What a wonderful day, I'm playing a show tonight with my band [www.deathbyrobot.ca]
, I took the day off work, I'm sitting here with a hot cup of Timmy's and hockey talk is in full swing. What more could I ask for? Not a whole lot me thinks.
Anywho I figured today would be a good day to attempt a blog that actually discussed the Edmonton Oilers and my thoughts on the team going forward. I have been listening to Team 1260 lately and reading up on some blogs and it seems the thing to do right now is to break down the projected lineup. So I figure I will take a stab at it. I'm sure it won't differ significantly from what other reputable media figures have thrown out there but we will see.
For my projected lineup breakdown I will start with the forwards, give some thoughts on each line and what I expect their roles to be and what I think they will need to accomplish to have a successful season.
Line #1 (the no-brainer line)
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
No surprises here. This line has been building some insane chemistry for the past year and a half. All three compliment each other extremely well, Hall's 'if I can't go around you, I'll go through you attitude', Nuge's amazing vision and ability to distribute the puck and Eberle's ability to score that clutch goal time and time again make for a deadly combo. This line needs to be all about the offense, even with Edmonton's increased depth in the forward ranks I can't see this team having much success if the first line is not putting up at least a goal per game. For me Nuge and Eberle need to be close to a point per game for this to be a successful season. Both had monster seasons last year and have definitely clicked in OKC to start the year. if Hall can score 20-25 goals and stay healthy I will be happy and he should be to.
Line #2 (the ? line)
Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Lots of questions on this line and this is why the first line must perform. There is potential here don't get me wrong, but I would like to see it first. Nail Yakupov is a rookie and will need to adjust to professional hockey in North America. If he can score 20 goals this year I will be impressed. He will definitely get the opportunity with significant time on the PP. For Yakupov to be successful I believe Hemsky is the key. If Hemsky can stay healthy and distribute the puck like we all know he can I'm expecting some big numbers from him. As for Sam Gagner I am still not sold. I still don't see him more than a 45 point per season guy, he definitely will have the linemates this year to prove me wrong though.
Line #3 (the safety line)
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Magnus Paajarvi
A little different than what others have been suggesting. I like Paajarvi on this line because it allows him to develop into more of a complimentary player. I think Paajarvi could eventually develop into a Todd Marchant type player who is bigger and has more scoring ability. Paajarvi is a smart player and perhaps with Smyth and Horcoff could form a very effective shut down line who can chip in the odd goal here and there. For this line to be successful it is all about shutting down the opposition, winning faceoffs, killing penalties, etc.
Line #4 (the bangers and mash line)
Lennart Petrell - Eric Belanger - Teemu Hartikainen
This is the grit line. Ben Eager and Hordichuk could slide in and out when ever the coaching staff deems in necessary, but I like this line in particular. Petrell and Belanger give you a couple of guys who are very safe, can kill penalties and won't expose the team. I really like Petrell's versatility and I think he should be in the lineup all 48 games, barring injury. I like Hartikainen on this line as well because I do believe he needs his shot as an NHL regular now. He is big and physical and can chip in some points as well. I like him on the 4th line though because it takes the pressure off a little bit. He can go out hit a few guys and just make sure he doesn't allow a goal against and everyone is happy. He could also then slot in on one of the PP units to give him some more offensive opportunities. For this line to be successful I think it is all about consistency. Petrell is the poster boy for consistency but Belanger needs to find a little more offense to his game. As for Hartikainen, so far the only reason he hasn't stuck with the big club is his consistency. He needs to take a page from Petrell and hit everyone every night.
So there is my proposed forward combinations. Next blog I will take a look at the defense and the goalies.
Until next time