In Case Of Emergency Break Glass

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.

Oct 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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.

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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?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • MrBung

    This is just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. The deeper problems, lack of depth and roster deficiencies are not going to be solved by putting McDavid and Drai on the same line.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      I’ve noticed that when the Oilers win people hate you and call you an idiot. When they lose you get no trashes.

      Yet your message is exactly the same…

    • Odanada

      Roster issues, to be sure.
      But could a new coach maximize whatever potential exists within the roster?
      Surely there is someone who could motivate and organize this gang?
      The only thing I’m reasonably sure of is that it’s not Todd.

  • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

    Personally, if a split between Nuge and McDavid happens, I’d rather see Nuge and Draisaitl play together than have Nuge try to drive his own line. Nuge could continue to play LW with Drai and move Rieder up to McDavid’s left wing. I truly believe McDavid will produce with whoever he has to play with, so I would try to spread the wealth a little more behind his line.

  • Freddie the fog

    Ryan Strome put up 50+ points playing with Tavares a few years ago. Put him up in the top six. RNH- Mcdavid- Rattie
    Rieder- Drai- Strome
    Chiasson- Marody- Caggiula
    JJK- Brodziak- Kassian.
    Sit Lucic for a game to see how this runs.

  • Battman

    I’m starting to think one of the best things that could happen for the team right now is for McDavid to get injured and be out for say two weeks. Just enough to force the rest of the team to realize they need to step up their game and not rely on McDavid.

    I don’t want to see him get injured tho.

      • Rufio Barcoli

        I think he should be on his own line, driving it.
        He is a former 1st overall pick, and not a complimentary player.
        If he still, at this point of his career, can’t do that then trade him. It’s a waste of 6 million dollars on McDavid’s wing.

          • Rufio Barcoli

            Your comment makes no sense.
            Please try again.
            Why can’t Nuge be a center on his own line?
            What does Draisailt play and performance have to do with Nuge’s play and performance?

          • MrBung

            Sure. Have Nuge try drive his own line. Part of the issue is that Drai is being paid a cap hit of 8.5 million. That is – “I can drive my own line money”. A guy like Scheifle is making closer to 6. This is one the Oil’s big problem – they are getting poor value for dollar on a lot of their contracts.

        • btrain

          1st overalls range from Yakapov to McDavid. It’s a really poor idea to expect every 1st overall is going to be an offense driving force in the NHL. That said, where RNH maybe lacks that offensive driving ability he makes up for it in consistently playing smart hockey. Dont know of another Oiler top 6 over the past decade who makes fewer mistakes than he does. 6 mill is not a lot for a player of his caliber who can be p/game with McDavid or be relied on to go up against the opposition’s top lines as a center.

  • OldOilerFan

    I personally liked the lines in place, just some tweaking still or finding elements internally or through a trade. McDavid and Nuge have chemistry, and Nuge gives that line a defensive element as they always play against tough lines themselves so I like them. Some argue that anyone can play with McDavid but Draisaitl needs to drive his own line, that’s been written about so much it’s sick. And on that, I actually like Reider and Chiasson with him, they clicked a few games there, keep it going. The 4th line was awesome last night against Colorado. It’s the third line that is a tire fire.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I am at the point where TM needs to go, his style of say nothing and everyone will figure out what is wrong isn’t working, he doesn’t seems to know what his players are doing wrong and seems loathe to say boo too them about the wholes in their game, like tell the assistants our defensive system isnt working and the PK and PP need to go back to the basics to get us going. We are not that far from the basement in the western conference, the west is not a conference were you can drop a lot of games and all will be well, it is always a horse race for the top 8 spots right down to the wire, keep blowing games and we will be out of the race before the season is half over

    • btrain

      Not saying TM doesnt deserve some heat but what can you realistically expect from this roster? Not a proven natural top 6 winger on the entire team. No threat at all from the point PP or otherwise. Goaltenders are both struggling more often than not. Coaching could be better for sure but it’s just hard to believe many holes remain on this roster. And who’s to blame for that?

