Hello, and welcome to, the Edmonton Oilers Bachelor competition! Where we find out which 2 of these lucky right wingers will be selected to play in the middle six for the Oilers in the 2016-2017 season! Now before I announce who I believe the winners are let’s first meet our lucky contestants:
Contestant number one is a 5’11, 195 pound left shooter from Nizhnekamsk, Russia. 22 year old Nail Yakupov, the much maligned right winger who has never quite lived up to the hype of being drafted first overall in 2012. The positives for this player include, a hard, accurate shot, and a hard working attitude. Unfortunately his achilles heel is his inability to defend and his inability to think the game. If he can learn to defend and be in the right spot more often than not there’s a good chance he’s deployed on the 2/3 line (much to my personal distaste).
Contestant number two is our most recent lottery pick, Jesse Puljujarvi. The 6’4, 203 pound winger from Älvkarleby, Sweden most recently put on a clinic in the Penticton Young Stars tournament netting 2 goals and adding 4 assists in 2 games. His main strengths are his combination of size and speed and his wicked release. This along with the fact he’s a right shot and his super strong two way game make him a strong candidate for NHL employment for a long time to come. The downside currently in his game is experience. Although he did play extremely well in Penticton he has been streaky at best in the preseason as he’s only had 1 goal through 4 games, mainly playing with Nugent-Hopkins and Pouliot. his play, factoring in his line mates suggests he needs AHL time to acclimate to North American ice.
The final contestant is at the moment I’m writing this, on a PTO. Born in Lethebridge, Alberta native Kris Versteeg is on coming off a season in which he scored 15 goals and 23 assists, totaling at 38 points. This is very good production for a middle six player and along with his strong two way play he’s a good candidate to be signed to a contract. At 5’11 he’s not the biggest guy but more often than not he makes the smart play and he’s a fierce competitor. The biggest challenge for him at 30 will be him potentially losing a step which seeing him play doesn’t seem to be the case.
I’d like to start this by saying that I’m a huge believer in balancing the roster. As such I am a big believer in putting Yak with Mcdavid. I know it’s a horse that’s been beat to death but I do believe it’s absolute best way to ice our RW depth. Our combos would then be Mcdavid with Yakupov, Nugent-Hopkins with Eberle, and Versteeg with Draisaitl. This means that Puljujarvi would have a year in the AHL on the top line with Drake Cagguila. This, to me is best way to use our right wing depth as it hopefully means all lines are doing well, and it gives us a way to inflate Yak’s value to potentially dump him at the deadline.
Todd Mclellan’s Thinking
If I was Todd Mclellan, The most likely scenario for opening night is having Cagguila play third line center with Draisaitl and Versteeg playing the wings. He’s been known to stack centers on lines to make the line better. Much like in San Jose I see him doing it in Edmonton to maximize talent in the top six. This would make our lines look like this:
With the current long term injuries to Pakarinen and Hendricks, look for either Slepyshev or Pitlick to fill in for Hendricks. I personally think this is a dumb idea but I’m not payed millions to make these decisions so maybe Mclellan knows something I don’t. At any rate the most likely scenario sees three guys fighting for one spot and out of the three I’d bet on Edmonton going with the veteran to play with Cagguila and picking Versteeg. This means that Puljujarvi is in the AHL and Yakupov is in the press box. I do believe that Mclellan is very seriously considering Draisaitl on the wing but until opening night, we wait.