Welcome to the third line, Nail Yakupov

Jonathan Willis
June 23 2014 03:20PM

Nail Yakupov2

In a long, wide-ranging interview with the Edmonton Jouranl’s Jim Matheson, Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish described Nail Yakupov as a third-line player.

This will doubtless be controversial. It shouldn’t be, because that’s exactly where the player should slot in on the organizational depth chart today.

The Quote

Craig MacTavish3

Matheson: “From the outside, it looks like you have good top-six forwards and excellent character guys like Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon, who were maybe playing a little higher up in the batting order than they should have been. Could you use some third-line guys with some offensive touch?”

MacTavish: “Yup. That’s fair. Much like Chicago’s got where they have three lines of offensive guys and a fourth line that can play against anybody. That’s what we’d really like to do. We need (Anton) Lander to step up and (Mark) Arcobello, or add a free-agent forward or two who can compete for those jobs. Maybe somebody who could come in and be a good fit with Yak (Nail Yakupov on the third line). We have the first line (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle). If we can draft a guy at centre who can play, then we’d have that guy, Perron and Sam or some form of that.”

The Chicago Model

Joel Quenneville

MacTavish mentions Chicago specifically, which is interesting because the Blackhawks really had the blender running game-to-game in 2013-14.

  • The first line was a constant, featuring Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa together, with Patrick Sharp the regular third on that line.
  • The middle six was in constant flux. Patrick Kane played 150-plus minutes with eight different forwards, shuffling through the top nine depending on the night and the game situation, and his most regular linemate (Brandon Saad) spent less than one-third of the season with him.
  • The fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith featured two good faceoff men (Kruger and Smith) and was used as a defensive zone specialty line, occasionally even when tough opponents were on the ice.

It’s easy to understand why MacTavish picked Chicago. Aside from the Blackhawks being a great team that plays a style suited to the Oilers’ players, there are definite similarities in roster construction. The Oilers have a steady top line (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle), and a pair of players (Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon) perhaps suited to playing the role of Kruger & Smith.

20-Gazdic-2

What we don’t know is whether MacTavish envisions using Luke Gazdic in the Bollig role (prior to this season, Bollig had zero points in 43 career NHL games and was a perfectly wretched AHL player too). The trouble is that in that case all three players on the line would be left-handed shots, with none of them especially suited to right wing. A better solution might be to employ Mark Arcobello on the right wing of the line, which would add the offensive creativity that Smith brings to Chicago’s fourth line as well as a right-handed faceoff man and a designated right winger (in Kruger and Smith, the Blackhawks have the combination of RH/LH faceoff men), but Edmonton might not feel comfortable with Hendricks being the line’s designated physical player.

We can also include Steve Pinizzotto, Tyler Pitlick, Anton Lander and Jesse Joensuu in this conversation.

The Mushy Middle

64-Yakupov-3

In Chicago’s case, the gap between second and third line was pretty difficult to determine at times, except that the Kane/Saad duo were generally on the ice against better players than were Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Other than that, both lines were primarily used in offensive situations and expected to score.

On a team with a power-vs.-power line, a defensive zone line, and two auxiliary scoring units, there is absolutely no question as to where Nail Yakupov should slot into the mix. He’s not ready for employment in a power-vs.-power role (and like Kane, that may never be his calling) and he’s certainly not getting wasted on the defensive zone line. That leaves the two other scoring lines, and sticking Yakupov in the one that gets slightly easier minutes is a no-brainer if ever there was one.

Assuming Sam Gagner sticks around – and it sort of sounds like he will – he, David Perron and Yakupov would fill three of those slots, likely with Gagner and Perron holding down the second unit and Yakupov on the third. That leaves three slots open for one or two free agent additions, the player Edmonton lands at the draft, as well as Arcobello and Lander, with the latter two likely the Oilers’ fallback options if all doesn’t go well in free agency or if Aaron Ekblad somehow falls to third overall.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 hallsyoilerforever5
June 23 2014, 03:24PM
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Yak should get sheltered minutes, by at the same time they should utilize him properly on the PP with that bomb of a one timer he has. I'll like to see somebody like Grabovski and Kulemin signed here to help him out on a line. The hate Yak got this year from the media was excruciating to hear and listen to. I guess they forgot how bad last year's calder winner in Huberdeau did. Even Galchenyuk season was pretty mediocre. I'm sure Yakupov will bounce back and shut the critics up. Especially the Xenophobic ones. ( Don Cherry)

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#2 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2014, 03:25PM
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With Dallas still here, this is a given I'm sure. No surprise really for a coach who points fingers at his players first. Eakins may be jealous Yak City has 28 career goals, to his zero.

