Khaira – Chaisson (heavy 4th line)
Nygard – Haas – Archibald (quick 4th line) – both 4th lines will cross-pollinate

Nurse – Bear (may see some shifting as season progresses but go with for game 1)
Russell – Barrie (may spell off Russell with Jones as season proceeds, but this for game 1)
Jones – Larsson
Broberg – Bouchard (4th pair in pressbox/AHL touring circus for game 1)

Koskinen / (Dell?/Hill?/Forsberg?/Smith?!?) (Really wish they hadn’t resigned Smith)


On the defence pairings, again, I think LT may have it covered but, really, these could go any way. OP’s thoughts:

1) I’ve assumed/anticipated that Nurse/Bear will be a pairing given how much they played together last year and how much TOI vs. elites they played. On the other hand, the coaching staff has shown a strong preference to have Nurse out with McDavid and I think there will/should be a push to get Barrie out with McDavid so, perhaps, having them as a pair has real merit. Barrie can play top 4 minutes against elite comp and help to win goal share – his career numbers show that

2) I think most in this community want/wish/hope/think/desire for Caleb Jones to get the additional 5 on 5 minutes that need to be munched in Klef’s absence, essentially the 2LD at 5 on 5. I’m in that group. At the same time, I’m not so sure that Coaches T. and P. don’t go back to their trusted veteran cowboy to start. If I remember correctly, down the stretch they both had games when one played more over the other. Russell had a strong play-in (own-goals/deflection notwithstanding) but I think Jones’ insertion in to the lineup changes the dynamic of the back-end, for the better.


I agree with LT’s take that Barrie starts as the first pairing RHD.

Larsson was effective in stretches last season, but we heard murmurs early in the offseason of management and coaching wanting to upgrade puck moving ability from the back end.

Klef’s injury necessitates Larsson’s demotion to the third pairing.

Someone who could really benefit from this? Lagesson.

He will get into games this season as a 6/7 D, and in playing with Larsson against lesser comp he will have every opportunity to shine.


I think LT has the opening night forward lines surrounded. A couple OP thoughts:

1) I do think Coach T. will start with Nuge on Connor’s left and Khaun on Drai’s left. The addition of Kahun provides the option to keep the league’s best line in 2020 together but we’ve seen a strong preference from Coach T. to play Nuge with Connor and my pure spculation is that is something Connor desires.

On this note, Kahun was developing chemistry with Malkin in Pit and his 40% of TOI vs. elites in Chicago was generally with Toews – I think he is a better fit with Drai than McDavid based on the start power he has played with at the NHL level.

2) I’m not sure about Khaira vs. Haas for that 4C role – I think that will be a camp battle and we may see a targeted rotation during the year.

3) We know that Chiasson/Neal were very successful, via the numbers, as a pair last year so I can see them pairing on the “4th line” but, at the same time, damn, how does Archie not get in the opening night line up?

4) I see a small chance that Neal gets and early season push up the lineup based off of (a) early season success last (scored a few goals at 5 on 5 in October), (b) plus play in the play-in and (c) a fresh and healthy Neal seems to still have some 5 on 5 game. I could see Neal on McDavid’s right wing……

5) I wouldn’t expect the Oilers to be fully healthy after camp and heading in to opening night so the injury situation may force answers to some of the open lineup questions.


Coach T played a large role in what happened at the play-ins. If something is working to the degree that Drai line was working…leave it alone. Period.

McDavid will always draw the elite D ( quick off the top of your head – who is the 2nd Best Dpair in Winnipeg?) Let Drai, Nuge and Yamamoto *eat alive* what for most teams is a healthy step down in 2nd pairing D.

Kahun or Ennis will have to suffice for a generational player.

If you find yourself breaking up the best line in hockey – you are doing it wrong.


I understand that point of view and won’t say that I totally disagree but I can’t totally agree either as I understand Tippett’s premise and agree with it as well.

This team, in my opinion, is simply not going deep in any sort of playoffs with McDavid running at 50% goal share. Relying on a 2nd line going supernova at 77% goal share plus a historically high PP at 30% was also a risky move as both of those heaters were subject to regression – in particular the Drai line.

I wish coach had another option to help the McDavid line win its minutes than Nuge but nothing had been working.

I don’t discount the possibility that McDavid has expressed a desire to have Nuge on his left wing and that is part of Coach T.’s decision making. I believe Kahun’s NHL career work shows a better fit with Drai than McDavid and I think the Drai/Yamamoto and McDavid/Kahun pairs can lead to two lines with close to a 60% goal share – that leads to sustained success.


