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WWYDW(TE): Scratch Tickets

Rather than spending all of his cap room to get one bonafide top-six winger, Ken Holland opted to buy himself multiple scratch tickets for the 2019-20 season. It would have been nice to acquire a sure thing to inject into one of the top two lines, but I don’t mind Holland’s logic of staying away from adding yet another ugly contract on July 1.

Unless something dramatic changes between now and October, we have a pretty good idea of what the Oilers’ roster is going to look like next season. Maybe we see a Milan Lucic for another bad contract swap, maybe we see the disgruntled Jesse Puljujarvi get his wish to be moved so he can have a fresh start, or maybe we see another bargain bin addition or two in free agency. But this is more than likely what we’re looking at.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How should the Oilers patch together their top-six forwards? Are there any scratch tickets here who can produce big winnings?

Where to put McDavid and Draisaitl

The first big question when it comes to putting an Oilers lineup together is the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. When Draisaitl signed his eight-year deal worth $8.5 million after his excellent showing in the 2017 playoffs, it was expected he was going to be the secondary punch behind McDavid on the second line, being the @Evgeni Malkin to McDavid as Sidney Crosby.

Draisaitl has drawn some criticism for his inability to carry his own line without McDavid. I would suggest that a lot of that comes down to him not having good winger options more so than Draisaitl being a poor second centre. Over the past two seasons, though, McDavid and Draisaitl have been so impossibly good together that it’s been difficult to split the two up. The result has been Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dragging a lot of dead weight around on the second line behind him.

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One thing that hasn’t been tried much before is stacking a second line of Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins. While it would leave McDavid without a star complimentary player, it would make the top non-McDavid line as good as it can be, which is something the team has struggled with in the past.

Regardless, the Oilers have three true top-six forwards however you decide to organize them and they need to find three more players to fill the holes around them.

The Options

  • Alex Chiasson managed to turn a PTO into a two-year contract thanks to a breakout 22-goal season. That said, while Chiasson scored a career-high last year, only six of them came after the new year. He showed chemistry with McDavid but might fit best in a bottom-six role.
  • Zack Kassian was the opposite of Chiasson. He scored a career-high 15 goals last season but 13 of them came after the turn of the new year. Kassian found chemistry on the top line with McDavid and Draisaitl, giving the skilled pair a much-needed crash-the-net type forward. It’s easy to forget but Kassian was once a high draft pick and he has the skill to hack it on a top line.
  • Sam Gagner was acquired mid-season in a bad contract for bad contract swap, Gagner produced a modest five goals and 10 points in 25 games with the Oilers. He’ll surely be a help on the power play, but might also be an option as a trigger-man in the top-six. He has skill and can produce offence, especially in a sheltered role.
  • Joakim Nygard is the wild card heading into 2019-20. The undrafted free agent put up 21 goals in 51 games last year in the SHL, which ranked second in the league. Apparently he has amazing wheels which could make him a sensible fit alongside McDavid.
  • Markus Granlund is listed as a centre, but he plays best on the wing. He had the best season of his career in 2016-17 playing the role of long lost brother on the Sedin line in Vancouver, scoring 19 goals in 69 games. He has pedigree putting up numbers playing with elite talent, so he could make a good trigger-man on a McDavid line.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi has been a major topic of conversation all summer. He asked for a fresh start, Ken Holland said he would try to make something work but wouldn’t force it. Word came out that the former fourth-overall pick would play in Europe if he had to, then Puljujarvi’s agent backtracked on that statement. It’s the middle of July and he’s still an Oiler, so is a fully-healthy Puljujarvi an option in Edmonton’s top-six? We all know he has the size, speed, and skill to keep up in that role, he just has to put it all together.
  • What about a prospect like @Tyler Benson or @Kailer Yamamoto? I could see either player with the team at some point during the season, especially if injuries make call-ups necessary, but knowing Ken Holland, I doubt we see either prospect crack the roster out of camp. I have a feeling that Holland went the depth route in free agency to help ensure that he could overripen his prospects in the AHL rather than rushing them as we’ve seen in recent years.

What say you, Nation? Which scratch ticket do the Oilers have that’s most likely to be a winner? Should McDavid and Draisaitl be split up? Is there enough here to make a decent top-six? Is there anything else I should be writing about in mid-July other than line combinations? 

