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Photo Credit: © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Strome is a better fit at C than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins started his first game on Connor McDavid’s left wing on Saturday, and if the Oilers are wise it will the first of many. The Oilers need to replace Patrick Maroon on the left wing, and instead of overpaying in free agency, the best decision will be to slot Nugent-Hopkins in the left wing spot.

They need his skill in the top six, but they also have a better third line centre on the team now in Ryan Strome.

Strome isn’t a better overall centre than Nugent-Hopkins, but he is a better fit as a third line centre.

I’m still a bit surprised how many people still want the Oilers to run three centres. It is people I often agree with on many things, but not on this one. Dustin Nielson, Black Dog Pat, Woodguy and many others have often suggested these three should be down the middle. I completely understand the theory behind it, but take a moment to look at some numbers and see if running McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins down the middle will ultimately help the Oilers.

Strome has 24 EV points this season, and 21 of them are at 5×5. He has put up pretty good numbers at EV, especially when you realize he’s had numerous different linemates, and not ones who are big point producers. Strome has played 814 5×5 minutes and here are his most common linemates.

Jujhar Khaira: 255 minutes. He has scored 9-6-15 at 5×5 this year. (On ice together for eleven goals)
Draisaitl: 187 minutes. He has 11-27-28 at 5×5. (On ice together for nine goals)
Drake Caggiula: 174 minutes. Caggiula has scored 6-5-11 (On ice for four goals).
Mike Cammalleri: 160 minutes. He has 2-16-18 (On ice for three goals).
Jesse Puljujarvi: 136 minutes. He scored 9-6-15 (On ice for eight goals).
Anton Slepyshev: 103 minutes. He has scored 5-5-10 at 5×5. (On ice together for two goals).
Patrick Maroon: 102 minutes. He has 13-12-25 at 5×5 (On ice for five goals).
He’s played only 50 minutes with McDavid. He played more with 12 other forwards including Jussi Jokinen. So you can’t say Strome has inflated his EV points totals by playing with McDavid.

Strome currently has a $2.5 Million cap hit and he made $3 million this season. He is an RFA this summer and likely will have a new contract between $2.5-$3 million for next season.

RNH DOWN THE MIDDLE

Nov 28, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood (31) in overtime at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Here are three seasons of RNH where he played a similar amount of games as Strome this year. I am presuming Strome finishes the season and will play close to 82 games and similar EV minutes as RNH in these three seasons. I didn’t use years where he missed a lot of time, only because prorating numbers isn’t exact numbers, only projections.

2013/2014: Nugent-Hopkins played 1,162 5×5 minutes, he scored 31 points and had a 44.92 CF%. He had 36 at EV. His most common linemates:

Jordan Eberle: 757 minutes. Eberle scored 17-21-38 at 5×5 (They were on the ice together for 35 goals).
Taylor Hall: 665 minutes. Hall scored 16-37-53 (On for 29 goals together).
David Perron: 268 minutes: 17-20-37 (On ice for 13 goals).
Nail Yakupov: 218 minutes: 7-11-18 (On for eight goals).
Ales Hemsky: 115 minutes: 7-8-15. He was traded to Ottawa at deadline. (On for four goals together).

2014/2015: Nugent-Hopkins played 1,139 5×5 minutes, he scored 37 points and had a 49. 86CF%. He had 34 at EV. His most common linemates:

Eberle: 894 minutes. Eberle scored 18-23-41 at 5×5 that season. (They were on ice for 45 goals).
Hall: 500 minutes. Hall scored 7-19-26. He was injured and missed 30 games. (On ice for 21 goals).
Benoit Pouliot: 366 minutes. 13-11-24 (On ice for 20 goals).
Teddy Purcell: 221 minutes. 6-14-20 (On ice for seven goals).
Yakupov: 62 minutes: 9-12-21 (on ice for one goal).

