As previously reported by OilersNation’s own Jason Gregor, the Edmonton Oilers have claimed Steve MacIntyre off waivers on his way from the Florida Panthers organization to the Rochester Americans. Here’s the catch: if the Oilers assign MacIntyre to Springfield, he would need to clear waivers again, and the Panthers would certainly prefer their summer free agent acquisition pummeling people in Rochester, so they would likely claim him.
All of this means that Guillaume Lefebvre, who has looked the most NHL-ready of the various enforcers the Oilers have tried out in camp, needs to do something more. It seems unlikely that the Oilers would have claimed MacIntyre (who last cleared the five-point mark for the Bay County Blizzard of the CEHL, a team so obscure that Hockeydatabase records only three of its players and couldn’t be bothered to hunt around for the league standings) if they were confident that Lefebvre, a much more talented player, could do the job. (Below, Robin Brownlee describes MacIntyre thusly: There’s NOTHING about MacIntyre that gets him anywhere near the NHL except size and toughness. He’s a palooka. A meathead. Hockey skill doesn’t mean a damn thing — he’s a super-heavyweight who matches up with anybody out there. That’s gold, folks).
In any case, Lefebvre draws into the lineup for tonight’s game against Calgary, playing with Ethan Moreau and Tyler Spurgeon. Andre Roy and Jim Vandermeer will both draw in for the Flames, so I would imagine that Lefebvre and Roy will have fought by the end of the first period. Roy is a pretty legitimate NHL heavyweight, so this should be a good test of Lefebvre’s ability to handle one of the big guns.
If I seem overly interested in this match-up, I have good reason. The player-type that I most dislike in hockey is the “play-four-minutes-a-night tough guy”, the guy who brings nothing whatsoever to the team other than his ability to hurt people. If teams really feel they need enforcers, the guys I want to see in the lineup are players like Georges Laraque, who can handle a regular shift without embarrassing himself. Lefebvre, who recorded 16 goals and 35 points in 66 AHL games in his last year in an NHL system, is much closer to being that player than MacIntyre.
The other side of all of this is that Marc Pouliot, Rob Schremp, Gilbert Brule, Jeff Deslauriers and perhaps Ryan Potulny and Mathieu Roy are suddenly competing for two spots instead of three. On the 23-man roster, 20 spots are definitively claimed, leaving three for the players listed above. If one of those spots has been reserved for an enforcer (be it MacIntyre or Lefebvre), than only two spots remain. The players most affected are Pouliot and Deslauriers, both of whom are in the mix, and both of whom need to clear waivers to make it down to Springfield.
If the Oilers decide (as they’ve been hinting since July) to keep Deslauriers, Pouliot needs to beat out all comers for the final role on the team. It’s my personal opinion that he should get it, but he hasn’t run away with the race, and he’s had a ton of chances. It would not surprise me in the slightest to see him claimed on waivers, or shipped out of town for a 4th round pick between now and opening night.
—Jonathan Willis is the force behind Copper and Blue, and a frequent OilersNation contributor.