Edmonton Oilers cut 18 players, including four requiring waivers

Todd McLellan2

As promised, Todd McLellan and his coaching staff made big cuts to the training camp roster on the weekend. They didn’t even wait until Sunday to announce the moves, letting it be known on Saturday that the roster of 50 had been knocked all the way down to 32.

More after the jump.



Cut were the following:

  • Left Wing: Ryan Hamilton, Kale Kessy, Josh Winquist, Braden Christoffer
  • Centre: Bogdan Yakimov, Andrew Miller, Jujhar Khaira, Phil McRae
  • Right Wing: Tyler Pitlick, Greg Chase, Kyle Platzer, Matt Ford

There are some minor surprises here, but nothing major. All the AHL guys got sent out, as expected, as well as prospects still some distance from NHL duty. Only three players stand out as minor surprises: Yakimov, Miller and Pitlick. All three should have competed for an NHL job in camp. This isn’t terrible news for Yakimov, who has plenty of time, but Pitlick and Miller are both pretty long in the tooth for prospects and this was an important camp for them. Neither showed much Saturday and they’ve been passed by other options.

Hamilton, Miller and Pitlick require waivers. I’d guess all three clear, though it’s always possible some G.M. out there takes a shine to one of the latter two. 


The remaining members of the forward depth chart still in Edmonton include the injured Mitch Moroz (who otherwise would certainly have been demoted today, too) and 16 forwards still fighting for jobs:

Centre Right Wing
Benoit Pouliot Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall Connor McDavid Teddy Purcell
Leon Draisaitl Anton Lander Nail Yakupov
Matt Hendricks Mark Letestu Lauri Korpikoski
Luke Gazdic Rob Klinkhammer
Anton Slepyshev Iiro Pakarinen

Pakarinen has been banged up and hasn’t had a chance to show his stuff; it’ll be difficult for him to rebound from that to compete for a job but you never know. Slepyshev has outperformed expectations in his first North American camp, and if there are some injuries might even find himself on the roster when all is said and done. More likely, the other 14 forwards are going to make up the opening night crew, with the possibility of either Gazdic or Klinkhammer getting cut if Edmonton goes with just 13 forwards. Draisaitl is a possibility too, of course, but at this stage it looks to me like he has a job.

Defence & Goaltending


On the back end, the following cuts were made:

  • Left Defence: Jordan Oesterle, Joey Laleggia
  • Right Defence: Brad Hunt, David Musil
  • Goalie: Laurent Brossoit, Eetu Laurikainen

No surprises here. The goalie contest has been between three obvious names since the summer. On defence, all four of the players demoted today were dark horse roster material, and while they have to be disappointed to be heading out this early it’s no more than nayone could have expected.


Injured defencemen Dillon Simpson and Martin Gernat are still technically on the roster, but the reality is that this contest is down to 10 defencemen and three goalies:

Right Defence Goalie
Andrej Sekera Mark Fayne Cam Talbot
Oscar Klefbom Justin Schultz Anders Nilsson
Griffin Reinhart Eric Gryba Ben Scrivens
Andrew Ference Nikita Nikitin
Darnell Nurse
Brandon Davidson

In net, the battle between Scrivens and Nilsson is not going well for the incumbent; he’s been fine but the big newcomer has been pretty close to perfect. If this job is going to go to the man with the best camp and the candidates entered on even footing, Nilsson’s the guy with the edge now. That may not be the case, of course, but at the very least Scrivens has to be feeling pressure.

On defence there are seven or eight jobs open. My guess is that the Oilers are leaning toward keeping eight defencemen, and that Nurse and Davidson are on the outside looking in right now. Honestly, though, outside the top four it’s possible to slice and dice the remaining six in any number of ways. Mostly, I suspect there’s just room for one rookie and that Reinhart has the inside track, but injury and/or trade could be a factor yet.


  • With Seabrook signed perhaps the dreamers will come back down to earth and maybe someone will give Chia a call for $h!tikinin….. Please please please. I want to see a full season of Nurse.

    Too bad for Pitlik but Klinks is playing fabulous so far.

  • sportsjunkie007

    It’s nice to see McLellan making the cuts fairly quickly. Slow moves by previous coaches have generally left us with an uncertain roster to start the season.

    I suspect that our new coach understands the value of chemistry between line mates, will do everything that he can to get the roster to 23 in a hurry.

    • CMG30

      Agreed. This season has to be about winning. I’d also like to see the NHL roster get a couple games before the season starts to build chemistry and get use to McLellan’s systems.

      I only wonder if they’re going to give Nurse 9 games or if they’re going to send him down right away.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Nurse maybe odd man out but not for long. Passion, intensity, and heart are his attributes that cannot be taught. All NHLers have them to some degree certainly, just Nurse has an excess, and the excitement he brings will allow him to pass all the stay at home defence men on his way to Oilers captain. I predict the C ends up with Nurse three years down the road. Just saying.

