Projecting the Opening Roster of the Oilers
Lineup and Roster for game 1*:
These guys still haven't played together much (if at all?) this preseason, but my hunch at this point is still that we'll see that line on the ice to start game 1. I'm guessing that Quinn has watched enough tape to know what he had in that line, and thus didn't really need to play them together in preseason until he sees if some other combination might allow for more team success.
That said, it's not hard to see why one would hope Jacques works out on the first line. It would be outstanding if Jacques could be a reasonably facsimile of the player Lowe imagined he was receiving when he signed Penner, since that would leave Penner for another line.
The chemistry between O'Sullivan and Comrie seems strong enough to keep together into the regular season. Combine that chemistry with the "instant chemistry" that has been Pisani over the past couple of seasons, and this seems like a line worth a look. Not terribly big guys, but all these players will battle for the puck and maybe that's enough.
Why not give it another go? All three players are older, see what they look like under a new coach, in a new system. If it doesn't work, mix things up.
I'm a bit surprised so many fans want to send Nilsson to the minors this year. While he may have been inconsistent last season, I still wouldn't mind seeing him with a new coach. How much is lost by seeing how he plays until December, hoping he works out with a new coaching staff? If he's not working out, maybe you waive or trade him at that time.
From a cap standpoint, it's pretty risky to waive him if you have any plans to recall him this season. Maybe he clears, maybe he doesn't, but if he does clear and you try to recall him he is very likely to be claimed, thus giving the Oilers a 1 mil cap hit for this season and next. Not a huge problem this year, but given the projected cap drop and the impending Edmonton cap problems for next season, wasting 1 mil of it on dead cap space seems like a pretty bad idea. It's not like you're going to do much better, in terms of quality of player, with the saved 1 mil in cap room replacing Nilsson than you would have done keeping Nilsson and hoping he rounds into form with a new coach, etc.
For all the complaints about Nilsson's two way game, only two Edmonton forwards have been plus players the past two seasons: Horcoff and Nilsson.
That said, given the coach's usage of Jacques in the preseason I wouldn't be very surprised to see him draw into Nilsson's spot. But Nilsson's been no statistical slouch this preseason, with 3 points in 3 games (before tonight's action).
Seems like a respectable enough 4th line, all of the players can play up the roster in a pinch. Of course I'm a huge Pouliot fan, I don't know if he's as physical a guy as Quinn might have in mind with Brule, but that's why you have the extra guys - switch them up if things aren't working.
I wouldn't be willing to dump either of these players to hang onto MacIntyre, but it remains to be seen what the Oilers do.
Jacques seems to be playing well this camp, and is playing pretty high up the roster for a guy who won't even be on the opening night lineup, wouldn't surprise me at all to see him slot in. Same story for Brule, if they are looking for physicality vs. CAL in game 1; they may well feel Brule gives the Oilers more in that department than Pouliot.
Not much to say here, this seems to have been settled from the moment camp started.
* - the roster and line combinations, along with some of the writing, was done before tonight's game, so any performances from tonight's EDM/TB preseason game in Winnipeg haven't been considered.