      • FutureGM

        Ethan Bear on the PP in preseason had success. A RHS for one timer option dramatically changes your PP look. Our PP is bad, this year and last and let TM refuses to give Bear or JP (Ymo too although I havent seen his one timer) a look despite them being the RHS one-timer option for their entire lives.
        Letestu made it work FFS, for him to not give these guys even a chance speaks volumes

    • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

      The Pacific division is lukewarm garbage stew so far this season. Nobody has stepped up and /or shown any ability to put a string of strong play together. The west is literally the definition of ‘drop some games and don’t miss a beat’ this year…

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Waive him already or package him and Benning up and use that money for another player or save it…. neither of them are worth having Benning is still a tire fire and strome is too afraid to go into the dirty areas to get pucks and he and Benning both have foot speed issues and they are both way overpaid, bring one of the kids up from the farm, christ a cardboard cutout of Ronald McDonald would make more of an impression than Strome or Benning has

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          Well that’s why Cha has to find anther suck -er- I mean GM who thinks there might be some value there. The Oilers could waive them both, if they got picked up great if not leave them in the AHL

        • Beer_League_Ringer

          They would have to be dealt separately. Not for more middling roster players, though. Anyone dropped from this roster must bring pick(s) in return. The Oilers drafting is MUCH improved with “the sober Gretzky” in charge and we don’t need more lost trades. Even if only 50% of Bear, Jones, Skinner, McLeod, Benson, Jesse, Yamo, Lagesson, etc, etc, are NHL regulars some day, that’s pretty good drafting. Stick with that plan.

      • FutureGM

        I like Benning in the 3rd pair role. Decent passer, can play physical, skates ok. Might not have a high ceiling, but every team needs a 3rd pair D. What do you see that makes him unserviceable?

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          Benning was better after he sat out, but I dont think sitting out one game fixed his issues, he got caught flat footed was chasing the guys with the puck and his situational awareness of in our end is an issue, he doesnt seem to communicate with his partner who is doing what.
          Benning did this same thing last year and it hasnt changed.

          Now I wont pin it all on Benning because the coaching staff has to see the issues we all see but never have seemed to do anything about the areas of his game that arent working.

          So it is either the player was talked to or wasnt, know his weaknesses or doesnt, they are working with him on them or not. That is what we dont know, but the Oilers are at fault too, if they dont let the player know what is wrong and try to help address it. Benning just seems to get overwhelmed too easy, I like that Benning hit and can take a slapshot from the point but he is a defenceman, and that part of his game is brutal. This is Justin Schultz 2.0 in they just let him make mistake after mistake after mistake and dont cure the problem, Schultz went from playing 1 st line to 3 rd line minutes and against sheltered competition and went onto be a plus player.

          Could Benning be better sure, but 3 years and the issues are still there it is either a coaching issue or a player issue, but the Oilers cant keep having him do teh tire fire thing, the guy and his partner are just going to be trouble

          • FutureGM

            Fair. I do get that he looks overwhelmed at times but I stand by him be decent 3rd pairing guy. His ceiling was always going to be 2nd pairing, but no shame in a 3rd pair career. While he lacks head-on-a-swivel defensive skills ( like most of our team unfortunately) I think his passing is better. At .25pts and a slight + player I think he is OK at 3rd pair.
            Doesn’t seem many guys on our team talk to each other out there now that you mention it lol

  • Spydyr

    How long does the losing streak have to go on before you replace the coach? If there only was an experienced Stanly Cup winning coach available to come in…..oh wait.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      If I didnt think it would harm the team I would bag skate the hell out of them except McDavid, obviously TM doesnt say anything about how uninspired they are and why they give up a goal in the first 2 minutes all the damn time, and maybe he ought to say what time the game starts since no one on the team can figure it out

  • HelpMeBabyJesus

    Your desire to see Rattie on the first line is an issue. He hasn’t earned that spot because pre-season means nada. This team has always had a suspect second and 3rd line. Move the players around all you want and you end up with the fact that Draisaitl can’t drive his own line. He is officially overpaid to simply play on McDavid’s wing. Mr. Bung has things correct. I’d say fire Todd and Chia but in all honesty it would change little because the same players would be left in the dressing room for a new coach and GM to try and piece together. They are a dog’s breakfast at the moment and only the players can right this ship. If they enjoy losing so be it…sigh.

    • Randomfan

      When you have a career AHLer playing on your top line with mcd you know this team had no depth and is poorly managed. A new coach will not help this team as much as people are thinking. This team has to shed its dead weight in lucic and strome and to some extent drai in order to be successful. And PC is not the man to do it. This team is eternally doomed. We are officialy into DOD 2.0 and going strong. Heavens help us.

    • MrBung

      The reason there is this debate keeps on about who should be on the top line is that the Oil have no depth and lack talent throughout the line up. This was made worse by Chia. He urinated away a lot of value here and saddled the team with a bunch of boat anchor contracts getting (poor return on value).

  • Arfguy

    At this point, I am not seeing a lot of the chemistry between McDavid and RNH. I’d say put Draisaitl with McDavid, but I did not see a lot happening with Rieder and Chiasson with RNH on that line.

    I’d say keep Rattie with McDavid and insert Caggiula as the left wing. Keep the second line as is (Rieder-Draisaitl-Chiasson) then create a third line of Lucic-RNH-Marody.

    I think Strome can sit one game, since he’s not doing much.

