Nikitin injury opens up roster spot


Nikita Nikitin injured his ankle last night and he will be out a few weeks according to Dallas Eakins. His injury opens up a roster spot for either Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse.

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?

Recently by Jason Gregor: 

  • 1979

    Opening Night Line-up

    Hall – Nuge – Eberle (This has to be our top line)
    Perron – Drasaital – Yakupov (Yak needs this)
    Pouliot – Arcobello – Purcell (Defense + scoring)
    Hendricks – Gordon – Pitlick (I like this line)

    Ference – Fayne (The left side needs Nic)
    Marincin – Petry (Our best pairing last year)
    Nurse – Schultz (Our future top pairing?)

    With this team no opening night line combination will be perfect, but is this the most balanced we have? Thoughts?

      • Joy S. Lee

        Maybe you’re right. Might even be likely. However, you seem to KNOW this? Also, do you KNOW they would not have any magic or chemistry together? The answer is, you don’t, because you don’t know until you do. In other words, your assumption /judgment has zero value, unless Dallas Eakins needs some solid advice in making his decisions. But I’m sure he would appreciate your wisdom. (Did these guys even get a few shifts together in the pre-season, and if so, how many?) Assumptions are great for direction, but you might miss something if you are always THAT sure about something that hasn’t been sufficiently tried. How does that thing go, something like “when you ASS-U-ME anything…”

    • 1979

      I like our future center depth chart, so would only bring in a temporary center to send Draisaital back or to replace Arcobello. I don’t think this is worth one of Marincin, Nurse, or Klefbom.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Just for clarification. Are you asking if we would trade an elite d PROSPECT for an ESTABLISHED PREMIER center?

      So like Klefbom for Getzlaf? Or Nurse for Stamkos? Or Marinicin for Malkin?

      Ummmm…Ill let you think on that for a second and see if you can answer your own question…

  • Joy S. Lee

    Last night was the first time in what feels like an eternity that Edmonton played that physical. I cant tell you how sick it made me watching game after game Edm get slapped around especially on home ice.

    Edm could have lost 10-0 last night and I would have been happy. Rexall has been a very easy place to play the last few years. I can only hope that the tone has been set and thy continue to not get pushed around

  • Joy S. Lee

    Draisaital seems very mature and composed on the ice but I wonder about his conditioning. Can he play 82 games ?

    I honestly do not know what they should do with Yakupov. He needs a coach all of his own. He seems lost out there.

    Goaltending was great last night.

    Nurse can really skate fast!

  • Joy S. Lee

    I can’t believe Nurse tried to fight Sestito last night. What was he thinking??? Kid almost ended his career before it started. Maybe he knew that veterans won’t fight rookies, then again, maybe he’s just really brave.

  • Ever the Optimist

    Well First of all we all recognize 2 facts …. there is no top pair dmen here yet and we are short in the center department.

    my opening line up would be
    1 hall- rnh -Purcell
    2 perron – draistl – eberle
    3 pouliot – arco – yakupov
    4 hendricks – gordon

    opening day / when everyone is healthy

    1 fayne – petry / fayne – nikitin
    2 klefbom – marincin / klefbom – petry
    3 schultz – ference / schultz – marincin
    4 nurse / ference

    imo if we run a defense by committee instead of a true leading pair then options are great. this would give us a 7th dressed dman that can be used as needed in the game to cover for players having off games or in game injuries. Also yes its nice to roll 4 lines … we have a luxury of having 3 very nice offensive lines that will all want lots of minutes. My reasoning on not keeping the 12th winger is with offense in mind. Allow Gordon and hendricks to take the majority of defensive zone face offs but give them a solid outlet winger to move the puck while they change as the puck is CARRIED down low with dman support and then 2 late forwards coming in for one timer options or to support the cycle.

    I feel this would give us some options on a night to night basis for defense and allow players who are one dimensional to focus on what they excel at. Yes there are holes (would love to hear about a arco plus pick trade for a pending FA or 2 year contract center …. vermette, b. richards, briere, peverly that would provide Veteran leadership and def support for Nail)

  • 916oiler

    Agreed with the Pitlick scenario. He has yet to hit his peak, and has a few very useful qualities. JJ, on the other hand, has likely peaked and is a borderline NHL player that a good club would not have on their roster.

    Nurse/Klefbom is a bit of a toss up for me. Nurse needs to go back to junior one way or the other – now or after 9 games. I think his game has a few too many holes at the moment to keep him around for 9 games. I could see him making a few big mistakes that directly result in goals against that hurt the big club, which would in turn hurt his confidence. Klefbom, on the other hand, seems to excel against better competition. I could easily see him playing his way onto the team for good if he gets the start with the big club. We all know it’s just a matter of time, and the time frame is less than a year.

  • DieHard

    Gregor Wrote: 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.

    How do you figure?? I’ve seen both of them i. Several games together now between last year and the current one, and not once has Klefbom been superior to the younger Nurse. He’s older, but that shouldn’t also qualify him as “more NHL ready”. I guess we have different criterium on what we judge as quality blue line play, but I think you have it backwards.

  • 916oiler

    TC RANT, baby!

    My Projected starting night lineup:

    Hall-RNH-Yakupov I say give it some time.

    Perron-Draisaitl-Eberle Balance the top two.

    Pouliout-Gordon-Purcell Hard minutes, but with some skill.

    Hendricks-Arcobello-Pitlick Energy!

    Just Arcobello (got to work on that shot) and Purcell have had meh camps, imo. You could include Eberle but he’s a vet so I’ll save any monkey crap throwing for the reg. season. Still not totally convinced about Draisaitl (he does get better and better) but there’s no one else. Give him 9 and go from there.

