The Edmonton Oilers are 4-0 in pre-season but more importantly they’re finding out about the bubble players. Many had good games last night, meaning Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli are going to have some tough decisions—and that’s a good thing. Exhibition games are a testing ground and I think the Oilers are probably happy with Brandon Davidson, Rob Klinkhammer, Andrew Miller and Anton Slepyshev (among the bubble players), with Ben Scrivens also showing well.
OILERS DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
The three men trying to survive the Sunday cuts are the big part of this graph, now, here. Davidson looked good by eye and by math, Hunt didn’t impress me live but a sawoff with that ZS is pretty damn good. David Musil didn’t play well in his pre-season debut, may not get another chance with cutdown day tomorrow. He, like Nikitin, looked better visually than the numbers claim.
Could Brandon Davidson make this team? I have him on the outside but he played well. This is a seasoned minor league player now and for the Oilers a very inexpensive contract. If this was next season, with Nikitin away and Ference (probably) bought out, I think Davidson makes this team as the No. 7.
EVEN STRENGTH TOI
- Sekera 14:25
- Fayne 14:04
- Hunt 13:40
- Davidson 12:50
- Nikitin 12:29
- Musil 12:14
(SELECTED) OILERS FORWARDS LAST NIGHT
- Taylor Hall: I think Todd McLellan had a pretty good take. “First I think Taylor Hall is tremendous, one of the top players in the world right now, and a very important part of our hockey club. I’m learning now after the world championships and more and more that Taylor is a very emotional young man. And that’s a good thing. We like that. So now we just need to contain that emotion, and use it at the right time.”
- Rob Klinkhammer: He did himself a major favor with the 1-1-2. Skated miles and miles in Winnipeg and for me it’s going to be hard to keep him off the roster. I don’t think it means Gazdic is off the roster either, suggesting 14F and that means 7D. Huh. Good performances makes these damn decisions tougher.
- Tyler Pitlick: A tough night, he didn’t stand out enough on a night when others did. Had a solid possession number (57% CF 5×5) but a 75% ZS. Several players had better evenings and I think he might get sent down tomorrow.
- Luke Gazdic: This McLellan fellow is an interesting cat. Gazdic’s ZStarts (0) meant he was starting every shift in his own zone, something he would do on the checking line of 2014-15. His possession number (41%) is pretty good considering and as I reviewed the numbers was reminded of something Darcy McLeod mentioned on the Lowdown yesterday. The Letestu line is taking the tough ZS’s, the Gordon minutes. IF the team plans on using Gazdic, he would have to be in the 4line rotation with wingers like Korpikoski, Hendricks and possibly Klinkhammer. 14F? Maybe.
- Leon Draisaitl: He was playing in a tough spot last night, difficult opposition and severe ZS’s (33%) compared to what he’s seen before at this level. His Corsi (44%) isn’t terrible and his linemate (Hall) was having a poor game. I know many commented last night that he seemed invisible but for me he hung in there on a tough night. 59% on the dot.
- Anton Slepyshev: Looked good even before the goal. He has size and speed and at some point this guy is going to push an established player out of the way. A year from now? Don’t know. Nice shot, Mr. Slepyshev.
- Anton Lander: Fantastic night. A Horcoff night, and I mean that in the best possible way.
- Jujhar Khaira: I don’t think he got noticed much (I didn’t) but, like Gazdic, he has a ZS of 0 and 41% possession. He’s a big guy and played a physical game. I think he’ll get sent down tomorrow but he had a good game.
- Andrew Miller: Way back in the summer, I looked at Miller during the RE period and we talked about his speed. I think he’s walked Pitlick and pushing Klinkhammer and Gazdic. I don’t think he makes the team BUT he could fill the 5C role so there’s a chance. Interesting weeks ahead.
I thought he had a good game. The third goal was perhaps a little iffy but he made some big saves and was under a lot of pressure at times during the game. Edmonton’s performance collapsed a little compared to their previous outings this season but Scrivens (imo) did not. I have no idea if he makes the Oilers this year, tough to kick him out after last night’s performance. Rebound control and positioning are an issue and perhaps Nilsson takes his job—I guess that’s something we could say, Scrivens has not sealed off Nilsson yet.
TODAY’S POSSIBLE LINEUP
The Oilers played a mixed bag team last night (frankly they had no business winning that game, their best player took a powder) and today we can probably have a good lash at the actual lineup by running out last night’s observers. Here are the A and B lists, with those players who did not play last night underlined:
- Teddy Purcell (injured)
Six A list forwards should play today and five A defensemen could, although McLellan may want to have another look at some of the B men. Nilsson to get the start.
- G: Laurent Brossoit, Eetu Laurikainen
- D: Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse, Brad Hunt, Jordan Oesterle, David Musil, Joey Laleggia, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat
- C: Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira, Kyle Platzer, Phil McRae
- L: Anton Slepyshev, Ryan Hamilton, Mitchell Moroz, Kale Kessy, Josh Winquist, Braden Christoffer
- R: Iiro Pakarinen, Greg Chase, Matt Ford
Several of these men are injured (I count Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, Mitch Moroz, Iiro Pakarinen but there could be others). I hope we see Darnell Nurse, Joey Laleggia, Bogdan Yakimov, Kyle Platzer and Greg Chase but that’s asking a lot—McLellan may want another look at some of the men who played last night.
TRADES AND WAIVERS
I think men like Nikita Nikitin, Ben Scrivens and Rob Klinkhammer may be in the trade mix in the next 10 days. If we cut the roster as fine as we can (while including all of the men who are still in contention) it looks like this:
- Goal (3): Cam Talbot (No. 1) and Ben Scrivens/Anders Nilsson fighting for the other job.
- Defense (10): Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz and then six guys for three or four jobs: Andrew Ference (who would have to wave in order to be dealt), Nikita Nikitin, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart, Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson. Something has to give.
- Center (5): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Anton Lander, Mark Letestu, Andrew Miller.
- Left Wing (5): Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot, Lauri Korpikoski, Rob Klinkhammer, Luke Gazdic
- Right Wing (6): Jordan Eberle, Teddy Purcell, Nail Yakupov, Matt Hendricks, Leon Draisaitl, Tyler Pitlick
That’s 29 men, six need to be cut. Edmonton can’t avoid sending some pretty interesting names out. It’s going to be fun, suspect we see a trade. Waiver wire players this morning are Andre Benoit, Corey Tropp and Jeremy Morin and there will be more to come. I don’t think Tyler Pitlick has done enough to stay, beyond that the competition appears to be in full sail for Oilers men.