Connor was coming off a career ending injury I say he was at 80%-85% as the year went on his success on the PP hid this. I’m expecting him to be closer to 100% and to reclaim his place on top of the leaderboard over lazy Leon.


I agree that Connor did not perform up to his potential last season (which is very scary given he had, what, 97 in points in like 64 games or around that).


Again, JP demonstrated in a post a few weeks ago that your narrative that McDavid struggled 5v5 without Drai is false. Again, just because you repeat something time and time again, doesn’t make it true.


In 2020, McDavid did not win the goal share – he was 20GF and 20GA – In my opinion, and I believe that of Coach Tippett, McDavid must materially win the goal share in his minutes for the team to have playoff success.

We can choose whatever sample size we want to make an argument but I anticipate the 2.5 months leading up to the pause was the sample size Tippett was concerned about the most.


Again, that is the same sample size you insist is too small for the RNH, Drai, Yamo line to sustain their high GF%. Can’t have it both ways, even if you repeat it


You said he didn’t struggle away from Drai based off of JP’s research. I replied that he did in 2020 (and I consider McDavid at 50% goal share for 2.5 months struggling).

We can discuss McDavid struggling being just as unsustainable as the Drai line heater – that’s a valid conversation but is a different conversation.


Thank-you. Both unsustainable based on small sample size. We agree. Minus the 2.5 months, McDavids 5 season career sample size says he can win the goal share with most anyone for wingers. There is no reason not to expect that to continue


The following are McDavid’s GA/60 rates in his 5 years.


The fact that, aside from his rookie year, he hasn’t just not improved in this area but regressed materially year over year is concerning and, to me, is a main reason to posit that he needs help and not just any two wingers.

McDavid can normally outscore defensive deficiencies of the line – something that would prove tougher to do through a playoff run I would think.


And his GF/60

That is winning the goal share every year. That’s how you win hockey games


McDavid’s GF/60 have stayed pretty stagnant but his GA/60 have regressed materially. McDavid at or just above 50% goal share is not good enough for this team to have real playoff success in my opinion.

Richard Roma

i think Kassian has been dragging down the ga/60 for 97.


The ‘last 2 years’ GA results fit with that, but the WOWY results don’t really support it.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

The Oilers D depth chart is just not good enough. Using LT’s pairings:


In a likely shortened season, there will be a higher chance of injury! The Oilers are only four injuries away from having to dress Alex Chiasson at D! Yikes!

The Pacific has a depth chart that looks like:

Even with four injuries on D, the Pacific would still be able to rely on guys like Vlasic, who is getting older but still better than any Oilers D, to play third-pairing minutes. Depth, it matters!

Bill Clinternet

Way to move the conversation forward. This is total nonsense


It’s parody of HH’s contributions.

Bill Clinternet

I understand that. I just don’t see the point of it. HH is why I still read these comments to be honest. Without him this comment section has turned into an echo chamber of Oilers “homers”. This phony account mocking him just outlays the point that the majority here can’t handle having their opinions being challenged. Now I get sometimes his contrarian views are a bit hyperbolic but overall he adds value to the discussion. Like Lowetide used to always say about the Oilers needing someone in the room who had the gumption to say, “are you sure you want to do that”, HH has the same effect to this comments section


Making things up, being disingenuous and moving goal posts does not move conversations forward. HH isn’t a contrarian, he’s a guy with a 30 year grudge against a sports team is he obsessed with. He is the guy who gets turned down by a celebrity and harasses them until a restraining order is required.

This blog is already home to actual contrarians who provide meaningful stats and insights to point out when the Oilers are Oilering it up with incompetence.

Besides, this is a blog devoted to the Oilers specifically. I will never understand why someone would go to a blog or site devoted to a team to bash it? That’s what generals hockey forums are good for, not fan blogs. It’s like going to a concert and asking the crowd why they are not talking about all of the bad things about the band.

“Why are you all cheering and dancing? You are being a bunch of homers! This is their worst song!”

Bill Clinternet

I think this response kind of proves my point. Your comparison is as overstated and jumping to some biased conclusion as much or more than anything HH as said. Which celebrity turned him down? Please tell me.

Most posts on this blog increasingly seem to have the comments section hijacked by a complete lovefest for the Oilers middling prospects. Prospects that all teams have in abundance. The amount of threads dedicated to Benson becoming McDavid’s ideal LW or Lagesson coming in to replace Larsson is nauseating. 

