Opportunity

by Lowetide

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.

THE ATHLETIC!

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!

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
  • L3:O’Sullivan-Comrie-Stone
  • 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.

2015-16

  • 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.

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Woodguy v2.0

There is a reasonable probability that Koskinen is waived to start the season, but it would be just a paper transaction as no one is picking up that contract.

It would be done to get EDM under the cap so they can get full benefit of Klef on LTIR. Iirc if the use “off season LTIR” on Klef to get under the cap then they don’t get to accrue daily cap savings like they would if they actually got under the cap on the first day.

Also,

Aside from a few hot games in the EDM bubble Stalock was the worst goalie out of ~65 who played over the past two years.

Barring crazy injury luck he won’t play and Skinner might play in front of him if the injury luck happens.

I expect him to be loaned to another AHL team this year.

Last edited 1 month ago by Woodguy v2.0
jp

Aside from a few hot games in the EDM bubble Stalock was the worst goalie out of ~65 who played over the past two years.

You’re on yesterday’s thread.

But huh on Stalock?

I’m not sure which 2 years you’re referring to, but Stalock was .910 in 38 regular season games in 19-20. In 19-20 + 20-21 Smith’s SV% is .912 and Koskien’s is .910. Of 63 goalies to play 30 games those 2 seasons Smith was tied for 25th in SV%, Koskinen and Stalock tied for 31st. Not much to choose and all essentially average.

If you include 3 seasons (of which Stalock only played in 2) he has a .907 SV% (tied with Mike Smith for 42nd of 65 goalies to play 40+ games). Koskinen was .908, one of 6 tied for 36th. All 3 have been slightly below average over the 3 seasons but all far from the bottom of the league as well.

I don’t see much to choose between them TBH. I don’t see why Stalock wouldn’t be fully in the conversation to win one of the 3 goalie spots.

Scungilli Slushy

I see Foegele getting promoted to top 6 a lot and Ryan best as 4C

Ryan has better career scoring stats and last year it .37 PPG for Foegele and .3 for Ryan, on a far worse team. Foegele doesn’t have the hands to stay in the top 6 his numbers say to me

IIRC they have great stats together; it seems natural they get the start as the third line pair getting a lot of right side draws and PK, and the rookies and almosts make up the 4th line; fighting for more TOI which is perfect

OriginalPouzar

Yes, they have six points between them in two games as linemates – 2 games, of course.

€√¥£€^$

What Foegele is not, is an elite finisher, but what he is, is similar to what Hyman and Jesse bring to the table, elite fore-checking and elite chaos. For Foegele, he is kind of a wrecking ball out there and if put on a line with 29 or 97, I think he could put up 30 goals and 40 assists…. He is something to watch. I still can’t believe Holland was able to acquire him.

€√¥£€^$

FWIW, I put Yamo is the same class, but he is more of a ninja, whereas the others are more like bulls in China shops…

LostBoy

The 2009-2010 start was something. That was the year Comrie and O’Sullivan were gods in the preseason games, with 10 and 7 points, respectively. Jacques was just an awesomely strange story. It’s been pointed out repeatedly here, but he came into that preseason with exactly one point in 60 previous NHL games for the Oilers (and I can’t remember, but I think it was a goal in the back half of the seven games he played the previous season). But he, too, was a preseason star, with one massive game and ending with three goals in five preseason games. Ah, doddering coach Hind Banana. Yet they still started 6-2-1. I mean, 21-45-7 the rest of the way, but…

Reja

I’m calling the passenger seat first Oilers score over 300 goals that’s 3.65 goals per game. I’m also calling our D collectively will be tops in the league. Go Oilers Go

jp

 I’m also calling our D collectively will be tops in the league.

You mean the D will be tops scoring-wise?

I’ll agree 300 goals could happen. They were on pace for 268 last season, so 300 would be a pretty decent jump. The 18-19 Lightning are the only team to score 300 in the last decade.

The Oilers added a lot of depth and quality to an already high scoring team though. Their 3.27 goals per game from last season was already among top 30 scoring seasons in the last decade.

All indications are next seasons Pacific Div. will be weaker than the North too.

OriginalPouzar

Per Larry Brook, the IIHF has agreed to purchase Covid insurance for the NHL players for the Olympics.

