At forward there weren’t any real surprises on the Edmonton Oilers roster in terms of who was there, more who wasn’t there.
Let’s start with the former.
Connor Brown started the season on Connor McDavid’s line as expected with Evander Kane on the port side.
That left Hyman and Nuge to wing it up on Draisaitl’s line.
Dylan Holloway started game one on the third line with Ryan Mcleod and Mclovin after spending all of last season moving up and down between the third and fourth lines all season long.
That left Mattias Janmark and Derek Ryan to form part of a fourth line with Nuge being double-shifted to center them at least for game one.
The Oilers are a couple of forwards short of a full roster due to their cap situation – another way in which Ken Holland continues to surprise me by thinking outside the box.
The only surprise to me is Raphael Lavoie wasn’t on the opening night roster. He had a good camp and was one of the last three cuts, but ultimately the Oilers only have $395,000 in cap space to start the season so they couldn’t afford to keep him on the roster despite the fact that he probably deserved to be there.
Lavoie will go down once again to Bakersfield and unless he absolutely bombs it there will likely have status now as the first call-up in case of injuries to the forward ranks.
Dylan Holloway left the game last night with about 10 minutes to play after getting an injury blocking a shot. He was ranked as the best forward on the ice last night by the Journal so hopefully no harm no foul for Saturday’s rematch against the Canucks.
No official word on what happened to the two PTO players remaining in camp, Adam Erne and Sam Gagner. Gagner could be signed to an AHL-only contract and then have it upgraded whenever we need him here. As for Erne? Hard to say. He didn’t earn an upgrade in his contract with his training camp as he never really stood out.
Oilers Back End
On D it was a little more significant. Evan Bouchard moved up to the first pairing as some were saying he would during preseason, which moved Cody Ceci down to the second pairing. But that’s as far down as Ceci went.
This explains to me why Brett Kulak – or anyone else – wasn’t traded before the start of the regular season despite the fact there is a glut of players at left D now.
Kulak drew in on the second pairing with Mattias Ekholm still out, which meant that Broberg drew in on the third pairing.
I wouldn’t read too much into last night’s game going forward as everyone on the team laid an egg and no one was really any good.
Hopefully, Ekholm comes back soon which will then force Holland to trade someone to clear up some cap space for us. If I were him I’d call up definitely Lavoie and maybe Ben Gleason too after cap space is freed up just so we have some guys pushing other players for ice time.
Gleason at this point has earned himself first callup honors just like Lavoie unless he absolutely bombs in Bakersfield.
Between the pipes, you have the two players you’d expect to see in Soup (Jack Campbell) and Stew (Stuart Skinner). Calvin Pickard looks to be an AHL bubble player for the rest of his career so he’ll probably never earn a roster spot permanently with the Oilers. Neither of the prospect goalies, Olivier Rodrigue or Ryan Fanti, are ready to push for an NHL spot yet.
There was a bit of rhubarb going around that the Oilers were going to lose either Lavoie or Gleason as both had to clear waivers to go down to Bakersfield, but IMO this was always overblown as every team has players like this on their roster – on the cusp of prime time but not quite ready for one reason or another. Unsurprisingly to me, both along with the other cut in camp – Lane Pederson – all cleared waivers.