Then there are the internal options of Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and Will Acton. All three are said to be battling for the fourth line centre role but now it appears that one of them could get a chance to fill Gagner’s role as the second line centre.
It’s hard to imagine either of the three would last long-term on the second line. They don’t have the offensive game to contribute to the level that Gagner does.
None the less, if it’s only for a few weeks then perhaps one of them could transition nicely and be a pleasant surprise for Oilers fans. Which one could it be? I’m inclined to go with Anton Lander.
The 22-year old Swede is knocking on the door to secure a full-time spot with the Oilers and this could be his chance. He’s only played in 67 career games over the past two seasons with the Oilers and has only lit the lamp twice. Keep in mind he’s only played an average of ten minutes per game and was usually in a third or fourth line role that had a more checking requirement to it.
Putting Lander beside David Perron, Ales Hemsky and/or Nail Yakupov will certainly help take his game to the next level. He’ll have scoring chances like he’s never had before and given his natural offensive abilities, he could help plug the hole at centre.
Of course what will play out is anyone’s guess but the Oilers are running out of time if they plan on doing something outside of the organization. With only two exhibition games remaining and seven days until opening night, it’s likely the Oilers will run every internal scenario possible until proven it can’t work. Will it be to late if it gets to that?