I guess that is something but, from what I’ve been hearing (mainly from John Shannon), insurance was essentially settled a while ago and wasn’t a primary road-block. The main issues are with respect the licensing rights and the NHL wanting to be able to market with the Olympic rings and have access to footage.

kelvjn

Then there is also the small problem of political issue. If it was bad at Sochi and the system diping, wait until it is 1936 all over again.

jp

It also seems pretty clear the ‘issues’ this time around are actually further progressed than they were in 1936. Let that sink in for a minute.

As much as I love to watch Olympic hockey the larger picture in this case is kind of a big deal.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Also, I think the nightmare line-up looks more like this:

Drai – CMD – Hyman
Foegele – RNH – Kass
Shore – Ryan – JP
Mcleod – Turris – Yamo

Nurse – Barrie
Keith – Ceci
Coocoo – Cowboy

Smith – Koski

OriginalPouzar

The first line is indeed the nightmare:

1) Drai and McDavid together to start games should not be a realistic option – it takes away the option of putting them together in-game in certain scenarios (after a PP or icing or when the team is flat and needs to an energy boost, etc.). When they start games together and the game isn’t going well, there isn’t the “nuclear option” to put them together which needs to be available.

2) If/when McDavid and Drai are together, in my opinion, Hyman needs to be on another line as he has proven to be able to help drive results on a secondary line.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Was it 2013-2014 or 2014-2015 where Arcobello and Hall were the top two Cs for the start of the season?

The Eakins era teams and line-up choices were particularly baffling.

Material Elvis

LT that ideal lineup you posted looks pretty balanced to me. There’s no one really slotted out of position anymore. Of course, some of the players could be upgraded, but that’s a different argument.

Release the balance photo!

Harpers Hair

With a 39 year old starting goaltender and questionable defense core?

defmn

Who are you regarding as questionable on defense?

Nurse – Barrie may not be elite but they are a pretty good 1st pair.

Keith – Ceci? Ceci played 2RD last year in Pittsburgh with reasonable outcomes from what I have read. Keith played 1LD with questionable outcomes but will be bumped down a slot.

Russell – Bouchard? Pretty reasonable 3rd pair imo.

You can say questionable because there is change and nobody has proven anything yet but that would be different than not balanced imo.

In goal?

Yup.

It’s cross your fingers and toes time but I am convinced there are the assets to make a trade that everybody here will hate in terms of value but that can right the ship if/when Smith goes down.

I have seen this team sail into TC in much worse condition.

Last edited 1 month ago by defmn
Harpers Hair

Well, there are a lot of variables at play on D.

Some things to consider :

Nurse’s possession numbers were underwater away from McDavid.
What happens if McDavid suffers an injury?

Is Barrie a legit 1st pairing D? I don’t think so. If he was he would still be playing in Colorado or Toronto.

Both Keith & Ceci are major question marks.

Keith might be dropping down a rung but that hardly guarantees better results. It’s much more likely his poor results are the result of his advanced age.

Ceci has had ONE good season and several poor ones. Which Ceci will show up and can he carry Keith if that goes south? I don’t think so.

Russell, at this point, is more suited to a 7th D role and is hardly the big shutdown type who normally populate a 3rd pair..he may be adequate but nothing more.

Bouchard SHOULD be ready but that is not a sure thing and rookies make lots of mistakes. Is Russell the type of player you want covering for those mistakes?

You also have to recognize that opposition coaches will try and exploit the potential weaknesses inherent in those bottom pairings.

I would imagine they will be pounding the puck into Bouchard’s corner at every opportunity and follow up with a ton of hits and Bouchard’s average skating will come into play.

Yeah…lots of questions.

Side

I count 4 questions you asked.

“Lots of questions” indeed.

From the mind that raved about how good Vancouver’s defense and goalies would be before the beginning of last season….

OriginalPouzar

Nurse’s numbers without McDavid cited – no note about the vast improvement of the forwards overall and those away minutes to be with much better players.

The likes of Byram and Barron to be difference makers but Bouchard to make rookie mistakes.

Kris Russell’s defensive acumen in question – Russell of 1.83 G/60 last season where he played over 34% of his time against elites (and had a 62.5% GF% against elites).

