The Edmonton Oilers made cuts to their training camp roster Sunday, releasing five players back to their respective clubs.
Edmonton assigned forward Kirill Maksimov (OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs), forward Ostap Safin (QMJHL’s St. John), defenceman Dmitri Samorukov (OHL’s Guelph Storm) and goaltenders Stuart Skinner (WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes) and Dylan Wells (OHL’s Peterborough Petes) to their respective junior clubs.
Maksimov, Safin, Samorukov and Skinner are all 2017 Oilers draft picks. Wells was taken in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Samorukov signed an entry-level deal with the Oilers this offseason.
The cuts came a day prior to the start of the Oilers 2017-18 preseason. Edmonton is set to play Calgary Monday in a split-squad, two-game match-up. The Oilers will send some of their players to Calgary to play the Flames in the Saddledome. Others will stay in Edmonton and take on the flames at Rogers Place.
Many of these names are still young and have a lot to improve on before camp starts, so it is not necessarily surprising to see them reporting back to juniors. The season is right around the corner, and it is better that they get time to adjust to their respective clubs and earn more development down with their 2017-18 teams rather than at the Oilers training camp.
Moving Up the Depth Chart
Maksimov is just one player looking to prove his worth at the junior level this season. He had just six goals and 16 points in 37 games with the Saginaw Spirit this past season but was traded to the Niagara IceDogs. Following the change in scenery, he went on to rack up 15 goals and 22 points through 29 games.
Safin, who is entering his first professional season in North America, wants to evolve and adapt his game as he moves closer to the NHL. He has played in the Czech Republic this past few seasons but is finally making the jump to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this coming season. He had six goals and 18 points in 24 games with the Czech League’s HC Sparta Praha U-20 team and will be looking to carry over that impressive production this year.
Despite a rather unimpressive season from the Guelph Storm, Samorukov shined brightly for his team in 2016-17. He had four goals and 20 points in 67 games with the Storm and was perhaps their best blueliner. The Russian defenceman also played seven games for Russia in the U18 World Junior Championship, racking up a goal and five points through seven games. Still, he must work on balancing his offensive acumen and defensive awareness before he makes the jump to the NHL.
Skinner and Wells are both solid netminders with a promising future, but considering Edmonton’s depth with Cam Talbot, Laurent Brossoit and Nick Ellis, as well as Shane Starrett, there are still ways for them to go. Skinner shined in rookie camp and has a lot of upside, but must be more consistent and he still has a lot to learn. Wells needs to work on his positioning and also make the most of his last year at the junior level.