Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Search for RW by October

There are times when following your favorite team forces you to invest your interest in things that are not appetizing. The old Montreal Expos once spent an entire spring training auditioning options at first base that reminded me of that old World of Oz (animated version) theme song. On the other hand, sometimes you luck out and see a real live battle for a position involving compelling players who have promising futures. Fortunately for Oilers’ fans, we have the latter brewing this fall.

Open Spot

Many moons ago, Glen Sather said a fire hydrant (among other things) could score alongside Gretzky and in our era young Connor McDavid can zoom the boxcars for his wingmen. The Oilers have a long list of candidates lined up and of course Leon Draisaitl won the day last season.

A lot of this camp has been about replacing LD on RW for the coming season. In conversation with Bob McKenzie at the Penticton camp, it seemed Peter Chiarelli felt Ryan Strome would get the first shot at RW. As you saw last night, Mr. Strome moved to the Nuge line for the explosive third period, allowing phenom Jesse Puljujarvi to move up with 97 and score a couple of goals in his second exhibition appearance.

What are we to make of this? At this time of year, I always like to take my initial reaction, cut it in half, then half again, then bury it in the backyard overnight. Many is the time I’ve watched a pre-season game and declared Marc Pouliot the new Ray Cote, so experience tells me to hold back the water on making bold statements at this time of year.

The Coach

Todd McLellan is most helpful in these situations, he’s a straight shooter and his post-game media avails are very informative.

  • McLellan on his thinking when elevating Jesse Puljujarvi: “One, the fact we had taken four penalties in the last 12 minutes of the second period, took a lot of players out of the game. Jesse was one of them. Two, I thought Dylan (meant Ryan Strome) had to get a little harder and a little more competitive, so it was sending him a bit of a message and letting him understand how we do things. Three, was trying to get Jesse going and he obviously had a bit of a spark there. Hopefully the two messages were strongly sent and both players understand. The one got the benefit, the other has to be a little bit better.” Source

There’s not much for misunderstanding here. All of the words used (aside from “Dylan”, and let’s review here, how many times do you make that kind of mistake a day?) talked about the game, messages sent, and messages received.

No rational human reading that quote can come away with concrete evidence of a roster decision being made, no one got sent out or lost a job based on the 60 minutes from last evening.

Where are we?

We are, friends, still at the beginning. Incredibly, what we have seen to this point hasn’t changed much at all. The Edmonton Oilers are moving Leon Draisaitl to center, and the only established RW’s on the roster are Zack Kassian and Iiro Pakarinen (McLellan did imply the Finn has a roster spot the other day, probably as an extra hand).

That means 1RW, 2RW and 3RW remain available. That further means Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev and Kailer Yamamoto are all in contention and it means this is going to be a big week.

We don’t know what we don’t know. If you believe Jesse Puljujarvi won or lost a job last night, I encourage you to reconsider. Same with Strome. The one thing we can say is that the training camp marathon is now a sprint.


  • FISTO Siltanen

    More I think about it the more I think picking up Josh Leivo might be smart.

    Send Anton down for some conditioning since he will have missed most of training camp and is coming off an offseason injury.

    Send JP and Kailer (to junior) down for later this year or next season.

    If Leivo doesn’t pan out whoever is playing better is the first recall from Bakersfield.

  • Florescent Oil Orange

    Send puljujarvi down along with Yamamoto. One does not have his man strength yet the other is still overcoming culture/language shock.
    Let’s hope Strome isn’t the tire fire that New York thinks he is.

    I would try slept as a complimentry player on the top line,Strome would get first crack at 2nd rw dependant on his performance could move up or down as needed. Caggiula would slot in on third depending on Strome. Leaving Kassian as 4th line. And pakarinen as the odd man out.

    Truthfully though these are all 2nd or third liners at max potential. So anything goes I guess untill Yamamoto or puljujarvi develop significantly enough to displace the top 2 rw spots

  • Pen Hawk King

    I know it’s been ten years in hockey hell for Deadmonton but jeezus get off the koolaid guys! There are far too many holes in your line up to even think about challenging the likes of Smashville, Anaheim and the revitalised Chicago/LA powerhouses in the West, let alone Pittsburgh or the Caps in a potential SC final.

