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Edmonton Oilers

Power Play Weapon for Oilers Out: Who Replaces Nugent-Hopkins

If power play specialist Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t able to go for the Edmonton Oilers vs. the Bruins, who replaces him?

It looks like the Edmonton Oilers are going to have to make a go of their matchup with the Boston Bruins without one of their key power-play contributors and top special teams forwards. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was not on the ice for Wednesday’s practice and it is believed he’ll miss the game due to illness. While the Oilers still have plenty of offensive weapons, it opens up a hole on the roster, especially on the power play.

Who should take his place?

Nugent-Hopkins has proven how important he is to one of the league’s best power plays. He runs a lot of the action on zone entries, works the wall, offers a decoy for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, is a threat to shoot, and has the hockey IQ to fit seamlessly with the team’s top stars. Those aren’t easy shoes to fill. Who on the Oilers can do so?

Oilers Have Some Legitimate Power Play Options

Three options come to mind. The first is Sam Gagner. He’ll be in the lineup with Nuge out. He’s a shoot-first, offensive specialist who has a history of strong play with a team is on the man advantage. He’ll know when to get the puck to the net, but also when to defer and he won’t be afraid to get in the mix. Gagner had an incredible season in Columbus where he was perhaps the team’s best power-play weapon. That kind of instinct doesn’t just go away.

The second option might be Ryan McLeod. Smart with the puck, he’s taking a huge step this season, finding his stride after a rough start. He’s shown glimpses of unreal chemistry with McDavid and other top players and he’s arguably the fastest player on the team, offering another option to enter the zone and get set up. Seeing if he can handle that type of role might not be a bad idea. He’s already working the second power-play unit. Popping him up to the first isn’t a huge ask.

Ryan McLeod Sam Gagner Oilers

Corey Perry might be a fit too. While he serves a similar role to Zach Hyman, he’s also savvy enough to work the slot and wall position like Nugent-Hopkins. He’s creative and has good offensive instincts. That might be one of the more important weapons a player filling that role might need to have.

Head coach Kris Knoblauch might try a few options. It will be intriguing to see if someone can step up. At the same time, the Oilers will need someone to fill Nugent-Hopkins’ role on the penalty kill. Staying out of the box against the Bruins will be important.

Next: Oilers Eyeing 5 Wingers for Draisaitl Ahead of the Trade Deadline

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