After two "maintenance" days, Nikolai Khabibulin was back on the ice and his mobility looked fine, however, after an injury-plagued past few seasons any hint of a tweak raises the caution flag. Khabibulin’s previous injuries helped the Oilers acquire Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but this year his play has been a major reason why the Oilers are still in the playoff hunt.
They can’t afford him to get injured if they want to stay in the hunt, and with Corey Potter ready to return the Oilers need to send someone to the minors. My guess is it will be Magnus Paajarvi.
It’s amazing how much can change from year-to-year in the NHL. Last year everyone felt Khabibulin’s best days were behind him, while Paajarvi’s best were ahead of him. I still fee Paajarvi will be a solid, maybe great, NHL player, but he is clearly struggling right now.
With Potter set to return to the lineup and be paired with Theo Peckham, and get some PP time, the Oilers have 24 guys on their roster. Andy Sutton is suspended, but he still counts towards the 23-man roster so the Oilers will need to make a move, and there is no reason why it won’t be Magnus Paajarvi.
Tom Renney confirmed to me they wouldn’t go with only six D-man for the next six games, so I don’t see Colten Teubert going down. The only options at forward are Lennart Petrell and Paajarvi, and with Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall and Ryan Smyth ahead of Paajarvi on the left wing, it sounds like he’ll get the ticket to OKC.
Paajarvi needs to play, and he’ll get plenty of minutes in OKC. He’ll play in every situation and I have no doubt he’ll be successful.
I’m sure this wasn’t the original plan for the Oilers, but good organizations need to adapt and react to unexpected situations, and I expect them to officially make an announcement soon. If it isn’t Paajarvi I’ll be stunned and shocked.
I asked Renney if now that Hall was back and the top six wingers seem to be locked in, if a stint in the AHL might be best for the second-year Swede?
"I think now that we have our bodies back it becomes a more serious conversation. We talk about it pretty much everyday, but now we have to have a good luck at what is in his best interest. It might take another game or two before we draw conclusions on that."
They only way they can wait another game or two is if they don’t activate Potter, or they send someone else down, which wouldn’t make much sense at this point. It is easier to get him to OKC from Phoenix rather than out of Edmonton, so we’ll likely hear something tomorrow.
WILL HALL CHANGE?
Since getting rocked in Colorado many have wondered if Hall will change the way he plays.
"If I think this is going to be the first time I get injured in my career I’m lying to mys elf. There is going to be some growing pains. Last year was a freak injury, I hurt my ankle in a fight, this is really my first injury I’ve ever had. I’m not going to change my game too much. The shoulder feels really good and I’m not going to play tentative at all; I can’t afford to," said Hall to Brownlee and I.
Brownlee asked Renney if Hall needs to alter his game?
"You have to have the wherewithal to know what is going around you, certainly offensively and with the puck that is essential. Where he can get compromised, I suppose, is on the offensive side of the puck, but he’s going to have to play hockey and sort that out. We’ve already talked about some strategies to help him, playing safe is the wrong way to put it, but playing without the risk of injury."
Renney went on to say that you might see some "minor" adjustments. Mostly things like taking a different angle or possibly getting tighter against the boards before absorbing a hit.
We continue to help raise money in our HELPING OTHERS campaign on my show this week.
Today we have another fun package, and with a framed picture of Jordan Eberle involved I’m sure Wanye will be pestering everyone to help him have the highest bid.
Oiler fans stand up and ensure you don’t have a Leafs fan win this package!
- Pair of club seats to the Oilers/Leafs courtesty of SLH Picker Services.
- A framed Jordan Eberle picture courtesy of the Sports Closet in Sherwood Park.
- Party for ten at The Druid Irish Pub and $200 in GCs from them. I can vouch that Kail and the staff at the Druid will make it a hell of a party for the winner bidder.
If you want to bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Bidding starts at 2 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST with 100% of the money going to Santas Anonymous.
Thanks for you generosity in helping those who really need your help at this time of year.