What Should the Oilers Do with Nuge?

Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins-Faceoff

*Editor’s note* This is a guest post from former BLH contributor Micah Kowalchuk. He’s been gracious enough to give us this post and we thought it was pretty thought provoking. Please, take a gander and let us know what you think in the comments below! Enjoy!*

Notes on the Oilers 4 games in:

McDavid, Lucic and Eberle continue to have very high advanced stats. The problem is, after them, the only other guy in the positives on the team is Maroon. In fact, Pouliot, RNH, Pitlick and Letestu are all performing incredibly bad right now.

There’s an obvious need for a change-up at forward. RNH, as much as we all love him, he’s brutal at face-offs right now and he’s not generating any points. There’s all this talk about making Draisaitl a winger for RNH, but Drai’s actually winning faceoffs and has size. It’s time to think different.

First Line

McDavid needs a fast, skilled LW with a two-way game. Congrats, RNH is now his left wing. I know, I know, we want toughness up there to protect him, etc. We’ve got lots of guys out there to do that, let’s give McDavid the speedy winger he needs, and see what this group can do with speed to burn. RNH-McDavid-Eberle.

Second Line

Let’s go for a change-up, something interesting. Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi can go out as a change-up second line, pure power and possession. I know, Puljujarvi hasn’t been performing as well, but let’s give him Lucic as a mentor and give this line a shot, this line would probably fit Puljujarvi much better.

Third Line

Ok, Cags is out long term, puts a damper on it… We’ve got Lander, Letestu and maybe Pitlick as centers here. We can give this line some good wingers in Maroon and Kassian, but at this point, I’d be accepting that Caggiula’s not going to be NHL ready any time soon, he’ll need some recovery time in the AHL. Now, at this point, I’m writing off the $4mil that is Pouliot, if RNH is a first line winger, we really can ditch Pouliot.

Fourth Line

And I’m probably going to run with a 4th line made up of Lander-Letestu-Pitlick with Slepyshev pinch-hitting in here wherever it works best. So, it’s time to deal Pouliot off for something resembling a 3C, and there’s probably a team we can find who’d be interested. Just as an example, let’s say the Oilers were to call up Toronto and offer Pouliot and a pick for Bozak, a right-shot center. The Oilers can then go Maroon-Bozak-Kassian as a 3rd line, double up on the power crew up front.

I know, we’re 3-1, but we’re 3-1 because McDavid’s dragging the team along, the RNH line isn’t working at all. We do need to address the secondary scoring at some point¬†because they’re a very expensive tire-fire, which is why the suggestions (RNH + Pouliot have combined for $10mil in salary and 2 points in 4 games, this needs to be fixed).

RNH-McDavid-Eberle, Lucic-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi, Maroon-Bozak-Kassian, Lander-Letestu-Pitlick (with Slepy fighting for a spot). And, if Caggiula does come back and Puljujarvi does need to go to the AHL, Bozak’s also more than capable of sliding to the right side and pulling his weight, and he’d probably look pretty good on that 2nd line with Lucic and Draisaitl.

The Defense

Klefbom is, right now, the third best LHD on the team. If you were to go by stats here, it should be Sekera-Larsson, Nurse-Russell, Klefbom-(insert whoever). I’ve never been a big Nurse fan, but him and Sekera are the only two + CORSI guys this year, he’s showing up to play. Larsson’s hanging in there with some very tough minutes, but Klefbom’s actually dragging down Larsson’s performance. It’s time to slide him down the line-up a little to get his feet wet. Also, I’d probably go Sekera-Russell, Nurse-Larsson, because Nurse and Larsson actually look pretty damn good together.

This brings us to the problem of who gets that 3rd pairing RHD spot with Fayne injured, Davidson injured, and Gryba not looking all that good in the spot. Sure, we can bring in Benning, but that doesn’t seem ideal right now.

Me, I’d see if Wisniewski has actually signed that KHL deal for sure, but that’s just a thought.

Thanks for reading folks.

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I'm the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I've been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I'll never leave my Oilers, no matter what! They're with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!