I wasn’t surprised by the reaction of Oilers fans today when the news hit Jesse Puljujarvi was practicing on the McDavid line. Oilers fans have seen the big Finn alongside 97 in the past (84 minutes a year ago) but I get why there’s some excitement right now. In 2017-18, coach Todd McLellan has been adhering to a very specific set of linemates for Connor McDavid. Patrick Maroon only recently moved off LW (Milan Lucic moving in) and Leon Draisaitl has been on right-wing most of the time after Kailer Yamamoto was sent to Spokane.

5x5x97 (2017-18)

  1. Patrick Maroon 291 minutes (14-15 GF)
  2. Leon Draisaitl 213 minutes (13-9 GF)
  3. Milan Lucic 72 minutes (4-3 GF)
  4. Kailer Yamamoto 62 minutes (2-2 GF)
  5. Drake Caggiula 54 minutes (4-8 GF)
  6. Mike Cammalleri 30 minutes (1-1 GF)
  7. Source
These wingers are the only ones who have played more than 20 minutes with Connor McDavid this season. There are several wingers waiting for their chance, here are their numbers with 97 so far in 2017-18:
  1. Zack Kassian 19:28 (0-0 GF)
  2. Mark Letestu 8:01 (0-0 GF)
  3. Jujhar Khaira 6:46 (1-0 GF)
  4. Ryan Strome 6:09 (1-0 GF)
  5. Iiro Pakarinen 5:25 (0-0 GF)
  6. Jussi Jokinen 5:09 (0-1 GF)
  7. Anton Slepyshev 4:34 (0-1 GF)
  8. Brad Malone 3:01 (0-0 GF)
  9. Jesse Puljujarvi 2:49 (0-1 GF)
  10. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1:40 (0-0 GF)
  11. Source
I thought we’d see Leon Draisaitl on RW 70 percent of the time this season, Ryan Strome the other 30 percent. So far, Strome has seen six minutes and Draisaitl has spent about 55 percent of the total RW time available. Based on the numbers, the only truly regrettable choice is Drake Caggiula, who has been on for about an hour and is -4. That’s whatever is beyond alarming.

What’s Your Line?

I think the Oilers should run the lines thusly tomorrow night:
  • Maroon-McDavid-Draisaitl
  • Lucic-Nuge-Slepyshev
  • Cammalleri-Strome-Puljujarvi
  • Khaira-Letestu-Kassian
I like JP but want him to run against the soft parade. I think he could benefit from playing with a veteran like Cammalleri. I’m giving the push to Slepyshev and mostly I’m giving McDavid the two best available wingers. You?