On the other hand, another year of Eakins means Connor McDavid is practically all ours. Enjoy what we're all being force fed and stay the course, think positive folks.

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#3 A-Mc
June 23 2014, 03:26PM
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I hope Yak finds his game this season and is able to succeed in what ever role he adapts to. This team needs him to find success!

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#4 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 03:30PM
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"If we can draft a guy at centre who can play, then we’d have that guy, Perron and Sam or some form of that."

That sounds to me like they are thinking of Gagner at wing.

....I (and a few others) have wonder what pick overall Yak would bring. EVERY suggestion gets trashed, but there must be one that would be right.......

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#5 99
June 23 2014, 03:33PM
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Mike Richards could solve a lot of problems.

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#6 TonyDanzaPervo
June 23 2014, 03:36PM
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I love Yak City. Don't care where he plays, as long as he gets a fair shake

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#7 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 03:36PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

With Dallas still here, this is a given I'm sure. No surprise really for a coach who points fingers at his players first. Eakins may be jealous Yak City has 28 career goals, to his zero.

On the other hand, another year of Eakins means Connor McDavid is practically all ours. Enjoy what we're all being force fed and stay the course, think positive folks.

You are right, it is totally the Zamboni drivers, concession workers, and Joey Moss he should be pointing his fingers at first.

Shame on him for holding players accountable when they have a tantrum on the bench (Hall) or refuse to play the teams style (Yak)

*eyes rolled*

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#8 Will
June 23 2014, 03:39PM
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This article all day! I'm glad they are deciding to split Yak and Gagner and create a soft minutes line. It scars me a little that they are going ot look for internal options and drafted players for that. Basically it sounds like they are saying this:

Hall - Nuge - Ebs

Perron - Drafted Center - Gagner

Lander - Arco - Yak

Hendricks - Gordon - Pinnizotto

Gazdic

That is frightening, and will get crushed in this conference.

At the very least could they maybe do

Hall - Nuge - Ebs

Perron - UFACenter - Gagner

Vet big bodies UFA LW - Drafted Center - Yak

Handricks - Gordon - Winnik/ Booth/ Downie. I could live with that.

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#9 A-Mc
June 23 2014, 03:39PM
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The best part of that chat between MacT and JM was this part:

Q: What about 2013 first-round draft pick Darnell Nurse? If he doesn’t make the Oilers, he has to go back to junior for another year, right?

A: Yeah. He was close last year. He’s over 200 pounds now. We’ll see him at our orientation camp (early July at Jasper) and hope to get him here working out for the rest of July. Get him indoctrinated into the system. He’ll be very close.

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#10 dq
June 23 2014, 03:41PM
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Again ... assuming we can plug in a raw rookie straight into our lineup. Really really really would love to not have to do that.

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#11 sintaxi
June 23 2014, 03:42PM
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Never liked the numbering of lines 1,2,3,4 for just this reason. This sounds like a demotion for Yak when its really just MacT envisioning what the team might look like when its competing at a high level.

Yak should be on a offensively minded line that is given sheltered minutes. How much icetime they are given should be based entirely on how successful they are. Meanwhile, we should have a strong 2-way line who can be put in any situation (Hall/RNH line), and a defence-first line that plays hard minutes and can protect leads (Hendricks/Gordon).

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#12 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 03:43PM
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@Will

I don't think they are saying that at all. From my understanding MacT wants to add a couple UFAs for the bottom 6

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#13 WhattaMike
June 23 2014, 03:44PM
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First is that Yakupovb is barely into his twenties...which is a very good thing, and he is a dynamic offensive talent...period.