    Extras: Pinozzotto and Joensuu IR: Gazdic

    Lander goes down. He’s hasn’t done enough…anything. And, I don’t buy the “ruined” argument. At some point the player has got to man the puck up. If he’s that fragile, that’s a character flaw, nothing else.

    I still think/hope he can get his sh*t together.

    On D: With the injury to Nikitin I think it’s a no-brainer to keep Nurse for 9. He’s a stud! Young, but a stud. I think Nurse is better all around when you compare him, right now, to Klefbom. And his tenacity and ability to jump up would have this armchair a$$ ready and willing to send him out there for 9. Klefbom will get his this year, probably sooner than later.

    I’d also go with Aulie as the 7th. No use sitting Klefbom. Give him top minutes in the A.

    Still one game to go, but someone would have to have the pre-season game of their life to change their lot. Don’t mean they shouldn’t try…

    This team is by far a step up (maybe five!) from what we’ve seen in previous seasons. I expect a dog fight right to the end of the season.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Can I officially Hit the Yakupov panic button now? We have to separate the affable man from the actual on-ice player. No points from a line of 3 1st overalls? Hall and RNH have showed up and played well until the wet blanket of point production , Nail, was lined with them.

    I think Yak is suffering a long drawn out “Smythy’s PP goal chase”. I mean this.

    Once Smythy was one goal away from breaking the record for PP goals by an Oiler the team went out of its way to get 94 that goal. The harder they tried they more they failed. The same thing is happening with Yak. Somewhere along the line he forgot his gift and is now dependent on line-mates to create offence for him. His teamates are trying way to hard to find him his goals.

    I will now press the panic button with hopes Nail proves me wrong.

    About Nikitin. Sucks for him but if I was Nurse I’d be happy. Nurse should get to stay in the NHL now imo.

  • Zarny

    Nurse isn’t ready for the NHL. His game still has way too much noise in it.

    Nikitin’s injury though gives the Oilers a good opportunity. Send Aulie down to the AHL and keep Nurse and Klefbom to start the season.

    Darnell will get a taste of the big show and what he needs to work on in Junior this year. Klefbom is certainly more NHL ready and the prospect to keep over the full season.

    People need to quit thinking of being sent down to Junior or the AHL as a failure. It’s not. Detroit has shown repeatedly that seasoning a prospect in Jr and the AHL so that when they recalled they stick for good is anything but a failure.

    And the notion that Nurse, Draisaitl or any or the prospects we’re talking about don’t have lots to learn in Jr is flat out ridiculous. Nurse’s draft +1 year wasn’t even close to what guys like Pronger and Doughty did in their draft years or as 16-17 y/o for that matter. He has plenty to learn in Jr. And if PK Subban and Shea Weber can spend 2 additional years in Jr. then Nurse can too…after he gets a few games in with the big club this year.

  • Joy S. Lee

    I am quite surprised by the apparent perception of Nurse over Klefbom. I think Oscar is a stud in the making, and is about as solid a d-man as you’ll find. He IS developing right in front of our eyes, but most are not noticing it. Defensively, his head is on a swivel, and he’s added a willingness to clear the front the net. Considering the combination of his size and his fantastic skating allow him to eliminate opposition forwards from the play… or carry the puck out of the zone using the net as an advantage – like Doughty – where his superior skating can’t be caught by the oncoming forechecker… I am surprised most people do not seem to see this. And as for the no offense opinion, I think they sell Klefbom short there, too. His skating will open things up, but he’s focusing on nailing down the D-aspect first, like he’s supposed to.

    Fact is, I think these two guys ARE the #1 pairing within a year or three, although Schultz has clearly been alloted as the offensive wizard from the back end.

    I love them both for what I believe they will eventually bring to the table, but if Nurse truly is outplaying Klefbom (I’ve only seen a couple of games), then to me, that’s a great sign. Personally, I’m already sold on O.K. as being ready for the NHL, but if Darnell is getting that close too, then things really are looking up on our back end, and maybe sooner rather than later. Cool.

    • props to this! he’s going to be a great defenceman, and everyone quickly forgets he’s never had any continuity playing hockey over the last 3 years. injuries keep slowing his progression. Fingers crossed for a healthy season and you’ll see his ceiling go way up.

  • vetinari

    Joensuu has played too well to send down right now. The choice between losing Pitlick or Pinizotto to waivers is a simple one. Pinizotto hasn’t outplayed Pitlick to the degree that you risk losing a 21 yr. high pick who looks like he’s on the verge of gaining traction (so long as he can stay healthy).

    If Pinizotto does get claimed, then good on him – he’s scratched and clawed for his chance to play in the show. No offense to him, but he isn’t going to make the difference on whether or not the team is in the playoff hunt in March.

  • 916oiler

    Nurse reminds me a lot of Dion Phaneuf, in that the both bring the physical play and offensive punch. Saying that I think Nurse is a terribly dumb player and takes usless penalties. Is he a number 1 dman? IMO no. I like Klefbom a lot better in comparison.

  • Tikkanese

    @ Gregor. I agree to definately keep Pitlick and Pinizzotto up over Joensuu.

    Marincin has a guaranteed spot? Hasn’t he done the least this camp between himself, Nurse and Klefbom?

    I’d keep up Nurse for 9 games, send both Marincin and Klefbom down for a few games to hopefully find a little scoring touch confidence. They could both use it. Aulie looks to be even worse at hockey than Mark Fraser was, but a few games stuck with him to help Marincin and Klefbom gain some scoring confidence would be worth it in my opinion. Besides, with Gazdic out and games against Van and CGY to start the year, Aulie’s toughness may be needed.