Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Right Wing Candidates

Right wing is the biggest area of concern for the Edmonton Oilers. Todd McLellan was running a centre in Leon Draisaitl and a 19-year old Kailer Yamamoto as his top-two right wingers for much of the season, showing just how dire the situation is. With Yamamoto sent back to junior hockey Monday, McLellan will have to find new candidates to play the right wing.

Yamamoto played nine games and that’s a huge win in itself — 22nd overall draft picks usually don’t make it right after they’ve been drafted, and he didn’t look out of place. The Oilers could have kept him and have him score 30 points in a lesser role, but sending him back to dominate the WHL is a good decision and pushes his contract back another year. They’ll need those three cheap years of Kailer Yamamoto in a salary-cap world, especially when he’s more productive.

Yamamoto is gone, and he played almost exclusively with either Connor McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, so who could McLellan look to play minutes on right wing?

The Candidates

Oct 17, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Strome (18) controls the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at Rogers Place. Carolina Hurricanes won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Leon Draisaitl: Peter Chiarelli said he sees Draisaitl as a centre, but he played more than half of 2016-17 and the majority of this season on McDavid’s wing. McLellan clearly favours the McDavid-Draisaitl combination, even as the team struggles out of the gate. Maybe Draisaitl doesn’t have to play centre, but could he form an effective duo with Nugent-Hopkins? That would allow someone else to play on McDavid’s right side, and McDavid has shown the ability to turn good players into great scorers. Do you really need Leon Draisaitl finishing passes from McDavid? Maroon went from a 30-point player to a 27-goal scorer, and I’m willing to bet something similar could occur with another winger.

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Ryan Strome: At one point in time, Strome was an up-and-coming 21-year old scoring 50 points playing with the likes of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Frans Nielsen. Strome’s currently centering a third-line between Jussi Jokinen and Drake Caggiula, but he might need some higher quality teammates and time on right wing if he’s going to score like he once did.

Drake Caggiula: The Oilers are clearly fans of Caggiula. They’ve fit him into the lineup whether it’s at centre or wing. He got some extended time on RW with McDavid last year, as well as top power play line recently. What’s working against Caggiula is his handedness and health. Edmonton’s wealth of left shots mean another one in the top six isn’t ideal, but Caggiula has speed and a lack of options in his favour.

Anton Slepyshev: Slepyshev’s an interesting option for a bigger role on the right side. At age 20 he had success in the KHL, a league that isn’t generous with minutes to its young players, and has been decent in the American Hockey League. He’s right-handed and, like Caggiula, had time with skilled players in the playoffs last season.

Zack Kassian: The rambunctious winger was one of the more effective 5-on-5 scorers for Edmonton last year. Kassian has speed and a right-shot, but he only has one point in 13 games this season and is probably better suited for a third or fourth-line role.

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Jesse Puljujarvi: The Oilers’ fourth-overall pick in 2016 isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in Bakersfield. With 5 points in 10 games, it’s probably best to leave him in the AHL until he can consistently score there before counting on him to score at the NHL.

Ty Rattie: Rattie was once a promising prospect. He’s off to a hot start with six goals in 10 games for the Condors, has a history of scoring the AHL. He might be worth a recall with skilled minutes currently up for grab.

Otherwise, it’d be a trade. Elliotte Friedman talked about the Oilers in his weekly 31 Thoughts article and thinks they could be the next team to try something. Of course, the Duchene trade shows how difficult it is to acquire NHL players at this point in the season. Ottawa and Colorado needed Nashville to make a deal, and Duchene had wanted out since the middle of last season.

Edmonton won’t be looking to acquire a Duchene or Turris, though. Could they get a solid middle-six right winger? For example, Josh Leivo is a solid player stuck behind a glut of good wingers in Toronto. That seems obtainable and would allow McLellan to split up McDavid and Draisaitl, even if that means moving Draisaitl to Nugent-Hopkins’ line. Then the rest of the pack can fight it out for the third-line spot, which is preferable to having both spots occupied by young, unproven players.

Who would you promote on RW? Would you consider a trade and look outside for options?

