News in the NHL has slowed to a trickle over the last few weeks. Especially if you are a fan of the blue and orange. The only real notable news is the training camp invites and the venerable Lowetide has those covered for us here. There are a couple notable players on that list of camp invites. Especially defenseman Loik Leveille, forward Rihards Bukarts, and goaltender Jordan Papirny. All three are players that I would have though would have been drafted but the NHL is a different animal and the best players are not always the ones that are selected. The Oilers currently have eight players coming to camp on an invite but with nearly a month to go until camp officially opens we could still see more added to the list. I know a lot of people are still hoping to see diminutive forward Vladimir Tkachev receive an invite but I think that ship has sailed and should the pint-sized player receive said invitation I highly doubt it is with Edmonton.
So what else is there to discuss in Oiler-land? The vast majority of blog sites as well as most main stream media are busy with point projections, line combinations, and standings predictions at this point in the summer so that just goes to show just how little is actually happening at the Oilers offices over on Kingsway.
I happened to be surfing the web this morning and came across a few rumors that, while I don’t think are actually going to happen, still got me to thinking about possible changes that would greatly affect how Connor McDavid is used in his first season of professional hockey. The first rumor is the Kevin Shattenkirk for Jordan Eberle that is making the rounds on the net right now. I’m not going to say much about this proposal as it has been covered today already in the Sunday Night Pint by myself and several others. You really should read the post, it is a terrific series we run every Sunday. If you haven’t read it yet then shame on you but here is a quick link to the post. The other rumor that I read, and I have no intention of offering free publicity to the original poster, is that the New York Rangers supposedly have some interest in doing a swap of Keith Yandle for the so-called enigmatic Nail Yakupov. I would have to think about that deal long and hard before I decided either way but that is irrelevant at this point.
For my intents and purposes I want to assume that one of the two is moved. Return is of little consequence to this post because obviously if either is moved it will be for help on the back end and not a right wing that can play top six minutes. Should Peter Chiarelli decide to move either Ebs or Yak prior to the season than who can fill the hole left behind? That is the $64,000 question. Can Edmonton trade their best player on the starboard side for defensive help without bringing in help from outside the organization to fill it?
The funny thing is that prior to the draft lottery on April 18th, a night that will live forever to Oilers fans, I would have said there was absolutely no chance that Eberle would be moved as there just wasn’t anyone close to being able to fill his skates so to speak. Winning that lottery changed everything for the Oilers. We went from having a middle of the pack prospect group to have the best group in the entire league. Between McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse and Reinhart we have four young players that should make huge impacts on this team sooner or later. My money is on sooner by the way.
Should Edmonton move Jordan we are left with a gaping hole on the right side that needs to be effectively filled for there to be any chance of a playoff appearance this season. Do any of the three other right wings that are expected to be on the opening night roster look like they are able to bring what Jordan does on a nightly basis? They sure don’t to me.
Likely the best option available may be for one of our two prospect centers to be moved to the right side and hope they are able to keep up. To me the two best options for a replacement from within would definitely be Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Both are extremely highly touted prospects and would both be able to handle the pressure of playing in the top six on the right side.
Obviously the issue here is which player would be better suited to the move? Everyone knows the scouting reports for these two players and what each kid will potentially bring to the line up. With Draisaitl we have a big player that has hands of silk and quite possibly the best passing ability on the entire team. He has 39 games of pro experience so he obviously already knows what it will take for him to be on the team for the duration. There isn’t really anything that needs to be said about McDavid that hasn’t already been said before by someone. He is the real deal and from where I stand I don’t really see any weaknesses in his game.
In my opinion the easiest way to answer the question of which guy to move is essentially answered by who would be more important to this team as a center this fall. If I was the general manager I think I would be inclined to put Leon at center and move Connor to the wing. If for no other reason than because Leon is huge! His size lends itself well to having to line up against the big bad centers of the western conference. To me Draisaitl would be much better equipped to do battle with the Getzlaf’s and Kopitar’s in the west than the smaller McDavid. Not that I think that Connor couldn’t handle it because he has excelled at every challenge that has been placed in front of him for the better part of the last decade so to count him out would be extremely foolish.
More than likely Connor would handle himself just fine as a rookie center in the NHL even if he doesn’t dominate from the outset but why add that extra pressure to a kid that is already under more pressure than any player since Crosby. I would actually venture to say that McDavid is under more pressure for the simple fact that the Oilers fans are such a ravenous bunch that most expect an immediate turn around now that he is in the fold even though one player can’t do it all on his own. Those are some insanely high expectations to place on an 18 year old kid. Even one that is as poised and mature as Connor appears to be.
What would you do? Would you move McDavid to the wing? Leon? Or do you have another option in mind? Personally I think both Ebs and Yak will be here come October and this argument will have been pointless. Fun but pointless nonetheless.
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