There is no good back-checking defence to his game...just yet. I agree for now - that a third line wing spot to start the new season might be the tonic needed to get his highly potential rated career jetting off.

But...but ...but... he needs a very good two way centreman who can skate excellently and who knows how to pass him the puck (consistently) because this kid can shoot and shoot the puck hard and heavy to boot.

MacT or Eakins can put Yak almost anywhere on 4 lines but if there is no true enough centreman to work with then it becomes failure many times over. And also...this kid must be put on the poowerplay in the slot right where he can unleash that damn great shot of his, cause what was done with him concerning the Oilers' powerplay alone this past season was SUCKSVILLE!!!!

I hope Coach Ramsay can get him going on the PP and that Eakins...this year...knows what to do with him even line strength...but I will lay full responsibility on MacT to get two more better centreman for this team for the 2nd and 3rd lines...than going again with just Gagner or Lander/Arco for now between RNH line and Gordon's line.

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#14 Serious Gord
June 23 2014, 03:45PM
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If gagner is indeed not going to be traded but instead moved to the wing and yak plays third line with grinders then BOTH MacT and Eakins should be fired as this is a recipe for failure all the more galling because they saw the same failure LAST season.

Crazy incompetence.

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#15 BaconWrapped
June 23 2014, 03:46PM
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Doesn't the coach usually determine the lines? Is MacT overstepping his bounds a bit here?

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#16 freelancer
June 23 2014, 03:49PM
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Here's hoping yak can have some of the success he had in year 1. Its my belief that yak will get a bit more confidence from a player coach like Ramsay. I think he should start on the third line this year and get every opportunity to prove he can move into the top 6

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#17 John Kirsch
June 23 2014, 03:50PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

With Dallas still here, this is a given I'm sure. No surprise really for a coach who points fingers at his players first. Eakins may be jealous Yak City has 28 career goals, to his zero.

On the other hand, another year of Eakins means Connor McDavid is practically all ours. Enjoy what we're all being force fed and stay the course, think positive folks.

No way we are getting McDavid or Eichel (I believe both players will be super stars)sorry this team will be better than you think. We just

Saw RJ Umberger was traded to Philly, how nice would it have been to see him on the Oilers.

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#18 madjam
June 23 2014, 03:55PM
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That's a pretty bleak picture of our Oilers if that's what we are in for this season.

I see some of the people we were interested in are going by the wayside : Markov, Hartnell , Umberger , Green and M.Richards . Sounds like Vanc. making a big pitch for NBR.1 from hockeybuzz chatter . What happened to Nikinen ? We lose out on him to ?

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#19 Will
June 23 2014, 03:55PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I don't think they are saying that at all. From my understanding MacT wants to add a couple UFAs for the bottom 6

He's said that, but he said that last year as well. If he can't sign Nikitin, I question his ability to land other needed players.

But here's hoping, cause its all we Oiler fans have left.

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#20 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2014, 03:55PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

You are right, it is totally the Zamboni drivers, concession workers, and Joey Moss he should be pointing his fingers at first.

Shame on him for holding players accountable when they have a tantrum on the bench (Hall) or refuse to play the teams style (Yak)

*eyes rolled*

Well I apologize then. I wasn't aware the coaches job wasn't to work with the group of players his boss/GM assembled/made available to him. Put as many of them in a position to succeed as possible. If MacTavish had any balls, he'd fire Eakins for publically questioning/embarrassing some of the players he provided Dallas with. Only a loser resorts to standing before the media and points fingers at players who he deems are responsible for the loss. That stuff should stay inside the dressing room.

These public displays you mentioned, could also just be frustration, caused by egotistical rookie coach coming in and incorporating an American Hockey League system, no?.

"rolls eyes"

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#21 -30-
June 23 2014, 03:58PM
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Hurricanes expected to add Steve Smith as assistant coach.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=455543

LOL

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#22 pelhem grenville
June 23 2014, 04:01PM
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MacT said it..."...If we can draft a guy at centre who can play, then we’d have that guy,..."

sounds like they're planning on drafting Draisaitl and ruining him ... some things just never change ... when they call his name he should Lindros on their a$$es!!!

