In the middle of a career year for a generational talent, the Edmonton Oilers are unable to find two wingers who can help him runaway with the scoring championship. What’s more, the team’s veteran two-way center, who scored in bunches last season on the wing, can’t hit the five on five ocean. What the hell is going on around here?
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.
- New Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ideal defensive pairings after picking up Dmitry Kulikov at the trade deadline
- New DNB: Ken Holland’s quiet NHL trade deadline sets up Oilers for big moves later
- New DNB: Why the Oilers not maximizing the trade deadline is both predictable and disappointing
- New Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers are getting in trade deadline pickup Dmitry Kulikov: A cheap solution to a nagging problem
- Lowetide: What would the Oilers sacrifice if they traded their 2021 first-round pick?
- DNB: A year without Colby Cave
- DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard’s season of inactivity — what is the risk for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Oilers futures watch — how new arrivals are making an impact at AHL Bakersfield
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ big decision on defence — Caleb Jones or William Lagesson?
- Lowetide: Oilers March report card
- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Lowetide: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
- Lowetide: Why are some Oilers fans hesitant to give Darnell Nurse his due?
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
MCDAVID’S WINGERS AT FIVE ON FIVE
Connor McDavid is dominant at five on five this season, posting big boxcars and fantastic numbers across the board. Here are his numbers, and his linemates totals when playing with the captain. It’s incredible.
- Connor McDavid: 12-24-36 (3.02 pts-60)
- Leon Draisaitl: 7-11-18 (4.68) in 231 minutes
- Kailer Yamamoto: 4-7-11 (2.98) in 141 minutes
- Jesse Puljujarvi: 5-4-9 (1.38) in 398 minutes
- Zack Kassian: 0-2-2 (1.28) in 94 minutes
- Josh Archibald: 1-0-1 (1.27) in 47 minutes
- Nugent-Hopkins: 4-3-7 (1.09) in 304 minutes
Draisaitl and Yamamoto are the clear choices for wingers on this line, but of course Draisaitl needs to center his own line. Puljujuarvi as 97’s RW isn’t ideal, but he’s going to learn where the goals are scored and should be 1.50+ by season’s end. It’s Nuge. That’s a bad number.
DRAISAITL’S WINGERS AT FIVE ON FIVE
- Leon Draisaitl 10-21-31 (2.75 pts-60)
- Connor McDavid 6-14-20 (5.2) in 230 minutes
- RNH 2-1-3 (3.63) in 50 minutes
- Kailer Yamamoto 7-8-15 (1.92) in 468 minutes
- Dominik Kahun 6-3-9 (1.63) in 330 minutes
- Jesse Puljujarvi 2-1-3 (1.44) in 124 minutes
If we agree that the McDavid line has multiple underachievers and that Nuge is best suited to playing with Draisaitl, then it comes down to the right winger deployed with each man. Since Yamamoto outperforms on the 97 line, I thought maybe the ‘pairs’ could be Draisaitl-Nuge and McDavid-Yamamoto.
The three men together dominate (11-2 goals in 110 minutes). McDavid-Yamamoto without the big man is mediocre (0-2) in goal differential but dominant in shot differential (25-8) in 31 minutes. So, the sample is small but the results are good (expected goals 69.7 percent).
I understand there are elements of the game that math can’t capture, but the expected goals for 97-56 is damn near 70 percent isolated and the Drai-Nuge combination works (but needs a puck retrieval expert). So, what about these lines:
- Jesse Puljujarvi-Connor McDavid-Kailer Yamamoto
- The Nuge-Leon Draisaitl-Josh Archibald
Chiasson and Kassian are other options, and bring size, and Kahun is actually a pretty good scorer with Draisaitl. But Archibald has some skill and is 2-1 goals in 42 minutes with LD this season (48 percent expected goals). Thoughts?
I suggested this yesterday and talked about it on the Lowdown. I know being critical of Oilers management is a national sport and I know much of that has been earned over the last 15 years. That said, I think being fair should be part of any conversation. Did the Oilers make an offer that Buffalo accepted, and Hall refused? Don’t know. We do know that the plot thickens.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we discuss Edmonton’s one move and lack of activity beyond the acquisition of Dmitry Kulikov. My views on him are at The Athletic this morning. We’ll welcome Jason Rogers (Washington Capitals reporter) on the day after a massive actual hockey trade involving the Caps, and Corey Masisak from The Athletic to talk about Kulikov and what he brings. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!