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THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday). Tee off at 2 p.m.
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.



        • Dean Martin

          Doesn’t make any sense. Doesn’t Neal’s contract go longer than Lucic’s?
          I understand he doesn’t have a NTC but who else would want him?
          I can’t see Holland doing that? Not only does Lucic have more upside than Neal, I’d argue that Jessie has more potential than Bennett & that 4th? Why would we just give away a 4th round pick? Does not make much sense to me? Maybe, instead of the 4th, throw in Mangiapane?

        • Clubhouse

          Gregor confirmed that Lucic was paid his bonus on July 1st not today so I doubt this happens or it would have already unless Neal has a bonus not paid. Its a bad deal for Edmonton two high paid (SB is RFA with arbitration rights) 3rd liners that we hope can play in top 6.

        • toprightcorner

          Lucic’s bonus was paid July 1st. this was confirmed by Gregor after he spoke to someone inside the Oilers that confirmed the contract read all bonuses would be paid July 1st. There may be a verbal agreement to delay it, but for all intents and purposes, the contract reads July 1st so no team would have been responsible for paying the bonus for the past 2 weeks.

    • Goaltender Interference

      Terrible deal for the Oilers. Scares me if it’s true the source was Staufers show cause that’s usually the avenue for the OBC to pre-announce the abortions they like to think are smart moves…

  • tkfisher

    It hasn’t been said yet, so… Taylor Hall would look pretty dang good on Nuges LW. Plus we also probably wouldn’t have signed Lucics boat anchor contract if that trade hadn’t happened. You’re welcome 🤔

    • TKB2677

      I like Hall but I think he will end up being like most UFA’s, getting too much money and too much term for a diminishing player. There is the odd one that works out but most don’t. I’d be surprised if any of the UFA’s who signed big, long term deals end up working out.

      • Kelly Youngblood

        Hall is looking to win a cup sooner than later. He’s done missing the playoffs. He’s going to a legit contender at this year’s trade deadline. If Marner leaves Toronto i’d say he ends up in a Leafs uniform.

        • CityofWhat

          I don’t see Hall in T.O. And with the amount of cap space we will have next year it won’t be as difficult as many think to be to fix this roster. If we can find a taker for Russell and the projected cap at 83.5 next year we will have about 30 M in cap space. Nuge & Nurse need new contracts let’s say at 14 M combined that leaves us at 16 M. You can sign Hall at 7×10 and that leaves us with 6 M to sign another top end winger. Also Larsson needs a new deal then but I don’t see him making anything over 5M. At that time our other D prospects will be ready to take a bigger rule on the team.

  • TKB2677

    Here is a question. Why wouldn’t the Oilers start with Leon- McDavid- Kassian?
    Is Kassian a top 6 forward? No
    Were is numbers inflated playing on that line? Yes.
    Do we know if he can do it again? No

    To me he reminds me of Maroon. Maroon came to the Oilers in a trade and in a short stint, lite it up with McDavid. I don’t know how long Kassian played with McDavid but it may have been a similar in time. The following season Maroon put up 27 goals.

    Maroon before the Oilers was a big, rugged, physical, in people’s face, bottom 6 guy who had some skill but never did anything. For short stints, Maroon played up with high end offensive guys when he was a Duck but mostly in the bottom 6. So he had bottom 6 numbers. For whatever reason, it clicked with McDavid. Kassian is the same. He’s a big, rugged, get in peoples face, physical, primarily bottom 6 NHLer who has played short stints with the Sedins but mostly a bottom 6 guys. In junior, he put up OK numbers and he was a first round draft pick. For whatever reason, it clicked with McDavid. The big thing is he can skate. So why not try it out.

  • DannyGallivan

    I like What Holland has done and not done with NO CAP SPACE 1) dumped 2/3 salary of Sekera as he had to sign a backup goalie – how do we not have a backup?, 2) signed six low cost fwds on sub $1M deals (one is $1.3M) for 1 yr. They are bottom six which will a) provide competition to the pathetic core we had b) PK (Archibald, Granlund) to help the leagues second worst PK at 74.8% c) There is no commitment as all 1 yr. Next yr when we have cap space the performers stay others are gone and d) he has added speed on a slow team so one may make top 6th with McJesus as our bottom 6 is too slow to help, 3) DID NOT SIGN AN OVERPRICED UFA and 4) played hardball with Puly’s agent.

