Photo Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Rat-urn’ creates more line-up uncertainty

After missing the last few weeks with an injury, it appears that Ty Rattie will return to the Oilers lineup soon and possibly even tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. A welcome sight for Oilers fans, but with his return comes a big decision for both the coaching staff and management.

If Rattie draws into the lineup, not only will someone have to come out, but the Oilers will need to make room on the active roster. The idea of re-assigning someone to the minors has been a hot topic over the past week, so let’s start by looking at some candidates for re-assignment:

COOPER MARODY: He made his NHL debut against Pittsburgh and also played against Washington, but right now he’s out of the lineup with an injury. He didn’t pick up a point in either of the games he played in, but he had four shots on goal and I thought he had a decent presence in their bottom six.

Sending Marody down, or putting him on the IR, would be a pretty safe move and I think it’s the most likely.

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JESSE PULJUJARVI: After being healthy scratched the last four games, the expectation is that Puljujarvi will draw back into the lineup tonight against Chicago. I was fine with the decision to sit him for a couple of games, but four games was too long in the press box. If he’s going to develop properly, he needs to play, Whether it’s at the NHL or AHL level, it doesn’t matter to me.

In the next week, the Condors play four times between now and November 10th, so if they reassign Puljujarvi now, he’ll get plenty of ice time. At the same time, if they wanted to send him down, why would they wait until AFTER sitting him for four straight?

KAILER YAMAMOTO: He got a really solid look with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over the course of the Oilers recent winning streak. He didn’t look out of place and did some good things on the forecheck, he didn’t produce a drop offensively. That’s not good enough for a player riding shotgun with McDavid.

He was moved off the top line during the third period of the loss to the Wild, so maybe after giving him a good chance on a skilled line, the Oilers will decide that Yamamoto needs some seasoning in the AHL.

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Once the roster is all set, the decision will then fall to Head Coach Todd McLellan, who will need to decide where to slot Rattie, and which one of his forward lines he should disrupt.

Over the last week, the lines have stayed fairly consistent.

Leon Draisaitl centered Alex Chiasson and Tobias Rieder. They played 41:31 together at even strength. With this combo, Leon Draisaitl saw his CF% and his GF% go up. The trio also hasn’t allowed a goal against when they’re all on the ice. They’ve been a pleasant surprise.

The third line has seen Ryan Strome with Milan Lucic and Drake Caggiula. They’re the only one of these three lines with a sub-50% CF%, but they do have a positive scoring chance percentage. They’ve done a good job establishing a cycle, but haven’t been able to finish very many of their chances.

The fourth line mainly featured Jujhar Khaira, Kyle Brodziak, and Zack Kassian. They played 32:55 at even strength. They’ve posted a 56.25% CF% along with a 57.89 SCF%. While those are good numbers, McLellan shouldn’t hesitate to break up this fourth line, they aren’t exactly world beaters.

Yesterday at practice, Ryan Rishaug had the following:

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Based on this, it looks like Puljujarvi will draw back into the lineup and will play next to Ryan Strome and Milan Lucic.

It’s interesting that Drake Caggiula is staying on the top line because if Rattie makes his return to the lineup, it’s safe to assume that he will get his old spot next to 97 and 93 back. Is Caggiula just a placeholder for when Rattie is healthy? If that’s the case, Caggiula could be the odd man out of the lineup.

Rishaug later added that Yamamoto was taking turns with Alex Chiasson on the Draisaitl/Rieder line. I can’t see McLellan taking Chiasson out of the lineup, he’s been one of their better forwards as of late, so this nugget of information leads me to believe that it could be Yamamoto drawing out of the lineup as well.

If all or any of this comes to fruition, then it leads you to believe that Cooper Marody will either be placed on the injured reserve or sent back to Bakersfield.

If Yamamoto is out of the lineup tonight, I don’t see this as a long-term solution. I don’t think that the Oilers can continue forward with rotating Puljujarvi and Yamamoto in and out of the lineup. A decision needs to be made so that both of their young stars can get consistent ice-time, whether it’s at the NHL or AHL level.

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I’m all for having one young “project” at the NHL level, and if there was enough ice time to go around, I would be all for both of Puljujarvi and Yamamoto to stay, but that’s not the case. The ‘rat-turn’ of Ty Rattie is a definite positive for the Oilers, but it does create another issue for the organization.

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While they can temporarily fix it by moving Cooper Marody off the active roster, at some point in the near future, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan will need to make a decision, and that will likely involve sending one of their young right wingers to the AHL.

  • 18% body fat

    there should be zero roster uncertainties, with the exception of maybe send the 2 rw to bakersfield

    nuge connor rattie

    reider drai yamo

    lucic strome pulji

    khaira brodziak chaisson

    look into sending down yamo and jp, too bad we didnt still have aberg,

    • tkfisher

      The uncertainty for me (come playoff time… one hopes) is that in that scenario the 2RW and 3RW should both be playing the AHL this year and the 1RW has less than 100 games experience.

