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BLOG: McLellan on line combinations

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan rolled out some tentative lines for his team on Friday, at Leduc Recreation Centre.

First-overall pick Connor McDavid skated between Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell. He said it was a decision partially based on chemistry of two of those linemates but also Purcell as a third complementary player. Also influencing that combination is that McLellan seems very comfortable to roll with Benoit Pouliot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle as his other top line.

“I’m not sure it can work, I hope it can work. But I know that Pouliot, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle had a good finish to last year when they were together,” said McLellan. “There’s some familiarity there. They played well at both ends of the rink for the most part and I like that. I think that Connor and Taylor have had a little bit of chemistry throughout their summer and that might help. And Teddy has the ability to shoot the puck and we forget him using his size and that can be a factor on that line.”

McLellan says this is an opportunity for Purcell to step up and he needs to “take advantage of it.”

Another line the Oilers tested out today was one that has Leon Draisaitl centring Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov. That’s a lot of fire power and McLellan almost went out of his way to remind the media they’re a group to watch.

“The interesting line for me is that Draisaitl-Lander-Yakupov line. If we can get them gelling and playing the right way, they can be very dangerous. That’s a goal of ours anyway,” said McLellan.

The Oilers coach also reminded everyone that the lines the team uses in Leduc aren’t finalized.

“What we all have to understand is those lines are very fluid,” said McLellan. “We didn’t even scrimmage today. There’s really no evaluation tool to see if they had chemistry or not. It was a lot about concepts and setting standards more than anything. Later on, that will happen.”

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