The Edmonton Oilers kicked off training camp Friday, marking the first time the team got to formally practice together.
On the first day, Edmonton decided to put Connor McDavid on a line with Ryan Strome. This was perhaps the biggest storyline so far of camp, and here’s why this pairing makes a lot of sense heading into the year.
Edmonton acquired the 23-year-old in an offseason trade, which saw Jordan Eberle going back in return to the New York Islanders. Though Strome is a centre, he hasn’t had much success or consistency down the middle and needs to find his rhythm with the Oilers. Plus, with Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Letestu filling out the roles of centre, it just shows that Strome would be better utilized on the right side.
Not only that, playing him on the wing may help him better produce and adjust to his new team and role. Ultimately, putting him on a line with the captain may just be a surefire way to help him boost his totals.
Strome as a Winger
Also, when it comes to scoring and success, speed will play a huge factor. So, having him on a line with McDavid will help him work on his skating, and hopefully, he will be able to move quickly, which should help his overall value and result in greater scoring chances.
Additionally, Edmonton’s depth on the right side likely resulted in Strome being placed on the wing. With Eberle gone, Edmonton has Jesse Puljujarvi and Jussi Jokinen ready to compete for a spot on the top six. They could play Draisaitl on the wing as well; however, this would be a waste of a perfectly good second-line centre. He is able to carry his own line and would be more of an asset and better serve his teammates down the middle than on the top line.
They could play Draisaitl on the wing as well; however, this would be a waste of a perfectly good second-line centre. He is able to carry his own line and would be more of an asset and better serve his teammates down the middle than on the top line.
Behind these players, Zack Kassian, Anton Slepyshev and Iiro Pakarinen are next in line for a spot on the wing. However, they are not proven high-scorers, whereas Strome has shown his potential and ability to produce.
Overall, it is more beneficial to have Strome on the wing, and if continues to succeed with McDavid during camp, these two could see time together during the regular season.