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This, That, and the Other

With pucks dropping all around the National Hockey League I have a number of random thoughts on both the Oilers and the rest of the league flying around in my head right now.

OILERS PP ALIGNMENT

I have to start here because I’m afraid this issue may end up driving me crazy for the entire season. In what world does it make sense to have five left handed shots on the top unit power-play but still try to QB things from the right half wall? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills right now. I’ve drawn it up before and I will do it again. If the puck is being distributed from the left side, a line up with five left handed shots could be dangerous.

If you can follow along to the above diagram you should be able see rather easily why this strategy would be much more effective than having the puck on the right boards. I will keep posting awful drawings until they get this power-play figured out.

TRADING FOR A D-MAN?

I’ve had a number of analysts on the Nielson Show over the past couple of days and all of them are picking the Oilers to make the playoffs. TSN’s Frank Seravalli, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski and former NHL netminder Jamie McLennan are all projecting the Oilers to return to the post-season while Ryan Rishaug is saying they will make it but not without making a change.

Rishaug suggests that the team will end up pulling the trigger on a trade for a defenseman before they make a push to the post-season.

I think patience is the proper play for the Oilers but with Peter Chiarelli possibly in “save his job mode” a deal may happen sooner rather than later if the club starts slow.

I know Justin Faulk has been a popular name in the rumour mill but are you significantly improving your blue line by bringing him in at a cap hit of $4.83 million? Faulk could be had for a reasonable price but I don’t know if he’d make a major difference for the Oilers.

YAMAMOTO THE ODD MAN OUT?

Sep 23, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) celebrates his first period goal against Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

I found it interesting that Kailer Yamamoto was in Jujhar Khaira’s spot on the third line against the Cologne Sharks. If Khaira is good to go against the Devils I think it makes sense to have him alongside Strome and Puljujarvi. Tobias Rieder looked solid in the final pre-season tune-up and if he remains with Draisaitl what happens to Yamamoto?

I don’t see Todd McLellan playing Yamamoto on the fourth line. Could we see Kailer on the third line, Khaira on the fourth line and Caggiula in the pressbox?

50g+80a=MC

I was watching the TSN Hockey Pool special and one of the analysts suggested Connor McDavid could hit 130 points this season. I’m expecting McDavid to be in the 120 point range so is it really that crazy to think he could hit 130?

Last season, McDavid picked up 108 points while dealing with a sickness in the first half of the season and a disgusting power play for the entire campaign. If he remains healthy, the power play improves to middle of the pack range and he gets the odd bounce here or there, then 130 points could be attainable.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

Last year, Kyle Connor put together one of the quietest 30 goal rookie seasons in recent memory. Connor finished with 31 goals and will once again be put in a juicy spot offensively. As you can see, thanks to our friends over at Daily Faceoff, the former Michigan star will start on the Jets top line with Wheeler and Scheifele. Also, does the name Scheifele look weird to anyone else?

LW C RW
Kyle Connor
KYLE CONNOR

Rating: 76.3#23 LW

Mark Scheifele
MARK SCHEIFELE

Rating: 82.6#7 C

Blake Wheeler
BLAKE WHEELER

Rating: 81.8#5 RW

Connor will also be on the team’s top power-play unit which, in addition to Wheeler and Scheifele, will feature Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien. I’m expecting the sophomore to bump his point total from 57 to the 70+.   

CALDER SLEEPER

I think a member of the Carolina Hurricanes will take a good run at the Calder Trophy this year and it’s not Andrei Svechnikov. Valentin Zykov, like Connor in Winnipeg, will be put in a position to succeed in Carolina. Zykov is projected to play on the top line with Sebastien Aho. The big Russian is also slated to see significant time on the Hurricanes top PP unit. Zykov was a great pick up for the Canes as they got him from the Kings in a pre-deadline deal for Kris Versteeg back in 2016.

AND THE WINNER IS…

The NHL season can’t officially begin until you go on the record with a Stanley Cup prediction. I’m certainly not going on a limb here but I’ll take the Lightning over the Jets in the final. I’m even going to go one step further and say it will be the Jets over the Leafs in 2020.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:



    • ed from edmonton

      Agree that the Oil D is not playoff caliber, but I don t agree with your concern about Benning as top 4. Having a D with an AHL player (Garrison) and two rookies rounding out spots 6 through 8 is a recipe for disaster. Dmen are often injured so 6 through 8 Dmen will play up the line up on a semi regular basis. If Faulk is available “for a reasonable price” the Oil need to pursue this. Perhaps the only reason for optimism about the D is that at least the 6 through 8 will be better than the Sekera that played on one leg last year.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    I won’t argue your point as I actually agree (liked it a lot better with Sekera in the lineup but that’s life). Alas I still believe they make the playoffs because I will listen to my heart instead of my head because that’s what (most) fans do. But also because to me the Leafs defense also looks pretty bad and haven’t they already won the cup?

