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?
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?
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.
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?
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+.
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:
- A Somewhat Accurate Pacific Division Preview
- The Stock Market
- Hot Takes – September Edition
- The Double McDip
- Pacific Division Top 20 (10-1)