2016/2017: RNH played 1,079 minutes at 5×5, scored 27 points and had a 49.29 CF%. He had 32 EV points and his most common linemates:

Eberle: 636 minutes. Eberle scored 14-19-33 at 5×5 that season. (They were on for 22 goals together)
Milan Lucic: 434 minutes. 10-13-23 (14 goals together)
Pouliot: 331 minutes. 8-6-14 (10 goals together)
Zack Kassian: 217 minutes. 7-17-24 (seven goals together)
Patrick Maroon: 213 minutes. 24-11-35 (on for nine goals together).

COMPARISONS

Nov 3, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) skates with the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Keep in mind RNH played tougher minutes in 2014 and 2015. He was the first line centre, and while he played mainly with offensively gifted linemates, Eberle and Hall, he also faced better players on average.

But look at last season. RNH scored 27 points at 5×5 in 1,079 minutes. Strome has 21 in 814 minutes so far this season. Strome has also not had the luxury of even one consistent linemate. I don’t expect trios to stick together very often in today’s game, but usually we see a duo. Building continuity and chemistry can help, but Strome has proven it isn’t necessary to be a competent point producer.

Strome has looked much more effective since he started playing centre regularly. I wasn’t sure he could be this effective early in the season, but he’s proved me wrong. Right now, he is a solid third line centre.

The other factor we need to consider is salary.

If you run McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins down the middle, that is $27 million. You don’t have a lot of cap space to go out and find competent wingers for all three lines. If Strome can produce 25 points at 5×5 and cost $3 million, he is a great fit for the team. Why play RNH at centre on a third line, pay him $6 million, when he hasn’t shown he will outscore Strome at EV by a significant enough margin to make it cost effective?

I’d rather have RNH on the wing in the top-six, where he still can rotate defensive responsibilities with McDavid and is likely to produce more points than we’ve seen from him as a centre.

Playing RNH on the wing in the top-six gives him a better opportunity to produce the points you’d expect from a $6 million player, and having Strome as the third line centre isn’t much of a drop off offensively. And with McDavid and Draisaitl running as 1C and 2C, Strome won’t have to face elite competition very often. He should be able to produce similar to what he has this season, and I’m not worried about his defensive play.

From a skill standpoint and a production-to-cap-space ratio, it makes the most sense to play RNH on the wing and Strome as the third line centre.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Rebuild3.0

    “Playing RNH on the wing in the top-six gives him a better opportunity to produce the points you’d expect from a $6 million player”

    so when will you be writing about lucic not producing close to what we expect from a $6 mil player? why take unnecessary shots at nuge?

    • Mitchvar9412

      Lucic was never signed as a point guy… He was signed as an insurance policy with some potential to put up decent numbers. He’s gone on his worst stretch of his career, ya we get it, but the guy has never been an 80 point guy. His career ppg is 0.6. Which over an 82 game schedule is 49 pts. He’s at 32, so yes his production has dropped a bit from his prime years in Boston but I have no problem with him being third in the league in hits and putting up just under his career average in an obvious down season. Further, this isnt a knock on Nuge article. It is saying that to utilize our cap space better we should be using out six million dollar 24 year old to score more goals because hes a better overall player than strome and not a player you put in the shade of the third line.

      • Rebuild3.0

        lucic wasnt signed for points so that gives him a pass for being dead weight and the reason a better player (klefbom/rnh) will have to be moved? great.

        • Mitchvar9412

          how can you say he’s dead weight when hes playing basically the identical brand of hockey he has for the last ten years. you cant just sign a guy to a contract and expect him to go from matt martin to jamie benn

        • Mitchvar9412

          Alright then. Let me compare him to Rick Nash, Jonathan Drouin, Cam Atkinson, etc. Nash also has 32 points in his 68 games this season and is being paid 1.5 million dollars more… Nash doesn’t bring much of a physical game and is -4 in his 8 games with Boston. Drouin is being paid 5.5 mil. to score one more point than Lucic. Atkinson has 29. Tell me again how Lucic is dead weight when he makes the hits of the week every week and puts up comparable numbers to his entire career. I agree, he may not be the best option at 6 million, I’m not defending the contract. But for you to say that he is basically a useless hockey player is just your blind arm chair gm anger with a team that is under achieving. Price you pay for free agents at anytime. We resent his contract yet the leafs signed clarkson to a massive one, the bruins with beleski. I dont know about you but id rather have lucic over both of those players.