Keith’s ability at his likely role question but no mention of the player(s) he’s replacing in that role and their aggregate performance last year.

Same as always: narratives.

Material Elvis

A fair and balanced analysis of the Oilers — the one thing HH will never provide. Oilers bad; every other team the best.

defmn

This is all worst case scenario stuff.

The idea that Barrie would never be traded if he was a true 1st pairing dman is hardly worth responding to. I guess Pronger just wasn’t good enough for the first 3 teams he played for.

Ceci is a first round pick playing with a future hall of famer. See how easy it is to pick a narrative?

As I said there are legitimate questions because there are changes but always predicting disaster gets kind of tiresome. Not to mention that the forward group should be stronger defensively.

If you want to look for places to be concerned I suggest you focus on the net where there are things worth worrying about.

pts2pndr

You and your negativity are merely anti Oiler crap! You of the belief that Mr. minus 25 Quinn Hughes is a number one D. You or your evaluation have zero credibility! Now you can’t even find your bridge to crawl back under. You are pathetic!

Abbeef

I was nervous about the Oiler’s D this season, but this eased my worries. If HH’s predictions are as accurate as last years we might have the best D corps in the league!

Scungilli Slushy

Yup
It hasn’t been called the ideal photo or perfection photo

An NHL quality player (truth we aren’t judging quality) occupies every starting roster position

Lets have it LT!

Reja

The goaltending scares the shit out of me I can’t see Smith playing 50 games and not pulling a groin. Mikko is in a contract year if he shows well another team might sign him next year which he knows is a hell of a lot better then working in the Salt Mine’s of Russia. Stalock is a wild card he too wants continue is NHL career as well and with his injuries behind him maybe he’s the ticket to the salvation land.

jojonoshow

He’s Finnish you dummy

Reja

Are you daft the KHL is in Russia and that’s where he played 6 years before signing in Edmonton. I know it’s hard but try to keep up with the adults.

theDonkeyJohnson

Koskinen played a fair chunk of his pro career in Russia is what I believe Reja was pointing out. Drafted/played for NYI in the NHL and minors and then headed to the KHL before joining the Oilers. Probably stands a chance at scoring another KHL contract.

buck yoakam

make it so!….number one!!!

defmn

DeBrusk – McDavid – Hyman
Foegele – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Benson/Perlini/Holloway – Nuge – Puljujarvi
McLeod – Ryan – Archibald

I call that balanced. 😉

I am being facetious, of course, but my Reinhart fantasy was crushed by Florida so I have moved on to fantasy #2.

Nuge is an interesting player. He is a bit of a Swiss Army knife in that he is very good on the PP, good on the PK, can play centre but is mediocre at draws, can play LW but doesn’t win enough board battles to be considered elite at that position.

I think he is value at $5.1 M and his style of play has always made him one of my favourites on the Oilers but his versatility is both a benefit and a bit of a curse for him since his role has been difficult to nail down in recent seasons.

He is, to my mind, the best option for 3C of the options available but is also the best option for 2LW.

I hope it is going to be a really interesting TC.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Great minds. I really like the idea of Nuge anchoring a great 3rd line and mentoring some of the younger forwards.

Scungilli Slushy

For me now that they finally have size speed and defensive acumen up front, the only way another smaller non elite scoring semi defensive F comes in is if Yama is being replaced by him

I also think Holloway is very likely already a better player than are Brusk and is paid for. Bigger faster and plays 200 ft with skill

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

It is fun thinking about possible line combinations.

I would like to see:

Hyman – CMD – Kass
Foegele – Drai – Yamo
Mcleod – RNH – JP
Shore – Ryan – Archi
Benson/Perlini

Kass on line #1 is obviously far from ideal but Hyman + CMD can probably drag him around. I think Yamo needs to play with bigger linemates to give him some cover. Yamo + Foegele is a great forechecking tandem, they should free up lots of time and space for Drai. RNH provides some mentorship to the kids and hopefully anchors a great 3rd line.

Reja

We are going to have 4 lines rolling if Tippett gives the green light to our mobile D we are going to score more than 300 goals. I would also give the green light on penalty kill short handed goals are back breakers and we have the skill to post them. Remember 300 goals this is going to be a breakout year.