    True, he has yet to sign a top 6 winger but that was always going to require a trade as we have NO CAP SPACE. There are still some OK UFA’s hanging around due to limited cap increase. My guess is a trade. He will trade a D (Russel or Benning) for a top 6 forward (in return or with the additional cap space). We have a lot of D potential and someone will have to step up e.g. Jones, Bouchard, Bear.

    6 new fwds may also provide top 6 support like Chaisson did (no one wanted him and he was 4th in scoring). Perhaps Puly gets his head out of his ass this year as well and contributes on top 6.

  • McDude

    I see this summer quite different from a lot of fans, and I have no real problem with most of the moves Holland has made. Would it be nice if he had signed Connolly and Donskoi? Maybe, but it’s important to remember those guys are no guarantee, even though they have histories which make them good bets.

    Personally, I think the two mission statements Holland made at his initial press conference (building a long term contender and contending this year) have different priorities. Yes, he’d like to come in and be the savior of the franchise, win the cup this year, etc. But personally I think he’s far more focused on the long term. Thus he makes some bets on short term contracts for lesser players who can contribute some offense. Is it sexy? No, but it also doesn’t handcuff the team after this year, unlike many of the deals Chiarelli handed out.

    And here’s the thing: Chiarelli actually made some decent bets in the past couple of years, and none of them turned out. Who would have thought Rieder would score 0 goals all year? It’s possible that none of Holland’s bets will turn out. But I think it likely some will cover the bets he made on them and the secondary scoring and certainly team speed have been improved. It’s possible some will be able to move up and play with the big boys at certain times this coming year. Markus Granlund has scored 19 goals when playing with the Sedins. He’s not a true first line forward, but could he complement McDavid for a time? I think it’s possible. And by all accounts Nygard is a burner and has some skill–again, I doubt he’s a 50 goal man, but with his speed he might easily fit in nicely as a complementary scorer with McDavid.

    The Oilers’ secondary scoring was historically bad this past year, and I doubt it will be that bad again–the percentages say it can’t be, and I think enough has been done to improve it. Will that be enough to put them over the hump? I don’t know, to be honest, and I have my doubts. Those one year contracts, however, could become trade chips for more assets if they pan out at all, and if they don’t, sayonara at the end of the season. These short term contracts also give the young guys a chance to develop more, and if Benson or Yamamoto force themselves into the conversation, so much the better.

    Therefore, I suggest Holland’s primary focus is on next year. After years of Chiarelli’s awful mismanagement, I’m fine with the conservative approach.

    • Hemmercules

      My exact stance as well. No GM in the world was going to turn around what Chia did in one summer. Holland is building his scouting team and coaching staff and he will have some more money to work on the roster next summer. I think the team will do better going into the season with lower exceptions from the world around them. That year they were slated to be cup contenders before the first game was played just added unneeded pressure.

  • rnj

    If the Oilers play their proven players in spots that are a good fit for them, here’s what I see:

    Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
    XXXXXX-Nuge-XXXXX
    Khaira-XXXXXX-Gagner
    Lucic-XXXXXX-XXXXX

    Gaps are 2LW, 2RW, 3C, 4C, 4RW. We have:
    Chiasson (3W)
    Benson (3LW)
    Granlund (3/4LW)
    Nygard (3LW)
    Haas (3/4C)
    Puljujarvi (3RW)
    Yamamoto (3RW)

    We have undeveloped skill guys you can’t put on the 4th line, but aren’t good enough to put in the top 6.

    We have AHL and European prospects who should be top 9 guys but you can’t say for sure.

    We have some guys who could play top 6 if they have real top 6 guys on their line (Drai-McD-Kass).

    Best thing to do is get a real top 6 RW, push one of the top 9 LWs up and suddenly the forward group looks pretty good.

    Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
    Chiasson-Nuge-2RW
    Khaira-XXXXXX-Gagner
    Lucic-Haas-Benson

  • toprightcorner

    I would love to try Draisaitl and Nuge on the 2nd line. It would force the other team to make a decision on which line to shut down with their best d-pairing. If they still focus on McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge will do some serious damage, and McDavid will still get his 100 points regardless. If they focus on Nuge and Draisaitl, McDavid will make the other teams line look foolish.