          • Slipknot 8

            Both you and Rebuild 3.0 are a little off……
            A 50 to 55 point player in the NHL is a producer, not to mention Lucic WAS brought in for his 5×5 production & leadership which was considerable when you look at his body of work over time, Lucic never played much PP in Bos and some in L.A.
            So his 5×5 contribution was actually substantial given it was largely 5×5 production.
            Having said that Lucic has hit a wall and his production is likely going to plummet like an anvil and his contract will be a death grip on the Oilers Cap management

        • Fred Nation

          Lucic signing was just plain stupid. Watched him closely in his last playoff game in LA, knowing he was a UFA. Concluded that although he brought grit, he was not good in his own zone, and more importantly, was slow responding and reacting, despite having decent straight line speed. After Chia signed him, I was worried about years 3+, and now we are seeing things looking bleak in year 2. Lucic is not the real problem, the contract and term that Chia signed him to are what makes Lucic a problem. Oilers are going to have to move better players because they have a player under contract for 5 more years that is so over-paid and has a buy-out proof contract, so he is un-tradeable. I don’t even see him as a fit for 3rd line because he does not show good D-zone hockey sense, struggles to get pucks out of the zone off the boards, and is well beyond getting better because of age. If he was signed for less $ and shorter term, then he would be useful going from 3rd line to 1st or 2nd when called upon. As it stands, contract is a dud.

          • wiseguy

            At the time it was between Lucic and Okposo and some wanted Okposo because he is not as slow. Okposo has 38 points but is -29 this year. UFA’s are always overpaid but given that they are both paid the same $6 million, Lucic doesn’t seem so bad especially since we needed the intimidation factor desperately 2 years ago.

    • crabman

      @Rebuild, the story was about maximizing Nuge not Nuge needs to be better at $6M. But with the contracts that have been handed out, like the Lucic contract, and the teams need for a top line winger it would seem a waste having a highly skilled, highly paid player centering the 3rd line when someone half his salary could do a simular job.
      This is a Nuge article, that’s why Gregor isn’t writing about Lucic. There is plenty written and talked about in the Lucic contract department.

    • Jason Gregor

      Rebuild 3.0. Your disdain for Lucic seems to make you think every article is about him. It wasn’t.

      The line, “Playing RNH on the wing in the top-six gives him a better opportunity to produce the points you’d expect from a $6 million player.” Was not a shot at him, it was pointing out how if you pay him a lot put him in the top-six where he has better chance to produce to his salary rather than play him on the 3rd line where he won’t produce many points.

      Newsflash. We all know Lucic is struggling. Not every article has to be about it. Also, guess what, Lucic is paid a lot and team plays him in top six, which is exactly what I said they should do to RNH. Unsure how you perceived that as a shot at RNH. It wasn’t. You were mistaken.

  • Five points between Nuge and McDavid in one game together. Keep the good times rolling, Todd. They can make magic together! Also, Strome has been better since being moved back to C. Makes sense all the way around.

    • Oiler Al

      Nuge….. 1 assist and an empty netter.Nugey didnt exactly blow the lights out Mcdees line, but it was only one game[about time McT].. give it another few games,to see if there is a fit Better a $6 mil winger, than $8.5mil/

    • hammer313

      Damn right, keep him there, please. Just picked him up in our hockey pool and I’m in the champion round against a team that has McDavid! I have Drai and he will be affected greatly in points if he is saddled with, waste of ice time, Lucic!

