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Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 73.0: Searching for a RW (5pm MST, SNW)

Who will be the Edmonton Oilers’ top-three right wingers next season? The current options are Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Pontus Aberg, Ty Rattie and Kailer Yamamoto. They have a combined 30 NHL goals in 284 NHL games played. Slepyshev has played 93 games with nine goals, Puljujarvi has 12 goals in 83 games, Aberg has three goals in 60 games, Rattie has six in 39 games and Yamamoto has no goals in nine games.

Rattie has been the most productive as far as goals per game, but tonight is only his 40th NHL game. Maybe he is a late bloomer at 25 years of age, similar to Yanni Gourde who has 24 goals as a 26-year-old in Tampa after only playing 22 NHL games prior to this season. Gourde is an outlier and if Rattie emerges he’d be in the same boat.

Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are both only 19 years young, and are the team’s best prospects, but can the Oilers enter next season with three of these five wingers on the right side?

It would be a major risk, without question, and I suspect Peter Chiarelli will try to sign an unrestricted veteran right winger, on a cap-friendly contract with a track record of producing.

Could they sign Rick Nash to an Eric Staal-like contract for three years? If you could get Nash for three years at $3.5 million per year, would you do it? Would he?

James Van Riemsdyk has scored a career-high 31 goals in Toronto. He will be 29 in May and makes $5 million this year. I suspect he will be looking for a long-term deal and try to cash in, so he’s likely out of the Oilers price range.

Michael Grabner can fly and he has 27 goals this year after scoring 27 last season. He only makes $.1625 million this season. He doesn’t produce many assists, with only 13 last year and seven this season, but he can kill penalties and produce at 5×5. On a two-year deal, I’d strongly consider him.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli can’t go into next season with no right wingers with more than 103 games of NHL experience. Slepyshev, Puljujarvi, Aberg and Rattie will use the final ten games this season to make a good impression, but there should only be two spots available on the right wing next season. Chiarelli must find a proven veteran right winger to play with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.

LINEUP…

Oilers

RNH-McDavid-Rattie
Caggiula-Draisaitl-Aberg
Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi
Slepyshev-Khaira-Pakarinen

Nurse-Larsson
Russell-Bear
Auvitu-Benning

Talbot

I think it is clear Anton Slepyshev isn’t someone Todd McLellan trusts. Actions speak louder than words and Slepyshev has dropped out of the top nine fairly easily. The challenge for Slepyshev is that he doesn’t make many plays. He skates up and down his wing, uses his shot fairly frequently, but doesn’t make a lot of plays. If you look at his shots/EV TOI he gets the puck on net quite frequently.

Player           5×5 min          Shots            Goals      S/60       SH%
McDavid         1162              181               24          9.37      13.26
Draisaitl           975               113               11          6.95        9.73
Lucic                974               107                7           6.59        6.54
Strome            852                94                 7           6.61        7.45
RNH                714                83                 8           6.97        9.64
Puljujarvi         682               110                9           9.68        8.18
Kassian           668                 77                7            6.91       9.09
Caggiula         644                73                 7           6.80        9.59
Khaira             618                59                 9           5.72       15.25
Cammalleri     575                69                 2           7.02         2.9
Slepyshev      469               59                 5           7.55       8.47
Pakarinen       293                34                 2            6.96       5.88
Aberg             107                14                 0           7.86         0
Rattie              48                 11                 1           13.75       9.09

It is a small sample size for Aberg, but Slepyshev shoots as often as he does, but scores much more. I have yet to see any signs from Aberg that he can be a finisher in the NHL. Again, it is only eight games in Edmonton, but in 60 NHL games, he has three goals. I see nothing that says he is a better finisher than Slepyshev, but the coaches must see something in Aberg they like better. He moves the puck quicker, so maybe it is that, but it interesting to note Slepyshev’s ability to get shots on goal.

You will notice Puljujarvi gets a lot of shots on net as well, but we’ve seen him take many long shots from the boards with no one in front. I’m not a huge fan of those shots. I’d like to see him take a few extra strides, get closer to the net and then shoot. A wrist shot with no screen, and no one driving the net, is often a wasted shot in today’s NHL.

And it is only a few games, but Rattie has shown an ability to get the puck on net. He has played 23 minutes with McDavid/RNH and 21 with Draisaitl/Cammalleri. His sample size is extremely small, but when’s he been on the ice he gets the puck on net. I’d honestly try him ahead of anyone else on the PP right now. They need another right-handed shooter and I’d try him.

Hurricanes

Aho-Staal-Teravainen
McGinn-Lindholm-Williams
Skinner-Ryan-Stempniak
Zykov-Rask-Di Giuseppe

Slavin-Pesce
Dahlbeck-Faulk
Fleury-Van Riemsdyk

Darling

Scott Darling’s first season in Carolina has not gone well. He has a league-worst .889sv% among starting goalies. He lost his starting job and essentially split duties with Cam Ward. In 35 starts, Darling has a .889sv% and a 3.08GAA. He has only won 12 of his 35 starts.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Cardiac Canes:

-The Hurricanes trail in the all-time series, posting a 25-36-14 record against the Oilers. However, they’ve been above .500 at home, going 16-13-7 against Edmonton since the teams joined the NHL in 1979.

-The Canes are looking to sweep the Oilers in a season series (that includes more than one game) for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

-Carolina won 5-3 in Edmonton on October 17 behind 48 saves from Cam Ward, the second-most saves he has made in a game in his career.

-Jeff Skinner (11 points in 11 games) and Jordan Staal (14 in 13) have each averaged a point per game against the Oilers in their careers. Staal tallied a goal and three assists in October’s win.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers defeat the Hurricanes 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid enters the game with only two career points versus the Canes, but he doubles that with a 1-1-2 evening.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Rattie scores in his third consecutive game. He entered the game with six career goals and two two-game goal scoring streaks. He makes it three tonight.

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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 3/20/2018 – 11:30 am MST