Mark Fayne and Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin have spots locked up, while Keith Aulie is likely the #7 D-man, but with Nikitin going down Eakins and his staff will need to decide if they keep Klefbom or Nurse.
If they want to see both of them, they could keep Nurse at the start of the season, and send Klefbom down to OKC, he doesn’t need to clear waivers, and then recall him after Nurse plays a few games.
The ONLY downside to keeping Klefbom ahead of Nurse is that if the Oilers suffer another injury right away, they can’t recall Nurse. Once he is sent to junior he has to stay there for the season, unless the Oilers suffer significant injuries on their blueline and they can recall him on an emergency basis. The latter is virtually impossible considering how many young D-men the Oilers have in OKC.
The other options are to keep eight D-men, or keep both Klefbom and Nurse, rotate them for a few games and send Aulie to the minors. They would risk losing him on waivers, but I think the chances of him getting claimed are slim.
If they want to keep Nurse for a few games, I’d lean to sending Aulie down over Klefbom. I believe Klefbom is more NHL-ready than Nurse, and I wouldn’t keep the younger D-man here ahead of him. If Nikitin hadn’t been hurt, and it came down to Klefbom or Aulie as the #7 you can explain to Klefbom why sending him to the minors, rather than sitting in the pressbox every game, is more beneficial, but I don’t think you can tell that to him, when there is an actual spot in the top-six open, and he is more NHL-ready than Nurse.
What would you do?
Tyler Pitlick needs to clear waivers to be sent down, and with his speed and a willingness to play physical — ask Bo Horvat how hard he hits — I wouldn’t risk putting him down to OKC.
If I’m Craig MacTavish I’d keep Steve Pinizzotto and Pitlick and send Jesse Joensuu to the OKC. I want to keep Pitlick for his potential and his speed. Looking ahead to next season, Teddy Purcell is a guy who needs a very good season, or you’d look at moving him. If he doesn’t produce points, he does little else to help you win. I don’t see him as a long-term option in Edmonton, especially on the third line.
I believe Pitlick has more long-term potential than Joensuu, and with a possible 3rd line winger spot opening up next year, I think the former 31st overall pick is a better option to play there than Joensuu. The Oilers have spent a few years developing Pitlick, and I wouldn’t risk losing him for nothing.
I agree the odds are slim a team takes a chance on him, but many will look at his age and his speed and they could be willing to take a chance on him. I’d keep Pitlick over Joensuu.
Who would you keep?
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