YYCOil

I think Tippett builds is teams out STARTING with Penalty Killing, then Power Play, then shift after the special teams, then defensive face off (left and right side), then offensive zone face off then 5v5.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

I think I seem him proceed with established pairs.

Once the duos are set then the special teams and 5v5 lines take shape based on who’s got their mojo flowing.

jp

Yeah, I think PK duo’s were set in part based on the 5v5 duo’s rather than visa versa.

Elgin R

I see Benson on the opening night roster. Perlini and Shore will sail through waivers and I am not sure Benson will. Also, if Benson is the quality player I believe he is, he outplays Shore and Perlini at camp.

No to Turris. Fool me once ……. etc.

OriginalPouzar

Perlini is a big and fast train who has a history with Tippett….. I won’t discount that as part of the evaluation.

I also feel like I shouldn’t totally discount Turris’ off-season bout with Covid and the potential that it has a material effect on his game (see: James Neal). I’m just totally speculating and spit-balling but, for all we know, it really hampered his off-season and he wasn’t ready come camp and its hard to catch up in-season…..

pts2pndr

Believing in Turris is a lot like believing in the Easter bunny or Santa! No way it conforms to reality but if it works for you feel free!

jp

Ideal for me I think would be Benson and Perlini both outplaying Shore/Turris.

Benson/Perlini can then battle for a spot in the lineup, while Shore slides nicely into the 5C/extra forward slot.

defmn

Turris is a wild card for me. I have no idea how much his bout with Covid affected his play last season.

jp

Yes, I absolutely believe he could come back a different player this year.

My ideal would have the young(er) guys coming in and forcing themselves onto the team, which is almost always a good thing.

Turris has the highest potential upside in the short term, but Benson proving himself as an NHLer, and finding a big, fast, skilled player in Perlini, I think would be the best case longer term.

defmn

Agreed that it would be nice to see the younger guys grab the spot. Big turnaround on the wings from the last couple of years.

pts2pndr

I hope you and OP are correct but I need to see proof. Excuses are like assh-—es everyone has one. If you are correct his resurrection could fill a current need!

defmn

We all need to see some proof. 😉

Shouldn’t take more than 2 TC games to find out.

OriginalPouzar

There is a key factor related to Benson and Perlini outplaying Shore – that that coach will actually play those two guys over him – I don’t think 1 necessarily leads to 2 (although it might, and it should).

jp

Shore played the last 2 playoff games and got a 2 year (league min) contract from the team. But he was also a HS for the first 2 playoff games.

i think Tippett’s loyalty to Shore is being a bit overstated. And as you’ve also noted ‘pk’ is no longer a reason for putting Shore in the lineup.

OriginalPouzar

This is fair and I would use the word “trust” as opposed to “loyalty”.

Yes, he was scratched for those two playoff games (I think to get Zack in the lineup) but he did make his way back in and then up the lineup in short order.

When things get “tight”, its pretty clear that Tip trusted him last year, despite his terrible on-ice numbers at 5 on 5 (although I believe Tip looks at scoring chance and likely individual participation in scoring chance, similar to CoH).

In any event, he played 26 of the last 30 regular season games (just a random check).

I would like to think, for that part of the lineup, best player at camp gets the roster spot and the lineup spot but we’ll see.

Reja

Perlini is closer to the opening night line-up then most people think. Perlini, Hyman Foegele and Holliday what do they all have in common. They all are hard on the puck and poof our team has a new identity from a 2 man show to 4 lines coming at you in wave after wave.

defmn

I also doubt Tippett chooses his lineups based upon loyalty when discussing marginal 4th line wingers.

Top end guys get more rope but the 10 -12 minute guys have to earn their starts pretty much every game they get.

Last edited 1 month ago by defmn
OriginalPouzar

I don’t agree on the nightmare scenario as, frankly, I see next to zero chance of a healthy Bouchard in the pressbox. Listening to Tip this off-season, most recently on the DFO Rundown on Monday, he has Bouchard pencilled in for a MAJOR role on the team, increasing as the season goes on (hopefully).

