With three games remaining in the preseason and in light of the recent broken jaw injury to Sam Gagner, one has to weigh the pros and cons of dressing a lineup containing the likes of Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and David Perron against a lineup of fringe NHL players, looking to make a splash with their teams, that you can expect from NHL clubs in the preseason. The lineup of forwards that Vancouver dressed was a collection of bottom six bangers and younger skilled players, all of whom with a lot to prove at the NHL level.
For the Edmonton Oilers, a roster that featured the projected top six forwards to start the season might have been a bit premature. There are plenty of factors that play a role in setting a lineup, many of them we can only speculate upon. The only thing we can see are the facts and the results, from there the facts speak for themselves.
Fact: The Oilers have a new head coach who will want to see all of his players before the start of the season.
Fact: Despite the Oilers having a 41 player roster, Eberle, Perron, Gagner, Hall, Hemsky and Yakupov have all played 3 preseason games. This is significant in that many players hopeful for a roster spot on the big club have played less, including Oscar Klefbom with one game played who, despite not playing saturday, was cut sunday morning.
Fact: The total points of Oilers forwards from last season that were dressed for saturday’s game – 222
Fact: The total points of Canucks forwards from last season that were dressed for saturday’s game – 69
Result: The Oilers lost Sam Gagner indefinitely to a fractured jaw he received from a Zach Kassian high stick.
Result: Taylor Hall was subjected to a chicken wing elbow from Dale Weise.
Both of these plays will be reviewed by the NHL. If those two plays both result in suspensions and you count the loss of Jordan Schroeder and Niklas Jensen to injury, the impact of the loss of those four players on the Canucks is undisputedly dwarfed by the loss of the Oilers’ #2 centreman Sam Gagner. With one fell swing from the stick of Zach Kassian the Oilers’ already gaping roster hole at centre just got a whole lot worse. More will be revealed about the seriousness of the injury as this week moves along, but for now all that can be said is that Taylor Hall can make himself comfortable and the Oilers’ will need to find a solution to their problem down the middle should they expect to be competitive when the puck drops on the regular season.