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#23 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2014, 04:08PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I don't think they are saying that at all. From my understanding MacT wants to add a couple UFAs for the bottom 6

LMFAO...

The only thing the Oilers will get this summer, is another boatload of Eagers/Belangers and Barker types. The hope phase for drawing more so called, actual NHL players here, died with that 28th place finish last season. That STOP sign is never more on display to UFA's than it is now.

In case you haven't been able to get it through your thick skull yet. The Oilers are the only team that will eventually provide them with "Actual NHL players". What part of this don't you underfrickenstand?

18 yr olds (entry level players) in, till there's something here that resembles an actual NHL team. Overpaying for B and C level UFA's is fools gold when you're continually bringing kids in at the top of the ELC pay scale. Have the balls to support your younger players, don't question them by continually rolling the rif raf available throughout this league.

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#24 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 04:19PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

LMFAO...

The only thing the Oilers will get this summer, is another boatload of Eagers/Belangers and Barker types. The hope phase for drawing more so called, actual NHL players here, died with that 28th place finish last season. That STOP sign is never more on display to UFA's than it is now.

In case you haven't been able to get it through your thick skull yet. The Oilers are the only team that will eventually provide them with "Actual NHL players". What part of this don't you underfrickenstand?

18 yr olds (entry level players) in, till there's something here that resembles an actual NHL team. Overpaying for B and C level UFA's is fools gold when you're continually bringing kids in at the top of the ELC pay scale. Have the balls to support your younger players, don't question them by continually rolling the rif raf available throughout this league.

I don't know. Last year MacT added Ference, Gordon as UFAs and Perron via trade before the start of the season. If he was to add 3 plays that match that caliber, I think we would be in better shape.

Not bad for his only season as GM. I have higher hope than I would with Tamballini

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#25 ThatButthurtOilersFan
June 23 2014, 04:20PM
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99 wrote:

Mike Richards could solve a lot of problems.

Signing Richards would cause more problems than anything.

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#26 ubermiguel
June 23 2014, 04:21PM
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A 20 year-old who is still learning the defensive aspects of the NHL game (-33 last year!)? 3rd line is exactly right.

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#27 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2014, 04:24PM
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@John Kirsch

Saw RJ Umberger was traded to Philly, how nice would it have been to see him on the Oilers.

_____________________________________________________________________

Sort of supports my argument there doesn't it John? B and C level guys like Nikitin and Umberger won't touch Edmonton with a 10' pole.

If Katz hadn't said no to MacT cutting Eakins a cheque last year/firing him, then what you say would be possible. Maintaining the status quo, and expecting different results is highly unlikely under Eakins style, or lack thereof.

The Oil are a serious contender for McDavid under the latest and greatest thing to ever come out of the AHL in Eakins.

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#28 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 04:25PM
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Will wrote:

He's said that, but he said that last year as well. If he can't sign Nikitin, I question his ability to land other needed players.

But here's hoping, cause its all we Oiler fans have left.

Maybe but you said "Basically it sounds like they are saying this........." I simply said they are not saying that.

As I said to QSB if they could add two forwards that match Perron and Gordon like they did last year (And yes, I accept they will have trash too that they don't use, aka Joensuu, Action) they would be looking a lot better than what you had up there.

I totally accept that you would be right if they come up snake eyes with UFA season.

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#29 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 23 2014, 04:31PM
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Bradyn Schenn signs a two year deal with the Flyers. 2.25 and 2.75

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#30 Lofty
June 23 2014, 04:32PM
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A-Mc wrote:

The best part of that chat between MacT and JM was this part:

Q: What about 2013 first-round draft pick Darnell Nurse? If he doesn’t make the Oilers, he has to go back to junior for another year, right?

A: Yeah. He was close last year. He’s over 200 pounds now. We’ll see him at our orientation camp (early July at Jasper) and hope to get him here working out for the rest of July. Get him indoctrinated into the system. He’ll be very close.