  • Oilers21

    At least TRY Strome on the top line. Whether you like the trade or not he’s here now and it would be great if he could produce even 2/3 of Eberle’s lost offense

  • Bigwreck

    Good article. I thought Leivo would be a great fit and shouldn’t cost that much. At this point I have zero faith our scouts/ management team aren’t smart enough to make a trade like this. The sad part is these issues could be seen in the summer but chiarelli did nothing. If we miss the playoffs this is a massive failure for this team and chiarelli should pay with his job. Todd can only use the tools he is given.

    • Christian Pagnani

      Leivo is really interesting. He needs to play in 39 games or he becomes a UFA, and that seems unlikely so far. He might be available and not cost a lot.

  • Muddy

    Iggy. That’s right I’d give the future Hall of Famer at least a look on the right. Could he pot 15 goals? I like his chances better than anyone else and it literally would cost us nothing in return. Dust off the old man and give him a chance.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      That is a NEGATIVE. Maybe, MAYBE if you snatched him as soon as last season ended, but now he’s probably out of shape, hasn’t trained, and even if he’s getting ready for the Olympics he’s not going to be NHL ready. Training for NHL players is a different beast.

    • Jordan88

      He had 27 points last season… and has not skated in months he is 40…

      Look at Jagr 6-0-2…. And Iginla is no Jagr. Iginla I love a swan song but that swan died 2 years ago man.

  • Delirious

    Id give Rattie a shot, if he is lackluster through him on the 3rd for the rest of the game and pull Kass or caggiula up. Send him back to the AHL after. Brought him in for a 1 year “prove yourself” deal, might as well let him try. Playing next to McDavid cant hinder him.

  • kiaora

    Why is Nuge not considered as an option? He is hot at the moment (scoring goals), and might be an interesting match for CMD. It frees up Draisaitl then for the second line center role, which is what he is being payed the big bucks for, to drive a line (not to be supporting cast).

    • Christian Pagnani

      I agree, and I’ve long wondered what RNH would look like on the wing with either McDavid or Draisaitl, but McLellan seems reluctant to play him anywhere but center. That would put Draisaitl at center, something McLellan hasn’t opted for.

      I’d try it considering they’re 31st in goals for, so he probably should have made the list.

    • oilerjed

      Because Nuge is an excellent Center and is looking much better this year. And sadly, having Nuge play on the wing might diminish his trade value if they choose to trade him. IMO

  • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

    This may come out of LEFT field… Wait for it.

    Maybe our problem stems more from a lack of speed/skill on the left wing than the right wing? Everyone is killing the Oilers because we have a lack of speed right now, but if you look at our RW depth chart, I don’t think the speed issue exists there. Draisaitl, Yamamoto (RIP), Kassian, Slepyshev, they’re definitely not the slow guys of the group. If you look left however: Maroon, Lucic, Jokinen, they are all definitively on the slow end of the spectrum. I realize that Strome has played right wing with Nuge and he is slow, and Caggiula plays both wings, but just hear me out.

    I think the Lucic/Nuge speed discrepancy has been hurting the 2nd line, and if you could get a speedier winger with Nuge on his left, that might add to that line’s offensive potency. At least against faster teams anyway. I love Lucic’s intangibles, but he looks like he is skating in quicksand out there. Maybe moving Caggiula up to the left side solves it, or maybe a trade for a LW who fits his style helps also.

    Erik Haula in Vegas is intriguing, as Vegas looks like they are slipping back to reality, and would possibly be willing to sell for picks. He is only $2.75 million/year through 2019-20 as well, so if Maroon decides to take money elsewhere, he could potentially move up to play with McDavid. He’s got all kinds of speed, not great point totals, but has 8 points through 11 games so far this year. If the Oilers don’t have to give up a high pick, I think Haula, or some other cheap, fast LW may help remedy our scoring/speed situation as well.

      • camdog

        Then what happens if the new right winger doesn’t click with McDavid aka like Eberle and Hall didn’t? Then what do you do? Roll out McDavid and LD and then Strome and the new winger, that would be awful.

