Ah, July. The time of year that the ice melts, the beer hats are saved just for Eskimos games, and your wife gets to watch HER shows. You still watch That’s Hockey on TSN but that’s all the fix you’ll get.
It’s also the season when bloggers go ape trying to think of a new topic to write about without boring their readers to tears. Today, I have no fancy graphs or ratings, or sledgehammers or any of that stuff. So–here’s where we get into some fun speculation. If the Oilers iced the team as is (with Leon Draisaitl in the line up), would they make it into the playoffs?
First, let’s look at a potential line up:
Hall – RNH – Eberle
Perron – Arcobello – Purcell
Pouliot – Draisaitl – Yakupov
Hendricks – Gordon – Pitlick
Extra forwards: Lander, Gazdic
At first glance, there is a solid forward group in place. Of course, the center depth is troubling on the two lines between Boyd Gordon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I’m a big fan of Mark Arcobello, but we aren’t in the east, where smaller guys like him thrive. He will be in tough facing off against Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin when Dallas visits.
Draisaitl is a variable only because he’s an unknown quantity. He may struggle to adapt to the NHL initially and so it’s likely he starts on the third line where he will face Shawn Horcoff type players instead of Evgeni Malkin.
What stands out is that each line has some toughness and size now, something you couldn’t say this time last year. Additionally, the forwards will be backed up by a better goaltending tandem. And, best of all, the defensive core is much improved.
Fayne – Petry
Nikitin – Schultz
Marincin – Ference
Let’s keep in mind that the sixth and seventh spots could be populated by Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom, who are no small potatoes. Ference is in third pairing instead of the top 2–in fact, this defending core is one where the players are more within their wheelhouse. They won’t be streched as thin; LIKING that Top 4 despite the absence of a true top d-man.
Will they make the playoffs with this line up?
But, they will come within striking distance. I see a definite improvement on the horizon, but the line up needs a couple more tweaks before the 94 point finish line is in sight. The Oilers may surprise us but forgive me if I’m just a little skeptical.
Expect more in depth coverage and predictions over the summer. Want to write for us? Drop us a line!