    In the meantime, griffin is a welcome rookie for this season. I hope he excels. Awesome to have him.

    • IThere’s no question that Reinhart is an extremely valuable young defenceman. He’s a really nice piece to build around long-term.

      As for Nurse, I’d be very surprised if he were still in the AHL at Christmas. There’s a logjam early, but injury and/or trade will clear it up. He’ll force the issue soon enough.

      Add Klefbom to those two and there is a lot of potential on Edmonton’s blue line.

  • hagar

    In all seriousness, can we bury Nikitin in the AHL, potentially allowing us to keep both Nurse and Reinhart up here?

    If someone wants to claim Nikitin off waivers, hey, go for it, but I doubt it would happen.

    • hagar

      Might as well live with the fact that NN isn’t going anywhere on a trade or pick up. The rest of the teams in the league have eye balls as well, and an understanding of a players worth.

      He is a signing that needs to expire to get off the books. Sad but true.

    • bradleypi

      So you would play favorites with your roster just to spite nikitin because you don’t like him? I think nikitin has looked pretty good. His cannon of a shot is a nice fit for the 2nd pp unit.

      • Randaman

        Sorry but Nikitin is far from the best option going into the season.

        He is still SLOW and why is it that with that cannon of a shot, it never seems to get through and or misses the net?

        It’s not about playing favorites, it’s about giving us the best chance to compete this year and beyond, for which Nikitin will be gone.

        So, who is playing favorites and not looking at the big picture??

        • bradleypi

          The big picture is his 4.5mill salary. For some reason oilersnation thinks that it’s just so easy to bury that much cap space in the minors. It’s not. That’s just wasted cap space if it’s not in the nhl. You can’t honestly tell me that anyone has been heads and tails better than Niki to make it worth it to send him down. I wish oilersnation would take off their last season blinders and look at these guys like it’s a new year. Which it is. And don’t worry about his shot. It’ll get through. He’s only played 2 games. Yeesh. And I agree he is slow. That’s probably why he’s a defenseman. That’s nothing positioning, smarts and stick work can’t fix. Not every defenceman in the league is a burner. Just FYI

  • hagar

    So much talk about “previous coaches” or teams. Let us move on and start to try and forget those years. Stop opening up the scabs that are slowly starting to heal. Am I really the only one tired of hearing references to Dallas Eakins or are there still many of you that like bringing it up?

  • hagar

    At least we aren’t putting our money on a number one draft pick alone this year again.. The master cogs seem to have been removed. I personally wasn’t encouraged by the mcdavid signing near as much as the management change that has been over do for sooooo long.

    Positive thoughts… please don’t fail me again positive thoughts. Pleeeease.

  • pkam

    Golatending in becoming an interesting situation. Nilsson has looked th ebest of the bunch so far.

    Looking at who’s left suggets the roster is pretty much such other than a goalie, 2 or so Dmen and 3 or 4 forwards. This is in sharp contrast to last year when tryouts continude into the regular season.

  • Anton CP

    Nurse will very likely not be on the opening day roster but that is just because the Oilers can keep Nurse active in minor until when they can figure out a way to get rid of Nikitin. It sucks that the Oilers cannot move Ference and also have to keep Nikitin in the roster due to his big fat 4.5m cap hit.

    On the other note, don’t be surprised if Chiarelli decides to move Fayne out of town later in the year, by comparison that Gryba and Fayne are same type of D-man and play on the right side. If Gryba is not a far off from Fayne then it is very possible for Chiarelli move Fayne away to create more room on blueline. It is just a feeling that Chiarelli is not a big fan of Fayne.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    Can anybody come up with another Captain so far down the depth chart?

    The culling of a leader is difficult but please Andrew do the right thing and relinquish the “C” to somebody who will be on the ice. When the team mates of Toews or Tavares look at C it must breed confidence to every single player on the bench. Let Hendricks be a stop gap before they give it to McDavid 2 or 3 years.

    I don’t know how many of the ON are fead up with Taylor Hall acting like an undisciplined rookie? He must stop being selfish and just take a number like a 5 year pro should do. Your 6.01 200lbs hit somebody.

    Nurse isn’t ready. He is very close to being a top 2 Dman for the next decade and a half but he must look at Klefbom’s progress and reserve to the fact that he needs fine tuning in the AHL.

    Slepyshev can put the puck in the net. World class release and a big body. Didn’t look out of place playing with CMc and Draisaitl. Played against men starting in 2011-12. First or second call up from Bakersfield.

    edit* Drafted first overall by the Mettallurg Novokuznetsk in 2011. best junior player in Russia? Promising

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Careful calling Hall for what he is. The golden child can do no wrong. There will be backlash on this site for such vitriolic comments! See comment 21.

      Can’t wait for Nurse to come around. He is the blue chip that we desperately need.

      • bradleypi

        Ya. Who needs a point a game forward anyways right? Especially when all he did was the thing that oilersnation has been crying for him to do since day 1 which was push back. I understand it was a bad time of the game to take a penalty but it was a brutal call by the ref. Especially when he was clearly roughed right in front of the ref seconds previous. Just my opinion.

