The Edmonton Oilers are a team badly in need of secondary scoring. The top line is the marquee item, but would Dallas Eakins be better off breaking up the line and trying to find two units that work?
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
In a recent article, Travis Yost had a look at the fine work Jim Nill is doing with the Dallas Stars. He quotes Nill in the article discussing roster makeup and lines:
“The roster assembly is really going to be something we find out in
training camp. Right now, we’ve been playing a little bit of fantasy
hockey before the hockey actually starts. We’re trying to figure out
where everyone fits — the right ice time and stuff. The thing about
Hemsky is that we had him targeted before we picked up Spezza. We wanted
someone to complement the first line. We had some players that played
with Hemsky previously — during our exit interviews, those players
thought he would be a great fit with the team. Great passer, high-end
skills. Seguin and Benn are really known as shooters — their niche is
great shots. Hemsky’s a guy we targeted anyways. We’re going to come to
camp now and Lindy and his staff are going to put it together.”
Great passer, high-end skills. If only the Oilers could find a guy like 83. If we take the Oilers top nine forwards and filter that group through what Nill is saying here, can we break up the 1line and come up with two scoring lines? What would it look like?
If we’re going to talk about breaking up the top line, let’s begin by discussing Taylor Hall, and who plays well with him. Via Hockey Analysis, here’s a ranking of how well Taylor Hall scores by teammate (2013-14, this is 5×5 points per 60 minutes):
- Nail Yakupov 3.76
- David Perron 3.06
- Jordan Eberle 2.96
- Mark Arcobello 2.92
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2.55
Heavy small sample size alert in regard to Hall with Yak (No. 4 scored seven points in about 111 minutes) and Mark Arcobello (4 points in 82 5×5 minutes).
What if the Oilers tried that? What if Dallas Eakins took the top pair (Nuge and Hall) and married them to David Perron? It could be deadly. Or, Nail Yakupov? That’s a tough matchup for the young Russian in terms of quality of competition, but he can shoot from anywhere and the other two are brilliant passers.
Then again, what do we do with Eberle? If you move him off the 1line, who does he score well with 5×5?
- Nail Yakupov 2.48
- Taylor Hall 2.17
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.93
- David Perron 1.18
Same source as above, and of course these are all very small sample sizes we’re discussing here.
TOP 2 LINES
Eberle doesn’t show well with Perron, but the former St. Louis Blues winger posted 2.07 5×5/60 with Eberle in 203 minutes this season. The Oilers spread the wealth, give Yakupov an excellent chance to succeed, and two veteran mentors for Leon the Great.
AND they still have Pouliot and Purcell left over for another line.