We are smack dab in the middle of the pre-season, so what better time to spit out a few new hot takes? We’ll start with some Oilers takes and then expand around the rest of the league in an attempt to fire up as many people as possible.
STROME HAS BETTER WINGERS THAN DRAISAITL
Seriously, who could possibly disagree with this? I know the Oilers are happy to have Puljujarvi playing alongside Ryan Strome and I’m fine with that to start the season. I just wonder how many games it will take before Leon Draisaitl starts looking to his left and right and realizes that Puljujarvi and Khaira are a more desirable pair to play with than Lucic and Rieder. We know Todd McLellan likes to work in pairs, so whom is Draisaitl tied to? Lucic? Rieder? I’m not to sure either one of them fits that bill. I’d bet Draisaitl is between JP and Jujhar by the New Year, if not sooner.
BOUCHARD WILL BE TOP 4 BY CHRISTMAS
A couple of things factor into this. Let’s start with this tweet from the legend, Bob Stauffer, earlier this week.
This from an NHL scout today:
“Bouchard is going to make the Oilers out of the gate. He is their best puck-mover. Smart and poised when he has it.
They are going to have to work with him on defending, but he flat out makes plays..”
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 22, 2018
They certainly will have to work with him on the defensive side of the game but there is no denying how well he moves the puck. He has excellent offensive instincts which will likely lead to PP2 minutes early in the season. The Oilers can shelter him for a month or two with Kris Russell on the third pair but by December he will be riding shotgun with Nurse. Book it!
OILERS TOP LINE COMBINES FOR 110 GOALS
Why not just say 100 goals, right? That would be too easy because I’ve got McDavid down for 50 bingos this year. Nugent-Hopkins, who I do believe will be a lock on McDavid’s wing for the majority of the season, should be able to find the back of the net 35 times. Nuge was basically on a 30 goal pace last season and wasn’t with McDavid for about 85% of the year. So if McDavid and Nuge are going to combine for 85 goals all you need is another 25 from whoever ends up playing on the right side. If Ty Rattie sticks it’s not unreasonable to think he scores 25.
OILERS SHOULD HIRE GREGOR FOR IN-GAME PRESENTATION
You’ll never get an honest effort from someone unless they are passionately committed to their craft, and nobody cares more about the in-game presentation than Gregor. He’s discussed it a number of times here on the Nation and on his show on TSN 1260. I say it’s time the Oilers bite the bullet and just turn things over to him.
BUYING AT THE DEADLINE
Yup, the Oilers will be buyers at the deadline this year. They probably won’t fall into the contenders category but they will make a serious push for a playoff spot and Chiarelli can’t afford to sit on his hands and miss the post-season. My suggested deadline day target, Thomas Vanek, because it’s always Thomas Vanek.
OTTAWA WON’T FINISH LAST
The Senators are a sexy pick to finish dead last in the NHL this season. I’d love to see it happen simply because they don’t have their first round pick and that would be the ultimate backfire but I’m not sure it does. Craig Anderson has had some great stretches during his career and he’s basically playing to prove to the rest of the league that he would be worth trading for. I’ll say the Wings end up at the bottom of the pile.
TAYLOR HALL’S DEVILS MISS THE PLAYOFFS
The Devils just squeaked into the playoffs last season and they needed a superhuman effort from Taylor Hall to do so. I don’t see Hall being able to duplicate the season he had last year. I’m not saying he will completely fall off the map, I’d still expect an 80-point season from the reigning Hart Trophy winner, but that alone won’t be good enough to get the Devils into the playoffs again.
ELIAS PETTERSSON WILL JOIN ELITE COMPANY
Elias Pettersson will finish with at least 65 points in his rookie season with the Canucks. Over the past ten seasons, only four rookies have hit the 65-point plateau. Barzal and Keller did it last season, Matthews hit the mark in 16-17 and Artemi Panarin accomplished the feat in 15-16 at the age of 43. McDavid was at 1.07 PPG in his rookie year, the best in the past decade and fourth best in the last 20 years.
ERIK KARLSSON HITS 90 POINTS
This may be a little lofty, even for the best offensive defenseman in the league. Karlsson’s career high is 82-points but he has never been surrounded by the talent he has in San Jose. You have to go back to Ray Bourque in 93-94 to find the last 90-point campaign from a blueliner. If it’s ever going to happen again it will be with Erik Karlsson this season. Karlsson finished fifth in league scoring three years ago — a 90-point season last year would have placed him 10th. It’s possible.
ALEXANDER BARKOV > AUSTON MATTHEWS
It’s been a pleasure working at TSN but odds are I’m done after the statement above. Matthews is a better goal scorer, Barkov is better in every other aspect of the game. If you are starting a franchise today, whom are you taking? I’m going Barkov.
Those are my takes, what say you?