  • rivid

    There is a really simple answer to all this, if someone must come out Drake Caggiula should be the first to go. This player brings down every line he is on. He is not a NHL player an should be in the AHL.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      He is showing better this season though, you have to admit?
      I don’t fully disagree with you though. He definitely is not first or second line material yet though.

  • The Immortal

    Yamo has done nothing playing with 97…he’s played 18? pro hockey games..why is he not in the ahl?

    Every argument for sending JP to Bakersfield (he’s already done a successful stint there ) applies to Yamo.

    Frankly I just don’t understand the preferential treatment of Yamo…

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Obviously injuries played a part in this. I agree it is time to send Yamo to the AHL. Give JP his game today, if he shows the same as previous games. He can be shipped out as well. Ripen these young men, build their confidence. I see the forward lineup like this for the near future.
      Nuge McD Rat
      Chias Drai Rieder
      Luc Strome Cag
      JJ Brods Kass
      Malone/Josh Curry or other older AHL guys that can play a game here or there but can sit for multiple game in the pressbox without harming development.

      Then if the Oil are in a playoff spot or close to by Dec then make a move for a veteran forward from a rebuilding team with an expiring contract. Zuccarello, Nyguist, Hayes, Dzingle… of course I would rather it be a Stone or Duchene. But the rental cost would be to high me thinks and I can’t see the Oil being able to sign either long term.

  • 50 Flex

    It’s frustrating that Todd seems to just ignore the analytic side of things. He keeps rewarding guys who simply work hard such as Yamo and Caggiula, even when their underlying numbers are poor. You can’t ignore statistics on this day in age and Todd deploys players as if he just can’t be bothered to understand them.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    “At the same time, if they wanted to send him down, why would they wait until AFTER sitting him for four straight?”
    There is a pretty easy answer to this question:
    The Condors haven’t played much over the last few weeks. Keeping him up with the Oilers allowed Pullijarvi to not only be around hockey but sit up with in the press-box, learn some positioning & see what he has to work on.
    Not only that, it allows him to practice those things he’s learned during Oilers practice. If he was in Bakersfield, he wouldn’t be around hockey much during the last couple of weeks. Now, however the Condors have a busier schedule, so it wouldn’t hurt him going down after putting into play what he’s learned, maybe a game or two with the big club.
    I do think he will go down. And I’d keep him there until he can’t learn anymore, until it’s not valuable to him anymore. Until he is lighting up the AHL with multiple “player of the week” accolades.

    • Hemmercules

      If he needs to light up the AHL with multiple “player of the week” accolades we may never see him again if he gets sent down. I still don’t understand the love for this guys game. He wasn’t even that great last time he spent time in the AHL. He hasn’t been good in the NHL. Has he really ever been that good other than that one world tournament??

      • Glencontrolurstik

        He just turned 20 for gords sake. However, in true Oiler fashion we’ll get rid of him for nothing & he will light it up somewhere else. That somewhere else being a team that understands his age, the fact that he is from a foreign city north of the 60th parallel that had little western culture (let alone pizza probably) & will take the time to nurture him into being a star hockey player. He has all the tools, it’s just he needs to grow-up and experience everything. It won’t take long with the right mentorship. Just getting used to not family & grandparents around is hard enough for a 20 year old. Plus he is instantly rich, putting another level on his learning curve.
        I just want him to learn all this with the Condors. Not here.

        • Hemmercules

          I know he’s young, he might come around but he could be another Yak. No one really knows. I’m not seeing steady improvement, even minor improvement. The Oilers hampered his development from the beginning so I hope they can still make a player out of him. Better suited in the minors than the third line or press box if you ask me. Maybe one day the Oilers can ice a team of all NHL players instead of trying develop 3 or 4 rookies and still try to win and compete in the toughest league in the world.

      • OriginalPouzar

        I believe the last time he was in the AHL, he was 18, maybe barely 19. If he had been drafted out of the CHL he wouldn’t have even been eligible for the AHL at that point and, in fact, this season would be the first season he would have been eligible.

        Given he was the youngest player in the NHL when he first started and the same in the AHL, his production, on a team devoid of offensive talent, was just fine.

        Yes, I would anticipate him to be closer to a PPG if he does get AHL time this season.

