The Oilers have all but been eliminated from playoff contention at this point, so they’re riding out the season playing spoiler and doing tryouts for next season. After selling Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu at the trade deadline, Todd McLellan has a few open spots to test out different players in different roles.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How should the Oilers put together their lines the rest of the way?
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned to the lineup on Saturday against the New York Rangers. He was immediately placed on the team’s second line, pushing Ryan Strome back to the third line centre role he’s played in for most of the season.
- Leon Draisaitl has been stuck on Connor McDavid’s hip recently as the team’s top right winger. I really think that it’s worthwhile to play Draisaitl as a centre for the remainder of the season because, long-term, you really want your guy who’s paid to be a top centre to, you know, be a centre.
- Should the Oilers play RNH on McDavid’s wing instead? He’s evolved into a very good two-way centre, but, like I said, it’s important to use Draisaitl as a centre, and RNH could be a good trigger-man next to McDavid. I’ve been a big proponent of having McDavid, Draisaitl, and RNH anchor their own lines, but I can see the argument for testing RNH on the wing.
- The Letestu trade opened up a spot for Edmonton to play Khaira consistently in the fourth line centre role, which I think makes sense for him. Khaira has been one of the bright spots on the team this year and it’s worthwhile to challenge him to see if he can be a bottom-six centre long-term. If not, well, you still have a good depth winger.
- The Patrick Maroon trade opened up a spot in the top-six for somebody. Most recently, Pontus Aberg was put in the top-six alongside Mike Cammalleri and RNH. I have to say, why on earth is Cammalleri still getting reps on that line? I mean, there’s no way he has a future with the team, so what’s being gained giving him ~15 minutes of ice time per game? On the flip side, Jesse Puljujarvi, who’s important to this team’s future, played 11 minutes against Arizona. I would rather see Puljujarvi and Slepyshev playing in the top-six than Cammalleri. Hell, I’m not sure if I would even bother giving Milan Lucic any more reps with McDavid at this point.
- What about Ryan Strome? He’s been thoroughly unspectacular this year as the third line centre, but he hasn’t been terrible. His offence has left a lot to be desired, but the team has scored 48.3 per cent of the even strength goals with him on the ice, which isn’t that bad. When he was acquired one-for-one for Jordan Eberle, it was figured he could be used as a winger with McDavid. We’ve barely seen that at all this year. Is it time to try it out?
What say you, Nation? Who do you play with who? Which centres should be centres and which centres should be wingers? Who needs to be playing more and who needs to be playing less?
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