Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Key to the Highway

Based on reports Leon Draisaitl may return to the lineup as early as Saturday. Todd McLellan’s shuffle appears to have possibly hit on a second line (Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkin and Ryan Strome) and allows the coach to move Draisaitl back to the top line—at least in theory. Drake Caggiula may also return this week, but there was a brief glance at something interesting last night in the Carolina game.

  • Connor McDavid with Anton Slepsyshev: 6-1 Corsi for 5×5 in 70 seconds; 3-0 shots for; 4-0 scoring chances for; 1-0 high-danger scoring chances. Source: Natural Stat Trick.

That’s an amazing 1:10 in any game, and Slepyshev had other shifts that were impressive a night ago (with Brad Malone and Jussi Jokinen). The question I have for you tonight is this: Who should come out of the top 6F? I keep reading that Kailer Yamamoto is the obvious choice and I get that, but it seems to me that there’s an opportunity for the Oilers to grow their offense.


  • Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Anton Slepyshev
  • Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Ryan Strome
  • Jussi Jokinen—Leon Draisaitl—Kailer Yamamoto
  • Jujhar Khaira—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian

This takes the pressure off Yamamoto, allows Leon Draisaitl to possibly wheel against softer competition, and for the scoring to be spread out a little more. It also gives Connor McDavid a more mature winger in which to face the top opposition (that’s a lock on the road). If you don’t like Yamamoto there, possibly move up Kassian and run Drake Caggiula on the fourth line.


Come Saturday, something tells me we’ll see the following:

  • Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
  • Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Anton Slepyshev
  • Jussi Jokinen—Ryan Strome—Kailer Yamamoto
  • Iiro Pakarinen—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian

Which lineup would you rather see on Saturday? I think Connor McDavid could use a more established winger, but am also interested in seeing a C depth chart of 97, 29 and 93 on the road. It might be the key to the highway.

  • madjam

    Yamamoto , McDavid , Draisaitl .
    Lucic , Hopkins , Strome .
    Maroon , Letestu , Kassian .
    Pakarinen , Malone , Jokenen .
    Nurse , Klefbom . Russell, Larsson . Auvitu/Benning , Gryba .
    Get Maroon off top line and onto 3rd with Kassian .

    • OriginalPouzar

      I’m not so sure its a good idea to play the 155 pound 18 year old rookie on his off side in a line being relied on to provide material offence – talk about pressure on a kid and in an off-position.

      • madjam

        My first two lines and 4th have a common element to them – two centers on each line for diversity and flexibility . Even on first you could have McDavid LW , Draisaitl C and Yamamoto on right side if that’s what might pan out better . It is a lineup to take advantage of our many centers . Khaira and Slepyshev I forgot to add as a 4th line possibility with Pakarinen .

        • AJ88

          It would be fun to watch McDavid, Draisaitl, and Yamamoto on a line. In any case I am not separating Hopkins, Strome and Lucic for the next few games, Strome finally got it going in the last half of the Carolina game. LT’s suggestion of Slepyshev with McDavid, not at this point.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I’m looking at the suggested lines and not only do I like them, but I’m also wondering what will happen to the trolls when you start burying your opponents in goals.

    Ryan Strome will not be a liability.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Here is what I’d go with


    Heck, if Edmonton decides to keep Yamamoto, put Caggiula on the 4th line.

    Really the forward isn’t a big deal for me as I saw a great attack from them last game. It’s the defence and goaltending that need to step it up.

  • Connor McFly

    Last season expectations were low compared to this year. Chia and Mclelland were “hoping” to make the playoffs or at least come close. Last seasons injury rate was low while other teams were not so lucky. I think the sky-high expectations of media and fans this year has psyched the team out. That coupled with Chia’s miopic wishful thinking and the coaches message wearing thin equals a 1 & 3 start. I think the coaches message has worn thin. Over and under on one or both Chia and Toddy getting fired by the end of this season if the Oil are out of the playoffs by the New Year? I also wonder if jealousy over contracts is dividing the room.

  • OilersChef

    So we are all certain mcdavid is better the natthews……right? Look at the kids stats…..hard to see our guy catching up if this trend holds. Tough year so far.

    • Jordan88

      Auston Matthews has 2 more games played, and only 4 points on McDavid, McDavid is having a bad start and is still over a PPG let that sink in for you.

      We have a player whom a bad start is over a PPG

      not worried at all,

  • T.J.F.M

    I do not like Strome as a Centre, yet. He needs to play RW for the time being. Drake needs to be in the lineup as his speed and shot are an asset. I would use this lineup:

    Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Anton Slepyshev
    •Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Ryan Strome
    •Drake Caggiula—Leon Draisaitl—Kailer Yamamoto
    •Jussi Jokinen—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian

    Sit Jujhar Khaira until Kailer gets sent down. Wouldn’t be a bad move to also sit Yammo in the press box for a game or two as a different vantage point. Jokinen has been awful. 4th liner at best right now, and a decent depth option to move up.

  • Jaxon

    Insert some speed and energy into the top 2 lines for Yamamoto’s final few games once Draisaitl and Caggiula are back (if they’re back in time):

    Slepyshev / McDavid / Yamamoto
    Caggiula / Draisaitl / Kassian
    Maroon / Nugent-Hopkins / Strome
    Lucic / Letestu / Jokinen

    I’d like to see how they’d do with that lineup for a few games. I like the top 9 and the cagey vets on the 4th should be able to handle 4th line competition quite easily and Letestu and Jokinen should be great on the draws. McDavid really has to improve his faceoffs. That is the biggest weakness on the top line.

    • AJ88

      I don’t get the Slepyshev thing, he has 4 goals in 55 regular season games and 3 in 12 playoff games. Why are we putting him with McDavid because of a 70 second window?

      • Jaxon

        I think Slepyshev has shown great potential. They see his raw skills. He’s still young (23, same age as Caggiula, Khaira and Benning) and improving. He’s got great speed and he hits a fair amount. He’s got a pretty wicked shot. He is a former KHL 1st overall pick. He’s had some good runs in the KHL where he scored 13pts in 15 games, which works out to an NHLe of 57pts in a league that is notoriously stingy at giving ice time to youngsters and 18pts in 30 games which is an NHLe of 39pts. I think the coaches see his raw talent and are still hoping to really unlock it. Every once in a while you see him making breakthoughs where the North American NHL game is finally slowing down for him mentally and he makes some pretty slick moves. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Slepyshev yet. And those 3 goals in 12 games (small sample size alerts abound) prorate to 20 goals over 82 games. Just what the Oilers desperately need. And I think Slepyshev scored all 3 of those goals in the 7 game span they put him with Lucic and Draisaitl, so that would be a 35 goal pace (I know, I’m partly kidding, super small sample size)!

  • Vanoil

    Switch Cagguila for Jokinen on your intial suggested lines and you might be on to something… Jokinen is to slow to play in the top 9. Realistically speaking, so is Strome, but until Puljujarvi is ready we are saddled with that contract any way. Would love to see Puljujarvi push Strome off the squad. If only he could learn to take draws…

  • Cowboy Bill

    Not sure Maroon deserves to stay up on McDavid’s LW . I agree they may have stumbled upon a second line with Lucic-Nuge -Strome . So when Leon & Cags gets back . I’d try this .
    And if those Swedes don’t smarten up they should be split up .
    Waive JB & call up Ellis to back up Talbot .
    So there you have it .

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Take Yamamoto out of this equation as his 9 games are almost up… A regular needs to be in, the team needs to get gelled again (I think that “gelling” part has been the majority of the early issues)… Move Draisaitl down to centre 2nd line and RNH on that RW or top RW…