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Game #14 – Hawks vs. Oilers Q&A: Same Thing As Sunday, Little Bit Louder And A Little Bit Worse

Obviously, nothing has changed since Sunday when these teams last met. So here’s the Q&A we ran with Scott Lewis from then (@thescottlewis). 

With all the noise about the Oilers, and the constant, fair criticisms of their wingers, how does the fact they may have horribly whiffed on Jesse Puljujarvi get missed?
 
If we flashback to the night of the 2016 Draft, the Oilers landing Puljujarvi at No. 4 was viewed as something of a steal at the time. People were busy laughing at the Blue Jackets taking Dubois with the third pick, which has turned out to be a fine selection for them. In a perfect world for the Oilers, they would be trotting out Matthew Tkachuk or Mikhail Sergachev on a nightly basis right now… but it’s the Oilers, so here we are. I’m not ready to close the door on Puljujarvi quite yet, so I’ll chalk it up to another case of management shitting the bed on development. He might still be something. Maybe. Hopefully. Probably not!
 
Is playing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a wing really a solution? Because it leaves them short at center. Or is this a “cover your head, your feet are cold, cover your feet your head is cold” kind of situation?
 
Personally, I’d love to see him back at center full-time. BUT… he’s producing and his possession totals are looking pretty good so far. It’s definitely a patch job by the coaching staff, so it would be ideal to address the personnel shortage up front sooner than later if this team is to be taken seriously. We’re taking them seriously, right?
 
People seem to be coming for Leon Draisaitl, because he’s not playing with McDavid anymore. Yet he had the same season last year as the one before where he exclusively played with Run CMD, and is a point per game this year. We missing something?
 
To me, the criticism of Draisaitl is a product of his $8.5-million cap hit. He’s proving capable of carrying his own line, even if the possession metrics are pretty ugly so far this season. Canadian blowhards get worked up very easily when a player gets paid, but it’s hard to argue with the production so far. McDavid-Draisaitl ain’t going to be Crosby-Malkin or even Tavares-Matthews, but it’s as good a 1-2 punch you need when No. 1 is Run CMD.
Was it premature to toss that kind of money at Draisaitl right away? Yes. Was it even in the top-5 of GM Peter Chiarelli’s worst decisions since taking over? Nope. Let the kids play and hope you can alleviate the coming cap crunch by sending Milan Lucic to live on a farm in rural Alberta.
 
Our yearly Darnell Nurse update, please. 
 
I soured on Nurse early in his career and didn’t see a whole lot last season to convince me he was ever going to become the player that Hockey Men continued to project him to be. He’s played over 27 minutes in a couple games so far this season, and in my opinion played his best game of the season in the Oilers’ 4-1 win over the Capitals Thursday night. So there’s that.
He’ll turn 24 this season, so it’s becoming less and less likely we’re going to see a huge step forward. At $3.2 million through next season, his ability to command a big raise will be tied to the club’s success. Bottom line, the Oilers need some pieces to improve, and given the fact that a lot of GMs still evaluate players like the old scouts sitting around the table in Moneyball, Nurse might be the Oilers best trade chip.
 
Ryan Strome will probably never live down being traded for Jordan Eberle. But moving to a third line center role at least sees him crushing it possession-wise so far this year. Maybe this is where he belongs?
 
Strome deserves a break on the Eberle chat, simply because that was a Chiarelli crime. It’s doubly frustrating having listened to GMPC cry about the club’s lack of wingers last season after he traded one of the best players in the league with Taylor Hall and a good second-line guy like Eberle. That said, Strome has looked decent in a third-line role while producing absolutely nothing to this point. Some semblance of production would be nice.

 

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