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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

What’s Your Line?

I wasn’t surprised by the reaction of Oilers fans today when the news hit Jesse Puljujarvi was practicing on the McDavid line. Oilers fans have seen the big Finn alongside 97 in the past (84 minutes a year ago) but I get why there’s some excitement right now. In 2017-18, coach Todd McLellan has been adhering to a very specific set of linemates for Connor McDavid. Patrick Maroon only recently moved off LW (Milan Lucic moving in) and Leon Draisaitl has been on right-wing most of the time after Kailer Yamamoto was sent to Spokane.

5x5x97 (2017-18)

  1. Patrick Maroon 291 minutes (14-15 GF)
  2. Leon Draisaitl 213 minutes (13-9 GF)
  3. Milan Lucic 72 minutes (4-3 GF)
  4. Kailer Yamamoto 62 minutes (2-2 GF)
  5. Drake Caggiula 54 minutes (4-8 GF)
  6. Mike Cammalleri 30 minutes (1-1 GF)
  7. Source

These wingers are the only ones who have played more than 20 minutes with Connor McDavid this season. There are several wingers waiting for their chance, here are their numbers with 97 so far in 2017-18:

  1. Zack Kassian 19:28 (0-0 GF)
  2. Mark Letestu 8:01 (0-0 GF)
  3. Jujhar Khaira 6:46 (1-0 GF)
  4. Ryan Strome 6:09 (1-0 GF)
  5. Iiro Pakarinen 5:25 (0-0 GF)
  6. Jussi Jokinen 5:09 (0-1 GF)
  7. Anton Slepyshev 4:34 (0-1 GF)
  8. Brad Malone 3:01 (0-0 GF)
  9. Jesse Puljujarvi 2:49 (0-1 GF)
  10. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1:40 (0-0 GF)
  11. Source

I thought we’d see Leon Draisaitl on RW 70 percent of the time this season, Ryan Strome the other 30 percent. So far, Strome has seen six minutes and Draisaitl has spent about 55 percent of the total RW time available. Based on the numbers, the only truly regrettable choice is Drake Caggiula, who has been on for about an hour and is -4. That’s whatever is beyond alarming.

What’s Your Line?

I think the Oilers should run the lines thusly tomorrow night:

  • Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
  • Lucic-Nuge-Slepyshev
  • Cammalleri-Strome-Puljujarvi
  • Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

I like JP but want him to run against the soft parade. I think he could benefit from playing with a veteran like Cammalleri. I’m giving the push to Slepyshev and mostly I’m giving McDavid the two best available wingers. You?

  • Ginbaby

    Is there any chance that Drai and Nuge having success will force opposing coaches to not always put his best against McD? I like JP’s skills and to me his passing looks under rated. Can fly and shoot the pill as we all know.

  • the dope $teez

    I would like to see:

    Maroon-McDavid-JP
    Lucic-Draisaitl-Caggiula
    Strome-Nuge-Cam
    Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

    Slepyshev will be back in the AHL if Talbot is indeed injured and they have to call up Nick Ellis, no? Either he or JP must be sent down.

  • Sir Dudeinstein

    My lines would be:
    Lucic-McDavid-Strome
    Maroon-Nuge-Slepyshev
    Cammalleri-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi
    Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

    I dont think we should throw all our marbles onto one line, This gives the third line a good look with two players who likes to shoot and Draisaitl who is a very good passer. This isnt a knock on any player just gives a more rounded lines. If you want you can rotate slepy and pljujarvi if you need some vetern with puljujarvi.

  • russ99a

    I like:

    Maroon – McDavid – Puljujarvi
    Lucic – Draisaitl – Strome
    Cammalleri – Nuge – Slepyshev
    Khaira – Letestu – Kassian

    Maybe move Kassian up to go shutdown with Nuge’s line against Mathews’ line as well.

    • Disappointed

      I like the idea of a shutdown line but maybe try Khaira-Nuge-Kassian.
      Plenty of speed, a couple of big bodies and good ole Nuge. They could score as well.

  • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

    JP – McDavid – Drai
    Lucic – RNH – Slep
    Maroon – Strome – Kassian
    Khaira/Cam – Letestu – Caggiula

    First line sends me back to the level of arousal I first experienced watching Megan Fox fix her bike in the opening scene of Transformers 2. Drai and McJesus do their thing and occasionally set up PoolParty for some bombs.
    Second line has enough speed to cover up for Lucic and let him bang into things and create space. Plus they were good in NJ.
    Third line has me almost as excited as the first, let the Bash Brothers loose and let Strome rip lasers while the other team huddles in fear.

  • slats-west

    I think Slep needs a shot on the waiting list with David. He shoots the puck very hard and this puck retrieval has been quite excellent
    Maroon-McDavid-Slepyshev
    Lucic-Nuge-Drai
    Cammalleri-Strome-Puljujarvi
    Khaira-Letestu-Kassian

  • Crazy Pedestrian

    If I had any say, I would try these lines tomorrow:

    Maroon-McDavid-Strome
    Lucic-Nuge-Slepy
    Khaira/Cags/Cam-Drai-JP
    Cam/Cags/Khaira-Letestu-Kassian
    (3rd and 4th line LW interchangable depending on health and such)

    Klef-Larsson
    Nurse-Benning
    Auvitu-Russel
    (Me thinks that Klef would benefit from playing with Larsson again, and dropping Nurse to 2nd pair makes 2 very well rounded d-pairs)

    Now about that 3rd pair… that’s the pair we hope can just tread water…

  • Anton CP

    Try something different I guess (not saying it will be good):

    Cammalleri-McDavid-Nuge
    Yes, the line is quite small in size but Cammalleri at least throughout his career is known for his finishing ability. This could be beneficial to other lines since McDavid really don’t need that much of help on his lines as long as someone can finish the play. Nuge and McDavid can play off each others ability and other than lack of size that the dual can create serious chaos.

    Maroon-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi
    Both Draisaitl and Puljujarvi have similar skill sets and they should be able to play off each others similarity and Maroon don’t even need to do much to get easy chances. This line has enough size to punish any other match ups with normally smaller second lines.

    Lucic-Strome-Slepyshev/Caggiula
    This line should be balance enough to play on both ends. It will be the line that should be steady enough to provide enough strength to give other lines enough rests to create chaos.

    Khaira-Letestu-Kassian
    No reason to make any change to this line, they are doing their jobs as intended.

    Most of them may not make any sense but some shake up that I believe is needed since the Oilers seemingly lack of offense production may call for drastic actions.

  • ed from edmonton

    I find it remarkable the amount of time, thought and commentary that is spent on discussing line combinations. Given that any coach will get the blender put if a team, or even a couple of players, are not going. For the Oil this year with as many poor performances as acceptable ones, TMac has been forced to get the mixmaster out many a night. One thing I can say, if McD has a similar performance as vs the Yotes his right winger is the least of his problems.

      • ed from edmonton

        Of course two of these wins were vs a team who ended the game with a jr goalies and vs the worst team in the league in which they were very fortunate to win. Don’t fool yourself.

  • ed from edmonton

    Looking at the stats that LT presented above, it appears that McD is even at 5×5 this year. Are we looking to hard for what is wrong with the Oil this year? When your top player goes from Hart trophy to just holding his own isn’t that a big part of the reason?

  • Imhere

    I don’t see why you would put drain back on wing, when you won the last 2 games with McDavid, drain and nuge at center. Someone else has to step up to wing with McDavid.

    • ed from edmonton

      I agree that being able to run out 3 centers like McD, LD and RNH should give the Oil an advantage every night. That hasn’t always been the case when they have tried it. The question is why?

  • Jaxon

    I’d lean towards matching speed with speed (and slow with slow, at least they can play as a unit) and ice the following for a few games.

    Slepyshev – McDavid – Kassian
    Caggiula – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
    Maroon – Nugent-Hopkins – Strome
    Lucic – Letestu – Cammalleri

    At this point it’s all experiment for next year anyway (highly doubtful they’ll make the playoffs, 1 in 50?).If you unlock 2 scorers in Slepyshev and Kassian, you have solved a lot of scoring and cap problems moving forward. Trade Maroon, Letestu and Cammalleri now while they have more value than at the deadline. Maroon to STL.