3LW

After years of pondering where the #1 overall pick will play in the fall, Oiler fans are forced to discuss other issues this summer. One of the main items–assuming the Oilers are finished shopping–is 3line LW. My belief is that Ryan Smyth has the inside track based on experience and ability. Agree?

In April, I wrote a Ryan Smyth profile (here) suggesting "these days, Ryan Smyth patrols the 3rd and 4th lines, mentoring the youth and passing the torch. The young men who hope to bring glory to Edmonton would do well to learn about heart, soul and dedication from Ryan Smyth."

In fact, Smyth was 6th among wingers in EV time on ice (11:35), 2nd among wingers in SH TOI (2:31) and played an hour with the man advantage. By any stretch, he was a 3rd line winger in 2012-13 for the Edmonton Oilers.

THE CANDIDATES!

 

Ryan Jones played about as much as Ryan Smyth at evens this year and posted a slightly better 5×5 points per 60 number. If he’s fully recovered from his eye injury (and the after effects, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to suffer that injury and THEN return to a game that goes as fast as NHL hockey uncertain of visual range) I expect he’ll give Smyth the toughest battle.

One area Jones will be counted on is the penalty kill, something he’s done in the past and enjoys. In the article "A Chat with Ryan Jones" back in November Jones said this to Jason Strudwick:

  • Ryan Jones: "I really like the role the coaches have given me the last couple of years as well as the opportunity to kill penalties I have been given. I always loved killing penalties. It is not a glamorous role but I take a lot of pride in it. I shoot the puck down the ice a lot so they might as well let me do it without it being icing!"

Jesse Joensuu is the great unknown in this group–he’s an interesting guy who does have NHL experience but we don’t really know what he is; the closest I’ve seen to a reliable scouting report comes from the Hockey News

He has not been a penalty killer for any extended time in the NHL, but did kill penalties during his time in Europe over the last two seasons. He can be a physical player–he’s 6.04, 210–and I think that element will get him into the lineup and help him sustain playing time this winter.

WILDCARD

The Oilers also signed veteran AHL winger Ryan Hamilton, and his agent (Tom Lynn) feels Edmonton is an outstanding landing place for his player. Why? Well, Hamilton has size (6.02, 230), knows the new head coach very well and his Hockey News bio is a nice fit for team needs:

If Hamilton impresses early, gets a couple of pre-season games and shows well, he could be here awhile. The opportunity is there.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Entering summer (and after free agency ran its early course) we’ve settled (uneasily) in to the idea of Gordon-Hemsky as 2/3s of that very important third line. The third member of the group could be Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Jesse Joensuu or Ryan Hamilton. It’s possible Ben Eager may be part of the solution, and the club could add a veteran before or during the season.

As it stands now, I think it’s a safe bet we’ll see all of Smyth, Jones, Joensuu and Hamilton a lot this coming season. If true, I suspect Ryan Smyth will win the early battle for 3 LW–the question is can he keep it?

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Grabo would play 2C until Nuge gets back, I imagine. But after his tantrum over playing bottom 6 for the Leafs it kind of makes you wonder if he would be willing to do it again for the Oil. It would be great to pick him up, we all know what our center depth looks like, but he would more or less automatically be our 3C with Nuge and Gags healthy.

    Maybe MacT and Eakins can sell him on being part of the future?

    • nuge2drai

      Oiler Domination To Follow

      I think if Grabovski develops chemistry with Yakupov and Perron, Gagner will be moved down to play 3rd line center.

      Shouldn’t be a big deal, worst case we trade one of the centers at the end of the year and we gain an asset.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Hall Hopkins Eberle

    Perron Grabovski Yakupov

    Smyth Gagner Jones

    Lander Gordan Eager

    One center will be injured throughout the year, by the time Hopkins comes back someone else will most likely get hurt..

    The top six are incredible and the bottom six centers are strong as any in the league.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        You really think all three centers will be healthy at the same time all year?

        Theirs a reason teams need center depth, there’s a reason Canucks are not happy going into the season with Sedin an Keslar as their #1-#2.

        They are aware injuries happen and they have no depth to support them.

        Our case is much worse because our number 1 will be injured for the first 20% of the season and we have Arcobella playing in.

        There goes Hall and Eberles chances of making team Canada.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Don Malhoney(GM coyotes) said in an interview today that the teams biggest need is to acquire a SCORING WINGER- enter Ales Hemsky. David Runblad would be the pretfrct return but I’m not sure how desperate Don is.

    Rumors on the net(Eklund) has a source that has the Oilers making a big push for Grabovski.

    If the oilers dump Hemsky to the coyotes and pick up Grabovski…

    That would BE BOLD…

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    It’s kind of a piss off that a player who’s potentially a perfect fit for the team was sidelined by a guy we’ll likely never see again. I’ll give Dithers credit, I was up the wall when he signed Eager.

    On his best night, he brings the perfect amount of crazy the Oilers need. I remember one game two years ago where Hordichuk was in the box, Eager had one of his freak outs and was sitting next to Hordi screaming at someone. Even Hordichuk was looking sideways at him with a “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” look on his face.

  • Lowetide

    The worry over Eager is concussions. I think the Tulupov bonk during the Joey Moss a couple of years ago derailed him and he’s been trying to get back to normal since then.

    It would be very nice to see it happen.

    • justDOit

      Hey LT have you heard anything more about Hemsky and the Senators. It seems to make sense on paper. They needed another top 6 a year ago and this off-season they basically offset the loss of Alfie with Ryan and still need another top 6. Zack Smith and Zibanejad basically occupy the same spot and now they have JG Pageau to occupy the 4th C role so Smith would be kind of appealing for the Oilers except for the cap hit of 1.8M, but he seems tradeable in the future or the Oilers could use their buyout next year on one of Smith or Gordon if one outperforms the other.

      I also like Cleary and think he would fill the 3LW role perfectly. Does MacT not like him? These kind of changes would make their bottom 6 significantly more appealing and would make me feel significantly less uneasy.

      Cleary-Gordon-Jones
      Joensuu-Smith-Brown

      A lot more toughness,size, and defensive ability from Cleary and Smith.