For me, the “realistic” nighmare scenario has McDavid/Drai starting the season on the same 5 on 5 line (or that being deployed early at the first sign of struggle) or Turris playing 4C over McLeod (unless, of course, Turris is showing real bounce-back potential.

OriginalPouzar

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.

Consensus? Is there such a thing? Ha!

I would agree that, this season, the important spots are set and the top 3 lines and 5D are pretty much “set”.

I think most project the following:

Hyman/McDavid/Puljujarvi
Nuge/Drai/Yamamoto
Foegele/Ryan/Kassian
XXX/McLeod/Archie

Nurse/Barrie
Keith/Ceci
YYY/Bouchard

Subject to injury I think those top 5 D, in their positions are all but set. YYY is likely Koekkoek/Russell but, who knows, maybe a Samorukov or Lagesson blow the doors off at camp. More likely Sammy than Lagesson as I don’t think Lagesson has the type of game that can blow doors off at this stage.

That looks to me like the reasonable projected forward lines with:

1) XXX being Shore in pencil but Benson/Perlini in the conversation.

2) Marody/Turris will need to show big to make the roster/lineup

3) Ryan vs. McLeod for 3C vs. 4C – ulimiately, Ryan would be best suited at 4C and here is hoping that McLeod can develop and surpass Ryan on merit during the season.

4) Chance of Kassian bouncing back to close to calender year 2019 and creating a battle with Kailer for 2RW

The biggest thing with the forwards is there is so much versatility that Tip has so many options:

1) Nuge can play top 6 LW or move over to 2C or 3C

2) Hyman and Foegele can play both side and, at least for Hyman, perhaps even better on the right side

3) Hyman seems slotted in as McDavid’s left winger but lets not forget, his time in Toronto shows that he can also be the play driver on more of a depth line – he could slot down the lineup and help drive a 3rd line

4) Foegele has some top 6 upside

5) Holloway having a big cap and forcing Holland to keep him to start the season would impact the lineup deployment.

LOVE IT!

LETS DO THIS!

Shane

”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.”

Only because of the damn fourth line LT??!!

Elgin R

Do not see Shore on the team past January 2022. Balance photo requires that elusive legit 3C and at this point that is not locked in place. Maybe the team has it and just cannot deploy it yet (RNH).

Bismarck

With the depth on the wing, I would be inclined to run RNH as the 3rd line center (in part to make room for the Bensons on this team), and if necessary moving MacLeod over to wing as part of his transition into the big game. RNH has had some hot moments on Leon’s and Connor’s left wings, but he is fundamentally a center and I think it’s his highest and best use at this time. Nice to have the flexibility, anyways.

RandyRanderson

I am sure that this will happen eventually… no rush we have Nuge for 8 years

OriginalPouzar

I think Holloway is the eventual key to Nuge at 3C – it may come sooner than we think but I don’t see in in October 2021.

Ryan

I don’t love everything Holland has done thus far, but that’s a stupid amount of forward depth. It’s hard not to be exited for the season to start.

innercitysmytty

True – and you add in the players bubbling up and it’s even more exciting for 1-3 years down the road. D is a big wildcard in year, but again with the legit prospects bubbling up, it should be strong in 1-3 years as well. G does not inspire me at all, but maybe Konovalov pushes quickly or we fix it at the deadline a la 2006.

dustrock

Would just like Tippett to stay away from the Shores and Patrick Russells of the world and stick to skill.

OriginalPouzar

The Oilers now have the following forwards that can be on the PK:

Nuge, Hyman, Archie, Ryan, Foegele, McLeod, Yamamoto, Drai.

There is no need for Shore to get a lineup spot in the name of the PK – its adequately covered.

He may win the day over Benson/Perlini as a more established NHL player but Perlini is a big and fast train with somewhat recent goal scoring pedigree in the NHL (although perhaps 2-way struggles) and Benson has real NHL skill and ability and also a sneaky physical/battle game.

tileguy

”nadir scale”, the way you used it in a sentence I know it didn’t mean good.

