The Edmonton Oilers are gearing up for their last game of the preseason Saturday, facing the Vancouver Canucks one more time before they officially kick off the 2017-18 campaign. And with that final game, Anton Slepyshev will draw back into action.
The Russian winger has been out for a majority of training camp with an ankle injury. Though deemed not serious, it did hold him out for most of the preseason action. He has been skating the last few days, and head coach Todd McLellan told the media that he will return to the lineup for the bout with Vancouver.
“We’ve got to get him up and running,” McLellan said.
Slepyshev spent a majority of the year with Edmonton, but also played with the Condors, where he posted three goals and 10 points in nine games. His impressive AHL scoring led him to more consideration for a full-time NHL gig. In 41 games of action with the Oilers, he racked up four goals and 10 points, and though he didn’t show the same production, he did create a lot of scoring chances and played a key role on the bottom-six.
However, it was in the playoffs that he truly stood out, showing outstanding speed, potential and upside. In 12 postseason games, he had three goals and scored at critical moments, all while playing a strong two-way game and creating as many opportunities as he could.
Looking to Saturday, Slepyshev will have to try to do everything in his power to stand out. While he has been on the sidelines, players like Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira and even Iiro Pakarinen have made strong cases to crack the roster, and he could find himself the odd man out if he can’t bring as much to the table as them.
Still, given his experience and upside, an injury shouldn’t be enough to ruin his chances. Plus, he has shown chemistry and ability to contribute at the NHL level, and he should be ready to kick off the year with the Oilers this season.