BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

eberle common1

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.”

Source

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?

OPTIONS

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):

  1. Nail Yakupov 3.76
  2. David Perron 3.06
  3. Jordan Eberle 2.96
  4. Mark Arcobello 2.92
  5. 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).

Source

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?

  1. Nail Yakupov 2.48
  2. Taylor Hall 2.17
  3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.93
  4. 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

  1. Hall-Nuge-Yakupov
  2. Perron-Draisaitl/Arcobello-Eberle

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. 

  1. Hall-Nuge-Yakupov
  2. Perron-Draisaitl-Eberle
  3. Pouliot-Arcobello-Purcell

Thoughts?

    • Spoils

      Eberle seems to have great chemistry with Arcobello. Perron-Arcobello-Eberle would be a solid 2nd line. For the 1st line RW we would have to expiriment with Purcell or Yakupov. Purcell has the size,gritt,and experience the top 6 has been missing

    • Spoils

      This is how I would like to see the lines next year

      Hall – Nuge – Yak
      Perron – Draisitl – Ebs
      Pouliot – Arco -Purcell
      Hendricks – Gordon – Gazdic

      Fayne – Shultz
      Marincin – Nikitin
      Ferrence – Petry

      Scrivens
      Fasth

      Each line has compliments to one another. As for the second pairing D-unit I really want to see the two towers play defence together pushing play to the outside giving lots of time for forwards to get back.

      • Zarny

        I suspect these will be the forward lines opening night without a trade. Like the first line as it hopefully jump starts Yak. Like Leon on that line with the experience of Perron and Ebs. With Arco centering the big boys it also makes him bigger even though he plays big for a small guy. Can also see the last line of Gordon Hendricks and YAK2…

    • Spoils

      Line 1: Hall – Nuge – Yak
      Line 2A: Perron – Arco – Eberle
      Line 2B: Pouliot – Gordon – Purcell
      Line 4: Hendricks – Draisatl – Gazdic

      Ovbiously Gazdic is interchangeable depending on the game. The idea here is to protect Draisatl and ease him into minutes. Easily interchangeable with Arco if he earns it.

      Lines 2A/B are dependant on zone starts. BEAST of a D-zone line in 2B there, and would easily earn their money in the competition they’d face.

      2A is as solid as a secondary scoring line can get right now given our center depth. 70% of Arco’s points in his first ten games last year came with these linemates. With that success came a significant increase in minutes which were too much to bear according to his ensuing production. 2B can eat up those extra minutes this season.

      And probably the fastest first line in the league. Having Yak on his line will not only force Hall to continue improving his two way game, but should add an easy dozen assists from last years campaign. Yak is a weapon, not a shield, time to maximize our return on him. And Nuge’s vision is elite enough to keep up with their speed. YIKES.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Hall, RNH, Eberle are a marquee line. I have to admit, during the lockout, Hall and Yak looked great together, so I would definitely try a line of all #1s. Hall-RNH-Yak is a scary fast line and would terrorize lesser defenders.

      I think there is enough depth on the wings now to keep the marquee line together, though. They have proven to score in the past, so I it ain’t broke…

      Between Pouliott, Purcell, Yak, and Perron, there is enough skill to mix up line 2 and 3 and still be dangerous.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Eakins is a McT style plug. What does he know about coaching high end offensive weapons? Yak will not succeed under Eakins. Eakins wants to turn him into a plug. It would be better to trade Yak for a bigger less talented guy if Eakins is going to be coach. It’s better value than having Yak withering away on the 4th line. You can draw up all the fancy line combos you like, as long as KL and Eakins are in their current roles we all better get ready for a whole lot more losing.

        • Jaxon

          It’s a simple concept to grasp. Galiardi, Mueller and Setoguchi are all unrestricted free agents that are probably quite attainable. And probably cheap too (1.0m to 1.5m) at this stage of the summer. Galiardi has decent possession numbers and has some scoring ability. They all have decent size and scoring potential and are looking to make a comeback season. Galiardi and Setoguchi are both from Alberta so Edmonton may just be at the top of their list so maybe they’d sign for a hometown discount. I would rather have them than Hendricks or Pitlick any day. Plus they can play up and down the lineup as needed. As for the rest of my lineup, Hall had great numbers with Perron and Arcobello and Perron did not perform well with Eberle while Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov did. So by the evidence presented in the article my lineup makes sense. I know it seems hard to fathom Arcobello on L1 and Nuge and Ebs on L2 but I think you would find teams having a hard time matching lines. And although it puts all of the Oilers newfound size on one L3, I think surrounding Draisaitl with the vets makes good sense. Any one of the 4 lines could exploit weak competition, something Gordon, Hendricks and Pitlick can not do.

    • Jaxon

      I always thought hall had the best chemistry with eberle but that’s just by my eye. Was not the hall-nuge-Perron experiment roundly regarded as a failure last year though? I seem to recall eatkins attempting something of the sort.

    • "Frank the dog"

      Not good LD! These guys love playing together & produce when they do! This was proven at the end of last year & they put top lines on other teams on their heels. I would predict they will all be pt/game players if they play the majority of the season together & are first line PP!

    • "Frank the dog"

      1st line-Pouliot/nugent-hopkins/eberle- this line is defensively responsible and would have a big winger who can go to the net.
      2nd line-hall/Arcobello/yakupov-this line would have good scoring potentail and a playmaker and defensively responsible centre, which hall and yakupov are not.

    • Spydyr

      Thoughts?

      With a raw 18 year old rookie as your #2C and Acro as your #3C it is pretty easy to project another early end to the playoff race.

      I would put the over under at December 1st as the date all hope is lost.

      It beats last years late October.

    • Oil Vice

      The problem is that Hall/RNH/Eberle do tend to play quite a bit together. In 2013-2014 they weren’t together all that much – Hall started at center and then basically played with whoever was in a slump to try and get them going. And then right at the end Eakins put the line back together and they instantly clicked and slaughtered their opposition, including a very impressive spanking of Joe Thornton’s line against San Jose.

      I could see giving Yak some occasional duty on that line because there is plenty of evidence that Eberle doesn’t play better if he gets too much ice time, whereas I think Nuge and Hall can handle a bit more ice, but it would be foolish to chase a hypothetical better combination of players when 2 years of experiments have failed, and when Hall/RNH/Eberle is so incredibly deadly. Keep them together, let them dismantle the opposition, and figure out a way for everyone else to win the battle against the opposition’s second best players.

    • 916oiler

      Yak on the first line would be too tough in terms of competition (at this point). I’d much rather see him sheltered until he finds his stride at the NHL level.

      I also would be hesitant to pair him up with our shiny new German rookie…who is shiny, and new.

      Maybe we could build a fort on the bench made up of broken sticks and icy hot to SHELTER them from tough competition?

    • Dan 1919

      I posted a comment on this issue back on July 22nd.

      IMO Oilers need to get away from the “one-big-line” Hall-Nuge-Ebs fetish…other teams know if you shut it down you beat the Oilers 9 times out of 10.

      A more balanced approach would see tandems with interchangeable parts for the third piece depending on the line matchups, size/skill/speed of the team being played. Perhaps something like:

      Perron-Nuge-xxxx
      xxxx-Hall-Eberle
      Pouliot-Draisaitl-xxxx
      Hendricks-Gordon-xxxx

      Yakupov, Purcell, Gazdic, Pitlick/Lander/Arco etc to slide in with each pairing interchangeably depending on best match-ups for each team being played.