We are in a fun little window now, this morning. We have a good knowledge of this Oilers team now, and can guess most or all of the 23-man list. Inside that group, there are all kinds of battles, with the coaching staff and management sussing out who goes where. Here are some of the interesting battles.
- Mark Fayne versus Matt Benning. It sounds crazy, but Fayne does seem to be in some trouble on this roster. It sounds crazy, and the Oilers may just run Ference on the active roster for a few days while also sending down Mark Fayne and Matt Benning. Crazy days.
- Tyler Pitlick versus Anton Slepyshev. Both men could make it but chances are someone heads out. Pitlick and Slepyshev are applying for the same job, but Pitlick is 2.5 years older and his time is now. NOW.
- Cam Talbot, 29. A massive start for Talbot opening night this week, he was rock solid in Game 1 last season. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- Jonas Gustavsson, 31. Played very well in his final tune-up game on Thursday, looking at the schedule he may not get another start for some time. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Oscar Klefbom, 23. I am thinking 20-22 minutes a night in game one, hopefully most of it at evens. The man can wheel. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Andrej Sekera, 30. I think he has some real jump coming off the WCoH, looks terrific. I am less thrilled about handing him a partner who just started his training camp in the Vancouver game. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Brandon Davidson, 24. Based on the current depth chart, he might start on the third pairing but that won’t last more than a period. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Kris Russell, 29. He had some good moments, looks mobile. I think it is reasonable for him to sit out game one based on his lack of training camp. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Darnell Nurse, 21. Had an uneven game on Saturday, I think he gets the start on Wednesday, third pair and probably with Brandon Davidson. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Adam Larsson, 23. He has played well so far, bet he gets a ton of playing time if the Oilers stay in the game against Calgary. That is a big damned game, getting off to a good start is vital. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Mark Fayne, 29. He is in real danger now, at least long term. Chances of Making the Oilers: 80%.
- RD Matt Benning, 23. I sincerely believe he has a chance. Chances of Making the Oilers: 20%.
- RD Eric Gryba, 28. Waiting for the UFOs. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
- C Connor McDavid, 19. Very high on my list of things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I am astounded by his speed and ability. A shocking player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 23. The only worry is offense—his line has to deliver 55+ goals, and that is a very large number for an Oiler 2line. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 20. He had a strong late summer and fall, needs to be productive for the entire season. In many ways, the Oilers playoff chances ride on LD posting a strong year. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Mark Letestu, 31. Quietly scored well in preseason, I believe he is a solid 4C. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-L Drake Caggiula, 22. Impacted training camp in a big way, can he keep it going? Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Anton Lander, 25. Every day that passes without a center added increases Lander’s odds. Can he score enough to stay in the lineup? Chances of Making the Oilers: 70%.
- L Milan Lucic, 28. Starting to come around, passes are quality and effective. People are still looking for him to be the shooter on the 1line, despite the fact Lucic has never been the sniper on any line, at any time. For such a famous player, he certainly is misunderstood. Averaged 1.53 shots per game last season—does that sound like a sniper to you? Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Benoit Pouliot, 29. Sublime forechecker, throwback winger, and he is more of a shooter (1.98 shots per game) and is also misunderstood by many fans. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Patrick Maroon, 28. I keep wondering what the devil Anaheim didn’t see in him, suspect we are seeing May 1995 Jeff Fassero. He sure has been in a groove for an extended period. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Tyler Pitlick, 24. Wins the Hendricks job. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Anton Slepyshev, 22. So close, my guess he is final cut. Chances of Making the Oilers: 70%.
- R Jordan Eberle, 26. If he scores 40, Oilers probably make the playoffs. Edmonton doesn’t have a winger on the roster who can score that many, no matter the center. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Zack Kassian, 25. Strictly 4line imo, the trade of Yakupov and injury to Versteeg may mean he moves up the depth chart temporarily. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Kris Versteeg, 30. The only thing left is the contract. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 18. He gets better with each game, and actually plays a pretty good two-way game. I think the Oilers are probably in good shape either way, but he is not a substantial offensive option at this time, which speaks to lack of roster strength. Chances of Making the Oilers: 50%.
- L Matt Hendricks, 35. Tough break for the veteran winger, sounds like weeks instead of days. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, 24. Injury did not look good, out for some time. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
- LD Andrew Ference, 37. Only question now is in regard to IR vs. LTIR. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
Father of Nail Yakupov told @Sport_BO Blackhawks, Ducks and Stars were the frontrunners for his son, Blues came up just before the trade
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) October 10, 2016
I had a conversation about Nail with a buddy on Saturday, the general thrust being Edmonton should have received more for a former No. 1 overall. Folks, by the time Yak was traded, he was no longer a No. 1 overall prospect, he was a gifted but flawed offensive winger who may not be in the NHL two years from now. You may hate Peter Chiarelli, but arguing that a third (possibly second) round pick is poor value forgets the resume. If you are angry at the return, please turn your fire hose on Edmonton Oilers management and coaching staff 2012-15. Nail was a very flawed player the day Chiarelli and McLellan arrived. If you want my opinion, I will give it to you. I would have kept him on the roster, knowing that the pick is unlikely to ever amount to anything. Nail on this roster gives Edmonton more of a chance to find satisfactory offense on RW this summer. The organization went in another direction, I cannot be overly critical about it. I am surprised people are placing this deal in the same category as the Hall trade, and that is what I am hearing from some portions of the fan base. Wildly over the top, folks. Time to step back and review the resume.
NHL teams have to place players on waivers today if they wish to get them off the roster by opening night, and that may or may not impact the Oilers. Mark Fayne could be placed on waivers (if Matt Benning wins the job, I put that at 20 percent), but other than that probably crickets.
As for waiver claims, well I could see it but this is going to be close. Let’s look one more time at the 50-man list:
When they sign Versteeg (which seems likely), Edmonton will be at 48 names. That means a waiver claim is less likely than a trade, and despite a lack of balance the Oilers under Peter Chiarelli appear ready to once again leave the station without balance.
While I do not expect the Edmonton Oilers to claim him, young Jordan Weal is a pretty good offensive forward with an excellent junior and minor league resume:
- Age 17—72, 35-67-102 (WHL) (NHLE: 31.3)
- Age 18—72, 43-53-96 (WHL) (NHLE: 29.5)
- Age 19—70, 41-75-116 (WHL) (NHLE: 36.7)
- Age 20—63, 15-18-33 (AHL) (NHLE: 20.2)
- Age 21—76, 23-47-70 (AHL) (NHLE: 35.5)
- Age 22—73, 20-49-69 (AHL) (NHLE: 36.4)
Weal is a smaller player, a right-handed center who spent the year (but did not play much) in the NHL last season. I think he would be a very interesting addition to the team—another 3C option who might be able to help on RW—but the Oilers do not have a lot of room.
I hope you enjoy today (I will, turkey tonight!) and will update the blog if a waiver claim or trade occurs—and of course will have something if Fayne hits the waiver wire at 10. Enjoy the day, Lowdown is back tomorrow at 10. PS, the Stars are about to sign Lauri Korpikoski.