As the offseason winds down, and as training camp comes closer, the Edmonton Oilers are getting back into the swing of things.
Though Edmotnon didn’t have the busiest offseason, there are still a lot of names to watch heading into training camp in the coming weeks. Edmonton not only had an impressive draft class this summer, but they also signed a number of AHL/NHL free agents this summer. And, as the season starts, the Oilers plan to examine their depth and give these signees a chance to prove their worth.
Considering the Oilers’ roster, they need more depth and ability on the right wing, and could also use a solid seventh defender in wake of Andrej Sekera’s injury. Here are a few players to watch as camp cuts closer.
Back in June, the Oilers traded winger Jordan Eberle in exchange for centre Ryan Strome. While Edmonton benefitted by relieving Eberle’s cap hit, they also got a still up-and-coming prospect in Strome. Not only that, both players will certainly benefit from a change in scenery.
Since being taken fifth overall in 2011, Strome has not been able to put up high-scoring, let alone consistent, numbers at the NHL level. This past season, he finished with 13 goals and 30 points through 69 games and was a minus-8.
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The 23-year-old hasn’t been able to transform into a big-name player with the Islanders, but will get a chance to show he can still perform with the Oilers. He is able to play the centre and the wing, and has an underrated shot and good playmaking ability and vision.
Considering Edmonton’s youth and star power, he may be able to thrive with the team. Though he will likely start at centre, where he’s more comfortable, he could also be utilized on the right wing sooner rather than later. This would not only mean more ice time, but a chance for him to get playing time with the Oilers’ young guns.
Though the young Finn cracked the Oilers’ opening night roster this past season, he wasn’t able to earn a full-time stay. After posting just a lone goal and eight points through 28 games, Puljujarvi was assigned to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
With the Condors, the 19-year-old put up strong numbers and was able to better adapt to the North American game. He registered 12 goals and 28 points in 39 games, and was also Bakersfield’s eighth-best scorer this year.
The 6-foot-4, 203-pound winger is able to carry his own line and make his teammates better, thanks to his playmaking ability and speed. He could stand to improve his shooting to put up more results, but overall, he has strong stick handling skills and plays a solid game at both ends of the rink.
Coming into this season, the Oilers need more depth not he right wing, and it appears Puljujarvi is ready to step up and earn a permanent spot this time around. Plus, with a year of development under his belt, he could come back strong and ready to put up totals on the top six.
After being taken 22nd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Yamamoto has been making headlines and showing that he could possibly make the opening night roster this season.
The Spokane, Washington native put up impressive totals this year with his WHL hometown Chiefs, recording 42 goals and 99 points in 65 games this past year.
One of the possible reasons that a player of Yamamoto’s calibre was still available late in the first round is because of his size. The 5-foot-8, 146-pound winger is often criticized for his size, but he is showing that it is a non-factor and that he can still produce and develop into a top player. His speed, competitiveness, quick hands and vision are unparalleled, and he could make his way to the NHL sooner than expected.
Looking at the Oilers lack of depth on the right wing, if he competes hard enough, puts up solid preseason totals and proves to be one of the standout players at camp, he could surprise many and start the year with Edmonton. While the Oilers are in no rush to throw their young prospects into the throes of the rough-and-tumble league, Yamamoto could just earn that chance.