    • Glencontrolurstik

      The only depressing part of all this, and quite frankly is contributing to my lack of confidence in the coaching staff. Is why the heck didn’t they try the McD, Nuge combination earlier? It, to me, was the most obvious combination shortly after McDavid came aboard. To top it off, McLellan has used the most outrageous line combinations over the last couple of years. But that one.
      I think every possible combination? Except maybe Talbot with McD & Drai, and Nuge with McD…
      It’s almost like he was being stubborn & not wanting to do it, because maybe the fans would want it?
      Anyway, I love it, however upset I am that it took this long for the coaches to figure out. That worries me?

  • TruthHurts98

    Fire PC before he trades Nuge for nothing! Nuge and Connor, maybe Yammer or JP next year and that’s a great first line! I like Leon as a centre and would rather see Nuge playing the wing with Connor. Strome as 3C on a value contract is fine. Nice to see Khaira playing well too as the 4C. If there are injuries to any centre men it’s great to have players that can fill back into their natural spots. #keeptheNugeforever!

  • CMG30

    I agree that a better spot for RNH is beside McDavid. Gives Todd options. Can move LD up for a different look or it keeps RNH around if either McDavid or LD are injured. Playing him 3C is a waste of talent and cap space unless you can find a ton of value contracts to make 3 legit scoring lines.

    • russ99a

      Not a waste if he’s used to shutdown the opposition. Look at the Jets third line, there’s no reason we can’t do that here, and that helps the cap situation where we’re looking for 2 skill wingers, not 4.

      Nuge’s defensive game is as much or more of a strength than his offensive game, this is a player who’s career high is 56 points, he’s not in the same offensive class as McDavid or Draisaitl.

        • russ99a

          The Oilers are 14th in 5×5 goals scored. I’d think a much bigger reason for this year’s decline is the large increase in goals allowed than needing a lot more goals, which should be alleviated by an expected addition or one or two NHL shooters at wing this summer. Nuge isn’t a shooter, he’s a passer.

          Talbot’s bad year a part of that, but worse team defense (forwards too) tends to eat at a goalie’s confidence, so team defense or lack thereof is a bigger factor than Talbot.

          Right now we’ve allowed 9 more goals than all of last season with 14 more games to go.

          • Randaman

            You must be a Guy Boucher coaching philosophy fan! Coach all the creativity out of the player and play a trap smothering style of hockey. That’s why Ottawa fails in attendance. BORING!

  • russ99a

    Early results, small sample size, but RNH-McDavid got caved in HDSC. So if we’re throwing Nuge’s defensive acumen away to chase offense, aren’t we diminishing his value to the team? Then that $6M for the next 3 years comes into question. If Strome can hold down 3C for under $3M, we can find a winger with a shot who’s better on the wall for a lot less than $6M…

  • Gerald R. Ford

    It is, absolutely, the most logical and beneficial use of RNH to play on the wing in the top six. It’s a complete (and frustrating) waste of his talent, speed, and positional thinking to play him at 3C. Strome would be ideal for that role. Of course, efficient asset management ≠ The Edmonton Oilers, so…

  • Oiler Al

    Nuge….. 1 assist and an empty netter.Nugey didnt exactly blow the lights out Mcdees line, but it was only one game[about time McT].. give it another few games,to see if there is a fit Better a $6 mil winger, than $8.5mil/

  • ed from edmonton

    Gregor’s article is consistent with outlook that 3 scoring lines are either not needed or not possible in today’s NHL. Followers of the Penguins may argue with this. However I don’t think that a $6M 3rd line player is desireable, so having RNH playing a top 6 role and Strome holding his own on the 3rd line has merit. Couple this with LD’s best periods of play recently (along with last years playoffs) have been as a center.

    • Jason Gregor

      Oilers have more 5×5 goals than Penguins this year. Last year Kessel played 70% of his EV time with Malkin. Penguins don’t regularly run three scoring lines. And they have one major difference…Kessel is an elite scorer on his own. No other team has three players who are top-15 scorers in the league over the past 8 years. Mentioning Penguins is very inaccurate. Yes, they ran three lines in 2016 playoffs and won, but that was 20 games. Last year Kessel was on 2nd line, which proves three lines won’t last. But reason it doesn’t work is no teams have three legit scorers, including the Oilers. RNH isn’t close to Kessel as an elite scorer.