  • Anton CP

    Since the debacle of Tom Poti that I feel it has became a tradition for the Oilers fans always want to pick a goat. For all the criticism toward Hall that are seriously just unfounded for and it is sounded more like whining babies. Seriously, this is tiresome, just stay quiet and enjoy the game. If pre-season means that much then we would already have Paajarvi scoring 50 goals every year and Joensuu winning Selke.

    Also the whole comparison between Hall and Seguin is ridiculous, Hall is actually very underrated by playing for crappy Oilers instead of the one time champion or at least a playoffs contender. His point production per game is still ahead of Seguin in case that you don’t know. Seguin points production and goal scoring jumped by playing next to one of the best playmaker in the game, Benn. Who did Hall have? Nuge? Nuge is good but he is not Benn, don’t kid yourself to even draw the comparison between Benn and Nuge. Hall managed to score at nearly point per game base from a laughable Eakins offensive system. So just like what Aaron Rodgers said,R-E-L-A-X.

  • Harry2

    My guess is that Chiarelli trades a dman so he can keep Davidson and that Nilsson makes the team over Scrivens. Theres too much chaos in Scrivens game and Edms D isnt experienced enough to deal with that.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    These are exciting times……

    The Oil will clearly be more competitive than last year and will hopefully challenge for a playoff spot this season. What is also interesting is the age of the team and the number of contracts locked up.

    The average NHL team age at the beginning of last season was 27.8 yrs with Columbus/Buffalo/Edmonton at the low end at 26.2/26.3/26.4. If you assume Willis’ roster with 14 Fwds (Pak & Slep sent down), 7 D (Nurse & Davidson sent down and Ference upstairs) and 2 G (Scrivey sent down/traded) for a total of 23 players then the average age of the team would be 25.7 yrs. If you were to replace Nikitin (sent down/traded) with Nurse then the average age would be 25.3. To ice a competitive team with that age is incredible! They are only going to get better as they mature.

    Equally important is the number of long-term contracts with the most key players. Ebs, Hall, RNH, Pou, McDavid (TBD), Letestu, Sekera, Fayne, Klefbom all have 4 or more yrs followed by Korpikoski, Yak, Hendricks, Lander and Reinhart with 3 yrs which means 14 of the 23 are locked up for term and price (McDavid aside). Yikes!

    Buckle up, its going to be a great ride over the next several years…

  • Now we see who fares better in next 4 exhibitions against more NHL caliber players . Only surprise so far seems to be Slepyshev for forwards . Nilsson showing best so far in goal , but none look bad . Nurse a surprise not being in group A .

    Throw the games previous aside , as now we see what we have moving forward . Will the winning , scoring , goaltending and defence continue against tougher NHL lineups ? We are about to find out .

  • BillHK

    Finally we might get to see Nurse get a shot to play with an NHL defenseman , rather than being paired up with another LD from farm clubl the time . His next shot I hope will not be with Davidson , another that probably will be sent down . He might show much better with an NHL caliber defenseman beside him .

    • Randaman

      I think you underestimate Davidson. He has looked very steady in camp.

      He doesn’t bring any flash & dash but he is very reliable, skates well, has good size, etc.

      I think he makes the team as #7/8 to avoid waivers (I think we would lose him).

      Nikitin and Ference are only here due to the ineptness of past decision makers.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        i don’t believe it’s a given that Davidson would be picked up if put on waivers. most teams likely already have a d-man like this in their system. but if he was i don’t believe the Oilers would be too upset. he’s still a bottom pairing d-man and we still have a number of those in the system.

  • Spydyr

    Nurse is my type of player and I fully expect in to anchor the Oilers blue line for years to come. That being said a few months down in the AHL learning the pro game can only help his development.

  • Randaman

    Ference and Nikitin are here because we did not use any option to buy either out , so it is not just past management . Nurse I just want a bonafide try with an NHl player , and Davidson has yet to prove that . Davidson and Nurse both on outside currently . I rather doubt Davidson would not clear waivers . You pull for Davidson and I’ll pull for Nurse .


    We are finally getting some depth on this team. I think the reason they didnt buy out Ference or Nikitin is that their contracts are close to being done. The oilers will not challenge for a Stanley cup for the next 2 to 3 years. As those old contracts expire there is someone in the AHL to come in at less money. Time in the AHL is a good thing for most player’s development.

    • bradleypi

      Finally some common sense when it comes to those 2. You’re exactly right. Oilers are at 2-3 years away from challenging so why panic right now? No matter how much oilersnation hates ference and Niki they weren’t solely the reason the oil sucked last year. Or jultz either. That was a collective team effort. Everyone was bad

  • sportsjunkie007

    Glencross released from the Leafs, is it worth taking him and replacing Purcell. Sure there are some young players who have played well, but you need a veteran presence in your top 9 at least.