Leon Draisaitl will start the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp at centre on Friday, so Connor McDavid needs a right-winger.
“Our unknown comes on the right wing right now,” head coach Todd McLellan said as players convened for medicals and physical testing at Rogers Place on Thursday morning.
McLellan said McDavid will start with Patrick Maroon on his left wing. Draisaitl will have Milan Lucic on his left side.
The right-wing spots will likely be filled by Drake Caggiula, Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi and Ryan Strome. Anton Slepyshev will miss the start of training camp with an ankle injury.
Strome, 24, came to the Oilers from the New York Islanders in a trade for Jordan Eberle in June. He’s coming off a quiet offensive season that saw him record 30 points in 69 games.
“I think the strength and size factor favours Ryan a little bit more than Jordan,” McLellan said. “One thing that Ebs did do is he shot the puck a lot. We’re going to challenge Strome to do the same.”
Strome had 114 shots last season, just 1.65 per game. That was the lowest average of his career.
While the Oilers sort out the right wing, they’ll also be looking for centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to find more of a scoring touch. He had just 43 points in 2016-17.
“I’m feeling good going into this season. I still want to be a reliable two-way forward, but to take the next step, I have to find a way to produce more offensively.”
McLellan said Nugent-Hopkins played short stints on left wing for Team North America at last fall’s World Cup, but added it’s not a priority to try Nugent-Hopkins on the left side as an Oiler.
The Oilers will be on the ice at Rogers Place on Friday morning.