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BLOG: Finding a fit

Head Coach Dave Tippett continues tinkering with his forward lines as he tries to find the right fits for Trade Deadline acquisitions Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou

by Paul Gazzola /

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EDMONTON, AB - Just a day after being linemates with Kailer Yamamoto and Leon Draisaitl, Andreas Athanasiou found himself on the wing of Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald - the Oilers trusty third line that has a knack for checking and penalty killing.

It wasn't meant to be a slight by any means as Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett continues shuffling his forward lines in hopes that Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis - two of Edmonton's Trade Deadline acquisitions - find the perfect fit within the group.

"We're just looking for that chemistry on lines and to see where everything fits," Coach Tippett told media after Team Blue took Sunday's scrimmage over Team White by a 3-2 score. 

"Those guys were here for a little bit but there's still some uncharted waters for them."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 07.19.20

Ennis tallied two goals and two assists in the nine games he played with the Oilers during the regular season. At 5-on-5, his most frequent linemate was Connor McDavid, logging 68:40 with the Oilers Captain. In his small sample size with the club, Ennis proved to be a plug-and-play skater, capable of forming chemistry rather quickly, and Coach Tippett admitted as much.

"Ennis is a veteran player who's been around the League a long time," Tippett said. "Plays the game smart, plays the game efficient, he knows when to make the right play and he knows when to move on and find something simpler. He plays off people very well, reads off people and has good skill. Top players like to play with guys like that because they are good complement players. 

"Ennis is one of those guys."

Athanasiou collected one goal and one assist in his nine regular season games with the Orange & Blue, but showed his offensive prowess in the '18-19 campaign with the Detroit Red Wings when he tallied 30 goals and 54 points in 76 games. Tippett admitted he is still searching for Athanasiou's "niche" within the lineup.

Video: RAW | Tyler Ennis 07.19.20

"You're still trying to find exactly where the best fit for him is," said the coach. "You can tell he's got speed and he's got skill but you're just trying to find that niche for him in the lineup or that chemistry, and that's still a work in progress."

Regardless of where they are slotted, both Ennis and Athanasiou are simply trying to build as much chemistry as possible with every member of the forward corps.

"There's a lot of good guys in this room and a lot of great players. It's your job to build chemistry with all of them as quickly as possible, and just be ready to play with whoever you're playing with," said Athanasiou.

Added Ennis: "I can adapt to different linemates and I'm happy to be filling any role that's necessary. I'm comfortable with everyone I've seen so far and I've had fun playing with a bunch of different guys.

"I enjoy the nuances of different lines and different spots."

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