The Edmonton Oilers recalled Denis Grebeshkov from the minors today, placing Phil Larsen on IR and changing up the roster look a little on the back end. Edmonton’s defensemen have been under siege for the entire season, and there appears to be no relief in sight—can Grebeshkov help this time?

When Grebeshkov was signed by the Oilers during the off-season, there was a very specific idea about his role and how the veteran might be able to help:

  • MacT: “What I see with him is he had a bit of a rocky year last year in the KHL. But he’s coming back as soon as we get his immigration (worked out) and he’ll be training virtually the whole month of August here. He’s going to be highly motivated on just a one-year deal and I’m sure he wants to make a career over here. He’ll be a good role model for Yak (Russian forward Nail Yakupov). Denis is a hell of a guy.”

Well, as it turned out, Grebs was a little rusty, a little slow and a little addled, and the result was some fairly chaotic hockey at the NHL level.

  • 3, 0-0-0 +1 11:36 2pims 2 shots 42 shifts

That’s not much, folks. Coach Dallas Eakins nursed him through those games and it became obvious that the Russian was rushing back to the big leagues and not in game shape.


Grebeshkov did have something to offer last time he was in the NHL, but this season the Oilers had a lot of options and didn’t need to suffer through while he rounded into shape. Grebs went to the AHL and performed thusly:

  • 11, 2-3-5 E 13shots

That’s the kind of boxcar you would expect from a healthy Grebeshkov based on our previous viewings of him (before he skipped town for Russia). Ten days ago, our own Jonathan Willis had this observation about Grebeshkov:

  • Willis: He needed time in Oklahoma City to stabilize his game, but the results of late have been encouraging and if he keeps playing as he has the last little bit he will work his way back to the majors.

Grebeshkov has been recalled, and may get another shot on this road trip to show what he can do.


If Grebeshkov has done the work—and it sounds like he’s worked hard in OKC—then this opportunity should see him get a full look to see if he can help. So far this season, Anton Belov has moved up the depth chart to grab more minutes, and maybe the other Russian in the race can do it too.

We’re about to find out.

(Grebeshkov photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

  • Reg Dunlop

    Just finished watching the flames game. They matched the level of ‘try’ of Chicago and were unlucky not to get a point. An admirable effort, one that the oil have yet to match this year, and now I hear the oil are test driving the Lada again. Will this galactic fail of a season never end?

  • Rick Stroppel

    The Oilers must lead the league in players brought back after they have been “let go” in one way or another: Kevin Lowe, Anderson, Klima, Ulanov, Comrie, Smyth, now Grebeshkov. The Flames are a close second: Conroy, Tanguay, Olli Jokinen, Cammalleri. None of these players were better the second time around. What does this tell us about the strategy and tactics of these organizations? They are totally out of ideas. For many years now, they are not moving forward, they are treading water or falling back. You get rid of a player for a reason, and that player’s skills erode, why do you need to bring him back? Because your team was mediocre before, now it is just plain bad. Oilers and Flames are now last and second last in the Western Conference. I know what you are going to say, what about Dustin “Pancake Man” Penner, thriving in his second tour with the Ducks. Let’s see if he can keep this up for a season or two. To me, the failure of Oilers management to address glaring weakness on the back end means they have decided it is time for another lottery pick, if not top 3 or 4. I am just a poor “tier 2” fan, I really can’t afford tickets. If I was actually paying to watch live, I think I might feel very strongly about what is happening.

    • S cottV

      That one still makes me shake my head.

      I think the reason freakinGrebeshkov has been called up ahead of Fedun or Klefbom is purely financial. Fedun and Klefbom make 70 grand in the AHL. Grebeshkov makes 1.5 million no matter where he plays. Makes sense to have the NHL salary in the NHL. Maybe they can showcase him for a waiver claim.

      • Serious Gord

        Grebs and smid moves are purely financial it seems…

        If so it a whole bunch about how Mr. Katz is going to run this team going forward – spending dough on players only if it will generate higher returns in the short-term. And that – if true – is a very troubling thing.

  • Ducey

    Wow, a lot of you fellas need to settle down. Grebs will be in the pressbox as the 7th D.

    He is a vet who can fly back and forth between OKC and the Oilers, can play a game here and there, and is cheap.

    Its called depth, and it ensures that the kids don’t have to be called up to sit in the pressbox/ get thrown into the fire before they are ready.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Depth? I have to question that. He is ‘depth’ just like Cam Barker is ‘depth’. A boarderline 3rd pairing guy in the KHL last year. Signing him was simply a bad move and continuing to give him a push, opposed to admitting the mistake and sending him back to Stalingrad, compounds the error. Keeping the prospect D away from this team this year makes sense but playing Denis clearly demonstrates that the tank is on or that mgmt. are buffoons.

    • Serious Gord

      Whats cheep about a number 8 defender in your organization making 1.5. If MacT did not hand out stinker contracts to Grebby, Jones he would of had dough for a goalie. Instead he dumped a 4 NHL defender.

      MacT signed a player on personal history and because he said he was a nice guy. If that does reek of poor judgement then I don’t know what constitute bad decision making. Bringing back players with a declining skillset because of personal history is another problem this organization has. They do it because they can’t fill their roster with NHL caliber talent because who wants to play for buffoons.

      Fire Lowe, Fire MacT. I’m almost willing to go to Rexall to start the chant once Bryz implodes. But I won’t buy tickets for this product.

        • pkam

          Ill rant and rave rebardless. The season is over baring Bryzgalov going batshyte crazy and literally becoming unconscience in goal.

          Ill rant till Katz dumps this cronistic backward inept management. Its a mess, put your head in the sand. Im a passionate fan who wants to go games.

          Ill try to bytch and moan on days then win so I don’t get accused of only moaning when they loose.

  • Ducey

    Wait a minute, I think I finally figure out what the Oil are thinking, they found out there’s someone they like on the next draft, probably will need a top five position to claim him, and they are sabotaging the season with a purpose, that’s it!!!! otherwise why letting Fedun rot in AHL? When he can contribute top 4 minutes right now!!???