    The key to this is to find 2 players to play with McDavid. I don’t think they have to be fantastic players, they just have to be able to do 2 things, skate and have the hockey IQ to get to the right spots in the ice.

    Kassian has proven he can skate and get into the right spots on the ice for McDavid to find him. He can also o into the corners to get the puck.

    That leaves 1 spot to fill. Chaisson and Gagner are too slow, so they are not a fit. Granlund is fast and he has proven to play well with elite players in the Sedins when he scored 19 goals, so he has shown he has the hckey IQ to get int the right spots. Nygaard is also very fast and being top 7 in goal scoring in his league last year, he can put the puck in the net. Haas and Jurco are bigger wild cards, but both have wheels. I don’t see them as much of a fit but speed alone can help the McDavid line.

    If Kassian scores at 75% of last years pace with McDavid, he will score about 20 goals. If Granlund or Nygaard can score 15 goals (I think that is reasonable) with McDavid, that makes that a pretty solid line. Draisaitl will double shift with McDavid and will get another 5 minutes together a game which would add another 10 goals to that line. Tht could be 45 goals from McDavids wingers, which would be fantastic and make them a dominant line.

    I would actually keep Nuge as center and Draisaitl on the wing on the 2nd line. Drai is much more successful moving to the wing than Nuge. Having Nuge play with an elite winger all season should allow him to match last years career high in points, maybe even surpass it. Them together also makes the other winger much more productive and could get them to the 15-20 goal range.

    Splitting up McDavid and Draisaitl will probably decrease each of their point totals a bit,(at least Draisaitls) but the improved over all production on the second line should more than make up for it. It is well known that the Oilrs need to be more productive when McDavid is not on the ice, and this is the best way to do it.

    Estimate goals keeping Draisaitl and McDavid together:

    Drai (42) – McDavid (50) – Kassian (20) – line goals – 112
    Nygard (12) – Nuge (22) – Chaisson (14) – line goals – 48
    Goal total – 160

    Separating McDavid and Draisaitl:

    Granlund (20) – McDavid (45) – Kassian (18) – line goals – 83
    Draisaitl (38) – Nuge (32) – Chaisson – (18) – line goals – 88

    The team is more balanced, makes it much more difficult for the other team to defend and it also means that the Oilers will have 2 lines that should outscore the opposition instead of just one. More puck and zone control means fewer goals against.

    It doesn’t give you the best line in hockey, but it gives you a much better top 6 that should lead to more wins.
    Goal total – 171

    • TKB2677

      I agree with you. I don’t think the Oilers are taking advantage of the fact that they have the best player in the world in McDavid and then a really top end player in Leon. The Oilers should be like the Pens were with Crosby and Malkin.

      Crosby was the best player in the world and Malkin was one hell of a player on his own. They didn’t play them together hardly ever. Last year Crosby had Guentzel and guys like Sheary on his wings. Guentzel was a 3rd round pick who had OK college numbers. He had 40 goals last year. Sheary was a college free agent who again wasn’t amazing in college. Then they loaded up the second line with Malkin flanked but Kessel.

      So why can’t the Oilers do that? McDavid turned Maroon, a 3rd liner who’s best year was 11 goals into 27 goals. Why couldn’t the Oilers take one of their 12-13 goal guys they have signed and as long as he can skate, put him with McDavid.

  • ed from edmonton

    About the only thing we know for sure is that Mcd/Drai will spend a lot of time together. Tippet has basically stated this. The third amigo will be determined by how others perform and given LD can play either wing there are lot of options. But really, other than McD/D and RNH we are likely to see a lot of players being shuffled in and out of the top 6 due to injuries, who is going well and just Tippett’s gut feel sometimes.

  • OilCan2

    I like the scratch and win idea a lot. Keep the cash or toss the ticket in the re cycling bin. The roster seems set up pretty well already so it’s time to wait and see what Tipp (AKA the STACHE) does with the raw material.

  • Dean Martin

    You didn’t mention Josh Archibald in this? While not a premier player (no one really is on the list) he was +1 last season… He’d be part of the lottery ticket conversation.

  • TKB2677

    Even if Holland had cap space, I don’t want him to go big game hunting. We see it time and time again that teams go nuts, give these UFA’s way too much money and term and the contract ends up being horrible.

