Skilled attacking winger for McDavid? √
Right role for Lucic? √
Wingers for Draisaitl? √
Spots where Puljujarvi and Yamamoto can thrive? Hmm.
Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan has (for now at least) solved the three most pressing issues on the wing for the Edmonton Oilers, but he’s got a fourth major one still to address.
Two of the major issues were holdovers for last year, namely finding the right star attacker to play with Connor McDavid and the need to put Milan Lucic on a checking line as opposed to a scoring line. The third issue came up this year with Leon Draisaitl moving to centre, creating a need to find the two wingers who can play well with him.
On all three of those matters, McLellan (with the help of Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli) has at last come up with working solutions.
Issue #1: The right star to play with McDavid
There’s no doubt that McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have magic in three-on-three overtime, but it’s also the case that they failed to replicate that magic at even strength last year. Draisaitl especially became too passive when he was playing with McDavid, failing to move his feet, failing to drive hard with the puck. For his part, McDavid also tended to over-pass cheap edmonton oilers jersey
the puck when teamed with Draisaitl. At the same time, having both on the same line meant only one other forward on the team had the luxury of playing with them, as opposed to four other forwards if you split them up.
McLellan needed a top flight winger to play with McDavid and he found that player late, late, late last season in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a strong two-way player but not one capable of driving his own line to success, as Draisaitl can do, or should be able to do. So far RNH has excelled on McDavid’s wing, scoring 12 points in 10 games this year, half of the points at even strength. McDavid has also excelled at even strength, making a major contribution (a shot, pass or screen) on 2.8 Grade A scoring chances per game this year as opposed to 2.2 per game last year.
For his part, RNH is chipping in on 1.9 even strength per game this year as opposed to 1.3 last year.
Draisaitl is at 1.6 this year after being at 1.7 last year, but his two-way game has only started to pick up in recent games, as he’s grown more used to playing full games at centre again.