    Let’s see, Talbot isn’t elite, there is no depth on D – even the Flames are better, or past the top two lines (Kassian the drunk lol gimme a break) and the biggest weakness you have is NO elite offensive D-man.Although you had one in 2x cup winner Justin Schultz but gave him away for a bag of pucks… no surprise there from the same clown GM who traded Kessel, Seguin and Hall for spare parts though.

    Of course you got lucky with McJesus after three busts in a row, but he is a marked man who I really don’t see making it through the season after Big Buff set the tone against the ‘peggers!

    Stop dreaming and come back down to Earth guys, every fan in the league is mad as hell at Deadmonton for messing up the draft – and McJesus is redemption for alot of angry teams so trust me, he’s going down big style just like Crosby has several times.

    It’s a cruel world out there on the ice kids, lotta nasty teams with Connor in the crosshairs eh…. worried? You should be – no McDavid, no playoffs.

      • revingev

        How old are you? You need to look up facts before you spew your trolling powers. Kings? Powerhouse? You sound like a jealous child upset somebody has the same toy his mommy and daddy bought. I don’t usually respond to children like you but after so long, it really gets annoying. I’m not even defending the Oilers or the GM, just stating your whole argument is childlike and not mature.

    • Loco.Oil

      I had to make an account to reply to this dumb comment you make me laugh at the hate and envy of the oilers makes me smile knowing we are going to be winning for years and the hate is going to keep growing

    • blark

      I don’t usually have much to say, but your comment about Kassian is uncalled-for. For a man to admit to himself, his friends, family, and the public that he has a serious problem and then be strong enough to overcome it with the public light shining on him takes some guts, hard work, and vulnerability. Far more guts than it takes somebody to sit behind a computer screen and take potshots at recovering alcoholics. You, sir, are entitled to your opinion about management and draft luck, but as a person he is somebody that we can all look up to. Making fun of a man for past indiscretions is pretty low, even for a Flames fan.

      • Pen Hawk King

        Listen to this two-faced clown whine. I’ll bet you a G-Note you weren’t sticking up for Kassian when he broke Sam Gagner’s jaw and then mocked him later the same season eh… now he’s a Deamonton hero, what a surprise.

        Kassian is what he is pal, a drunk who let down Buffalo, Vancouver, Montreal and the league… but he’s an Oiler hero now afer one good playoff game lol…. i’m just stating the facts here so don’t make me out to be the bad guy when ZACK is… what next, Lucic is a paragon of fair play and class who deserves the Lady Byng?… pftttttt

        • blark

          Well, when you say it that way, you’re right! You have completely changed my mind using solid logic and deduction by replying directly to the points I made. No longer is Kassian someone I will look up to, he will forever be that drunk that made poor decisions and is a terrible NHL player as a result. I’ll send you an etransfer right over, I’ll need your email address first.

        • Oilerchild77

          Hey Pen Hawk, if you’re going to troll, fine. I myself have done a little ribbing on FN, but at least try exhibiting a little respect and class while doing it. Don’t be a stereotypical angry, jealous Flames fan that constantly hits below the belt and drags the conversation into the mud. There’s a reason Cowtown has a reputation for being arrogant and classless. It’s because there’s too many people like you there. Why don’t you do your town a favor and help change that reputation by showing some class.

        • Jack Dupp

          To be fair, an alcoholic seeks help. A drunk doesn’t. Regardless of your opinion, the man has admitted to his past mitakes and is trying to change his life for the better. As another post had stated, to take pot shots at the man while hiding behind a keyboard is poor form. I’m sure you’ve had some past indiscretions that you’re not proud of. In any event, you’ve once again showed how little class you have. I am certain that your hate comes from somewhere deep within your psyche. It probably manifests itself in many ways during your dreary and mundane existence. You must be a real peach of a human being. You should seek anger management treatment.

      • Off the wall

        I’ve never heard of this clown Penn Hawk King and I’m on FN all the time.

        He’s not a Flames fan, probably a deranged employee who was fired from his fast food job.

        We never wish evil upon our nemesis Oilers regardless of their past. We have players who have made choices they regret too.

        This guy is a clown, doesn’t speak for Flames fans. He belongs in a circus with his act.

        We look forward to the BOA, personally I think you’re team looks really good. I’m dreading October 4!

