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Oilers reunite top line after one game apart, set to make Connor Brown a healthy scratch against Devils

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Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
4 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have shaken up their lines once again — but this time, it sees them not only reunite the top line, but remove Connor Brown from the lineup making him a healthy scratch.
While the Oilers had elevated Evander Kane to the top line, dropping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the second for a Tuesday night game against the New York Islanders, that move has been reverted in practice Wednesday. That, however, may not be the biggest move of note, as the club appears ready to remove Brown from their lineup.
Brown’s tenure in Edmonton has been nothing short of a disaster. He inked a league minimum deal for this season, but his contract stipulated he would be owed a $3.225-million bonus, bumped ahead to the 2024-25 season, if he were to play ten games with the Oilers. Brown has now more than doubled that, hitting 23 games on the season, but his tenure in town has seen him score just one point — an assist — while the team has been outscored at a catastrophic 12-3 rate with him on the ice at 5v5.
Of 300 forwards who have played at least 275 minutes of 5v5 ice time, as Brown has, his 20 percent goal share is the second-worst rate, while his 2.19 on-ice shooting percentage ranks dead last. According to Evolving Hockey, Brown has provided -0.9 wins above replacement, the third-worst number among all NHL forwards with over 275 minutes of ice time.
Meanwhile, the Oilers’ top line has been nothing short of one — if not the best — in the entire NHL this season, and them being reunited is a boon for this club. Among all lines who have played 100 minutes together, their 72.2 percent goal share ranks ninth, while their 77.1 percent expected goal share is tops in the league. It’s not just the highest mark, it’s the highest mark by a staggering 10.2 percent, all according to Money Puck.
Their dominance has been seen on both sides of the ice, too. Their 5.52 expected goals per hour is the highest of any line by 1.21, while their 1.64 expected goals against per hour is the fifth-best rate.
Undoubtedly, the Oilers are a better team when this trio plays together, and will do so as the team takes on the New Jersey Devils Thursday night.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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