20 in 20: A Line Combination Extravaganza (PART 3)

Finally, the Line Combination Extravaganza has come back to Oilersnation! Too much? I don’t think so. 

After finishing the first two parts of this series I started to get worried I would run out of line combinations. Wow, was I wrong!

I sat next to Todd McLellan during lunch at the Mark Spector Golf Classic last week and I thought about running these five line combos by him. Instead, I ended up giving him the stink eye the entire time because he stole the long drive from me. In the end, neither of us won long drive but I still wasn’t a fan. All joking aside it was great of McLellan to fly into town to help raise money for Sport Central. Speaking of golf tournaments, I’m getting pumped for the Nation’s tourney in late August. On my show early next month we’ll be auctioning off a couple of the final spots in the tourney. You’ll be golfing with me so we can talk about line combos all day!

Here are five more combinations, featuring ideas such as loading it up, spreading it out and trying a duo that could become deadly.

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SCENARIO ONE: In Which They Completely Load Up The Top Line

Nuge – McDavid – Draisaitl
Rieder – Strome– Puljujarvi
Lucic – Brodziak – Caggiula
Khaira – Marody – Kassian

As you will see in my official rating below the likeliness of this top line being tried together is next to none. Wouldn’t it be fun to see, though? Even for just one pre-season game.

I don’t have Ty Rattie making the team in this lineup but it would allow room for Cooper Marody to stick out of camp. Having Marody as the 4th line centre would allow Khaira to remain on the wing, where I think he fits best. From what I’ve been told we’ll likely see Marody sooner rather than later.

Would a Nuge-McDavid-Draisaitl trio actually work or would it be a power overload? I can’t decide. What say you?

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Sexiness: 8/10

Likeliness: 0/10

SCENARIO TWO: In Which They Spread The Wealth Down The Middle

Rieder – McDavid – Rattie
Lucic – Draisaitl– Strome
Khaira – Nuge– Puljujarvi
Caggiula– Brodziak – Kassian

My first thought was that there is no way the Oilers have enough depth on the wings to pull this off. My second thought was that there is no way they will do this but I don’t really hate it.

The bottom line is McDavid and Draisaitl should both make whomever they play with a heck of a lot better. A line with Nugent-Hopkins in between Khaira and Puljujarvi is intriguing.

Sexiness: 7/10

Likeliness: 4/10

Dec 16, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) scores in the third period against Minnesota Wild goalie Alex Stalock (32) at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

SCENARIO THREE: In Which Puljujarvi Plays On His Off Wing Again

Nuge – McDavid – Rattie
Puljujarvi– Draisaitl – Rieder
Lucic – Strome – Caggiula
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

I’m still not sure why Todd McLellan was willing to try Puljujarvi on his off-wing at even strength but refused to play him in that same spot on either power-play unit. I really like Puljujarvi but even I wasn’t a fan of seeing him on the left side. Once he was in the offensive zone he was ok but he didn’t look comfortable coming through the neutral zone.

Once again, a player who was lacking confidence was asked to play out of position for part of the season. Puljujarvi’s usage was bizarre last season.

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Sexiness: 6/10

Likeliness: 1/10

SCENARIO FOUR: In Which Nuge Has Draisaitl On His Wing

Rieder – McDavid – Rattie
Lucic – Nuge – Draisaitl
Khaira– Strome – Puljujarvi
Caggiula – Brodziak – Kassian

Yes, I know. I just blew your mind. We know Draisaitl can play with McDavid and we know Nuge can play with McDavid but can the two centres play together?

This combination may please those of you who don’t yet believe that Draisaitl can drive his own line. We know McDavid will drive any line he’s playing on. If Nuge and Draisaitl click the Oilers could have a dominant second line on their hands.

This set up would also allow Strome to centre Khaira and Puljujarvi. If you haven’t caught on yet I’d like to see Khaira and Puljujarvi as a third line option at some point.

Sexiness: 8/10

Likeliness: 3/10

SCENARIO FIVE: In Which Draisaitl Has Nuge On His Wing

Rieder – McDavid – Rattie
Nuge – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Lucic– Strome – Caggiula
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

In this combo the top line would stay the same as Scenario Four, it’s the second and third lines that would look a little bit different. I know we won’t see Puljujarvi playing with Nuge and McDavid anytime soon but what about with Nuge and Draisaitl? I love it and you should love it too.

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I’ll be honest, I’m not super stoked about a Lucic-Strome-Caggiula line but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to see the NDP line come to fruition. Please make all of your NDP line jokes in the comments section.

Sexiness: 9/10

Likeliness: 3/10


As for the five options I’ve laid out today, here’s how I’d rank them.

  1. Scenario Five: In Which Draisaitl Has Nuge On His Wing
  2. Scenario One: In Which They Completely Load Up the Top Line
  3. Scenario Four: In Which Nuge Has Draisaitl On His Wing
  4. Scenario Two: In Which They Spread The Wealth Down The Middle
  5. Scenario Three: In Which Puljujarvi Plays His Off-Wing Again

There was a noticeable lack of Yamamoto in Part Three of the Line Combo Extravaganza but I’ll make up for that in Part Four.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • I’m curious to know about not allowing Puljujarvi or other up and comers playing on the first line but guys like Rattie ONLY get the first line when they’ve not “proved” anything in the NHL. Is that because Rattie and guys like him were top AHL’rs?

  • abbeef

    I’ve wanted to see Nuge and Drai together since the beginning of last season. This would set up 2 dominant lines if they clicked. McDavid will produce with anyone.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Drai and Nuge did play 66 minutes together last year without McDavid. The sample size is really too small to put any stock in but they did have very good possession metrics ( 54.5% CF% and 55.13% FF%) but their goal share was only 50% (4 scored each way) but that seems a function of an awful on ice save percentage of .8261 (given there was only one high danger goal against, seems like there were some weak goals against).

      As an aside, in 6 minutes with McDavid, the trio dominated – no goals but it seems the other team didn’t really tough the puck (from the possession numbers).

  • Ted

    I can’t believe you guys are willing to waste your breath on the likely line combinations. Take a break get a life! The lines will be decided on who wants to play hockey or can play hockey at an NHL level and who can’t! BOOM

  • Mcjesus97

    I think Yamamoto should make the team if he continues to impress and I would like to see him and pool party being in the top 6 on RW. 98 will take this next step and become a force
    Nuge. McDavid. Puljujarvi.
    Lucic. Drai. Yamamoto.
    Khaira. Strome. Rieder.
    Caggiula. Brodziak. Kassian. And Aberg
    Even tho Yamamoto in the future will have enough skill to play with McDavid I think for now he is better off playing with drai just to spread a little toughness and size in the top 6. Pool party needs to play on the top line we didn’t draft him to develop on stromes wing.