There is a reason a lot of the brighter minds seem to come around here far less, and the handful of frequent posters who can’t handle criticism of their favorite team should be asking themselves why, with some self reflection


You misread Side’s remark on celebrities.


If this is how you honestly feel about HH after seeing his “contributions” on a daily basis, I can’t convince you otherwise. It’s like living on a space station and seeing the Earth all day every day and concluding it is flat.

I am willing to bet that a lot of frequent contributors are around here far less because of the pandemic that’s going on more than anything. Kinda hard to talk about hockey when there is not a lot of hockey to talk about. It’s also hard to get into a luxury like following/watching hockey when the pandemic is hitting people in many different ways.

Also, I have also seen frequent, bright posters leave the site before because of “trolls” like HH, and not because people are too optimistic… Oiler homers are expected. A homer for ‘every team but the Oilers’ is unexpected and when in bad faith, unwelcome.

If Benson and Lagesson talk is what turns you away, I’m surprised you have even been reading this site for as long considering they are better players to talk about compared to the previous dregs the Oilers employed.

Material Elvis

The point of the post is to provide a bit of humor. Personally, I think it’s funny and I’m pretty sure HH gets a kick out of it, too. I don’t see this as a detriment to the blog or comments section. As for lack of bright minds, I don’t think you are giving enough credit to regular posters like JP and Georges who have forgotten more about stats than I’ll ever know. I’ve seen Wilde and Gmoney chime in so I know they’re lurking. The other big brains are likely scrolling the daily post, but without NA hockey, there’s really not a lot to talk about.

Harpers Hair

You nailed it perfectly.
But now that OP is referring to himself in the third person, there may be precious little room for sober second thought.


HH has indeed added much value to the forum – I engaged in many conversations with him over the years – his opinion in those conversations were based on being a contrarian and generally contained hyperbole and drifted in to moving the goal posts and strawmen arguments, but they were often based on somewhat defensible arguments. Of course, there was the often clear ridiculous troll post to go along.

Over the last few months there is rarely any Oilers related post by this person that is anything other than a troll post meant to incite. Pretty much every Oiler related comment contains either a stretch to find something negative regarding the Oilers, something that has nothing to do with the Oilers but is meant to make them look inferior to another organization or simply flat out false.

The poster has changed over the last few months.

Harpers Hair

No I haven’t.

I have always gone to the tough areas of the ice.
But I have certainly noted a change in your posting habits.

The sheer volume has increased exponentially and when I saw you referring to yourself in the third person this morning I pissed my pants.

Do you have a 16 pack yet?


Yup, that has been the plan since the camp was announced and he was invited – play the two games this weekend and then head to camp.

Granato has expressed frustration for a while now and did again on Saturday after the game but Wisconsin stopped short of precluding Holloway from attending unlike Michigan who refused to allow Owen Power to leave the team to attend.

cowboy bill

It’s funny , it seems the top three lines are written in stone , or at least the names are all in place ( McDavid , Leon . Nuge , Yamamoto , Kahun , Kassian , Turris , Puljujarvi & Ennis )

But that fourth line is a mystery . Throw all these names in a hat ( Chiasson , Neal , Khaira , Nygard , Haas & Archibald ) So there you have two reasonable fourth lines somewhere ?

For me though , I’d like to see Sheahan back with Archibald & Nygard . And the other query is Chiasson . Where does he fit ? If he wasn’t such a great net front presence on the PP he’d be nowhere . But really couldn’t Kassian & Neal be just as good in that role ?

As far as the D goes it does appear set in stone , Nurse & Bear , for the sake of Darnell Nurse , should stay together , Jones & Larsson worked terrific , however Jones & Barrie could be a nice combo in certain situations and so could Russell & Larsson , in a shut down role in certain situations . 5 vs 5 though I’d prefer Jones & Larsson and Russell & Barrie . Who knows ? Broberg & Samarukov or Lagesson & Bouchard might be even better . Goaltending will be adequate with Forsberg in the fold .

Elgin R

I have my doubts that Sheahan even makes an NHL team this year. He is such a negative at 5v5 that even his stellar PK work does not make up for it.


Gords gave us Pat Quinn. There we have it. The worst season of Oilers Fandom. JFJ & Stortini on a hockey team. FML…
I Think that was the year I took to drinking earlier in the day…🤣


It will be interesting to see how things shake out with the AHL under the current unique circumstances, and what impacts that would have on the NHL 23 man roster limit. Once the Oilers get passed the opening day shuffle to be cap compliant and then get Klefbom on IR, it would appear if the league sticks to the 23 man roster and there are no other transactions, the Oilers will be exposing someone like Haas or Nygard to the waiver wire for assignment to the AHL. What are the chances either would clear? Or if they both beat out someone on the roster like Khaira, (possible if it is truly based on merit), would Khaira clear? That Benson is on an ELC still probably makes his hurdle to win a job on the opening roster a little higher, since keeping him would expose someone else.

