LAST SPOT ON THE MAGIC BUS (AGAIN)

A year ago, we were talking about the one open spot among the Oilers top two lines: 2RW. Today, on the eve of training camp, 2RW stands as the unsolved mystery inside the top 6F.

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  • Five of the top 6F one year ago: Hall, Pouliot, Nuge, McDavid, Eberle.
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  • Five of the top 6F one year ago: Lucic, Pouliot, McDavid, Nuge, Eberle.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?

A year ago, the skill 5×5 minutes (with skill C’s) went like this:

Connor McDavid

  • Jordan Eberle 364:14
  • Nail Yakupov 205:19
  • Zack Kassian 38:32
  • Teddy Purcell 13:10

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

  • Jordan Eberle 349:09
  • Leon Draisaitl 99:57
  • Teddy Purcell 90:16
  • Nail Yakupov 82:30

Leon Draisaitl

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  • Teddy Purcell 509:06
  • Jordan Eberle 128:03
  • Zack Kassian 92:58
  • Nail Yakupov 78:38

HOW DID THEY PERFORM?

  • Jordan Eberle—8-8-16 (2.63) with McDavid; 7-6-13 (2.24) with Nuge; 0-1-1 (0.47) with Draisaitl
  • Nail Yakupov—2-7-9 (2.63) with McDavid; 1-1-2 (1.45) with Nuge; 1-1-2 (1.52) with Draisaitl
  • Teddy Purcell—6-12-18 (2:12) with Draisaitl; 0-1-1 (0.67) with Nuge; 13 minutes with McDavid
  • Zack Kassian—2-2-4 (2.58) with Draisaitl; 0-1-1 (1.55) with McDavid. 8:42 with Nuge

Quick notes:

  • I have mentioned this before, but Yakupov’s numbers with McDavid should not be ignored.
  • Jordan Eberle takes a lot of guff over dusting off the puck (he was hurt folks!) but the man performed very well with McDavid and Nuge.
  • Teddy Purcell is a good hockey player, solid with Leon.
  • Zack Kassian with Leon looks pretty damned good, something to consider when formulating lines.

RANKING THE OPTIONS

  • Eberle is the gold standard here, and the one player who can play with more than one center and deliver.
  • Yakupov was terrific with McDavid, and the Nuge and Leon offensive numbers were not so bad we should consider either man a poor choice
  • Nuge-Nail is not good in possession, never has been. I would suggest this is a poor option.
  • Zack Kassian plays well with Leon. Small sample size but worth consideration.

SOOOOOOO…..

  • McDavid—Yakupov
  • Nuge—Eberle
  • Draisaitl—Kassian

Thoughts? I know Jesse Puljujarvi is going to come along and win one of these jobs someday soon, but for now, what do you think of this trio? Assuming Peter Chiarelli plans on bringing the current group to camp, this alignment may be the best available.

Note: I know you are thinking ‘give it up, Lowetide! Nail doesn’t deserve McDavid’ and I get it. Understand completely. I would suggest McDavid—Yakupov has nothing to do with the Russian deserving to play with 97, but it has everything to do with making decisions based on winning.

Three scoring lines. It is there. Nail with McDavid. Sing it with me.

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    • Randaman

      So what happens if Yak doesn’t improve with Hall gone?

      I guess we can always continue to blame Eakins? or Eberle? or McClellan? or???

      He’s a big boy that needs to stand up and be counted. He is either good enough at both ends of the rink or he’s not.

      Eberle gets a pass on the defensive end because he scores more.

      Simple math really

      • Ed in Edmonton 1

        I find it odd that many consider Ebs such a defensive disaster. In 6 years he has a total -43 or -7.2 per year. Compare that with RNH, that some proclaim to be “one of the best young two way players in the game”, who in 5 years is -32 or -6.4 per year.

          • Randaman

            So by me saying the odd bit of laziness, you take it as he is lazy all the time??

            Like it or not, he is our best option to play beside McDavid. He scores when others haven’t.

            The Yak supporters are out in full force but will be sadly disappointed when TMC starts him on the third line.

          • SkatinginSand

            Odd bit of laziness is a gross understatement. His +- would be a lot worse if he:

            was not playing with the best on the team.

            was not consistently put out in offensive situations and on the bench on defensive faceoffs.

            did not have the little habit of gliding to the bench while the other team was on a jail break and letting his replacement take the minus.

