Every offseason we watch the moves unfold, come to a consensus about lines and pairings, and then experience shock and awe when the coach does something else. Most times it’s mild shock opening night, the 2009-10 opener had us in a collective delirium.
This year? I think the lineup looks set in the important spots.
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Will the Ethan Bear trade be the latest shortsighted move that haunts the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans should expect more trades and a deep playoff run this season
- Lowetide: How much playing time will Evan Bouchard get with the Oilers this coming season?
- Lowetide: What are reasonable expectations for the 2021-22 Oilers?
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ‘perfect lines’ for next season?
- Lowetide: The Oilers and value contracts. Three now, two later
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse to a massive 8-year contract extension
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Lowetide: 8 unsigned free agents who could help the Oilers
- DNB: Rating the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
ASSUMED ROSTER FOR OPENING NIGHT
You might have a different view on some players, but this is imo a reasonable consensus roster for opening night. Key additions in primary spots include Duncan Keith (No. 2 LHD), Cody Ceci (No. 2 RHD), Zach Hyman (No. 1 LW) and Derek Ryan (No. 3 C). That’s four big pieces in one summer.
The great thing about this roster is how much can be accomplished on the lines. Coach Dave Tippett can move Hyman to right wing, run him on any of the top three lines, and still have enough quality to fill in no matter. Injuries will impact of course, and in this model names like Tyler Benson and Dylan Holloway don’t impact opening night. A reminder: Injuries will have a say in what opening night looks like.
Now, as you know Oilers fans have a tremendous collective imagination. Here’s the ‘nightmare scenario’ for opening night.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
The truth is there’s so much forward depth ruining the top three lines is almost impossible. Puljujarvi coming off the top line for Kassian, and Bouchard heading to the pressbox are lightning rod moves. I don’t think Tippett will do either, although there will be the usual parade of wingers on 97’s line.
MY SUGGESTED LINES AND ROSTER
I expect the fourth line to be an issue, not sure there’s a real fix available and expect Devin Shore-Ryan McLeod becomes a thing in 2021-22. That indicates a poor possession number five on five based on Shore’s history, so the all-clear won’t be sounded this fall and the balance photo (so beautiful) waits another year.
FAMOUS OPENING NIGHTS: 2009-10
- L1: Jacques-Horcoff-Hemsky
- L2: Penner-Cogliano-Brule
- L4: Moreau-Gagner-Stortini
- D1: Grebeshkov-Gilbert
- D2: Souray-Staios
- D3: Visnovsky-Smid
- G1: Khabibulin, Deslauriers
Never seen anything like it before or since. Lubo on the third pair, Jacques on the top line, that’s Ryan Stone on the third line. On the nadir scale, that one ranked.
- L1: Benoit Pouliot—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Teddy Purcell
- L2: Taylor Hall—Connor McDavid—Anton Slepyshev
- L3: Lauri Korpikoski—Anton Lander —Nail Yakupov
- L4: Rob Klinkhammer—Mark Letestu—Matt Hendricks
- D1: Andrej Sekera—Mark Fayne
- D2: Oscar Klefbom—Justin Schultz
- D3: Griffin Reinhart—Eric Gryba
- G1: Cam Talbot (Anders Nilsson)
- Extras: Luke Gazdic, Andrew Ference, Brandon Davidson
- Injured: Jordan Eberle, Dillon Simpson
This is Connor McDavid’s first night, Eberle got hurt on a nothing preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes. I was at the game, knew immediately it was going to be an IR injury because Oilers. My goodness McDavid has had a lot of linemates.