Things are beginning to get serious now, as the junior and AHL players are mostly through their games and the NHLers slide in to replace them. There are 14 men in today’s lineup likely to represent Edmonton opening night 2017-18.
- Patrick Maroon (1gp, 1-2-3)—Connor McDavid (1gp, 0-2-2)—Ryan Strome (1gp, 1-1-2)
- Jussi Jokinen (1gp, 1-2-3)—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2gp, 1-3-4)—Jesse Puljujarvi (1gp, 0-0-0)
- Jujhar Khaira (2gp, 2-0-2)—Mark Letestu (2gp, 3-1-4)—Zack Kassian (2gp, 0-1-1)
- Brad Malone (3gp, 0-0-0)—Chris Kelly (3gp, 0-1-1)—Patrick Russell (3gp, 0-0-0)
- Kris Russell (1gp, 0-0-0)—Matt Benning (1gp, 0-0-0)
- Darnell Nurse (1gp, 0-0-0)—Eric Gryba (2gp, 0-0-0)
- Dillon Simpson (1gp, 0-0-0)—Caleb Jones (1gp, 0-1-1)
- Cam Talbot (1gp, 0.00 1.000)
There aren’t many bubble players in this lineup, three of the four lines look like opening night editions, plus the top two pairings and starting goaltender. Among the remaining five, I’d say Chris Kelly has the best chance at making it to opening night. Brad Malone, Patrick Russell, Dillon Simpson and Caleb Jones appear destined for Bakersfield but there is some distance to travel before opening night.
I wrote about Josh Leivo as an option for the Oilers this morning, he might hit the waiver wire in the next 10 days. Toronto has a tremendous group of forwards and something has to give, I’ve been tracking this player for some time. Although there’s not an obvious spot for Leivo on the roster, there are things to consider:
- Kailer Yamamoto may spend the season in junior, meaning he is unavailable to Edmonton.
- Anton Slepyshev hasn’t played yet and may not be ready for the start of the season.
- Jesse Puljujarvi may require some time in Bakersfield.
I think it’s fair to say that Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula and Zack Kassian have made this team full stop as regulars, with Iiro Pakarinen as an extra forward. Adding Leivo gives Edmonton an inexpensive offensive winger who can play either wing and has an impressive (if limited) resume. There is much we don’t know but adding Leivo would increase the depth and balance on this roster. If the team needs to move him later in the year, that doesn’t diminish his value when he’s on the roster.