Our First Official “Depth Chart” of 2017-18 is Out and Ready for Camp

We back! This is the first real thing we can genuinely analyze of the 2017-18 Oilers season and I think I speak for all of us when I say let’s giddy up and go. THOUGHTS!

 

Thought 1: Swap Strome for RNH

Listen, I love that centre depth. Especially when you consider where we were like five years ago, woof. I’m going on a limb and saying it’s at least one of the best one-two-three punch in the league and you can @ me if you don’t agree. I don’t care. That’s a three headed goddamn monster.

However.

I don’t like the idea of having RNH stuffed in a bottom six role. It’s a waste, quite honestly. If you’re on the side of keeping Nuge, then his role being diminished to third line minutes is not the best way to utilize his talents. If you’re in favour of trading Nuge, then his value is being abolished playing that low in the lineup. Get him up with McDaddy and maximize what he can deliver, and make Strome the third line centre with Jokinen. I actually love the idea of having Strome and Jokinen as a third line pair. That Jussi deal doesn’t get talked about enough for how great it was. Playing Strome with Jokinen could potentially transform into a steady 7-8-9 hole that eats tough minutes against opposing teams’ top lines…

…Unless, of course, you’re planning on trading Strome after the year. Strome, as you may know, is a restricted free agent. The McDrai mega deals have eaten up $21 million George Washingtons of cap. Thinking longterm, the Big Rig’s a free agent after next year. Matty Benning and Daryl Nurse are restricted free agents and will require a raise. With an abundance of young wingers running deep in our pipeline, is it possible that Strome is being showcased this season?

Thought 2: Swap Caggiula and the Pool Party

Please? Not that I have any overarching problems with Drake Caggiula, because I don’t. I love the way he finished the season. I like what he brings. It has nothing to do with Drake, at all. It has everything to do with this guy:

God, look at him. The idea of a line that features Puljujarvi-Draisaitl-Lucic makes the groin hammer certifiably stiff. You want to get Milan’s 5×5 play elevated? Play him with these two. You want to get Jesse’s NHL confidence up? Play him with these two. You want to give Draisaitl centre responsibilities but don’t want to losing any of the production he brought to the table last season playing with Connor McDavid? Good luck, but playing him with these two will no doubt make the transition easier. I need Jesse as a full time NHLer next year, and I need him in the top 6.

Thought 3: Connor McDavid is going to pulverize Dougie Hamilton’s ankles and incinerate Mike Smith’s GAA

Oh baby, give me it now. Honestly has nothing to do with the line combinations. I just wanted to remind everyone. Hook this directly into my veins like a goddamn infusion pump.

Thought 4: Mark Letestu + Zack Kassian + Anybody else = Outstanding fourth line

I am on team “Zack’s going to have a bigger role this season.” That’s a fact. Last year’s co-Gator’s Grinder of the Year really elevated his play to a level we probably haven’t seen from Zack since about his second year with the Nucks, and was an absolute wrecking ball in the playoffs. But I still love Zack on the fourth line. That’s his mecca. That’s where Zack shines. Slugging it out against the other team’s sluggers, day and night. Intimidation factor, level x-finity:

I’m expecting good things out of the Kassassin this year.

Death, taxes, Leon killing Ducks, Sam Bennett struggling to pull his chin in an upward motion over two handles, and Mark Letestu on the power play. Other than Sam Gagner, I can’t think of another team who had a legitimate power play weapon who played regular fourth line minutes for the season’s entirety. In 13 playoff games, the pride of Elk Point had eight (8!!!!!) power play points. Obviously this option isn’t longterm, as Mark’s nine months away from being a 33-year-old free agent, and I’m a firm believer that Jesse will take his power play role either at some point this year, or next. But still, having a player capable of dropping 30+ points as your fourth line centre is an option that almost no other teams have stuffed in their arsenal.

Play anybody else with these two and I’ll be okay with it. Maybe it’s Tony Time when he gets back (what a line, think about that, bah gawd!). At least for now it appears to be a competition between JJ and Iiro the Hero, and both players bring a similar yet different element to the table. Maybe it’s a surprise out of training camp, like Joey Gambardella, or the recently added Chris Kelly. Either way, we’re going to roll a steady 10-11-12, and I’m breezy with that.

Thought 5: Is there a chance that Kailer Yamamoto cracks this lineup?

Honestly, no. Probably not. If we’re learned anything in the past, it’s that fast-tracking young forwards into NHL games is not always the best option. Connor, and Taylor Hall, and Nuge are my only three exceptions. They were ready to compete at a higher level and had proven more than enough at the junior level. The reality is that in the 10 seasons of B.C. (before Connor) misery, we’d grown far too accustomed to 18-year-olds being air-dropped into our opening night lineup, a ploy used as a mechanism by management either to appease the fan base, or disguise the fact that our lineup was regularly an unholy dumpster fire. I think the kid is going to be literal art to watch play, and I cannot wait for that day to come. That day just shouldn’t be opening night. Plus, extending the years on his entry level deal would be by far in the best interest of this organization. Let the kid grow into a superstar. We can wait.

PS – Speaking of training camps, Vancouver has to be PSYCHED about watching their cesspool of young players entering camp. Here’s 2016 5th overall pick Olli Juolevi getting the bejesus torched out of him by former Edmonton Oil King, Brett Pollock:

God, that’s good stuff. Someday, instead of a good Sherwood Park boy and everyday ECHLer ripping down the wing, that will be the NHL’s reigning MVP. I will thoroughly enjoy that day.

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