  • 40 Year Re-build

    God Chia, please don’t trade Nuge. You are going to need a guy who knows how to play center when Leon or Connor get hurt. I wouldn’t be shopping a top 2 centermen unless I had 4 of them.

  • Summercrush

    Good thing Strome never became McD RW. Can you imagine paying him $8.5mil/yr.
    Now Chia can sign Strome for $3mil/yr.
    McD could’ve easily taken more money. Look at the money Chia wasted buying out Korpikowski, and signing Yohann and Gryba.

    • crabman

      Auvitu and Gryba only count against the cap when they are in the NHL. Their contracts may be 1way deals, which means they get paid regardless if they are in the NHL or AHL, but they are low enough $$ that their cap hit goes with them to the minors and doesn’t effect the big clubs cap when they go down.

  • pkam

    I can understand why TMac keep Nuge centre the second line and put Drisaitl with McDavid. McDavid and Drisaitl can’t defend as good as Nuge. TMac is not confident that Drisaitl can defend against the opponent’s top line.

    But soon or later, TMac has to find the answer to these two questions: will McDavid + Nuge be as effective offensively as McDavid + Drisaitl? Will Drisaitl be able to defend as good as Nuge? No better time to find the answers for these two questions in the remaining games of this wasted season.

    • crabman

      I don’t agree that Nuge is better defensively than either McDavid or Draisaitl. And nothing over the past 3 seasons has shown me that McLellan has line matched much let alone line matched Nuge against the other teams top players. McLellan’s reluctance to separate McDavid and Draisaitl has more to do with the fact last year they were the highest scoring duo in the NHL. He knows he has a very dominant line when they play together. I don’t expect Nuge to have the same success as Draisaitl playing with McDavid but the c combined scoring of the top 2 lines could be better with the new line combinations, giving the Oilers 2 consistent scoring lines.

      • pkam

        You are entitled to what you think. But obviously TMac doesn’t agree with you by the way Nuge is used.

        When we let the California teams scored two goals in the last 2 minutes to tie the games, I missed Nuge and I believe the coaches did too.

        • crabman

          Nuge has the worse cf%, ff%, +/-, cf rel, ff rel, gf%, of the 3 centers over the past 2 years. Plays the least even strength minutes and has just over half the takeaways. He doesn’t lead either of Draisaitl or McDavid in any statistic that would suggest he is better defensively. He does have a slightly higher Dzone start but still starts more of his even strength faceoffs in the offensive zone. He is far from being used as a defensive specialist or shut down center.

  • Soccer Steve

    Eberle: 68 gp, 24-24-48 points, $6 million, non-playoff team
    Strome: 68 gp, 12-19-31 points, $2.5 million, non-playoff team

    Injuries, points, money, playoffs: the only stats that actually matter.

    We won that trade.

    • hammer313

      There has been a lot of talk on how Edmonton got burned on this trade. I don’t know if anyone knows that the line of Eberle and Barzal is one of the worst in the NHL defensively. That was one of the reasons Eberle was drummed out of this town, he was useless in the defensive zone. I agree, we won the trade and I think Strome has more upside!

      • Jason Gregor

        @hammer313. Your comment is completely false Worst in the defensive zone? Eberle has been on ice for 53 GF and 43 against at 5×5. Barzal and Eberle when they are together have been on for 41 goals for and allowed 28. When on the ice together they have CF of 53.7%. Their Fenwick For is the same 53%. They are not getting killed defensively, far from it in fact.

    • A-Mc

      There’s also the angle that we moved a winger for a center, and centers are more valuable. If PC rationalizes this trade in a similar manner that you have, hopefully he does not apply this same logic to Nuge because we’ll be on the losing end of the positional transaction (Moving a C for a W).

      • Soccer Steve

        Looking at it player vs. player, yes I absolutely believe we did. Is losing Eberle the reason we dropped all those places? No, it isn’t, because if it was true he would’ve pushed the NYI into the playoffs. Nearly the whole Oilers team regressed. And pulling this thread: if we had kept Eberle and all else was equal, he would have suffered greatly in a team-wide regression and his value would have been less than Strome. At a point when we would have HAD to trade him (McD & Drai’s contracts kick in).