Kert

Drai – 97 – Hyman
Foegele – Nuge – Jesse
Benson – Ryan – yam
Perlini – McLeod – Archibald

Marody in for archi sometimes, Kassian in if you need some more punch. Shore can sail through waivers and be ready for injuries.

innercitysmytty

I think too many people overlook that the bulk of the poor stretch Kass has had over the past two years he has either been coming back from injury, playing in front of no crowd or both. The contract is poor and he shouldn’t be on the first line, but I think those things cloud people’s judgement a bit. He certainly appears to be a player that feeds off crowd energy. I think with better depth up front and put in a position to succeed on the 3rd line he’ll end up proving more effective than people expect. Contract aside, if he can bring a physical presence from the 3rd line, roughly saw off on possession and goals, and put up in the range of 15-15-30 would people be happy with that. I think that’s within the realm of reasonable if he’s healthy and there are fans in the stands.

Kert

If he can deliver 15-15-30 from the 3rd line that’s fantastic. I wouldn’t even dislike the contract at that point. I don’t think it is reasonable, but it is possible.
I don’t know the extent of the injuries he has had to deal with and I don’t know how much the lack of crowd is impacting him. But that can be said about anyone on the roster.

At some point he has to demonstrate that he can still deliver if he wants the opportunities, just like the rest of the bottom of the roster. My lines are just my expectations of who I think are the best bets to contribute to winning.

Kassian might be part of the solution, but I’d bet against it. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

innercitysmytty

The thing is with his speed and hands I just don’t buy that he’s fallen off a cliff completely since signing that contract. He had a number of seasons in a row of solid 5×5 p/60 numbers and decent possession stats well before playing with Connor. His counting stats went up over the stretch with Connor though. 15-15-30 might be a stretch from the third line but I still think he’ll be much more effective than people expect.

Kert

Well, he is very good at shaking the boards near the opposing defenders. Hopefully he can at least keep that going.

OriginalPouzar

Kass could very well “need the energy of the crowd” and, if that is the case, well, good, as he should play better but, at the same time, come on man – your a professional athlete making over $3M a year. Find a way to get motivated and play to the best of your ability.

99% of the other NHL players seemed to be able to play to historical prime levels during the pandemic.

I hope its the case but its also a terrible terrible look on the player (and I like Kass as a person, for many reasons).

OriginalPouzar

The first line is my worst case scenario. Drai and McDavid together to start games is a non-starter for me and, when they are together, Hyman should be used to drive a secondary line (as he’s shown to be able to do).

In my opinion.

Kert

Haha Yah, I figured you wouldn’t like that line up. Drai-Mcdavid has suffered in the past because they havent had the depth to handle when they are on the bench. But I think they have the depth now.

I suspect I have less faith in Hyman driving a line than you do. It’d be great if he can.

I also think there will be a lot of successful variations of this line up, including McDavid and Drai apart. Previous seasons it was hunting for anything that works. This season there’s too much talent to get it wrong.

Should be a fun season.

OriginalPouzar

Fair enough.

My point on Hyman driving a secondary line is just based on the evidence that he has done exactly that.

The numbers show it and, in the three game sweep of the Oilers by the leafs, it was definitely evident with eye test.

dustrock

This will be the first year we can really assess Holland as GM. Pretty sure the forwards could be the best in 15 years but the D and G?

If it works out, he’s going to look like a genius and I for one would be very happy to eat crow.

If it doesn’t work out, it will be interesting to see how long it takes everyone to turn on him.

OriginalPouzar

I see lots of risk in the D but I could also see it working out splendidly.

I’ve got my off-season positive goggles on vis-a-vis Ceci – I know that Pit fans/media/bloggers did not want to let him go (he was a cap casualty), I know he gained trust through the year and played 2nd pairing and PK1 for the last half of the year/playoffs (with success), I know he had more 5 on 5 points than Gio, Pieterangelo, Hedman, Josi (among others) and that he can move the puck better than Larsson did on the 2nd pairing.

I am choosing to believe that last year was not an aberration and a function of a high pedigree player finally figuring out what type of game he can succeed at at the NHL level and is settling in as he hits his prime years.

Of course, risk with Keith given age and decline but I look at last year and Larsson playing with a revolving door of Jones/Lagesson/Russell/Koekkoek/Kulikov and can’t foresee Keith not helping and solidifying.

Bouchard playing every day and the coach thinking he’s going to be an important player with an increasing role – I think this player is going to be a game changer.

jp

If it doesn’t work out, it will be interesting to see how long it takes everyone to turn on him.

