The Oilers might have lost the game against the Canucks last night, but this wasn’t really about wins or losses. This game was about seeing where Reinhart and Caggiula stood, and it was about the Lucic – McDavid – Eberle combination. Those were really the three focal points of the match for the Oilers. Let’s start with the good before we move on to the bad and the ugly.
This one is reserved for Drake Caggiula. The smallish college free agent who had perhaps flown under the radar to some casual observers has really done everything he could at this time to win a spot. It’s only the third game of the preseason and there’s a long way to go, but Caggiula has excelled playing with a variety of Edmonton’s skilled forwards. He looked great with Lucic and Eberle in game one, then followed it up with a two goal performance between Maroon and Versteeg in game three.
Caggiula finished the game with the highest Corsi For % on the team at 68%. On Monday against the Flames he had the highest Corsi For % on the team as well (a whopping 91%). He’s producing and keeping the puck moving in the right direction. He made several creative plays that showed the level of confidence he has. I particularly enjoyed some area passes in the offensive zone that made their way to the high slot where only an Oiler player could have received it.
It’s too early to say he should be the 3C of the team so Draisaitl can play RW, but he’s at least still in the running for that job.
Milan Lucic and Connor McDavid did not have instant chemistry last night. It was the very first game they played together and only the second preseason game that Lucic played at all. McDavid, meanwhile, played many games for team North America and rightly should look a lot sharper today.
Still, Milan Lucic looked slow out there compared to the blazing McDavid. Ok, everyone looks slow compared to McDavid, but there were several times where Lucic was five or more feet behind the place McDavid needed him to be. When McDavid did get the puck over to Lucic, he didn’t appear ready for it. That’s a timing thing. I imagine it must be jarring for a nine year veteran of the NHL who has played with significant talent before to all of a sudden be receiving passes he didn’t think were possible.
If I’m going to be optimistic, it’s that Milan Lucic will eventually remove some of that rust and start to recognize when and where McDavid will find him (hint: all the time, everywhere).
Griffin Reinhart’s game was not a great one, even with the goal he scored. I will say that he had his high points on the evening, but overall it wasn’t without its share of lows. The former fourth overall pick was scrambly in his own zone and was turnstiled a few times by the likes of Derek Dorsett.
Reinhart ended up with a 34% Corsi For percentage on the evening. Easily the worst by any Oiler defender. His skating was an issue as well as his passing. The fact that this was his first game in a long time was really apparent, and it didn’t help that he was playing the right side of the ice as a left shot.
I’m not writing him off, but he needs to bounce back in a big way for his next preseason game. The trade that brought him here was always questionable, but Reinhart was supposed to be further along in his development and pushing for a spot so he could impact the club sooner than the picks we gave up. Right now Mathew Barzal is having a very good camp for the Islanders and Reinhart is not for the Oilers.
Fair or not, Reinhart will be judged against what the Oilers gave up to get him. It was a hefty sum and they have not yet been rewarded for paying that ransom.