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The Oilers’ need for three scoring lines

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Tyler Yaremchuk
1 month ago
Are we really going to talk about the need for more scoring after an eight-goal explosion? 
You better believe it.
For just the third time since the calendar flipped to 2024, the Oilers scored more than four goals in a game as their offence, as Connor McDavid and the boys exploded in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings.
Yet here I am, getting ready to talk about how GM Ken Holland better be ready to give up some serious assets to get this team more depth scoring.
The Oilers’ offence has been pretty inconsistent over the last few months, even if their record has been remarkable. They’ve been winning a lot of low-scoring hockey games and relying on a lot of third-period surges to win games. 
We aren’t getting the kind of consistently dominant offensive performances from this team that we’ve had in years past, and it’s because of their lack of depth scoring.
Right now, their entire bottom six feels like an offensive black hole, but for the moment, I want to focus on the third line of Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, and Warren Foegele.
Those three have been dubbed “The Cardio Line” because when they’re on the ice, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot going on besides skating.
That trio has been on the ice for a total of 48 minutes at 5v5 and in that time, they have not scored a single goal together. They’ve only allowed one goal against, which is obviously good, but they haven’t scored once.
On paper, that feels like a trio that should work. All three can skate really well, they forecheck hard and both Foegele and McLeod have each shown at different points that they can be relied upon to put the puck in the net but for whatever reason, they just don’t seem to be able to score when they’re all on the ice at the same time.
When you look at just Foegele and McLeod’s numbers without Dylan Holloway, they’re actually somewhat impressive.
With just McLeod and Foegele on the ice this season, the Oilers have outscored the opposition 12-9 in 221 5v5 minutes. They also control nearly 57% of the shot attempts. That’s solid stuff.
However, if you dig a little bit deeper, you see that this is more a result of them being teamed up with Leon Draisaitl for a significant stretch.
Those two have spent 88 minutes on Draisaitl’s wing this season and in that time, they outscored the opposition 10-3.
In the 182 minutes that Foegele and McLeod have been away from Draisaitl this season, they’re being outscored 7-2. That is a massive swing.
So maybe it’s time to accept Foegele and McLeod for what they actually are: really solid support pieces and not two players who can be relied upon to drive offence on their own.
That’s totally fine as well. I’m not saying this to bring down those players. What they did on Draisaitl’s wing was really impressive and they’re two players who have the unique ability to keep up with an elite centreman. They have proven that they can be positive assets for the Oilers if they’re used right.
It just might be time to start using them in the way in which they’ve been the most successful this season and that might change the Oilers’ deadline plans.
They had a second line that worked and Head Coach Kris Knoblauch broke it up and while the duo of Evander Kane and Corey Perry has looked fine next to Leon Draisaitl, scoring three goals in 33 5v5 minutes for context, I think moving McLeod and Foegele up next to Draisaitl gives the Oilers the best chance to create three scoring lines.
To do that, I also think the Oilers need to seriously consider adding a high-end third-line centre ahead of the trade deadline and there are two names that I really like.
The first is Boone Jenner, who I’ve talked about a lot over the last month or so.
He’s under control for two more seasons with a cap hit of $3.75m. He can score goals, win faceoffs, and contribute on the penalty kill, which would make it easier to take a piece like Mattias Janmark or Derek Ryan out of the lineup. 
If the Blue Jackets make him available, then the Oilers should be calling.
The other name is Scott Laughton. At 29-years-old, he’s a year younger than Jenner. He also costs less with a cap hit of just $3m and with two years left on his current deal, he can help the Oilers for more than just one playoff run.
Both of those players could slide into the Oilers third line and it’s easy to see the kind of depth a move like that would give the team.
Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Laughton/Jenner – Perry
Holloway – Ryan – Brown
I would also be a fan of adding a legit scoring winger to the mix, but the more I think about the idea of adding an impactful third-line centre and moving the McLeod and Foegele duo back to Draisaitl’s wing, where they had a solid run of success, the more I like it.

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