        • Doctor Smashy

          This thread is actually making me feel better about our prospects as a species. Off the wall, I hope we beat you in every single game but I never want you to lose your franchise. A friendly rivalry is all that should ever exist in any league. Laugh in your face if we beat you? Yes. Help you build a deck on a Saturday! Also yes. Anyone who has witnessed someone go through a problem like Kassian has knows the anger that you feel at their behaviour but also, if you are lucky, how good you feel when they take control of their lives. Thanks for chiming in.

          • Off the wall

            No worries Doctor.
            Ferland went through the same, as is our prospect Poirier. They have both been helped due to being honest about their problem.
            I am very proud of them both!

            I’m not too worried about the franchise leaving, it’s just political posturing that will eventually come back down to earth after election. I hope so anyway.

            Good luck in the BOA, not that you’re going to need it, most likely we’ll need it most.
            Can you tell Talbot to let in a few softies come Oct 4?!

    • Hemi

      Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine. Do not share your pessimistic POV but if you insist on spreading doom and gloom, fill your boots I guess.
      Lots of teams have Crosby, OV, etc in their crosshairs as well. One way of looking at is “you know you arrived when……”

      Go OIL!

    • Randaman

      You have serious aggression issues. Revitalized Hawks & Kings? Does the name Panarin ring a bell? Half of your D is gone. Most experts see them battling for a wild card spot at best.

      The new rule enforcement (if it lasts) will seriously hamper the Kings and Ducks. Nashville should be a very good team. Pittsburgh is always tough but as for the Caps, not worried. They are slow.

    • Ryan68

      So, is Hall a bust? Or a give away? Challenge Anaheim? We took then to game 7. Talbot isn’t elite? You can smell a Flamer a mile away. Smells like delusion and jealousy.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Ironically, the Vegas oddsmakers strongly disagree with you. Those guys who make those odds, they work with, well… the odds… you know? Odds/Chances/Likelihoods… oh, and then they take BETS with REAL MONEY on those odds. Sorry if I take their word over yours.

    • Bills Bills

      Clearly this guy ate clown for breakfast. He must be angry because he realizes that his team sucks. So much so that he won’t even say who his team is. (Don’t worry, we oil fans remember the old paper bag days) He has zero to look forward to this hockey season, aside from getting pummeled by the Oilers every time they face off that is. His McEnvy is clearly showing and glowing. Like seriously, do you have to cover yourself in tinfoil before you leave the house so that McEnvy doesn’t blind everyone in sight?

      I have no fears about the defense and certainly none about Talbot. As for hurting McDavid, well you can’t hit what you can’t catch. But watch out for him. Any Oiler fan that’s watched him play knows he will knock you on your ass if he feels like it.

      Now seriously dude, you clearly get off by coming here and making a total ass-hat of yourself. But we don’t mind feeding the trolls so much. I mean it is kind of funny watching how bitter and angry other teams fans are about the return to glory for the Oilers. So please, come back any time and tell us how pathetic you think the Oilers are. Once we tire of your antics you will just be blocked.

      My best guess? He’s a Canucks fan. I mean that really is a pit of a never was team that has nothing to look forward to.

  • Hockey123

    Being a fan of a team usually means you look for anything good from a player and put too much weight on it. Lets see these young players play against real NHl players and when the game means something.

  • Arnie

    So sad Pen Hawk
    Yes we are very fortunate to have the best player in the world but the reality is we are so far ahead of the losers to south that even without McDavid we have a team that would easily crush the Lames so drink lots of liquid we wouldn’t want you to get dehydrated because you are going to be crying for a long long time.

  • Pen Hawk King

    First up, I’m not a Flamers fan but they have a lot more humility than you clowns and a better D corp too!

    Don’t shoot the messenger guys, I don’t wish any player injury but it’s a fact you are crowing way too soon and McJesus is a marked man – the Flyers already proved that.

    Face it, without that elite goalie, offensive D man and McJesus who will no way make it healthy this season, you are back to purgatory boys… read it and weep cuz you KNOW it’s true.

    Every team in the league and every fan outside the Tundra hates Deadmonton for the way they messed up the draft… redemption day this season guys… you read it here first.

      • Pen Hawk King

        Wrong – everybody hates you because YOU forced the league to change the draft after 3 straight years of tanking to get a number one pick… which back-fired spectacularly for ya. Joke organisation one injury away from being a laughing stock again… tick tock.