  • OriginalPouzar

    Based on practice today and McLellan’s verbal, Russell is likely to play on Saturday (as is Larsson) which means that someone needs to be re-assigned.

    Yamamoto and Bear are two that don’t require waivers but, based on practice this morning, both are slatted to play on Saturday (Kailer was at 2RW, Rieder at 3LW, Khaira at 4LW and Caggulia joined Chiasson as the extra forwards).

    If that is the planned deployment they either need to waiver one of the newly signed veterans (Garrison or Chiasson) or Caggulia or send Bouchard back to junior.

    I really don’t know what the plan is. I LOVE the lines and pairings from this morning but just don’t know who what they are going to do to get someone off the roster if both Bear and Yamamoto are playing.

      • TruthHurts98

        This^. Looch is at best a 4th liner at the moment and isn’t working with Leon. He still is bloody slow and his passing game is the most frustrating thing to watch especially in breakouts. If need be switch Khaira and Reider if lines aren’t working.

        • Kneedroptalbot

          Lucic basically kills the flow of breakouts from your own end. He has so much difficulty keeping up and taking a pass, its hard to watch. Not sure what will happen with him?
          Maybe PP work only.

  • GK1980

    Your power play setup works well for the first line. I’m always afraid only having the one guy high could be an issue if they are caught with only the one D at the point but McDavid is so fast I can’t see this being an issue. Maybe for the second PP unit this may be an issue.

    Also, does anytime know where I can find an Oilers practice jersey? Love to have one for my pickup games.

    • TruthHurts98

      This PP set up with 5 left shots is insanity and won’t produce when the games count. Capitals PP was deadly last night with Ovi and Carlsson blasting one timers. Rattie or JP up front would be a start. Maybe Bear on the point if he plays or Bouchard. Either one is a bit of a liability on D but better offensively than any other dmen on the PP. Put Klefbom on the 2nd pairing.

  • Rock11

    The reason you don’t run a left handed shot off of the other side half wall is that it largely takes away the shot threat from that player. Teams then can back off and strictly play pass as driving off that wall towards the net is difficult and not nearly as dangerous. In order for a PP to be really effective the player on the half wall(97) needs to be dangerous as a scoring threat as well as a passer. The proposed alignment just trades one inefficient structure for another.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        We have them practicing the “back-hand one-timer”… The secret weapon that will take the league by storm…
        Not to worry & “mums the word”…

      • Rock11

        I agree. Dustins point though was that switching sides solved all of the problems and it doesn’t. It solves one problem and creates another. The solution is adding a RH shot. Perhaps a former first round pick, or two, with skill and who loves to shoot it. Do we have any of those?

  • Billy Charlebois

    That is some strong artistic work with the PP Alignment drawing. Do you think it would make sense to switch 93 and 29, putting 93 in the bumper spot and 29 in the trigger spot on the right side?

  • KootenayDan

    Brodziak and Kassian should be looking over their shoulders. After watching the Canucks tune in the Flames last night why can’t Yamo and Cagguila be fourth liners?

    • I could still see them trading Kassian, and thus wiping, what? a straight million off the books? Combined with the break from Sekera being on the long-term list, would it be enough space to land Faulk? Or a similar top-pair D? Or do we try a bargain-bin second pairing? Either way, I’m positive this lineup will not remain intact until the spring.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Yeah, but they really appreciated Beagle parked & riling up the Flames defense in front of their net…
      He was a point of difference in that game. A great role for Lucic or Khaira/Kassian.
      Looch already plays like that when he’s on… Kassian, not so much, that has to change.
      Yamamoto & Caggiula are not that kind of player…

    • IRONman

      No way they make the playoffs as is. The defence is too inexperienced. They are good players but look at the other teams defence. Same old story for the Oilers, weak D

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Not as weak as Calgary’s “D”? 63 year old Giordano was the best they had last night.
        And Toronto’s D,… Sheesh. Montreal was able to extend a PP by a minute just based on zone time.
        Toronto looked iffy…

  • A-co

    How long does the lucic anchor experiment last on the 2nd line before hot toddie and pistol pete feel the noose starting to tighten up?? Leon needs a couple wingers that are able to take a pass if this team is going anywhere

  • bwar

    I feel bad for Bear getting the shaft because the Oiler’s decided to sign Chiasson and Garrison so they could hang out together in the pressbox. I feel like you could have held off on at least one of the signings until you got back from the Eurotrip.

    “Hey Ethan we have to cut you even though you are better than half of our Dmen. Thanks you coming out bud.”

