Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
- Bob, what are your thoughts on Todd McLellan getting the #’s down to 27 healthy bodies with three games left in pre-season?
— John in Edmonton
I think if we take a quick look at San Jose’s starts over the last few seasons it is clear that Todd McLellan seems to have a handle on how to get a team prepared to start the season.
During the lock-out season of 2012-13 the Sharks started the year 7-0-1 out of the gate.
In 2013-14, San Jose was 8-0-1 in their first nine games and 10-1-1 in their first 12.
Last season, the Sharks started the year 4-0-1 before embarking on a nasty extended Eastern road trip.
Granted, the Sharks were a talented, experienced team and the organization had continuity on their side; but those starts are also an illustration that the coaching staff had their team ready to go right from the get go.
While a strong argument could be made that “some” of the players sent down to Bakersfield Saturday night performed well during pre-season; the reality is that McLellan and his staff need as much time with the organization's NHL players over experimenting with inexperienced prospects. Bob, which of the players sent down to Bakersfield on Saturday do you think had the best training camp and who do you think is the best long-term prospect?
— Fickle Fred from Fultonvale
I think that Andrew Miller had a pretty decent camp up front. He made smart plays, utilized his speed to create scoring chances and showed he could be versatile as well; spending time at center after playing mostly wing last season.
A couple of defencemen also caught my eye at times: Joey LaLeggia can transition the puck and David Musil competed hard in a difficult environment in Winnipeg on Friday night.
Laurent Brossoit also didn’t hurt himself long term with his performance in the split-squad game vs. Calgary, as he is likely tracking to be at minimum an NHL back-up goalie by the start of the 2017-18 season.
As for long-term prospects; I am very intrigued by big Bogdan Yakimov. At 6’5” and 232 pounds “Big Yak” could give the Oilers some needed size down the middle. If Yakimov takes a step forward and establishes himself as a top-two centre at the AHL level this season and puts up say 50+ points as a 21-year old, we might be looking at a big third line center to complement Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the road (FYI…long-term I see Leon Draisaitl in a top six role on the wing).
Bob, Though I like the idea of three scoring lines, I feel it makes the Oilers a little soft. What are your thoughts on the importance of toughness in the top nine?
— Monty in Calgary, AB
Monty, five years ago I would have said go get the biggest, baddest guy on the block to play on the fourth line and have a couple feisty, hard-nosed third liners to play in a shut-down role, but, alas, times have changed.
You have to work with what you've got and the Oilers have skilled forwards that in theory could allow the team to put together three scoring lines.
Teams can intimidate through speed and having a lethal power play but they have to be coached up to do so. I am almost certain that Todd McLellan is going to push his young, skilled core to increase their compete level and practice habits.
I do think that over the next couple of seasons that the organization will transition more size into the Oilers line-up to complement the Nugent-Hopkins, McDavids, Halls and Eberles up front.Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer