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

This is it, the final piece in my Line Combination Extravaganza. Now I know what Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale felt like as they put the finishing touches on Back to the Future III. I actually really liked the third installment of Back To The Future, not as much as I enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but it was solid.

I’m looking forward to giving you five more line combinations, even if commenter Ted wants nothing to do with it. Here’s what Ted had to say in the comments section of Part Three.

“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”

Careful, that take’s hot!! (BTW August Hot Takes coming next week!)

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Unfortunately for Ted, I don’t plan on taking a break and I will never get a life! In fact, I’m writing this series finale while watching the Eskimos game. Head Coach Jason Maas, while leading 10-7 midway through the second quarter, just went nuts tossing a Gatorade jug to the ground. I wonder where the Eskimos discipline issues come from.

In Part Four I’m going to focus a little bit on the true x-factor heading into training camp this year, Kailer Yamamoto. So far I’ve looked at 15 possible line combo’s and Yamamoto has only factored into two of them. I had him in one scenario where he makes the team and Rattie doesn’t and a second line up which has Rattie on the top line and Yamo on the second. We could see a couple of different looks.

SCENARIO ONE: In Which Yamamoto Outshines Rattie in Camp

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

Caggiula, Aberg

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I do believe that Yamamoto it the biggest threat to Rattie’s spot on the top line. The Oilers are weak enough on the wings to see a scenario where both players make it out of camp and Yamamoto sticks with McDavid.

During Yamamoto’s early season stay last year he was almost exclusively slotted in alongside #97. The rookie played 67:07 at 5 on 5 with the captain last year. He did get over 34 minutes with Nugent-Hopkins as well so maybe the coaching staff would like to see him play with both Nuge and McDavid this season.

Sexiness: 7/10

Likeliness: 3/10

SCENARIO TWO: In Which Yamamoto Makes The Team And They Run Three Centers

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

Aberg, Caggiula

I’d rather not see Jesse Puljujarvi on his off-wing but that’s the way it would likely line up in this situation. I like the look of running the big three down the middle more with Yamamoto in the line up than without him.

If Puljujarvi isn’t playing well camp I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Todd McLellan slide Drake Caggiula in on the third line and healthy scratch JP.

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Sexiness: 7/10

Likeliness: 2/10

SCENARIO THREE: In Which Lucic Gets A Look On The Top Line

Lucic– McDavid – Nugent-Hopkins
Rieder– Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Caggiula – Strome – Aberg
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian


If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can play left wing I have no doubt he can play the right side as well.

If the coaching staff is looking to give Milan Lucic a boost of confidence in training camp is there a better way to do it than by putting him with McDavid and Nuge? This would also open things up for a line that I’d really like to see with Draisaitl between Rieder and Puljujarvi.

I could see Rattie being on a third line if Nugent-Hopkins is the center but I don’t see him as a fit with Strome. 

Sexiness: 5/10

Likeliness: 4/10

SCENARIO FOUR: In Which McDavid Takes The Kids Under His Wings

Puljujarvi – McDavid – Yamamoto
Lucic – Nuge – Draisaitl
Khaira– Strome – Aberg
Caggiula – Brodziak – Kassian

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This is a long shot, a really, really long shot but it’s also the 19th combination I’ve put together so give me a break. Once again Puljujarvi would be asked to play his off-wing but part of me thinks the coaching staff would rather move Yamamoto over to that side of the ice.

Sexiness: 8/10

Likeliness: 0.5/10

SCENARIO FIVE: In Which Todd McLellan Allows Me To Set His Lines For Opening Night

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


This is what the lines would look like If for some reason Todd McLellan texted me and said “Hey Nielson, I know you play rec league once in a while, would you like to set the line up for the season opener?”

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The thought of a Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi trio makes me horny. Rieder and Aberg could click with Draisaitl and I like the big boys riding shotgun with Strome.

Sexiness: 10/10

Likeliness: 0/10


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

  1. Scenario Five: In Which McLellan Allows Me To Set The Lines
  2. Scenario One: In Which Yamamoto Outshines Rattie In Camp
  3. Scenario Three: In Which Lucic Gets A Look On The Top Line
  4. Scenario Two: In Which Yamo Makes It And They Run Three Centers
  5. Scenario Five: In Which McDavid Takes The Kids Under His Wings

Twenty line combo’s later I can say I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll leave you with one final group.

This is what I actually think the lines will look like for at least opening night.

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Rieder – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Strome – Caggiula
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

Aberg, Rattie

Come at me bro.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:


    20 different line combinations and not one of them with McDavid centering the top line AND playing right wing on the second line. I’m dissapointed. The scary thing is that he could probably pull it off…

  • Lucky1

    One other option I would like to see them try.
    1. Nuge-McDavid-Puljujarvi

    I would like to see what Pulju can do on the first line. I think Yamamoto will be a top 6 player and I think he would add another element with the size of Luc and Drai. Kassian did a good job 2 years ago on the 3rd line, and I think he could produce more with Strome and Reider. 4th line would produce a ton of energy with Khaira and Cagg together.

  • Linus Omarks Spinaronie

    Dusty I like the lines you put on opening night. Exactly what I have it down as. Especially having Rieder on the 2nd line left wing with Pool Party. Dangerous!

  • OriginalPouzar

    I’m not sure that Rattie is an NHL player if not on McDavid’s right wing. I’m not sure that he isn’t either but he has proven to be able to play in the NHL anywhere else quite yet. He’s not the best skater and is kind of a tire fire outside of the offensive zone.

    I don’t think he’ll last long at 1RW and it will be interesting to see if he is able to stay in the league playing down the lineup.

  • NewPants

    Ya, your starting lines look likely but I just have a feeling Yamo won’t be on the first line. I do have a feeling he will make the cut so we can all say he should be in the AHL.

  • Jonrls99

    Personally I’d like to see







    Let me know what you think