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McDavid & Draisaitl dangerous duo

by Ryan Frankson /

Having several elite-level centremen in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gives the Oilers plenty of flexibility when it comes to composing their forward lines.

However, putting two of them on the same line might pay off huge dividends if Thursday night's 6-3 victory in Winnipeg was any indication. The coaching staff took Draisaitl out of the centre slot and assigned him to play right wing on McDavid's line with Milan Lucic patrolling the left side.

The trio clicked immediately, combining for eight points, with Draisaitl scoring twice and adding an assist, McDavid setting up three goals and Lucic recording helpers on two.

Head Coach Todd McLellan said the McDavid-Draisaitl combo presents opposing teams with a dilemma that ends up working in the Oilers favour.

"The defensive players have to decide, are they going to get attacked with that blazing speed or are they going to be attacked with a little bit of finesse?" he said. "Sometimes they're caught in between."

Thanks to their big games vs. Winnipeg, McDavid extended his lead in the NHL scoring race with 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) and Draisaitl hit the 20-point plateau with his eighth and ninth goals to go along with his 11th assist.

Needless to say, there's a lot of mutual admiration between the two young stars.

"I definitely enjoy playing with Leon," McDavid said. "He's one of my favourite guys to play with, for sure. He's so patient with the puck. He's always finding you in different ways and giving you an opportunity with the puck on your stick in a good situation."

"He's such an easy player to play with," Draisaitl said. "He always wants the puck and he's so fast. I don't really need to talk about how good he is. Hopefully we can keep this going."

McLellan said he plans to continue putting McDavid and Draisaitl on the same line, but that can only happen if the coach feels comfortable and satisfied with the performances the Oilers are getting from the team's other centres: Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Letestu and Drake Caggiula.

"I know they like to play with each other, and we'd like them to continue there," McLellan said. "But that only happens when the rest of the group is pulling their weight through the middle and the wingers are playing well like they did tonight."

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