Okay, if you’ve ever seen me at the old OMB–you’d know by now that I do have a tendency to have some random thoughts. Today, I am going to continue onward with that trend in terms of predicting a somewhat unconventional line combination for the Edmonton Oilers for the season opener. I acknowledge that it’s unlikely to be the line combination that we actually see. As well, though it represents a different possibility than a more conventional line combination, it might not actually pan out or be effective. Obviously, a more conventional and likely line combination would be similar to the one suggested by Racki over at the POTF blog.
Already, this line has already been discussed at great length including the An Amicus in Brief In Support of Dustin Penner series over at the Copper & Blue. So far, Gagner and Hemsky haven’t shown much chemistry on their smallish line used in the preseason. Obviously, this line would fall under the rubrik of thinking inside the box and using a 1st line that’s demonstrated success in the past. Horcoff and Hemsky have played together for years and they compliment each other in some respects. Having both Penner and Horcoff–albeit both not overly physical players, on one line does at least give us a top line with some size.
Line 2 – “IvanStoCom”
One the one hand, O’Sullian and Comrie have shown some good chemistry during the preseason on this line. Having Ryan Stone on this line is the big question mark since he might not make the team and if he actually does, he might not get much ice time. However, we’ve had a sneak peak during the preseason at how ineffective a 2nd line consisting of 3 small, skilled players can be. Baring a trade, there’s very limited options available to add size to our top six lines. Though this line combination might be worth a look during some more legitimate competition, it might ultimately and quite likely not work out so well. It will be interesting to see how Stone fares against some better competition during the remaining 3 preseason games and to see if Quinn continues with this line combo. Though Stone’s had a good preseason so far, he may show some inexperience when faced with better opposition.
Line 3 – “CogGagPis”
Okay, having both Cogliano and Gagner on a 3rd line will likely merit a tremendous amount of criticism. Essentially, this line would be interchangeable with the 2nd line of Comrie and O’Sullian. Pisani would be the responsible 2-way presence on this line and also provide a decent shooting option. It’s been mentioned before that he could potentially provide more offense with better linemates than he had last season. Overall, we would have three fairly balanced lines in terms of scoring, with some size and 2-way play spread around as well. Last year, Cogliano and Gagner were not a great combination based on stats at HockeyAnalysis. For the brief 28 minutes that they played together, Pisani did do well with Gagner–though it clearly wasn’t an adequate amount of time at 5v5 to get a true indication. Cogliano is neither a great fit for the 3C position in terms of his faceoff or other abilities, so it does help somewhat in that regard.
Line 4 - “MorPouTini”
Pouliot looks to be the best option for 4c at this time though he’s still in competition with Brule. Stortini’s pretty much a lock on 4rw. This leaves thecaptainethanmoreau on the 4rth line which is something many have considered during the off season.
Nilsson/JFJ– It’s hard to imagine that Tabellini will be able to orchestrate a trade to move Nilsson at this point. Nor is it easy to imagine that he would be picked up on waivers… I can’t imagine Nilsson being played $2 million to play in the AHL this year. JFJ is a much needed coke machine that should find himself a spot somewhere on our roster of players this year given our team’s lack of size.
Overall, I look forward to seeing what Pat Quinn ultimately decides in terms of our roster as well as line combinations for this upcoming season. Will Ryan Stone turn into this season’s Cinderella story? Right now, it’s too early to predict.
***Update–Edmonton Oilers roster for Wednesday’s game vs the Calgary Flames
The Edmonton Oilers have announced their lines for tomorrow night’s game vs. the Calgary Flames. In short, this should represent an opportunity to put the Oilers’ line of Comrie/O’Sullivan/Stone to the test against more difficult opposition. It’s certainly interesting that Pat Quinn’s decided to keep these players together for tomorrow’s games.
Here are the lines for the game tomorow vs. Calgary:
Who’s missing: Gagner,Pisani (has a groin injury), Pouliot, Schremp, Stortini, Eberle, MacIntyre (forward skaters). If you’ve noticed, I’ve paid very little attention to our defensive pairings… Baring a trade on our back end, I don’t see too much to fret over since there’s no real mystery who will be playing this year.
By the looks of this roster, it should be a more exciting game to watch. JFJ’s really getting a long look with Shawn Horcoff which suggests to me at least that he might get some limited time on one of the top two lines to add a physical presence if necessary. Cogliano continues his run at 3C which is also interesting to see. Penner and Nilsson paired with Brule is an intersting 4rth line combination.