Is it time? Is a four-game losing streak enough? You know what I’m talking about. Is McLellan ready to go back to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl?
Todd did separate McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins in the third period against the Avalanche. Will he stick with it and if he doesn’t how long until he makes a permanent switch? The Oilers will likely practice just a few hours after the piece is posted so we may have an idea what’s he’s looking at for the Montreal game. I’d bet if the Oilers lose to Montreal you would see McDavid and Draisaitl back together for a Saturday night tilt against the Flames. The three days between games would allow whatever other lines McLellan puts together to get some practice time together.
Moving Draisaitl back up to the top line would lead to a number of other questions.
Who Plays With Them?
Drake Caggiula got a look in that spot on Sunday night but I don’t like him there on a regular basis. You could try to load up the top line by simply leaving Nuge on the left side but that option would literally leave you with one of the weakest bottom nines I’ve ever seen on any NHL team. Could you play Draisaitl on the left side and just leave Rattie on the right? I suppose so, but I don’t love it, mind you I’m not really in love with any of the options. The one option I don’t mind would be Tobias Rieder riding left-wing shotgun with his fellow countryman and the captain.
Who Does Nuge Get Stuck With?
Poor Nuge. He’s the one who really gets the short end of the stick if McLellan decides to mix things up. Think about it. Nugent-Hopkins is clipping along at a point per game pace and he’s going to be moved off of the top unit. I liked the jam Nuge showed against Colorado, you could tell that he was pissed off. It would make sense to leave Rattie with Nugent-Hopkins but who plays on the LW. This will infuriate many of you but I could see McLellan using this as an opportunity to “reset” Lucic and give him another look in the top six.
Strome Still At Center?
I’d still like to see Strome get another crack in the top six on the wing at some point but for now he’d likely remain in the same spot on the third unit. Alex Chiasson goes on the right and Drake Caggiula moves back to the left. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’d expect from this line but it would probably be limited.
Fourth Line Stays Intact
It’s awful news for the Oilers but the Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian line was the best the Oilers had on Sunday night. Leave them alone for now.
The Wild Card
Cooper Marody has been recalled from Bakersfield and will likely assume the roll of “player who should be in the minors but will watch from the press box”. I liked what I saw from Marody in his first call-up and could see him becoming a “regular” in the line up sooner rather than later. I mentioned earlier that I’d like to see Strome get another crack in the top six, maybe Marody provides an option down the middle to make that happen.
Just A Matter Of Time
Maybe it happens against Montreal, maybe it doesn’t but you know it’s just a matter of time until 97 and 29 are reigniting their bromance on the top line. My question for you is it already time and what do you do with the rest of the forward group when the inevitable happens?