    • Hemmercules

      Relax. The kid is 21 years old. He will get his callup this year I have no doubt. Let him continue to develop against AHL players and in a year or two he could be a real stud.

      • El Petrolero

        Yeah he can play top line minutes and work on his strength and conditioning going up against big adult pros. It’s really too bad we can’t send Bouchard to the A but he’s looked good so why not try him out against some weaker teams later in the season and spread out his nine games until world juniors when we can call up Bear or whoever performs. Also is there something preventing us from sending Garrison down? He would probably clear waivers and could serve a good purpose mentoring the young guys in Bakersfield, pretty sure he played in the AHL a bunch last year.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Chaisson isn’t a D, is he? And Garrison is a pretty solid 3rd or 4th pairing D with experience…. (experience being the most important aspect on a pretty in-experienced D)… As McLellan said, “you pretty much don’t have to worry when he’s on the ice.” Let’s see how long that holds up for though? I’d rather see Bouchard get a shot. Lately the style of play in the NHL has been conducive to this type of D player. Look what raw Vancouver rookies did last night to our rivals.

      • bwar

        The thing with Chiasson is that he took up an extra contract which now forces the Oiler’s to cut a player once Russell is off of IR which could happen on Saturday. Garrison is the bottom rung on the totem pole for the Edmonton defense group. Of course the coach is going to say nice things about him, even so that doesn’t change who he is, his age, his skill or him looking pretty bad in several of the preseason games. He’s a veteran and I understand the Oiler’s wanting him around for the sake of Bear and Bouchard but he’s not much more than a mentor for the young guys.

      • bwar

        I think you are also discounting what Bear’s done in his Junior career as well. Bear put up a lot of points in Junior from the backend and could easily fill the same role as Bouchard this year. Obviously Bouchard gets first chance to prove himself due to the rules regarding him going back to the CHL but I still think Bear looked better in camp and deserves a spot on the roster. Unfortunately there is only one spot for Bear or Bouchard and Bear is going to get the shaft because of it.

  • FutureGM

    Lucic has beauty give and go with McD. Scores a pp goal, his being a net presence allows McD to score another. 4th line they scream! lol guess we know who is the goat this year.
    5 LHS on PP1 is assinine. Why not have some RHS one timers and allow Drai or Hopkins to run the PP2 from the side walls. Sedins score from the slot, Drai hasn’t done anything from that position in a year.
    Also, Bouch>9 games. Bad idea…go Bear!! Would love to know if Bouchard can come back up if a number of injuries occur. Doubtful, brutal rule cause NHL!
    Go Oil!!

  • No wonder pundits are picking the Jets to win the Cup. Most of the players are well-scouted, drafted and properly developed. I think Oilers young scouting and drafting has improved in the last few years, but more development needs to happen with new draft picks to truly push vets out of position instead of filling gaps.

    On DailyFaceOff, look at the player rankings:

    OILERS—

    Forwards:
    1st line: #11 of all 1st lines in NHL
    2nd line: #21 of all 2nd lines in NHL
    3rd line: #21 of all 3rd lines in NHL
    4th line: #18 of all 4th lines in NHL

    Defense:
    Klefbom (#19 LD) + Larsson (#45 RD) = #21 for 1st pair, Rating: 74.50
    Nurse (#83 LD) + Benning (#46 RD) = #20 for 2nd pair, Rating: 72.09
    Russell (#89 LD) + Bouchard (not rated yet) = #22 for 3rd pair, Rating: 71.25

    Compare that with the Winnipeg Jets:

    Forwards:
    1st line: #4 of all 1st lines in NHL
    2nd line: #5 of all 2nd lines in NHL
    3rd line: #5 of all 3rd lines in NHL
    4th line: #13 of all 4th lines in NHL

    Defense:
    Morrissey (#38 LD) + Trouba (#15 RD) = #16 for 1st pair, Rating 75.34
    Chiarot (#70 LD) + Byfuglien (#4 RD) = #5 for 2nd pair, Rating 76.53
    Morrow (#58 LD) + Myers (#24 RD) = #2 for 3rd pair, Rating 74.15

    Night and day.

    For the Oilers, the only players who have a GREEN indicator showing they are above average in the correct position (rating over 73.0):
    Nuge, McDavid, Draisaitl, Klefbom

    Out of position (red):
    Lucic (2LW), Rieder (3LW), Khaira (4LW), Kassian (4RW), Russell (3LD)
    ^ and how many of these guys are overpaid?

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      How would this have looked 2 years ago when the Jets were not good? Then not unlike the Oilers they did very little to change the lineup then got good? Damn Oil fans, already mailing in the season and the team has not even played a damn game yet? GO be a JETS fan, simple. If you are jets fan great you have a exellent team and I with you the best but I don’t about these predictions meaningless.