I wouldn't trade him for Ekblad.

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#31 Lofty
June 23 2014, 04:34PM
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ThatButthurtOilersFan wrote:

Signing Richards would cause more problems than anything.

Brad wouldn't hurt either.

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#32 Bucknuck
June 23 2014, 04:41PM
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That's where he's slotted at the beginning of the season, and it makes sense considering how he played last season. He's got something to prove this year, and that's not such a bad thing.

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#33 Serious Gord
June 23 2014, 04:43PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I don't know. Last year MacT added Ference, Gordon as UFAs and Perron via trade before the start of the season. If he was to add 3 plays that match that caliber, I think we would be in better shape.

Not bad for his only season as GM. I have higher hope than I would with Tamballini

Signed gagner, signed a few other stiffs, ran with dubnyk and now has a starting goalie duo that has 109 games in the nhl combined - is there another team with less experience in that position?

And now wants to keep gagner and make him a winger where he has been a serial failure?

I thought he was a bad hire - and I have seen on balance more evidence to support that opinion than to reject it.

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#34 Casey
June 23 2014, 04:47PM
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Eakins has to do what Krueger did. Play Yakupov on the 3rd line but lots of PP time. Yakupov had success with Horcoff, wonder how he would do with another veteran 3rd line centre(eg.Ott).

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#35 madjam
June 23 2014, 04:47PM
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ThatButthurtOilersFan wrote:

Signing Richards would cause more problems than anything.

Kings want to keep Richards , so he's not going to be here obviously .

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#36 Quicksilver ballet
June 23 2014, 04:52PM
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99 wrote:

Mike Richards could solve a lot of problems.

I hear he's not too busy since Seinfeld wrapped up a couple years ago.

Oops sorry, there's more than one Michael Richards in Los Angeles...

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#37 madjam
June 23 2014, 04:52PM
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Have we even signed Petry or Schultz yet ? Beginning to wonder if they'll both sign .

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#38 blainer
June 23 2014, 04:52PM
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Wow... we are in for another long season if we are keeping Gagner. If they move him to wing they better find a 6'4 centerman with a 58% corsi for.. and had 55% face off percentage or we are in deep trouble. If moving Yak to the third line it will be with Draisaitl and Moss or winnik hopefully. Draisaitl can then be on a sheltered line with a big vet to handle the defensive role. A fourth line of Hendricks Gordon and Arco can handle the hard defensive sorties. I could live with that scenario...

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#39 Craig1981
June 23 2014, 04:56PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Signed gagner, signed a few other stiffs, ran with dubnyk and now has a starting goalie duo that has 109 games in the nhl combined - is there another team with less experience in that position?

And now wants to keep gagner and make him a winger where he has been a serial failure?

I thought he was a bad hire - and I have seen on balance more evidence to support that opinion than to reject it.

I think its too early to say signing Gagner was a bad move. He very well could have a turnaround season and you could eat your words.

Sportsnet listed the top goalies available last year as. Bryzgalov, Emery, Nabokov, Thomas, and DiPietro. Not exactly like he was loaded with options. I am glad he waited.

Bottom line, I didn't love our team last year but I like it a lot more this year.

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#40 beaucly
June 23 2014, 05:01PM
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I can see the argument for Yak as a 3rd liner, but I don't think MacT actually said that. Matheson has a habit of completing the interviewee's thoughts in brackets, and I think that's what was going on here. I'm pretty sure Matheson's parenthetical inference was a bit of a stretch, given the meandering nature of the response (MacT named practically every forward on the team, and only specifically said he was happy with our first line). Based on performance and maturity though, I completely agree Yak is best suited for the 3rd line.

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#41 Daryl Sutter
June 23 2014, 05:11PM
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"Coach your third line was great tonight."

"Whose that?"

"Uh Yak, Kulemin and Grabovski."

"Yeah they're good players."

