The Odd Men Out: Who Are They?

By my count, the Edmonton Oilers have 17 forwards and eight defenseman (along with a pair of goaltenders) with a pretty decent shot at making an NHL lineup on opening night. Given that an NHL roster is only 23 men deep, who stays and who goes?

The Locks (Barring Trade)

  • Eric Belanger
  • Ben Eager
  • Jordan Eberle
  • Sam Gagner
  • Taylor Hall
  • Ales Hemsky
  • Shawn Horcoff
  • Darcy Hordichuk
  • Ryan Jones
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  • Lennart Petrell
  • Ryan Smyth
  • Jeff Petry
  • Nick Schultz
  • Ladislav Smid
  • Andy Sutton
  • Ryan Whitney
  • Devan Dubnyk
  • Nikolai Khabibulin

Total: 19

There really shouldn’t be much to debate here. Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk would be pretty small losses if waived, but the Oilers made a point of signing both to contracts this summer so presumably they’re in the plans – and Petrell’s age makes him a great option for the role of 13th forward/press-box guy while Darcy Hordichuk is the enforcer.

The Possibilities

  • Teemu Hartikainen
  • Anton Lander
  • Linus Omark
  • Magnus Paajarvi
  • Nail Yakupov
  • Theo Peckham
  • Corey Potter
  • Justin Schultz

There are four spots for these seven guys – depending on how the coaching staff wants to do things, 2-3 spots for defenseman and 1-2 spots for forwards.

I feel confident saying that Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz will make the team – the first overall pick and prized free agent acquisition have featured prominently in Ralph Krueger’s conversations with the media and it would be a major shock to see either cut out of training camp.

That leaves two remaining spots, and three players who need to clear waivers to be demoted: Omark, Peckham and Potter. Omark has yet to be signed, and the possibility exists that the Oilers simply let him take off for Europe if they aren’t able to find an interested team. Keeping Peckham and Potter on the NHL roster leaves the trio of youngsters – Paajarvi, Hartikainen and Lander in the minors.

It Won’t Play Out That Way

Teemu Hartikainen, 5of7/Wikimedia Commons

But I’d be very surprised if that’s the way things work out when everything is said and done. Teemu Hartikainen got a push from the coaching staff last season, and Bob Stauffer’s been talking about him as a possible linemate for Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle – it’s possible that’s just his personal preference but I tend to think he’s reflecting the Oilers’ desire to have Hartikainen in the lineup on opening night. The team’s search for a big guy to play high in the lineup has been a constant for most of the last decade, and Hartikainen’s the closest fit in the system right now.

My guess would be that somebody – probably Peckham, who likely will have some value – is dealt before training camp, and that Hartikainen makes the team as one of the 14 forwards. That bumps Petrell and Hordichuk out of the top-12 (which is good), makes Corey Potter the seventh defenseman and still leaves the Oilers with some options on the farm – Paajarvi, Lander and Tyler Pitlick up front; Colten Teubert, Taylor Fedun, Alex Plante and Martin Marincin on the blue line (Some may quibble with my choice of Marincin for that list, but he and Plante were sent out at the same time last season, with Tambellini discussing the former as an NHL option in 2012-13 but not the latter; I think he’ll be in the mix if he shows well early).

A big trade would throw everything out of whack, but as we approach August a big trade seems increasingly unlikely.

  • This is a fun subject for thought but assuming there are no trades these are decisions that will be made after trading camp and exhibition games.

    We will see which Peckham shows up for example. If he shows up fit and with his head on straight, ready to play the way he did two years ago he makes the team and you don’t trade him because they need his physicality. Potter was awful after a good first month, but if Peckham isn’t his old self we will need him. One will stay the other will be off to OKC, if they clear waivers. The other 6 D spots are obvious, as you suggest.

    The situation with the forwards is different. Omark will not be on the opening day roster and I doubt Lander will either. Like you, I think Hartikainen has a spot unless he has a poor camp, but it would be nuts to send MP to OKC if he earns a spot, although he has to play Top 9 somewhere. Of course there is usually somebody hurt, so that opens a spot for a 15th forward.

    Of course a trade could change everything and you know the brain troika is constantly considering every possibility and dithering wildly over each one.

  • Maddog

    We have some interesting solutions at our disposal this comeing year.I have just one comment to make,and its this,Corey Potter is the man we need on the ice to start the year,he is Ryan Whitney upgraded.Whitneys ankles or feet were not his issue,his mobility overall is not a strength,his laser-like passing is his strength along with his elite vision and playmakeing ability,undoubtably one of the NHLsbest 5 on 5 QBs in the league,we USED to require that type of momentum initiation form our zone,but not after LA used the NewAge Hockey System to win the cup and not after we figured parts of it out ourselves last year,we MUST have options on Defense and that means we need above average mobility on our defenseive end.