          • btrain

            This is an awful observation fueled by confirmation bias. It takes very little evidence to prove to you what you have already decided is true. Eberle is an offensively gifted player who is employed to put up points and does just that. Of course he gets more offensive starts!! Before throwing any current/former Oilers forward under the bus and looking at a ridiculous stat such as +/- maybe pay little attention to the current team situation. The level of suck from the blue line has been so bad for so long that they had to sacrifice Hall to try and stop the leaking. Swap Eberle for Kane over their careers and how does that look? You think Kane would take the Oilers to 3 Stanley cups with Petry, Shultz, a young Klefbom, and Sekera as his best D? What would his +/- look like? his point totals? his reputation as a defensively responsible player? his motivation/confidence? Not that Eberle is at the same level as Kane but if you imagine Kane and Eberle swapping teams, Kane would not have the same reputation and he certainly would not have 3 Stanley cups. On the other hand, Eberle still helps make the Hawks a cup contender.

          • I am Batman

            You just compared Eberle with Patrick Kane????

            30 out of 30 GM’s would have Kane 700 times before having that lazy bastard.

            Not that Kane is so awesome (even though he is) but Eberle is just painful to watch.

            Comparing Eberle with Kane is like comparing feeling love with a strong urge to use the toilette….

  • The Future Never Comes

    I have this argument with my buddies all the time. Yak is going to score probably exclusively with McD but with no one else. Eberle is going to score with all three of those centers, albeit not the same pace as if he was with McD. So why not try to get as much as possible with different scoring threats. That said, I would sit Yak down at the beginning of the season and say if I was the coach “If I see your dedication to both ends of the rink and playing a team game, i’ll give you a shot. If not you’ll be scrambling to make top 9 minutes”.

    • Harry2

      Something tells me Yaks been “sat down” and had this talking to before. Why attach a boat anchor to McD when Eberle put the puck in the net consistently next to 97?

  • toprightcorner

    If Eberle’s offense only drops 10% by playing with Nuge and Yak’s offense increases by 50% playing with McDavid, then the overall offense benefits. Last years stats support this and even though I don’t see it happening, Yak should play with McDavid during preseason and at least the first 15 games of the season.

  • Harry2

    Absolutely hate it. Yak has done abdolutely nothing to wareant playing with McD. 9pts in 11 games is hardly a winning argument. I cant wait until yak is off this team so we can stop bringing up scenarios to help him breakthrough.

    • Ron Burgundy

      By doing absolutely nothing do you mean scoring at the exact same rate as Eberle?

      I think you’ve nailed it LT. Until Uncle Jesse acclimates down in California and then kicks the door down at least…

      Adding in the LWs:

      Lucic – McDavid – Yakupov
      Pouliot – Nuge – Eberle
      Maroon – Draisatl – Kassian

      Damn, thats pretty.

      • Harry2

        Scoring at the exact rate?! I believe he bagged 2 goals in 11 games with McD. Hardly a comparable to Eberles total. How many chances do you think Yak should be gifted? If he earns a spot in the top 6 I would be stoked. But to be gifted a spot with Lucic is McD is rediculous

  • Drew R. Fan

    If the oilers best chance of winning is gifting yak minutes with Mcdavid, then why didn’t McClellan put them back together late last season? And why does nobody talk about the possibility of the maroon mcdavid eberle line getting thrown out there. It was a damn good line to finish the year. Eberle outscores yak 2-1 every year and everyone loves yak and thinks eberle is a “defensive liability”. Pretty backwards imo. And what exactly is “dusting off the puck”? Is this something new to get mad at Ebs about?

    • VvV

      I believe dusting off the puck is referring to him not being about to one time a McDavid pass, he has to handle it a bit then shoot, he hired a shooting coach for this reason so hopefully he improved his one timer.

      • Drew R. Fan

        Is it just Mcdavids passes? Or he’s never known how to one time a puck? I wonder if it’s more of a personal preference of his to handle it then shoot? I would assume that since he doesn’t have a blistering slap shot, he prefers the wrister. Well I hope this coach works out for him. Maybe he will be the right shooting pp quarterback this team needs. Or are they trying to turn him into ovechkin on the half boards?

    • Harry2

      Well said. Eberle has been as close to consistent as a player can getvduring the past 6 horrendeous years. While yak has been nothing but inconsistent so why hitch that boat anchor to McD when hes poised for a 85+ point season?