Obviously most players sent down during and at the end of camp clear waivers as every team is going through the same exercise and all have their own roster limitations, but it is still a risk. Last year, it seems only 2 players were taken. But this is not going to be a normal year and there are a few teams like LA that currently look to have the flexibility to pick up a waiver player an send down an ELC player on day 1. Maybe Holland has it in the back of his mind that the rosters will be expanded this year giving him more flexibility.

Eh Team

I’d think the chances of Haas and Nygard clearing waivers are pretty high. Neither is a proven NHL player. And if Khaira is exposed to waivers would anyone really care if he was claimed? He’s the definition of a fringe NHLer, if that.


I would expect that the waived player would be Nygard over Haas and would be surprised if he was claimed.

To the extent there are “expanded rosters” for a period of time (AHL plans to start in February and, of course, there is a chance it doesn’t go at all – I think that is unlikely), I would imagine that all CBA type provisions would apply.

While guys like Benson, P. Russell, Quine may stay with the team on the expanded roster/taxi squad, I would anticipate that for cap type purposes, it would be akin to them being in the AHL and, for guys like P. Russell that are subject to waivers, they would have to clear in order to be off the NHL active roster and on the expanded.

I could totally be wrong but I’m anticipating that the expanded roster situation would be essentially the same as those players being assigned to the AHL (except maybe for actual real dollar comp purposes for those on 2-way deals) except they’d physically be with the team and practicing with the team.

Elgin R

Best opening night line-up options in many, many years. Actual NHL players will not start in the first game – who would have thought.

Season will depend on so many players looking for bounce-back years (Turris, Khaira, JP, Barrie) and progression (Bear, Jones, Kahun). If it comes to pass, Oilers will go far. Good looking team (even with Smith).


I am down with the D pairing for a first ten games look-see;

Nurse-Barrie they both are of the age and experience to be top pairing defenders. Are they really? Can they do it together?

Jones-Bear they are the up and comers, are they top four D for reals, or just flash in the pans. Time to take the training wheels off and dance with the girl who brought you. If this works years of smooth sailing ahead.

Lagesson-Larson hairy assed squared, Rickibox heroes. And Lagesson might, just might be able to make the odd pass.

10 games of glory or gaul, and then revert to the starfish cowboy and youngin’s being sheltered if needs must.


I’d love to see Lagesson-Larsson paired up but I really doubt Tippett diverges from his apparent preference for veterans until Wild Bill forces the issue or there’s an injury.


“arguing about lines and pairings”
Bear-Larson as #1 pair.
Fixed it 🙂


LT: What does it all mean? Be good to each other. Things could be worse. Dave Tippett seems to have a handle on this, maybe he’ll find some unique chemistry out among the stars.

Yeah, wow.

That’s some perspective on where things were and how much nicer recent iterations look, on all kinds of levels.

Also, the 20-21 Oilers roster above has 9 forwards on it who scored 0.5 PPG or better last season. That is a good thing.

Elgin R

Tippet showed late in the year and during most of the Play-in round that he most definitely does not have a handle on it. Leave the best line in hockey together. 97 plays with however is the best-of-the-rest.


It was clearly not the right move in the play-in.

Plan A being to keep Nuge-Draisaitl-Yamamoto together for perpetuity also seems short sighted to me.


I’m not sure Tippett had the players to make it work in the play in. His D was pretty beat up after the Calgary game as well. I agree with your statement and it will be fun to see what Tippett can do with this roster. Hope springs eternal!


True it may have turned out the same regardless. But making a controversial move like that and then losing to a major underdog… I don’t see a way to argue it was the ‘right’ move.

Richard Roma

It was the goaltending or lack thereof that sunk the Oilers against Chicago. That and Kirby Dach owned 29 and 97.


The goaltending in the series essentially mirrored the over play, commitment and urgency of the skaters in the series.


Right, goaltending matched the commitment and urgency, but not the flow of play, shots on goal, scoring chances, xGoals…


I agree that goaltending was probably a bigger factor than splitting up Nuge-Drai-Yam (please note also that I didn’t bring that up originally).