  • Jordan88

    The problem with RNH going on McDavid’s wing is you’re borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
    Draisaitl with Lucic and Slep or Cagguila? Maybe The problem is we need SOMEONE other than Maroon McDavid Draisaitil and NUGE to produce.

    • Christian Pagnani

      I think the benefit is seeing if Draisaitl can drive offence away from McDavid than RNH could. Most players will kill it with 97, so give RNH some gravy time and maybe Draisaitl can provide more secondary scoring rather than being McDavid’s wingman.

  • bwar

    Remember when Yak and Connor played together and Yak was actually producing? Good thing we got rid of that guy after going out of our way to lower his value to nothing.

  • Cowboy Bill

    Not crazy about Strome as a 3c . Much prefer him on RW . Maybe what they need to trade for is a real solid 3c . Keep Leon with Connor & Patty and play Strome on RW with Nuge & Lucic . A strong center with enough ability to anchor a third line with Caggiula & Slepyshev or even Puljujarvi . Because Strome isn’t that guy .

  • belair

    As mentioned, Josh Leivo is the most realistic trade scenario. A few others possibly….

    1. Jussi Jokinen for Ales Hemsky – A wash salary wise and two UFA signings that haven’t gone to plan.
    2. Mark Fayne + for Matt Read – Again, salary is a wash. Read cleared waivers earlier this season and Lehigh Valley could use the depth on the right side.
    3. Mark Fayne + for Joe Colborne – We would clear a mil in cap space but Colborne seemingly fell off completely last year. This would be considered a depth move which could possibly turn into help down the line.

    Those three are low risk, low reward options. But my personal favourite…

    4. Use Slepyshev and some futures and trade for UFA Rick Nash. Solid two-way shooter with size and speed.

  • kormega

    Lately there was a good article on Leafs Nation about Soshnikov, it seems they are ready to move him for middle-round pick.

    I’ve watched him a lot and think he is better than anybody of abovementioned except Draisaitl.

        • kormega

          So what? Leafs marinated him in the 4th line, but he’s dynamic right winger with a good left shot, speedy and hitting, he is useful on PK (5th PK ice-time among all forwards in Toronto 16/17). 24, so not a kid, and if he’ll cost a 3rd round pick that would be a no-loss deal.

          However, Leafs are overloaded with young talented wingers so Chia gotta have a look in this direction.

  • The Whispererer

    All the suggestions i’ve seen about playing RNH with McDavid involve playing RNH on his off side at RW.
    I see some merit in playing RNH with McD ( especially for faceoffs ) but i don’t get the blind obsession with playing him at RW where he has never played. I would suggest:

    At RW you could try a mixture of Slepyshev, Rattie, Puljujaarvi, Pakarinen, Jokkinen, Kassian, Letestu ( at 4RW with Malone playing 4C ), Caggiula (for those who believe Lucic should play 3LW and Khaira could be a 4LW option ), etc.
    You could also try packaging some of those surplus RWs in a trade for someone more proven…Leivo, Marner-i know he would cost more but possibly adding something like Simpson, Caleb Jones plus our 2019 1st ?? )

  • Oilers Nation Citizen

    I wonder what the acquisition cost for plug-and-play pending UFA forwards like Reider in ARZ (C) and Grabner in NYR (RW)? We need better ingredients to throw in the McClellan Blender™.

  • It’s obvious the management traded Eberle in also hoping Puljujarvi would be ready so now there’s a gaping hole in a position that should be producing. It’s obvious no one on the current team is the answer as the question wouldn’t be asked in the first place. Trade is the answer. Who would you trade from the Oilers with value to get a top 6 right winger?

    I’d consider trading Slepyshev + defensive prospect + 2019 1st round pick

  • JimmyV1965

    Leivo is interesting, but it’s hard to tell if he can score anymore. He’s basically been a sub for the last two years. Played 18 games last year and 2 this year.

  • Vanoil

    Would love to see Nuge Center a line with Cagguila and Slep and Leon with Lucic and Kassian. Doesn’t solve the 1RW but, makes the second and third lines far better. Unfortunately, however, we are stuck with Jokinen and Strome until the end of the season taking up roster spots.