Now that Leon Draisaitl is signed, we can begin talking about possible linemates. Although Edmonton doesn’t have many centers applying for NHL work, winning a job at center with the Oilers practically guarantees a very nice set of wingers.
BOARDWALK AND PARK PLACE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played 776:52 minutes at 5×5 with Jordan Eberle in 2013-14, scoring 9-15-24
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins played 682:47 minutes at 5×5 with Taylor Hall in 2013-14, scoring 7-11-18
MARVIN GARDENS AND VENTNOR AVENUE
David Perron certainly established himself as a quality winger in 2013-14 — a young center like Draisaitl would do well in getting a chance to play with him. Teddy Purcell was acquired over the summer, and he can play with skill and deliver offense.
This is a veteran combination, with whom Draisaitl would be expected to perform and produce. I’m not certain playing him this far up the lineup is a good idea.
TENNESSEE AVENUE & ST. JAMES PLACE
The third trio is damn good, and that’s the truth. Offseason signing Benoit Pouliot has been effective in several NHL cities, most recently playing a third line role very well in Manhattan. Nail Yakupov is a young, raw winger with crazy skill, and as Bruce McCurdy keeps saying the German’s ability to protect and pass complement the Russian’s rocket in theory.
It might be a deadly combination against the soft parade.
MY OWN THOUGHTS
I think the Oilers need to acquire a veteran center to run with Perron and Purcell, and then open the third line auditions up to Boyd Gordon, Leon Draisaitl, Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander.
- Boyd Gordon isn’t an offensive dynamo, but he’s a reliable soldier who might be able to chip in on offense while combining with Pouliot to mentor the young Russian.
- Leon Draisaitl has some terrific puck skills, but can he keep up? We’ll find out at training camp, and if he can wheel then Edmonton should be able to form a soft parade line around him. That line is going to have to cash sufficiently, though. There’s a risk here.
- Mark Arcobello had half a season with the Oilers and did a lot of things well. He can mark his man, make a pass and keep up. I don’t think he’s going to beat a goalie clean with his shot, so the goals are going to be tap-ins and they are not going to come fast and furious. He scored 4 goals on 70 shots in the NHL a year ago (5.7%) and scored at a 9.32% per shot rate in his last full AHL season. I believe he’s going to be shy offensively.
Anton Lander is kind of the forgotten horse in this race, but he enjoyed a solid AHL season and could recover his career with a strong 2014-15. The Oilers see him in a utility role: Dallas Eakins: “If (Lander) is going to play here, he has to be able to play
centre, he has to play left-wing and he has to play right-wing. He has
to be able to step in on the power play and kill penalties. He has to be
able to wear a bunch of different hats.”
POSSIBLE LINE COMBINATIONS
|LEFT WING||CENTER||RIGHT WING|
|TAYLOR HALL||RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS||JORDAN EBERLE|
|DAVID PERRON||LEON DRAISAITL||TEDDY PURCELL|
|BENOIT POULIOT||BOYD GORDON||NAIL YAKUPOV|
That’s how I see it, with Matt Hendricks subbing in for Yakupov on tough zone starts or when the Russian struggles.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I have a feeling Edmonton signed their second-line center today. It’s a big damn risk, but if it pays off the club will have kept their young defensive prospects, next year’s first-round pick and all those terrific wingers.
Do you agree?