The Edmonton Oilers made a pair of minor-league assignments on Sunday, returning defenceman Martin Marincin to Oklahoma City and waiving right wing Jesse Joensuu for the purpose of assigning him to the minor leagues as well.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 30, 2014
We might as well start with Marincin, who has not been playing of late. The Oilers had to make a choice here that got him playing, either inserting him into the NHL lineup or returning him to the farm team for more seasoning. The question is whether they have made the right decision.
The question with the player is potential vs. performance. A year ago he stepped into the lineup on the shutdown pairing alongside Jeff Petry and worked wonders, so we know what he’s capable of doing under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown well this year at all, leaving the Oilers in the position of deciding between riding out his problems in the hopes of a return to form or letting him reset in the minors.
They probably made the right call. Marincin’s still a young player, and an assignment to the Barons likely isn’t going to hurt him any; there’s no sense forcing him to play through his problems when a minor-league demotion is an option.
There would appear not to be much question of what happened here: Joensuu lost his job to Steve Pinizzotto. The defensive zone trio of Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and Joensuu/Pinizzotto has been effective regardless of which winger slotted into that spot, and for whatever reason – maybe it was the fighting, maybe it was the goal results (Pinizotto is +2/-2 at evens six games into his call-up; Joensuu is +1/-12), but the Oilers have opted to make a switch. Even with Joensuu having an edge in some categories (the shot metrics are slightly in his favour and he’s seen zone starts that were just a hair tougher) I can’t get too worked up about it; both guys are fringe NHL’ers and this doesn’t seem like a big move.
The question is why that job loss has resulted in Joensuu’s demotion. By my count, today’s assignments leave the Oilers with just 12 healthy forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies; 21 of the permissible 23 roster spots. One of those 12 healthy forwards is Luke Gazdic, who has been pretty decent in the two games he’s played but who presumably will be spending a night or two in the pressbox in the future. One of the others is Matt Hendricks, who sat out last game after taking a shot to the leg against Nashville.
Prudence would dictate the value of having a spare forward available at all times, and if it isn’t going to be Joensuu the question is who gets that spot. Is someone – perhaps Iiro Pakarinen – coming up from Oklahoma City? Or is a trade in the works?