It’s clear the tide won’t take long to turn if the D and/or G go south.

We (collectively) had already turned on him 3 or 4 weeks ago after all.

David

Foegele-McDavid-Hyman
Nuge-Drai-Puljujarvi
Benson-Ryan-Yamo
Perlini-McLeod-Archibald

I like the idea of Hyman sliding to the right to get all our lefties in. I’d be fine with rearranging the LW’s in almost any order (want to see Benson with some actual skill), but I think this type of set up gives us the best look.

But I know there is zero chance Kassian doesn’t start, and we do need to play him so he can recover some value so we can trade him before next season.

Kert

There’s a chance Foegele could smash in 20 at even strength playing beside Connor, much like Maroon before him. Could be worth a shot.

dustrock

Reinhart-Gryba.

Oh McDavid.

etownboi33

No love for Stalock as backup in any of your models?

jp

IMO Koskinen and Stalock should both be uncertain Oilers.

Koskinen likely has a bit of an edge going in, but I absolutely think Stalock could win the job by outplaying him at camp.

defmn

Or simply because it is prudent to have both available given Smith’s age & Koskinen is far less likely to be picked up on waivers than Stalock is.

That alone, for me, gives Stalock the edge if their play in TC is more or less even.

It isn’t like the Oilers need to worry about hurting Koskinen’s feelings. I think he pretty much knows what they think of him at this point.

Last edited 1 month ago by defmn
jp

Yeah that’s a factor too.

And yes, definitely too late to preserve Koskinen’s pride at this point!

PS – I’m really surprised LT cited Shore/4th line as the reason for no balance photo. I’d have bet for ‘goaltending’ as the bigger worry.

OriginalPouzar

This should be a very intriguing storyline during camp.

Taking away that Stalock is absolutely killing Da Beauty League (yes, a real thing and its spectacular – to hear Stalock talk about it with, I believe it was Struddy, last week, was one of the best hits of the off-season), Stalock, to me, should be a real factor.

For one, Stalock has had proven success in the NHL, in recent times, 20 wins in 2019/20. Mikko has had success as well but, to me, they are essentially “even” going in to camp as far as who may “play better”.

Next, puck handling – Stalock is known to be a very good puck handler. No, he’s not Mike Smith in that regard but he is a few tiers up from Mikko. Taking aside the fact that it helps the team play better (as proven by their play in front of Smith vs. Mikko and shot totals, not to mention wins), the team likely struggles a bit with having to change their puck retrieval and breakout game vis-a-vis Smith vs. Mikko. Having Stalock and Smith split duties likely helps them play the same nightly.

Cap, putting Mikko in the AHL over Stalock saves a few hundred grand – no to mention there is zero chance Mikko gets claimed (unfortunately) but they could lose Stalock which wouldn’t be great.

There is also the chance for 3 goalies with the team. The team may just run with that on the 23 man roster (which would suck for the projected 14th forward) but, also, Covid is still a thing and the league may still allow for small expanded rosters or a 3rd goalie without cap implications – maybe.

TheGreatBigMac

Consensus looks reasonable, but lots of different looks are possible and could work:

Drai McD Yam
Hyman Nuge Jesse

Foegele McD Hyman
Nuge Drai Jesse

Revolved

I think it would be nice to know what the consensus on lines and pairings looks like for this group. Using LTs line up as a starting point, I will give options below for people to vote + or – for. As your own too!

Revolved

Zack Kassian
Fourth line RW = +
First line RW = –

godot10

What is the symbol for putting Kassian in pressbox?

Last edited 1 month ago by godot10
defmn

An airplane?

Revolved

RNH
Second line LW = +
Third line C = –

Revolved

Leon Draisaitl
Second line C = +
First line LW = –

Revolved

Kailer Yamamoto
Second line RW = +
Third line RW = –

Revolved

Warren Foegele
Third line LW = +
Second line LW = –

Revolved

Derek Ryan
Third line C = +
Fourth line C = –

Revolved

Jessi Puljujarvi
First line RW = +
Third line RW = –

Revolved

Josh Archibald
Third line RW = +
Fourth line RW = –

Revolved

Devin Shore
Fourth line LW = +
The sun = –