    IMHO,Smid and Potter were anchoring the defense wonderfully to start the year,and a very questionable coaching decision to put Whitney back in as one half of that anchor was made,with NO CONSIDERATION FOR THE HARD WORK AND COMMITTMENT THAT HAD GIVEN THE TEAM THE SUCESS IT HAD ALREADY EARNED,you see our Management Cabal failed to accurately analyse our early sucess and they missed the chemistry and system sucess we were finding in a natural evolutionary way,and as a result we forced the Glass Slipper back on our own foot and the team free fell untill we started initiateing components of the NewAge Hockey System with about 25 gms left,a move which coincidentally was working out nicely as the year ended in fact we were just picking up steam again{see Petrys breakout/slot in potter and we see the same,try Whitts and our entire system changes}—this is why it is so easy to see how LA rode the NewAge Hockey System to the Cup,if you watch our last couple of three LA games last year you will see both teams playing my NewAge Hockey System.In short Whitney is a dominant d-man who must run the offensive transition out of the d-zone HIS way or he loses 25% of his potential and that makes him average at best on the ice.When we had sucess last year it was when we DID NOT play a style that worked into Whitneys game,ALL of our sucess came from the Possesion/Transition game we were experimenting with,in the beginning of the year we “stumbled upon”the right execution because Whitts was out and we needed to simplify things and just get the puck out fast—you see this forced us to play a possesion/transition style by default and as a result we began to unwittingly play a version of the NewAge Hockey System,you see we were makeing a fast first transition then consistantly giveing the puck to our vets to calm things down through the neutral zone and then our kids were finishing perfectly,it was smooth and lethal.And because of our coaches cautious approach with the kids and our coaches worries we would be weak without Whitney back there we were useing THREE TRANSITIONS consistantly–now go back and watch LAs cup run again starting with 25gms to go–as I said by default—with the coaches waiting to take Potter out as soon as Whitts came back hopeing that Whitneys presence and control would provide the slow down effect our neutral zone veteran presence was giveing us as we were kicking arse.The Coaches failed to accurately asses from where and why our early and very real and earned sucess was comeing from,as a result we made the olde ‘if it aint broke–dont fix it”mistake in spades.When we reinserted Whitney and beyond all reason stayed with him right through the freefall,we stopped playing a Possesion/Transition game and we went back to a hybrid System that depended on Whitneys quarterbacking of the momentum and play from deep in our zone,this meant that our consistant presentation of three seperate and different geared zone transitions disappeared and we began to inconsistantly initiate our offense from Whitneys first pass most times.This took away an entire transition and an entire “gear change’with our speed and skill we dont want to lose either of those things ever.So we fre-fell until “someone–somewhere”started paying closer attention to the data available then on the NewAge Hockey System and slowly experiments began with core value components of this new system,and it was a VERY slow and cautious beginning,but with about 25 gms to go something big happened and the team began to focus more on the core values of the NewAge Hockey System they had found,the results are clear,they returned to a Possesion/Transition game by and large and began to turn things back into sucess and wins almost immediatlely.

    We were beginning to heat up exactly as LA was and in ALL THE SAME AREAS,and in ALL the same dynamic situations,because we were both experimenting with the same NewAge Hockey System basic core values or the Foundation of the NewAge Hockey System to be more accurate.

    MPS ,Yakupov,Schultz and Potter should stay and Peckham will be the first injury call-up,unless he bumps someone out in camp which is possible as Peckham is evolveing.

    I think we will see a lot of injury call-ups from our new coach,he doesnt seem to be the type to send out the cripple crew,if you cant give 90% you cant be on the ice methinks,so we will likely see a smooth flow of injury call-ups,krueger is a firm believer in System play so he will be confident in letting call-ups step in,he has an added advantage that our farm team also instituted the newAge Hockey System core values given to them and earned the respect the system generates,so last year we had the Oilers turning it around,the Kings primeing for a Cup winning run,and our farm team absolutely duplicateing LAs sequence of events and going to the final, and the Oilers turnaround all happening in an exact chronological series of paralell system changes through the implementation of core value components of the base of the NewAge Hockey system.

    We will see most of these guys playing games this year I firmly believe, and Training camp might have a lot more to say about who starts the year than we all think.

  • Maddog


    They picked up Jeff Carter at the deadline and before long the team began to play up to their potential. Don’t forget they were an early pick last year to do well and were a major disappointment at the half-way mark. Crediting LA’s success to your NewAge stuff is as inaccurate as your spelling.