We are just under 3 months from the start of the 2016/17 NHL season and there are still some questions going forward regarding the Oilers roster composition. I’d like to try to briefly address some of those in today’s post.
With the additions of Adam Larsson, Milan Lucic, Pat Maroon, Zack Kassian, and the subtraction of Taylor Hall; are the Oilers going to be a fast enough team to compete?
Yak and Eberle aren’t that fleet of foot but Puljujarvi and McDavid and facking concords on ice. Pouliot is no ferrari either but then there’s Draisaitl, who is like a big German locomotive, slow to get going but bloody fast and hard to stop once the coal is burning at high heat.
One would think that McLellan’s chip and chase style would be dependant on players who can skate fast, no?
In the West where size seems to be the prevalent factor in playing style, the Oilers should fair well. But what about when they come up against teams like Chicago who aren’t big at all? I mean the Hawks are the Hawks, there’s no denying that but I think we’ll have to keep an eye on this issue going into the year. Anaheim tried to address that with the acquisition of Carl Hagelin last year and look how that turned out. Pittsburgh did the same thing and it panned out perfectly for them. So it is a bit of a toss-up but if it indeed becomes a problem, who would be the first to be moved out?
So the powerplay units are going to be something interesting to follow this year. How will they be shaped if a PP QB is or isn’t acquired? This is how I’d run them:
PP1: Lucic – McDavid – Eberle – Yakupov – Klefbom
I think the two comments that come to mind off the bat are Yak and Klefbom. I think that the Oilers need to give Yakupov every bit of opportunity to succeed as possible. They need to glue him to McDavid’s hip for half a season and see what comes of it. On the PP Yak could set up in the high slot in the way Brett Hull used to when he had Adam Oates feeding him the puck.
Obviously the play would move through McDavid, Lucic would provide the net-front presence, Eberle the off-hand shot from the left wall and klefbom would give the unit a cannon from the point and some defensive coverage if something goes haywire.
The only thing I don’t like here is that there’s only one centre and it could be overpowered by a larger and more aggressive PK squad
PP2: Pouliot – Nuge – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi – Larsson
On this unit I’d like the end game to be Puljujarvi’s one-timer. Whether he’s on the point of off the high left-wall Ovechkin style, he needs to be the guy getting the shots. This unit could definitely play the Sedin Cycle down low given its size and work the puck out to Larsson or Pulju or even Nuge’s shot is deceptive.
The issue with this grouping is that there are a lot of playmakers who might be tempted to look for that perfect moment to let ‘er fly and apart from Puljuarvi, not a lot of speed.
You might be wanting to slot in Brandon Davidson because of his bazooka or Jordan Oesterle due to his ability to rush and move the puck up the ice. To each his own. We don’t even know if Puljujarvi will be on the team come opening night versus the Flames.
One thing I do know is that the PP is going to be much MUCH better now that Hall isn’t sucking the power out of it. Bloody guy was absolute shit on the man-advantage. Wanna know how bad he was? Over that last four years Lauri Korpikoski and Mark Letestu had better points/60 on the PP… Good luck in the swamp Hallsy.
THE BOTTOM SIX
Depending on how you see where Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl are playing, the bottom six is shaping up to start as such:
L3: Maroon – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
L4: Hendricks – Letestu – Kassian
We’re leaving out Anton Lander and Iiro Pakarinen here. Also, there’s the fact the Oilers have Jujhar Khaira, Tyler Pitlick, Anton Slepyshev, and possibly Drake Caggiula who could win a spot because Matty Hendricks is getting up there and isn’t likely to play all 82, Kassian could lose his shit and give someone a tombstone piledriver in a scrum and Jesse Puljujarvi might very well start the year in Bakersfield.
Draisaitl and Puljujarvi are an interesting duo here. The German being the playmaker and the Grinning Finn being the trigger man with Maroon ready to drop anybody that comes within 20ft of either of them. I’m tempted to say that the Oilers could do better than what you see above with Jiri Hudler and Kris Versteeg still on the market. Both of whom make their linemates better, are savvy veterans, and both who could step into the top 6 if need be. At the moment, the only players who could step into the top 6 are Maroon, Draisaitl, and Puljujarvi (maybe).
Mark McNeill and Derek Grant might be names to keep an eye out for come the end of training camp when teams are looking to get their final rosters sorted. Bob Stauffer has talked about Mark McNeill and Derek Grant in the past, so it’s always good to keep a keen ear when Stauff is chatting about on his show Oilers Now!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below and give us a follow on Twitter (@beerleagueheroe)