As I sit and allow myself to be entertained by the ongoing twitter battle between Oiler pundits and Edmonton Media personalities Bob Stauffer and Dustin Nielsen with regards to the management of Edmonton Oilers prospect Kailer Yamamoto, I can’t help but wonder where the Edmonton Oilers go to find some help in their bottom 6. There are options, GM Ken Holland just has to decide which one not only helps the team now but continues to keep an eye to the future of the club.
Is Kailer Yamamoto the best course of action right now for the Oilers to look to in an attempt to add some pop to the bottom end of their line up? By all accounts (I have watched most of the Condors games) Yamamoto has been the Condors best forward and 4 and 2 for 6 points in 8 games is nothing to sneeze at. My preference is for the Oilers to default to the position that Dustin Nielsen was touting in the Nielsen vs Stauffer battle and leave Yamamoto in the AHL. Personally, I feel the longer they can leave him there the more confident and effective player he will be when he is brought up for good, and ultimately that should be the goal here.
Is there another option In Bakersfield that makes sense? Josh Currie and Joe Gambardella are viable options who we needn’t worry about long term development if they have to go back n forth between the NHL and AHL. Both provided sparks to the bottom 6 in limited action at times last year during call ups. Definitely an option if the current mix can’t turn it around soon. In my opinion Benson and Marody are both further away than Yamamoto and should be left in the AHL. Could a 3rd line of Benson-Marody-Yamamoto be in the cards as a 3rd line for the Oilers next year? Definitely conceivable. It is my opinion that the bottom 6 needs to be a mix of reliable, low event, PKers, veteran types and young, up and coming skilled players for a successful hockey team. The best chance to have that happen is to leave those players in the AHL and allow them to continue to build towards full time NHL duty in 2020-2021.
Is the best option to stay the course and continue to move the deck chairs and hope the players emerge from within the roster? Although new signings Markus Granlund, Josh Archibald, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and returning JJ Khaira are nearing the point of being proclaimed disasters I believe the best course of action, until at least when Larsson returns, is to stay the course. Haas, in my opinion, has shown more than players like Granlund, Khaira and Archibald and will get an opportunity tonight vs Detroit with elevated line mates and presumably minutes as he is scheduled to line up with Chiasson and Neal. I think of all the options for bottom 6 Centers he is the most likely to provide some offensive punch. The return of Nygard will help as well. He adds much needed speed and some surprising physicality prior to his rib injury, not too mention the only bottom 6 player with a goal to date even though he has been out for several games now.
Long term, the emergence of Ethan Bear on defence will provide Ken Holland with options when Larsson and Persson return from injury. On the right side the Oilers will have Larsson, Persson, Bear and Benning on the right side. That is a crowded deck, especially when you consider that the Left side of the D is even more crowded, with a couple options there who could play the Right side if absolutely needed, further giving Holland some flexibility. Can one of those players get moved to add some depth up front? Definitely plausible. Caleb jones has been dominant in the AHL and looks to be, as most of us thought, ready for full time NHL duty sooner than later. I believe it would be a shame to waste the Oilers good start, not too mention a bit of slap in the face of the Oilers top players to allow this season to go down the pipes due to lack of skill in the bottom 6.
For now we will watch the Oilers take on the lowly Detroit Red Wings this evening. Us die hard Oiler fans will be very interested to see if Tippett’s line juggling can ignite something in the bottom 6. They will role out a 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines of Chiasson-Haas-Neal, Khaira-RNH-Gagner, and Jurco-Sheahan-Russell. Let’s play close attention to which one of those players/lines can seize the opportunity because there are a few in that group, that if they do not, could see their days on the Oilers or even the league, numbered.