The Biggest Question Mark on Each Edmonton Oilers Line for the 2013-14 Season
Entering into the fourth year of a rebuild process the Edmonton Oilers still have little to nothing to show for it.
Instead of maintaining with the status quo, the Oilers decided to remove Steve Tambellini from the general manager position and hired Dallas Eakins, a former standout head coach in the AHL.
MacTavish has already put his stamp upon the team, trading away former captain Shawn Horcoff who had become the poster boy for bad contracts under the previous management regime.
Though MacTavish may have missed out on some of the bigger free agents this summer, he was still able to add some quality depth players to help bolster the Oilers lineup.
However there are still a few holes and questions in Edmonton. Here is the biggest question mark on each Edmonton Oilers’ line for the 2013-14 season.
Line 4: Who Is Jesse Joensuu?
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The fourth line could have a couple of big questions to answer during the 2013-14 season, such as exactly how much does Ryan Smyth have left in the tank?
But the biggest question mark entering the season has to be: Who exactly is Jesse Joensuu?
Joensuu is a big-bodied winger, at 6’4” 209 lbs. Joensuu looks to add some size and some muscle to an otherwise smaller Oilers team, but his addition had some asking how this move helps the team?
Joensuu will not be a major offensive contributor, having only registered 15 points over parts of the past four seasons, so it begs the question as to what exactly Joensuu has to offer to the team?
It is no secret that MacTavish had designs to make roster moves to help the Oilers get bigger, but the addition of an unproven player such as Joensuu left some scratching their heads.
Line 3: Can Ryan Jones Bounce Back?
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After registering 33 points in 2011-12, Ryan Jones struggled to find his form during the lockout shortened 2012-13 season.
Not only was Jones unable to really contribute offensively, having only registered seven points in 27 games, but the energy typically displayed by the feisty winger was lacking.
Jones was at his best when he played the role of the agitator, utilizing his speed and willingness to play the body to disrupt the opposition.
It was a bit of surprise that Jones was brought back in the summer when the Oilers opted to resign the unrestricted free agent, but if Jones can regain the spark that saw him become a fan favorite in Edmonton, he can be quite the useful third line winger.
Line 2: Can David Perron Stay Healthy?
If David Perron can avoid serious injury he could be a big factor this year for the Oilers.
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The Oilers traded future potential for proven skill when they opted to ship Magnus Paajarvi to the St. Louis Blues for David Perron.
Perron is a proven goal scorer and will give the Oilers an added dimension to their top-six forwards, as the winger also plays the game with a bit of grit, but the fact that Perron has missed significant time due to concussion problems could come back to haunt the Oilers in the long run.
If Perron can manage to avoid taking another significant head injury, he should be able to develop instant chemistry with his dynamic linemates in Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov.
Line 1: Is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ready to Be No.1
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was taken No.1 but now has to proven he can be the No.1 centre the Oilers are looking for.
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is perhaps the most important piece in the Oilers young core, with the team loaded with talented wingers, Nugent-Hopkins is one of the only true centers that the team has.
RNH has dynamic offensive abilities and phenomenal hockey intelligence, but thanks to a smaller frame and significant shoulder injuries, has been less than stellar as the Oilers No.1 center.
Nugent-Hopkins may not be ready by the time the season begins, but once he does return from shoulder surgery he will have a lot of work ahead of him in order to help the Oilers finally turn the corner.
The team cannot afford to a have a first line center who wins less than 50 percent of his faceoffs, and the fact that The Nuge is coming off of an injured shoulder may drop this percentage down even further.
If RNH can put some strength on his frame and become consistent at winning faceoffs then the Oilers should be ready to roll forward with him as the true No.1 center, but until this is proven questions will hover over the former No.1 overall selection.