        • Shameless Plugger

          If you payed any attention to hockey at all, we NEVER tried to tank we were actuallly that bad, due to poor hiring in management positions. So your point is moot. I’ll freely admit we stunk! However to say we tank is completely inaccurate

        • Joy S. Lee

          How high did the Penguins draft for a few years there, when they got Fleury, Crosby and Malkin? The Hawks got Kane and Toews at the top of the draft board, didn’t they? And it was the Leafs and Sabres that literally threw their seasons’ away when the Oilers WON the draft lottery from a few spots higher. Furthermore, I don’t think you realize that you are a COMPLETELY classless hypocrite who adds nothing but anger and bitterness, and has no outlet like drinking or drugs to experience some relief from themselves. That last part is because you have made it clear that you do not touch alcohol or drugs, and that’s why you are so superior to those who do.

    • JimmyV1965

      Clearly someone who has not watched the Oilers, especidly the last 20 games of the season. This team may have a lot of holes, but a PP QB ain’t one of them. Anyone who watched the PP in the second half would recognize that.

      • Pen Hawk King

        More OIler delusion from a team who are one draft fluke injury away from NO PLAYOFFS again! WHO is your Karlsson, Doughty, Letang or Keith bud… Larsson, Sekera? LOL

        Remember guys, Chiarelli is the dolt who traded Kessell, Schultz, Hall and Tyler Seguin for bags of pucks!

        Oh, Justin says speak up… his TWO Stanley Cup rings are blocking his ears

    • Stack

      Who is your team then? little keyboard warrior, by the sounds of your handle you cheer for whoever won the most recent Stanley cups…. I’m not sure why your so angry, a bandwagon jumper like you should be happy cause your team always wins right? It’s gonna be really embarrassing for you when you have to change your name to Oiler Pen Hawk cause the cups coming back to Edmonton! After you go out and buy a McDavid jersey and celebrate a successful Oilers cup run maybe you’ll be so happy you’ll forget about your small genitalia or the fact that your never going to move out of your moms basement or whatever it is that makes you such an annoying little reject.

    • HockeyRulz

      Wow… kk… someone out to hit/Takeout McDavid? for real?!!!!! LOL!
      He has been probably dealing with that since he turned 8 years old. And guess what, I can predict that he will be dealing with that till he retires too. This has been happening for decades to any top talented player in any league of any physical sport everywhere in the world. Now here you are trying to tell us like this is something new? Watch much sports?

    • revingev

      ‘They have a lot more humility then….’How do you know. Have you gone through 1oo of message boards and counted the average while sitting in your mom’s basement living off her. You actually sound like a teenager , which I am pretty sure you are. :its a fact you are crowing way too soon and McJesus is a marked man’? Really, how does you saying that make it ‘a fact’? Are you on steroid rage? You make no sense at all. ‘The flyers already proved that’? Again where is your fact the flyers already proved that? Those injuries happen everyday.

      BTW…Pittsburgh won a cup without ‘ a elite defenceman’. (BTW, that IS a fact)’McJesus who will no way make it healthy this season’ ? Really How do you KNOW that? Did you pay for a hit on him? How would you know that. ‘every fan…hates Deadmonton for the way they messed up the draft’? Really and again Every Fan? Are you serious man? Such blanket statements that you absolutely have no facts to back this up.

      I am cool with trash talk and all, but c’mon, grow up and get a pair. Start debating some FACTS, not your ‘girly’ feelings (sorry ladies, not really meaning you guys, meaning ‘girly’ as in sissy). I am excited to debate real arguments that are not teeny arguments.


  • tileguy

    The way I see it, you have to play Puju on Connors line for one game, Kailler for one game and Nuge for one game(strome can be 3 line C) winner takes all. Sorry 97 for making you play all 3 exhibition games. Other than that let McDavid choose his winger.

  • Deep Purple

    I like being able to play whatever RWer is going that particular day without putting players into absolute lines. Would be a hell of a lot of fun to coach like that on THIS TEAM.

  • Pen Hawk King

    Guys, I have not read this many fairytales since pre-school, this is just embarrassing and delusional for everyone involved with the Oiler organisation.

    I guarantee you the cup is not coming to Deadmonton any time soon dreamers. Even if by a miracle McJesus stays healthy after being head hunted all season by bruisers like the Flyers, Bruins, Ducks and Flames he will be snuffed out again when it matters, just like he was last playoffs! Connor was Kesler’s b*itch and you damn well know it.

    Coiler dreamers, a 100 point reg season means NOTHING in the post season. Without an elite blueline beast like Justin ‘2 cups’ Schultz, who had 13 points to match Letang’s 15 the year before, you are getting nowhere near the conference final let alone Lord Stanleys mug. The Ducks and Preds are lickin their lips already.

    Sorry boys but a decade of failure and one playoff round since doesn’t add up to a SC parade outside the rotting Rexall Place site for those of us living in the real world, it’s about time you joined us there… isn’t it?

    • Shameless Plugger

      Either you work for this site and are trying to drum up hits, or you’re embarrassed to say who it is you root for.

      It’s Easy to post when you’re anonymous/sheepish (to put it mildly) admiting your allegiances.

    • Stack

      Listen 30 year old virgin, first off its spelled “organization” second in what universe are the flames “bruisers” seriously name a guy on that team who wouldn’t come out a bloody mess after going toe to toe with either one of Nurse,Gryba, Lucic, Kassian? Go ahead I’ll wait now that you mention it the flyers bruins and ducks aren’t scary either but the flames are especially pathetic when you try to call them “bruisers” pens would have won both those cups without Schultz any half brain knows that. The ducks are growing older and are on the path to irrelevance and the preds window of opportunity is closing while Oilers is just opening now get to bed before your mom yells at you for staying up past 10:00

  • OilCan2

    Okay, here’s the plan: We sweep the Flames during the season but help them out by softening up teams on their Pacific Swings by beating them. That barely gets Calgary into the playoffs while we take the Pacific and then sweep them in the first round. 12 in a row in two seasons:)
    As for this RW scene it looked like Slep was making a strong move during the latter part of the season and playoffs. Now there is competition for the RW roster spot. Yamamoto is scoring a lot and JP racked up 3 pts in ONE period. Pre season is a far cry from meaningful games down the stretch but yikes these young guys are bringing it.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Lots of depth and moveable parts. When Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are ready (with NHL-quality depth and contracts, it appears the two youngsters are in tough to make it), they will likely take spots in the top 6. But there is no rush, because of that depth.

    Besides, here’s the real plan: when Puljujarvi and Yamamoto truly are ready, that depth can be swapped to fill positions of need or add draft picks. These two kids will top the field, or wait until they’re ready to do it, since there’s not a lot of wiggle room in the grey area for them.

    In other words, they’ll be great and steal a spot, or they’ll continue to develop appropriately. As Oiler fans, there’s really no downside to either situation, I’m glad we finally have a lot of depth to go with some high-end up and comers who could develop in the system.

  • BingBong

    So the coach has already called out Strome publicly, for lack of effort? After a pre-season game no less?
    Let’s hope this guy doesn’t have Eberle’s attitude, but without the skill. This isn’t promising.

    As for RW’s, I agree with what a few people said above, which is our real top 6 RW’ers are Yamamoto and Puljujarivi, but they won’t be playing in the NHL this year.
    I think our RW’s will be rotating on a game-to-game basis, but I predict we see Strome on the 4th line and maybe even in the pressbox if everybody is healthy.

    4th line: Strome

  • BingBong

    So the coach has already called out Strome publicly, for lack of effort? After a pre-season game no less?
    Let’s hope this guy doesn’t have Eberle’s attitude, but without the skill. This isn’t promising.

    As for RW’s, I agree with what a few people said above, which is our real top 6 RW’ers are Yamamoto and Puljujarivi, but they won’t be playing in the NHL this year.
    I think our RW’s will be rotating on a game-to-game basis, but I predict we see Strome on the 4th line and maybe even in the pressbox if everybody is healthy.

  • OldOilFan

    “If you believe Jesse Puljujarvi won or lost a job last night, I encourage you to reconsider.”

    Well, I reconsidered, and I still believe JP won a job at 1RW. Btw, I’m a few years older than Todd McLellan and I’ve been watching the Oilers since they joined the NHL…so I know it’s very-early to speculate a 19 yr old making 1RW on a Cup contender but JP made an impression off the ice too, after the game. That figured into my hunch that he makes the roster next month.