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#42 nuge2nail
June 23 2014, 05:22PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

With a couple solid ufas- the forwards could look like this:

Hall Hopkins Eberle

Perron Grabovski Gagner

Kulemin Draisaitl Yakupov

Hendricks Gordan Moss

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#43 nuge2nail
June 23 2014, 05:29PM
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-30- wrote:

Hurricanes expected to add Steve Smith as assistant coach.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=455543

LOL

Oiler Domination To Follow

Didn't they add one of our GMs this off season as well?

Guess the Canes are making a run at McDavid.

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#44 madjam
June 23 2014, 05:38PM
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Oilers will be drafting Draisaitl unless Ekblad drops to third . Even then , I suspect they will still draft Draisaitl . They are counting / speculating on him to make the roster for this year , and that's why they do not appear to be going very hard after a veteran NHL'er . Size does matter with our club , and Draisaitl fits that bill the best of top 5 . Will he first , second or third line center is the question ?

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#45 Pucker
June 23 2014, 05:43PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

With Dallas still here, this is a given I'm sure. No surprise really for a coach who points fingers at his players first. Eakins may be jealous Yak City has 28 career goals, to his zero.

On the other hand, another year of Eakins means Connor McDavid is practically all ours. Enjoy what we're all being force fed and stay the course, think positive folks.

I've gone from concern over your comments (has he gone off his anti-depressants?? Is he suicidal??) . . . to having a good chuckle.

thanks for that!

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#46 pkam
June 23 2014, 05:48PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

With a couple solid ufas- the forwards could look like this:

Hall Hopkins Eberle

Perron Grabovski Gagner

Kulemin Draisaitl Yakupov

Hendricks Gordan Moss

I believe Grabovski will ask around 5M, Kulemin 3M and Moss 2M. So our 1st line total 18M, 2nd line around 14M, 3rd line around 5M and 4th line 7M, plus 1M for the 13th and 14th forwards, total salary for forwards will be 45M.

Take another 5M for the 2 goalies, it will leave 20M for the 7 defense if the cap is 70M.

I think 20M is not quite enough if we want to upgrade the defense.

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#47 Mustangheart
June 23 2014, 05:49PM
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madjam wrote:

That's a pretty bleak picture of our Oilers if that's what we are in for this season.

I see some of the people we were interested in are going by the wayside : Markov, Hartnell , Umberger , Green and M.Richards . Sounds like Vanc. making a big pitch for NBR.1 from hockeybuzz chatter . What happened to Nikinen ? We lose out on him to ?

Any news with what is happening with Steve Smilth? Time for a drastic change.

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#48 Concur
June 23 2014, 05:54PM
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I like to hear that from MacT, it gives me hope for his year. I actually had Gagner 2RW and Yakupov 3RW on my capgeek armchair GM with Arcobello as 3C. Sounds pretty. Close to what MacT envisions. I had Lander as fighting for 4th line with 13th forward as an option.

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#49 The Last Big Bear
June 23 2014, 06:05PM
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I'm loving that middle-6 which currently consists of:

1) Nail "I don't like to skate all the time and forecheck, that's not my game" Yakupov. A player that needs to be VERY carefully managed.

2) An 18 year old kid who hasn't even been drafted yet.

3) A UFA of unknown identity who has yet to be signed.

4) Sam "has never hit 20 goals and his production peaked 7 years ago" Gagner

5) David Perron. No problem here.

6) ?

Solid, baby. Rock solid.

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#50 nuge2nail
June 23 2014, 06:10PM
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pkam wrote:

I believe Grabovski will ask around 5M, Kulemin 3M and Moss 2M. So our 1st line total 18M, 2nd line around 14M, 3rd line around 5M and 4th line 7M, plus 1M for the 13th and 14th forwards, total salary for forwards will be 45M.

Take another 5M for the 2 goalies, it will leave 20M for the 7 defense if the cap is 70M.

I think 20M is not quite enough if we want to upgrade the defense.

Oiler Domination To Follow

Oilers have 28+ million in cap space.

Grabovski 5, Kulemin 3.5, Moss 2.5

Shultz 4, Petry 5

Your looking at 20 million, still leaves us with 8 million to upgrade the defence(Nikitin 4, Boychuk 4)

We have more than enough cap to grab Grabo, Kuli and Moss - while upgrading the defense.

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