Entering preseason, I think biggest decisions are 3rd line centre and 2nd & 3rd line RW. My hunch is that both RNH/Draisaitl start in top 6.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) September 26, 2016
Yesterday, Oilers play-by-play voice Jack Michaels put out an interesting thought looking at the Oilers roster makeup. Does it make sense?
Up the middle
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 24, 2016
As we all know, the Oilers currently have a number of players competing for the four centre spots on the roster.
2015-2016 5v5 stats, per stats.hockeyanalysis.com:
Connor McDavid: 45 GP, 2.69 P/60, 51.3 CF%, slides in as the Oilers first line centre
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 55 GP, 1.36 P/60, 47.9 CF%, slides into the second line centre role
Leon Draisaitl: 72 GP, 2.20 P/60, 51.8 CF%, likely third line centre
Mark Letestu, 82 GP, 0.61 P/60, 45.1 CF%, likely fourth line centre
Anton Lander, 61 GP, 0.33 P/60, 47.3 CF%, battling for a roster spot
Jujhar Khaira, 15 GP, 0.39 P/60, 46.2 CF%, likely to be in Bakersfield, could battle for a spot
Drake Caggiula: College boxcars – 39 GP, 25 G, 26 A, 51 P – NHLE – 82 GP, 22G, 22A, 44 P
As Michaels noted above, the true battle comes for the 3C spot, which was filled by Anton Lander last season. Currently, Mark Letestu, Anton Lander, Jujhar Khaira and Drake Caggiula are all battling for the 3C/4C spots, with Caggiula and Khaira both having the potential to play the wing as well.
If Michaels is correct, then the Oilers depth chart is going to be shifted significantly in a few ways. T
Does this work?
Lucic McD Ebs
Pou RNH Drai
Maroon Caggiula Puljujarvi
Hendricks Letestu Yak/Kassian/Versteeg
It doesn’t make sense to shoehorn a lesser C
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) September 26, 2016
Nation scribe Matt Henderson gave his impression of what the forward depth chart would look like.
The move of Draisatil to the wing would likely entail Jesse Puljujarvi playing in a bottom-six role, given that Lucic, Eberle, Pouliot and Draisaitl would take up the top-six roles. With Draisaitl in a top-six, winger role rather than at 3C, it begins to pose more questions.
Is Drake Caggiula good enough to play in the top six, and does it make sense to play two rookies on the third line?
Both Caggiula and Puljujarvi are rookies coming into the NHL, and clearly don’t yet have a grasp on what the level of play entails. Caggiula, who is coming from the NCAA, plays a hard style of game that will translate well to the NHL. His NHLE suggests he can contribute right away in the NHL and TSN’s Bob McKenzie has suggested he will be given every opportunity to make the Oilers roster out of camp. Source, Source.
Playing them in a third line role with a veteran winger like Patrick Maroon or Kris Versteeg would allow for them to play sheltered minutes and minutes against lower quality of competition.
Protecting these two players will be a key for the Oilers moving forward given that they are two of the most promising Oilers forward prospects in the ranks right now.
What about Anton Lander?
Well, if he isn’t able to win the spot as the Oilers 3C then he will either be sitting as an extra forward, which wouldn’t be the worst, or he will be in Bakersfield. This camp is key for his NHL future as he has the tools to be an effective NHL’er, but just hasn’t been able to piece it all together.
The move of Draisaitl into the top-six likely also means that Yakupov will get forced further down the depth chart into what would be a fourth-line role. According to Ryan Rishaug, the Oilers will likely be looking to move on from him as soon as possible.
Well, Nation, what do you all think of this? What would you do with the Oilers lineup?
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