        We offloaded a weak-willed individual (just look at his playoff performance, when the game is amped up 5 levels, for proof on that) for a cheaper, less offensive, Centre.

        Now that we have hindsight, yes, that’s a win.

        • SylarHRG

          Although I have always felt we AT LEAST deserved a draft pick along with Strome, your two posts have made me feel better about the trade then I ever have. Sometimes it’s hard to find arguments FOR when there are so many arguments AGAINST floating around.

      • ed from edmonton

        Now you are being silly, the Oil demise is not that simple. The trade was really Ebs for Strome plus cap space. Had PC used the cap space this would have been much better for the Oil. A good chance that Strome plus some 3M player would have helped the OIl more than Ebs. Unused cap space might be PC’s worst move (or non move) this year.

        • Soccer Steve

          Another tough guy with a big mouth behind a keyboard.

          But how am I being silly? I merely compared the player against the player in the trade. All else beyond that has nothing to do with it. Chiarelli was being silly, not me.

          And the unused cap space argument is silly. You don’t know all the angles. For all we fans know, Katz told Pete: “we have a cup contender (says all MSM). No more money out.” The chance of this is high, in my opinion.

  • A-Mc

    If Nuge gets moved out for a low cost winger (Eberle for Strome type deal), i’ll be really upset with Oiler Management. Diluting team skill for the sake of Cap management, while overpaying others is not a winning recipe.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You my friend are 100% right. However Katz, I’m sure likes the diluted team as it gives him a draw, while spending less.
      I want to see Katz own a team that has won something? He seems to be quite passionate & I think the winning passion will be so that he won’t want that feeling to leave? I hope I am right. But, from what I see this will be an amazing moment for the team looking forward after a cup. He is going to enjoy that feeling he’s never experienced as the owner of the Oilers. That’s my theory. He is satisfied now with mediocrity & money, & “Six-Rings” & the Boys. I hope that changes? I believe it will & he’ll see the light.

  • Natejax97

    Why not nuge at center between JP and mcdavid. And for that matter run mcdavid and JP on their off wings because mcdavid usually plows up the right wing and JP on the left opens up his one timer…i think Nuge at center is a great idea but why not 1C instead of 3C.

    • crabman

      Because you don’t make the best player in the league play a position that isn’t his natural position. Plus a playmaker center is usually the guy carrying the puck up ice and distributing the puck. Playing center plays into McDavid’s strength.

  • The Immortal

    Problem is Strome isn’t a very good 3C either. He’s small, slow, and plays like he’s scared. I can’t even remember the last time I saw him take a hit to make a play, or hit someone for that matter. And since he’s an rfa we’ll have to qualify him at the mandated raise % of the cba, which escapes me at this moment.

    Considering we never used the supposed cap savings by getting rid of 14, the acquisition of Strome, a legitimate 1st round bust, was extremely stupid.

  • Mr.Snrub

    The Islanders seem to be on the verge of losing John Tavares so i’m expecting GM Garth to call Chia sometime in early July and Pistol Pete will send Nuge packing to Long Island for Casey Cizikas and a 4th rounder coming back to E-Town.

  • Gravis82

    I have been saying this for a long time. Best way to fix this team is to put all of your best players as high up the lineup as possible and play them as much as possible. Note, that on a completed team this will not be balanced, but this team is not complete, it needs many additions. Playing Nuge Drai and McDavid on the top line fills in the most expensive forward positions with top line players under contract. This just makes filling out the roster easier and less expensive. Elevate Strome to 2C and Kharia to 3C. 4th line will take care of itself. Put Lucic and Aberg/someone else on the 3rd. Put puljujarvi and a REALLY good LW on the 2nd. There, forwards fixed by adding one significant player.