That said, I do think a dominant Draisaitl line could have changed the complexion of the series. Likewise better goaltending could/would have had a huge effect. Injuries probably played a role too. I don’t even think OP is entirely wrong about commitment and urgency. A lot of things go into winning or losing a hockey game or a series.

I guess luck deserves it’s due here as well…


Pasquale with the net again – sigh.

Best case scenario – Maksimov builds on his best pro game, lights up Paquale and Konovalov gets his net back next game.


Maksimov isn’t in the lineup tonight. Are you thinking of Samorukov?


Nope, I was thinking of Maksimov – at the time of the post, I assumed he’d be playing given his goal and assist last game – I assumed wrong.


Maksimov didn’t score a goal and assist in the previous game though? He has 1 point so far this season…



Holland has really built quality competition at every position this year. A late, short TC says 1 thing to me – injuries. So while we battle with fitting in all the 6,7, & 9s, likely an injury or two will make that picture clear by opening day.


Nugent-Hopkins / McDavid / Puljujarvi
Kahun / Draisaitl / Yamamoto
Ennis / Turris / Neal
Chiasson / Khaira / Kassian

Nygard / Haas / Archibald

I think there is also a chance Lavoie turns some heads in camp but RW is pretty deep.
Benson could possibly be the 1st callup in spot to succeed with Turris and Neal.
I’d still like to see Erik Haula on this team, but they surely won’t have the cap space unless they do the impossible and offload a Chiasson or Kassian or Russell.

Nurse / Bear
Jones / Larsson
Russell / Barrie

Losing Klefbom hurts, and I’m not crazy about the goaltending backup, but otherwise I like this lineup.


I could see the forward lines ending up there but don’t see it to start, barring distinct chemistry through camp.

Only other thing that comes to mind is I see it more likely Barrie is in the top-4 so as to maximize minutes with McDavid and Draisaitl. Plus I’d like to see Bear carry a pairing in fewer minutes than last season against slightly less intense competition. If he can carry Russell, he’ll be a long way to earning a long term contract (ideally similar to the Ellis deal, either AAV or current percentage of cap… while we’re dreaming).


Puljujarvi showing up and taking the 1RW spot away from Kassian makes the whole forward group look balanced for the first time in so long I can’t remember.

Unlikely because of history or caution but ideal and possible based upon ability.


JP fitting in as 1RW would be outstanding. I’m not doubting his potential but I’m not pencilling him in, either.

Last edited 10 months ago by BornInAGretzkyJersey

20 games into the season too hopeful or reasonable?


Reasonable given the compressed schedule. It would probably hinge on where the team was standing wise. I personally have a good deal of faith in Tippett and his staff. They seem to have a good feel when a young player is ready for increased responsibility.


All depends on how Tippett chooses to deploy the lines.

Intuitively speaking I’d think with their decent fancies and prior familiarity it would make sense to try them together sooner than later. At least then they would be going up against other teams’ top lines before the opposition is rounding into mid-season form.

More likely JPs opportunity comes in the form of an injury or slump from more established options like Kassian or Neal or even Archibald.


JP has to be given the time to acclimate to NHL speed and would in my opinion be best served to start on the third line with Turris. I can see him being moved up as the season progresses.


I think that is the prudent and reasonable expectation.


You have stayed consistent with the Haula acquisition even though the deep dive showed him to be less than ideal. I respect a man that is true to his convictions. Personally and I will stay true to this I like Barrie with Jones. This keeps the top two pairings with offence first capabilities while leaving Russel a hole where offence dies with Larsson for PK and hard minutes match ups against certain teams and or when up a goal with little time remaining. This also allows for a veteran on every line if you insert Lagesson on the third/shutdown penalty killing pairing. It will be very interesting to see hoe things play out as Holland has given Tippett some options on both the forward lines and on defence.

Brantford Boy

Let’s get hammered! That’s what the hammer room is right?

I can’t see Archibald being scratched… anyway Chiasson can play centre?

I’m not totally against the 1st and 3rd defensive pairings… Barrie would get to play with McDavid on the ice, sure that’s what the fit is for and the PP. Man, can the kids stay above water, or do they get caved?

I’d rather a veteran with each sophomore, but that means either Russel plays 2nd pair, which is more ideal for Bear’s skillset, and I’m pretty sure the numbers for Russel playing 2nd pair weren’t good (possibly 2016-17 were adequate). Larsson drops down to 3rd pair, which isn’t a great spot for our best (arguably) defender, but shelters Jones.

I think I read a great blog not long ago, the title was “The Key Is Jones”…

For any Mandalorian fans out there… “I have spoken”…

Last edited 10 months ago by Brantford Boy