  • What the Puck

    Nuge and mcd have to remain intact. This is necessary. Sorry about your luck drats but your fat contract puts you as the 2nd line center on this team for the duration of it. So the real question is who is that top line winger? Hate to tell you guys this but… he is currently not an oiler. This unknown player should be priority one right now for chia. Save your job. Save your excuses. Save face. And for crying out loud win the trade.

  • kormega

    What’s more important – wins or Draisaitl driving his own line? That money talk is bs, he get his money for team’s success, not for driving lines, buses or anything else.

    So put Leon to Connor because guys are always on fire together. Bring back Puljujarvi and give him second line minutes with Nuge and Lucic. 15-20 games at a run, it’s nothing to fear, could it be worse? Other wingers are not producing however. He will got NO development in the AHL, this is his third North-American season already, what can he learn there?

    • MrBung

      I like this flawed thinking that by putting these two guys on the same line is going to result in wins and scoring. They played on the same line last season didn’t they? By the end of last season everyone was carrying on about why TMac was so against trying Nuge and McD on the same line…

  • CMG30

    The problem with Leon is that he’s been anointed as 2nd line center and is being paid for it before he’s proven he can consistently carry the load. He’s outstanding when playing on McDavids wing but the GM has pigeonholed him with his salary. I love to see the trio of RNH, McD and LD because I’m firmly convinced that this is the best line in the NHL. However, that leaves the bottom 9 in a woeful state. Yet we’re somehow tight against the cap???

    Fire Chirelli.

  • kormega

    And saying about flank lack of depth, I wonder how Chia came to a thought that he can build a contender without wingers. Every Cup winner last years had at least one elite winger in the roster – Ovechkin, Kane, Kessel.

    So to this point we got no quaterback D, no NHL-level wingers, a shaky goalie and a heavy-talented center trunk who can do nothing with that bunch of average dudes around.

    Shame to the management.

  • grumpyKoala

    Puck no!!! Drai he the one driving his line down, you want to reward him, he lasy and disengage but hey let’s set the exemple. The only ways he should get to that first line is to boast his stats for a trade. A night or two on the 3rd and he might actually care. I would actually try the presser

  • OilTastic

    The Oilers love falling back to. 500 there is seriously something wrong with this team. No matter what players we sign or trade for or promote, they lose! And year after year! Is this team jinxed or something? What is it that makes this team not win every year?

  • OnDaWagon

    Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian was also the best line they had in Florida.

    Here’s my take on how the Oilers start their games. I assume in the dressing room, Todd does some chatting before the players come onto the ice. Have you heard Todd talk? His voice puts me to sleep. No drive in him. No fire in him. I think he need to leave the room to start the game with fire in his voice. Then again, maybe he has lots of fire in the room.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    Coaching is not the issue as much as it is the players on the ice. Missed assignments galore. Cheating to offense before you have full control of the puck. Swarm one player while the others are left open.

    You can fire the coach if you think someone else can do better. Essentially the same roster as last year, so the results being similar should not surprise anyone. Welcome to cap hell.

    Only way out of this is to make trades that remove the entitlement from the dressing room. There are tons of NHL players that go to battle every night, just for the chance of playing on a team with a future. There are tons of players that do the same knowing they are out of the race by December. Target those players. Send off the players that look good 50% of the time. May even have to trade some guys that are really good just to get the right mix of players.

    This is the break the glass scenario. And it’s the first one that Chia will pick. Firing the coach means you get Gully as the new coach. The trades will be painfull, but may actually help long term.

  • cityofchampions

    The fundamental problem is that we have three top-6 forwards (McD, Nuge, Drai) and about a dozen 3rd-4th line players. Your options are to put the all three competent players together and run one of the best lines in hockey along with three 4th lines, or put two of them together and saddle the third with two 4th liners. Nuge and Drai might both be able to drive their own line if they had competent wingers, but we haven’t really tried that as we have no competent wingers to give them. We know McD can drive a line, so maybe try saddling him with two lucky 4th liners (strome and cags maybe?) and play Nuge and Drai together (with Rattie or Reider) to try and get a second line that won’t have its lunch money stolen every game.

  • FutureGM

    Drai needs to sit a game. The guy never skates unless he is on the ice with Connor. He literally skated away from a player that won a puck battle last night, but not to change, he was on the ice for another minute! The guy is a beast when he skates, ala series the Ducks, but the big man rarely moves his feet. Sick to see him coast all game then skate his ass off if he gets 3vs3 or 4vs4 time with McD.

  • nijames

    If they move Draisaitl onto a line with McDavid then the Oilers really truly become a 1 line team and 1 line teams lose more than they win. Need someone else to step up on this team.