No matter how we look at the Oilers power lines, there’s only one real opening (2 RW) as the team enters camp. Portside Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot, pivots Nuge and McDavid are RW houses Jordan Eberle. That last spot will probably see several candidates in pre-season and during the regular year but there’s one obvious candidate who could solve the problem for the next decade. Or is it two?
- Teddy Purcell—He is both the most likely to win the opening night assignment AND most likely to be traded by the deadline. The veteran has exceptional hands and can play with skill, so will probably have impressive boxcars as the deadline approaches.
- Nail Yakupov—The first and most obvious of the 10-year solutions, Nail has played two and (close to) a half seasons in the NHL and is 18-19-37 per 82GP thus far. Taking away the back story and with the understanding he has raw edges to his talent, Yak remains the best bet to grab the job long term.
- Leon Draisaitl—Early in the offseason the big man said he’d be willing to play wing and more recently (with Bob Stauffer and Gene Principe) coach Todd McLellan seemed open to the idea. The option of Leon is the only one that could see Yakupov lose out long term.
- Lauri Korpikoski—Todd McLellan often marries two offensive players to a younger winger or a veteran depending on the chemistry. Korpikoski is capable of posting offense and would offer some of these gifted forwards a quality defensive cover.
Mark Letestu—It’s extremely likely the veteran center plays in
the middle (possibly on a veteran checking line) but there’s also a
chance he steps up as needed with the skill group. I interviewed him on
TSN 1260 during our Free Agent coverage July 1 and he expressed the
idea, so it’s something Letestu himself is anticipating. Not all the
time, but it’s a nice option for nights when nothing rhymes.
- Matt Hendricks—Although the veteran forward is miles from his offensive peak, Hendricks’ rugged style of play might benefit during road games or at points where the Canucks are getting pissy again.
- Andrew Miller—AHL winger showed good speed during a short period with Taylor Hall last season, he seemed able to keep up and may possess the aptitude to think with these brilliant offensive players.
- Tyler Pitlick—Oilers ran him a little last season with high-end skill, Pitick has some jam and may be able to help in a support role. His offense didn’t come with him from junior so he’s not a likely long-term solution.
- Anton Slepyshev—Extremely likely to spend at least one season in Bakersfield (and he’s a LW) but I’m including him because there’s an air of mystery about him. I well remember a time in Oilers history when The Hockey News stated emphatically that Raimo Summanen was going to be Gretzky’s Finnish winger. Someone forget to tell Jari Kurri. A stretch for sure, but you never know.