Injuries are no excuse, of course, but they can have an effect on the team. That just means other guys have to step up. We’ve all heard about the injury to Evander Kane, who will be out for 3-4 months, so we can’t expect him back until minimum mid-February. That creates other opportunities on the roster, which Warren Foegele had seized upon as he elevated his play and started going on a bit of a run…..until he was injured too. He’s listed as day to day right now so hopefully it’s not too serious with him as he was just starting to get his game back when he was injured.
Kailer Yamamoto is at least practicing with the team now which is a good sign and we might get him back sooner rather than later. For now, Jesse Puljujarvi is languishing in his spot and may be traded sooner rather than later if he keeps it up. Ken Holland will never say anything publicly, of course, but when the Bison King isn’t scoring and is playing defense so poorly he has the worst +/- on the team right now, sooner or later something’s gotta give. The Edmonton Oilers badly need the cap space so expect a trade to include him at the trade deadline if nothing else. The only thing he’s doing well right now is hitting – he’s second on the team in hits with 49 right now and that’s all well and good but you’d expect more from a three million dollar man.
Ryan Mcleod was also recently injured – unfortunate timing for him as he collected three assists in the Rangers game prior to. Not bad for a third line center. Much like Foegele, he was also just starting to find his game prior to getting injured. Mattias Janmark was called up from Bakersfield to sub in for Foegele, and while he hasn’t scored he’s at least enough of a veteran presence to stop the bleeding defensively.
The Deutschland Dangler has been moved up to top line LW to take Kane’s place which puts the Nuge at second line center. Brad Malone has been called up to take Mcleod’s place on the third line. Malone is nothing more than an AHL bubble player, so he’s not a threat to Mcleod long term but can at least tread water in the position – hopefully Mcleod isn’t out for too long (slated to be at least a week).
With the Bison King and Janmark playing in the top six right now, the Edmonton Oilers had to bring some more cavalry in from Bakersfield to take their places in the bottom six, which is when Dylan Holloway was moved into the third line spot normally occupied by Foegele and Klim Kostin draws in to Holloway’s spot. It’s hard to say exactly what we have with Kostin because he’s played so few games in the organization, but at least he seems more or less capable of playing without the puck in short sample size as he brings a -1 to the table in a short seven games so far.
James Hamblin – a local product who was signed by the Oilers as an AHL free agent originally – has had an interesting origin story. He played bantam with Tyler Benson and Stuart Skinner, then eventually proved what he could do in the AHL and his AHL-only contract was upgraded to a two way one last season. He made his NHL debut at third line RW subbing in for the Bison King yesterday against Florida.
Dylan Holloway scored his first NHL goal against the Rangers two games ago, and while that’s all well and good we need more in terms of offence from everyone. We can’t go back to an unbalanced attack like we had two seasons ago – we all saw what the results were of that.
Unfortunately now we have no choice but to sacrifice some balance in our attack as the injured guys are all key guys and you can’t expect Brad Malone and Mattias Janmark to sub in singlehandedly for proven NHL players, it’s just not realistic.
The sooner we get our depth scoring back, the better.