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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Draisaitl’s Wingman

If Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are a destined to start together next year who or what does that leave for Leon Draisaitl?

Let’s take Ty Rattie off the list of options as I assume, even though I don’t agree with it, he will get the first crack with McNuge.

Here is the major issue with a Draisaitl line, you aren’t just looking for one winger, you’re looking for two. Let’s start by taking a look at who’s still around from last season.

THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR

Leon Draisaitl’s most common linemates last season were Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon. If we’re assuming that McDavid is with Nuge than both of last years best buddies are off the list of options for Draisaitl in 18-19.

The next five most common line-mates for Draisaitl last season were as follows:

Milan Lucic 278 minutes
Ryan Strome 193 minutes
Drake Caggiula 183 minutes
Mike Cammalleri 173 minutes
Jujhar Khaira 168 minutes

The major issue I have here, which won’t surprise you, is the lack of ice-time with Puljujarvi last year. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Draisaitl and Puljujarvi could use their size to be a dominant duo and I’m disappointed they haven’t had more opportunity to develop chemistry.

If you look at those names you have the following options.

A slow winger coming off an awful season.

A winger who now plays centre but not overly well.

A 24-year old who has done very little with ample opportunity

A UFA who very likely won’t be around

A promising player who’s become valuable as a centre elsewhere in the lineup.

That doesn’t look very enticing, does it?

WORKING IN DUOS

Mar 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan on his bench against the Calgary Flamesduring the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Todd McLellan has made it quite obvious that he likes to work in duos. If that’s the case then this task has just been made easier for us because even though we’d like to find two wingers for Draisaitl we really only need to find one.

When you look at the explanation of the options I laid out above I think the first choice is obvious.

Jesse Puljujarvi

I’m pretty sure that McLellan has JP pencilled in on the third line with Ryan Strome and while that may make sense to some of you I’m not seeing many other in-house options to start with Leon. Draisaitl is a terrific passer and could likely make the most of Puljujarvi ‘s shoot first mentality.

Milan Lucic

I understand that this option will drive the majority of you nuts but I’m here to tell you it’s definitely something that will have to be considered. Is there any way Lucic has a repeat of last season or dare I say it even worse? I doubt it. If Lucic has a strong start to the regular season this could continue to be something they run with.

Drake Caggiula

In a perfect world, Drake Caggiula is now where near your top six, unfortunately for the Oilers their world is no-where near perfect.  Could this be the year that Caggiula hits 20 goals if he actually lands on the second line alongside Draisaitl? I doubt it but one can dream.

Anton Slepyshev

Sorry…too soon?

Jujhar Khaira

Khaira is only an option if the team decides to leave Strome in the middle and adds another player who can centre the fourth line. In the very small glimpses, we’ve had of Khaira and Draisaitl last year I didn’t hate what I saw. In the same mold of a Puljujarvi-Draisaitl duo, this pair could dominate physically.

Ryan Strome

I’m stubborn, I’d still like to see Strome as a right-winger in the top six. I know I’m delusional, McLellan won’t go that way again but it should still be an option here.

Pontus Aberg

From a production perspective, Aberg had his best stretch of the season on Draisaitl’s wing. As soon as he struggled he was moved off the second line and never got another look. I’m not sure what the Oilers plan is for Aberg but if a small amount of success is good enough to keep Rattie on the top line why not Aberg on the second.

Kailer Yamamoto

The Oilers love the way Yamamoto thinks the game, that’s why he started this season in Edmonton and that’s why he will get a very, very, very long look again next season. The pint-sized junior scoring sensation could very well be a long term fit on Draisaitl’s line but if he’s the answer in a season you are looking to make the playoffs I feel you will be left asking even more questions.

Thomas Vanek

A year too late, am I right? The Oilers could have fit Vanek on the payroll this season but opted to keep their powder dry (shout out to Lowetide). I still believe Vanek could make a positive impact as a 2nd line and 2nd PP guy for the Oilers next year.

Brandon Pirri

He’s 27-years old, would come super cheap and has actually scored 60 goals in 228 games in his NHL career. If you do the math on that he has scored at a 21 goal pace in the NHL. Better than Ty Rattie, much better than Ty Rattie. I’d give him a shot, if he doesn’t pan out it’s on to the next one.

THE WRAP…

Poor Leon Draisaitl.

Which two wingers would you like to see on Draisaitl’s line next season? Please comment so I can argue with you.

Recently by Dustin Nielson

  • ROILYDoGG$

    1) I personally don’t care if if yamamoto is ready and shoots 3 hat tricks in preseason games, they need to play him down in the ahl until he puts a few lbs on minimum and gets very comfortable and consistent for a whole year .. maybe if we make playoffs I bring him up for extra offense .
    2) keep giving Puljujarvi 3rd line sheltered minutes but add him on the 2nd p.p. . Know way is he a bust, he never played on the smaller rink, could speak English or have family and or relatives here . People need to chill out and not expect every 20 year old to grow at the same rate. Also if yak was developed properly(by the oilers) I believe he wouldn’t have been a bust . He would have not been an elite player like mcd but it was a much weaker draft than most years, however I think he would have been a constant 20 goal scorer . I would rather keep pj and risk him turning into a good player then to dump him and watch him score 30+goals elsewhere
    3) draft the number 10 and take the best RH dman possible which is hopefully Noah Dobson

    • Moneyball

      Roily;
      Risk management, asset management and timing are as much a part of winning hockey games as drafting and what happens on the ice. The oilers have a window to win the cup which closes each year on Draisaitl sand Mcdavid contract. There are holes in the roster such as having a rw that can score on the second line, a defence with more depth to withstand injuries. The oilers basically have two prime assets they can deal puljujarvi and the 10th pick.everythig else is basically a replace:ent level player or something the oil desperately need right now. Pj might progress into a 30goal scorer or he might be yakupov 2.0. From watching him play and looking at his all record I can’t see him being much more than a borderline 2nd liner. Bearing this in mind why not deal puljujarvi now and get some pieces you need on your team rather than risk getting nothing if he has another bust of a season. Let a team that is in full rebuild or has lots of depth take the development risk? Just seems like prudent management and then the oil can get a rd or a rw for the second line.

      • Big Nuggets

        the window is 8 years with McDavid, 7 years with Draisaitl, if we sign Nurse ling term another 8 years with him. We can move Puljujarvi and a high draft pick for a roster player with most likely less years of control and a higher salary to fill one of the teams needs. It just doesn’t seem worth it. Also Puljujarvi and the pick don’t necesarily get us a huge return. Even if Carolina would give us Faulk for that we would still need to find a way to move out salary and many on here question Faulks ability to defend. Then we need to ask if a player like Faulk is all that is needed to not only put us back into contention, but also makes the team strong enough to justify mortgaging the future.

        The picks from these years could be essential for the team just as McDavid and Drai are hitting their prime years. Trying to rush a move because of impatience is just bad management, be it asset management, risk mangement or what ever other management word you want to use. Keep the pick, unless a really juicy trade option is available.

  • Burns14

    I would like to see Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi as the second line. A thundering line that has some major offensive potential. This will only work if Lucic erases his horrid year last year, and can regain his former self and gain some speed in the offseason.