As the Edmonton Oilers gear up for the upcoming NHL season, one of the biggest question marks surrounding the team is who will ultimately earn the fourth-line center position. With a number of players vying for the role, the competition is sure to be fierce. I think right now there is 4 main players that have a chance.
Recently extended to a two-year deal by the Oilers. Ryan brings a wealth of experience to the ice, having played for a number of NHL teams over the course of his career. He’s known for his strong two-way play and has a reputation as a reliable scorer and playmaker. He could also play winger which is why he may not be center.
Pederson was signed this offseason to a two-year deal worth $775,000 per season. He was brought in to add forward depth and cause competition in the bottom half of the lineup. He is the favourite in my opinion as he is already signed to a contract and shoots right-handed.
Sam Gagner is signed to a PTO and the best place for him to fit would be in a depth spot. Just like Derek Ryan, Gagner would bring veteran depth to this position on the Edmonton Oilers roster. The main issue with Gagner is the Edmonton Oilers would need to make space on the cap for him as he is not currently under contract.
Just like Gagner, Brandon Sutter is signed only to a PTO and not an NHL contract. He will also have an uphill battle to make this team. I think Sutter has the highest ceiling of these players. He has the biggest build of the players who have the potential to land in this spot. The main problem outside of the cap for Sutter is he hasn’t played an NHL game since the 2020-21 season as he has struggled with long-COVID.
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Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess who will ultimately win the job. The Oilers have a number of talented players competing for the position, and it will likely come down to who performs the best in preseason and training camp. Regardless of who ultimately gets the nod, however, one thing is certain: the battle for the fourth-line center position is going to be one of the most closely-watched storylines of the upcoming NHL season.