When the Edmonton Oilers signed left-winger Dominik Kahun on Monday, the initial reaction was that the addition would rekindle some early career magic between Leon Draisaitl and Kahun. Both players played together in Germany and dominated with chemistry that was off the charts. But, while the added plus of these two clicking next season has huge potential bonuses, that’s not necessarily why the Oilers did the deal.
Perhaps more importantly than finding someone who clicks with Draisaitl (the Oilers already had a great line that clicked), GM Ken Holland was looking to find an option for the top line and superstar center Connor McDavid. Ironically, while fans were waiting for Holland to sign a free agent, the solution was already in Edmonton.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a great option for McDavid. The two work well together and have before. That said, moving Nugent-Hopkins off that Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto line meant finding a player who could come in and take Nuge’s spot. That’s where Kahun comes in.
When the Oilers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the this past season’s play-in round, one of the key reasons was because head coach Dave Tippett split that line in an effort to find more balance. What ended up happening when it didn’t work, was that the line was reunited, but it was far too late. The hope now is that Nugent-Hopkins with McDavid is a winning pair. If the chemistry is there between Kahun and Draisaitl, you’ve got excellent pair number two. From there, you find the third player on each line that compliments those pairings.
It’s likely Yamamoto stays with Draisaitl. It then becomes about who fits on the top line with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins… an enviable spot for anyone.
Kahun Is A Smart Move, No Matter How You Slice It
At $975K, this is a no-lose situation for Edmonton. If Kahun and Draisaitl don’t find the magic they once had as youngsters, there are opportunities to move pieces around and put that Draisaitl, Yamamoto and Nugent-Hopkins line together again. But, if Kahun and Draisaitl click? Look out.
And, if all else fails and Kahun proves he’s not a top-six forward, he’s not being paid like one.
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