    • pkam

      The problem with this approach is once your opponent shutdown your top line, you have nothing else to go for. Remember the Spezza, Alfredsson, and Heatley line of the Senators? They were almost unstoppable until they met the Ducks in the cup final. The Ducks managed to shutdown that line and it was the most lopsided cup final in the last 10 years.

        • pkam

          With 27M tie up in the top line, 6M in the 3rd, and 18M in top 4 D (provided we don’t upgrade with a true 1st line D), 4M for Talbot. Assume we resign Nurse at 4M, that is 59M for 4 forward, 1 goalie and 5D. Excluding the 3 second liners, we still need 10 more players – 7 forwards, 2 defense and a backup goalie. If we assume average 1M per player, it will be able 10M. If the cap next year is 78M, it will leave 9M for your 2nd line. Do you think that is enough for a quality 2nd line? And Ryan Strome is not a quality 2C. But he will command 3M+ in his new contract. Puljujarvi may or may not be a quality winger this year. And if he becomes a quality winger by the end of next season, he will command 3M+ for his next RFA contract. I just don’t see how you can build a quality 2nd line with 9M-.

          • Gravis82

            with my suggestion we need to sign one 30 goal LW, thats it. Pretty sure kane can be had for reasonable price. The rest can be players on the cheap who are much better than their salary. This is how team win cups. They have GM that make it happen.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Totally agree, Jason. If what we’re seeing from Strome is what we’ll likely see from Strome for the next 2 or 3 years, then I’d say the Oilers have found a No. 3 centre. And, the thing is, if the Oilers go out and shop for a forward this summer, they’re not likely to find anyone as good as RNH. So why not put him on McD’s wing to start the year and, if necessary, platoon him on Drai’s port side if that doesn’t work?

    Heck, even if they do buy a sniper this summer for McD, RNH is still valuable enough to move back and forth on the top-two lines. He’s smart enough to adapt to the wing. Put it this way: I bet he makes a better winger than Hall did as a centre.

    What it really comes down to is this – if the Oilers aren’t willing to play RNH on their first two lines, then they should probably trade him because you can’t/shouldn’t have a guy making six-million-per outside your top-six forwards. But I think they’ll make room for him.

  • btrain

    Having a 3rd line center that can do what Strome has been able to do lately and allowing RNH to play wing….YES Please! banking on Strome to be THE guy and keep the same pace for an entire season based on a few weeks of solid play….sounds like a common mistake this organization is prone to making.

    I hope Strome can maintain his recent success but the message from the organization should remain “prove it”, regardless of how he finishes this season. For example, don’t make it hard to play a $675,000 Khaira ahead of Strome, if need be, by penciling Strome into a particular role and signing him to anything but the same 2.5mill or less at a low term.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      With the Coaching staff here now, I believe you have something to be concerned about. However, with Strome still a developing player on the upswing, (I believe) and a new coaching staff that’ll be committed to developing players & using them to their strengths I don’t think we have a worry in the world about Strome, Khaira, Slepy, Pully or any of the other players here on the perimeter. I think that alot of Fans would agree with me. The Coach & his Staff, have to go.
      By Gord, It took them this long to combine the obvious. Also, training camp ended in September, Not March?

      • btrain

        This is all good hypothetical thinking you have, but at the end of the day its hypothetical. There is no guarantee, rightly or wrongly, that a new coaching staff is coming as there is no guarantee that a new coaching staff will finally pull the right strings. Its not just a coaching thing in Edmonton, its an organizational thing, a media thing, and its a fan thing to get way too high when players have stretches of good play and way too low when they struggle and then make decisions based on these short term observations. By all accounts, including this season, Strome’s 50 point year remains an outlier and the rest of his time, the majority of the time, he has performed relatively the same. So from a logical perspective, you should look at Strome’s entire body of work and if you do, its predictable to expect a bottom 6 utility player who can put up between 30 and 40 points a year. At the right price, this is a great player to have on your team but I think 2.5mill is fair if not even a little bit of an overpay.

        Also, Training camp started the moment this team got themselves out of playoff contention.