  • Hemmercules

    Todd obviously likes Yams play better than JP’s so send him down along with Bouchard. Let the kids develop playing big minutes every other night instead of rushing them into the NHL for no reason and playing them 10 minutes a couple times a week. Play Yam for a couple weeks and swap him with JP if JP finds his game in the AHL and deserves a return to the NHL. Put Rattie back with McD and Nuge. The rest of the lines will likely be a blender with a sprinkle of McD now and then.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Why hasn’t Bear come up to replace Benning for a couple? Maybe waiting until Bouchard is sent back to the “O”?
      Also, the more I think about it & the more used to it the team gets, “the blender” isn’t a bad idea. All the great successful teams employ it. It just can’t be done as a desperation move like we do all the time. It’s got to be done for strategic purposes. Game to game, to match-up against different teams systems. For example, Anaheim plays nothing at all like Toronto, so differnt line combos on the Oilers part would be more effective against certain teams. Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, Nashville all have different lines from game to game. It’s not just Todd.

      • I think they’re absolutely waiting for Bouchard to go back to the OHL (where he’ll learn nothing, really, but I think he’ll be fine) for Bear to come back up. Not to mention giving EB a bit of confidence and a few more weeks of AHL development. Not a bad strategy at all.

      • OriginalPouzar

        For one, Bear has missed the last few games with a shoulder injury and didn’t play again last night. He should be back this weekend (*fingers crossed*).

        Also, Bear isn’t the likely call-up – Bear needs some solid AHL development time. Lets not forget that, notwithstanding a nice camp and exhibition season, when Bear finished the season in the NHL last year he was getting caved nightly at evens. It was essentially unanimous that he would need some more AHL time and he hasn’t received that yet.

        The logical call-up when Bouchard gets re-assigned is Kevin Gravel.

        I am fully comfortable with a Gravel/Benning third pairing.

        I wish they would bite the bullet and waive Garrison to bring Gravel up but, for some reason, management won’t do that and we will need to wait for the Bouchard re-assignment (or, god forbid, an injury).

          • Glencontrolurstik

            Worth a “look-see” anyway. I just hate it when it’s clear that it’s Benning alone that costs us some games. More than a few if it weren’t for some players bailing us out for the late or OT win.

  • OriginalPouzar

    They would send Marody down before putting him on IR. Putting him on IR keeps his cap hit, sending him down gets rid of his cap hit. Once they re-assign him, which is the logical move when they activate Rattie, they will get out of LTIR relief and will, nominally, be below their adjusted daily cap accrual limit which means they will start to accrue some cap space on a daily basis to use for acquisitions later in the season. Mind you, they’d be just below the adjusted limit so barely accumulating any cap space to bank but some is better than none.

  • TKB2677

    Once Rattie is healthy, I would run these lines.

    Nuge- McDavid-Rattie
    Rieder – Leon – Chiasson
    Lucic – Strome – Caggulia
    Khaira – Broziak – Kassian

    If you can find a trade for Kassian, I would do it. He makes too much money to be a 4th liner and I don’t don’t think he is a good PK guy.
    I’d have Puljujarvi in the AHL because he’s clearly not ready. I would also have Yamamoto because he’s not ready either.

    • A-co

      Who trashed this? Until they pull the trigger on a trade for a RW this is making the most of what you have…JP & Yamaha should be in the ahl neither one is a real difference maker right now..some time on the farm wouldn’t hurt either….and make a trade for a defenseman already so we don’t have to watch Benning staring up into the sky after a goal is scored when he’s on the ice

    • Glencontrolurstik

      That’s basically the lines they are running now, with Rattie. I bet JP plays tonight in Chicago, where you have Caggiula on the 3rd. Just a hunch.

  • moosewacker

    Yamamoto and Puljuharvi should both be in the minors, playing on the first line for the next 20-30 games at least. I took a look at players on other teams that did close to a year in the minors. Guys like Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Johansen went back after spending the previous year in the NHL. They turned out OK after going to AHL

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I hope the Oilers leave the Chaisson Reider Draisaitl line intact for now, they have been good and lord know it takes teams focus off of just the first line if they have a second line they need to worry about, and that line has seemed to have gelled and they put up points. Jesse Strome Lucic, I hope works out but that line is iffy, Lucic didnt look good last game, and Strome hasnt been very good at all IMHO.

    Lets hope the lines are going to do some damage

  • Vanoil

    I like Chiasson and his versatility, but Yamo is the future are you really going to send back Yamo with his possession numbers? That means a lot more O-zone time for Drai and Redier. Chiasson will do his thing regardless of the line he is on, maybe he gets Lucic going ….?

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Further to that, in his draft year, some scouts were comparing him to Laine.
    That’s part of what I think has hurt JP. The early Laine comparison…
    I think that early comparison has “iron”… There has to be something to it?
    Some take much longer, but will probably be worth it.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I would send J.P. and Yamomoto back to the AHL, and let them season down there for a long time. See when they dominate. When they’re called back up again (which might be next year) give them a chance on a skill line that they belong on. In the meantime make sure you have enough NHL players that you don’t need to call up players that aren’t ready yet for the big league. The extra forwards should be players old enough that you aren’t ruining their development if they sit for a long time.