    As an example. The Hayes contract will be bad. I bet the Bobrovsky contract in a couple of years will be bad. Zuccerella, Panarin, I could see not being good in a few years. Duchense, Erikisson. All these long term, big money contracts I can see being bad.

  • hagar

    McDavid should just start being a greedy bugger.
    Put leon with nuge on the second, leave them together for a couple months to jive, then mcdavid can go full Rambo with whomever they put with him.

    He passes the puck to players less qualified than he is to take the shot like 2 out of 3 times. Tell him to go full Ovechkin and go after goals like a fat kid does ice cream.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    There is all this talk about getting top 6 help via trade now…. im curious what exactly are we trading for a top 6 winger? and how we fit their cap in? I’m sure nobody is taking a crappy contract of ours for legitimate top 6 talent. So if were trading someone like say Nurse for a top 6 winger, then we’re just creating another hole on D to add to the forward group, and I don’t think we’re really getting ahead….. has anyone heard anything about what this “trade” scenario may look like?

  • Ty Guy

    I get treading through free agency cautiously (our hands are tied by PC) but I can’t help but see these additions as furthering our development of KHL players. I would be interested to know what team has had the most players leave for the KHL after their respectful NHL (or any other) team did not sign them. The Oiler list seems awfully long…Pakarinen, Yakapov, Linell, Reider, Lander, Rattie, Omark, Brule, Hartikinen, Yakimov, Scrivens…..its like we are perpetually the last choice before Europe…and that is just the ones i can name.

    • Dean Martin

      Come on man! Half those players you mentioned were traded for assets to other NHL teams, before they crossed the pond… Or just not re-signed. Nothing wrong with not re-signing a player & letting them walk.

      • Ty Guy

        i know, i get that not all left directly from Edmonton but a good chunk made their last NHL stand here….even if we traded a 4th rounder to get any of those guys it is still a wasted asset on a one year bust…times that by 15 and thats a lot for nothing.

      • Ty Guy

        and Yak was the only one i remember being able to move for anything…at all…the rest i am sure were just waved and let go..regardless of what we paid for them…

        • Dean Martin

          Seem to remember Scrievens for Kassian? But Montreal wanted him gone desperately. You don’t need to remind us why. Zach seems to have successfully moved past those days & good for him (& us).
          Every team has to make a lot of cuts every year, via trade, buy-outs, waivers, not re-signing,… whatever. Those you mentioned were over a number of years. For as bad as the Oilers have been, and the changes in management, that’s not a lot. We are not an anomaly.

  • SmyttysMulletsRevenge

    Draisaitl produced just fine without McDavid.

    BOTH McDavid and Draisaitl produce far better with each other. I cant remember the exact numbers but they both had 2.5 ish goals per 60 apart and over 4 together.

    Criticizing Draisaitls production away from McDavid is just ignorance.

  • toprightcorner

    I like the low risk scratch tickets. If they don’t work out, they can be sent to the minors with minimal or no cap hit. Jurco and Haas ar on 2-way deals, Archibald and Nygard at $1 mill would only be $75k cap hit if in the minors. If just one of those hit and scores 15 goals, it is a win all around. If you throw in Granlund, I think there is a very good probability that 2 of the 5 can score 15 goals. Those are much better odds than overpaying a player for too long that may or may not score 20.

    The Oilers need to increase by about 20 goals to their bottom 6 from last year. Considering Lucic and Brodziak had 6, Gagner had 5, Rattie had 4, Khaira had 3 and Cave had 2, it won’t take much to beat that. Gagner can probably get 10-12, Lucic repeats with 6, Khaira bounces back with 8, Granlund scores 12, Archibald scores 8, and Haas, Jurco and Nygard combine for 15-17 goals, that is 57 goals compared to 26 goals and that is 31 more goals from the bottom 6. Those 31 goals will cost around $4 mill if Haas, Jurco and Nygard play an AHL season worth of cames combined.

    You are not adding a 30 goal scorer for that price and the risk is way less becasue only 2 of the 5 added players need to have a decent year.

    • Clubhouse

      I tend to agree with you the other big factor is goal differential which our bottom six was -30 last year. So if those players can get 31 more as you outline and reduce goals against by say 15 then we’re really cooking with fire in the bottom 6.