  • TKB2677

    Gregor, your article is way, way too logical.

    I have been advocating for Nuge on the wing all year. This unicorn of 3 scoring lines is completely ridiculous. Offensively, Leon is your second best center and you are paying him 8.5 mill to play center. Nuge is your 3rd best center, so why water down your lines. At 6 mill, you can’t have Nuge on the 3rd line. He needs to be in the top 6 so he gets enough mins. Plus the Oilers need a top 6 winger. Why spend assets getting a winger when you have one on your roster.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Yes, and you don’t have to give up Nuge to get an experienced capable winger.
      That’d be just assinine. But typical, under-evaluation,… again…

  • crabman

    Strome has looked his best this season as the fulltime 3C since Nuge went down. I think he and Puljujarvi look like they are starting to developes chemistry and I like Puljujarvi on the 3rd line facing some easier competition. Puljujarvi needs to let Strome do the heavy lifting, carrying the puck, and start getting himself in shooting position more often.
    If Nuge and McDavid can build some chemistry I’d like to see the combos of;
    Nuge-McDavid
    Lucic-Draisaitl
    Puljujarvi-Strome
    next year and fill in the rest as needed. Khaira has played well at 4C but in the off season I’d like to see the Oilers bring in a bottom 6 guy who could play wing or play 4C and help on the pk giving McLellan the option of moving Khaira up to play 3W at times and also adding another player who could fill in at center as needed.

  • TKB2677

    As this season has played out, I am of the opinion that the coach and GM aren’t on the same page.

    At the beginning of the year, Chia signs Leon and says he paid a little more because Leon is a center so you pay up for centers. I understand his logic to a degree. So McLellan goes out and plays Leon mostly at wing. You need winger depth in your top 6, so McLellan goes 3 centers deep. So instead of 2 really good lines, you have 3 mediocre lines.

    So I don’t know if the GM put his foot down and made McLellan play Nuge at wing but it’s about time. Before you go out and blow your wad on bringing in a top 6 winger. Why not use what you have and see if it works in Nuge. 3rd liners are a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to acquire than top 6 guys.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Our season is lost, because the powers that be have treated it as an evaluation season. Instead of tweaking the little things to improve on the 2nd round result of the play-offs last year. They decided to evaluate for a season & we still have training camp in March. If that isn’t an inability to Coach & Lead a team, then I don’t know what is?
      Inexcusable & this Head Office should be ashamed of themselves. Totally incompetent & unable to make intelligent decisions. Next Year better be great, as they have had a whole season training camp.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      There is absolutely no reason that Pully & Laine can’t be closer together in their production.
      They were scouted similarly, with a similar skill-set. Pully just needs a little more developing. But show him some confidence & regular linemates & “Bob’s UR Uncle.” This team lacks confidence in it’s up & coming players. They seem to develop slowly & throw them to the wolves too early. Further bringing down their confidence. It’s weird, but has happened for years… What’s -up?

  • braddos

    Great article!! Good take on the reality of where the team is now and how to maximize assts! Makes for a more exciting build up for next season than the unfortunate lapse this season has been. Always enjoy your articles.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Mick David and his world class speed blowing by d-men on the wing, with Nuge and his great puck handling skill and hockey smarts down the middle . WOW, scary scary good.

  • Total Points

    A players performance once his team is eliminated from the playoffs has NOTHING to do with their performance next year. What we saw from Strome in the first 1/3 of the season while the OiIers were still kind of in the race it is what you will see from him next year.

    It has been like that for all players forever

    • camdog

      On the Island Strome was known to be a third line centre player. He didn’t work with Tavares, much like he didn’t work with McDavid on the wing. The Oilers GM and coach admitted that they didn’t pay attention to Strome’s scouting report/success/failures over his entire career and they didn’t really understand his role on the team. It wasn’t until RNH got hurt that the organisation realized where Strome could fit on the roster and how to properly use him. It is well known that it takes time for a player to adapt to a new team, however said it shouldn’t take the GM/coach until Christmas to realize where a player fits on the team.