A day after his return to the AHL, Griffin Reinhart is bound for the AHL. Going with him are defenceman Brad Hunt and winger Zack Kassian.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 24, 2016
This makes sense when we look at the respective schedules of the Oilers and the AHL’s Condors. Edmonton’s next game isn’t until February 2 against the Blue Jackets. Bakersfield, on the other hand, will play Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, meaning that a demotion today gives these three players a chance to participate in three games while the rest of the Oilers are off.
For Kassian, this is an opportunity to keep finding his legs after spending most of the season on the injured list. He played only four games in the AHL before being recalled and has played six since joining the Oilers, so getting him minutes has value. Playing an offensive role for Bakersfield isn’t likely to hurt, either.
Reinhart only just returned from the minors, but he played a pretty solid game against Nashville so I imagine that the Oilers are planning to bring him back on the other side of the break. He’s missed some time this year and he’s only just 22 years old today, so keeping him skating is a worthwhile goal.
Kassian, Reinhart and Hunt assigned to Bakersfield. 3 games this week. Don’t be surprised if Kassian and Reinhart return post All-Star break
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 24, 2016
I wonder if we see Brad Hunt again. He’s more suited to the role of Mr. Pressbox than Reinhart is, but his play has been bad enough when he’s been put in the lineup that he may not return. However, he’s played all of 13 minutes of hockey since January 8 so this may just be a matter of getting him some work to keep him fresh.
Not Appearing in this Transaction
Also of interest were the players not assigned to the AHL during the break.
Leon Draisaitl wasn’t demoted, which isn’t a big surprise; after starting the season in the minors strong play and an ugly run of injuries have propelled him into the No. 1 centre slot. One doesn’t demote a point-per-game forward to the minors just because he still has waiver exemption. Edmonton’s going to need him to play heavy minutes after the break and three games in the AHL aren’t likely to further develop him.
More surprising was the decision to keep Darnell Nurse in the majors. I’ll tell you that he’s a struggling player, that he was Johnny-on-the-spot for two goals against last night and that the amount of minutes he’s getting is ridiculous. Todd McLellan and his staff see things differently; they are the ones giving Nurse more than 21 minutes per night even as the Oilers get out-shot and out-scored by a nearly 3:2 margin when he’s out there. They may be doing it to fast-track his development or for some other reason, but Nurse not being sent out today is a sign that it’s likely to continue.
Also staying with the parent team are Iiro Pakarinen and Anders Nilsson. Pakarinen has always been an interesting player and of late he seems to be carving out an increased role with Edmonton. He’ll turn 25 in the summer and has plenty of pro experience, so there wasn’t much point in playing him in the minors during the break. Nilsson is an odder choice; he hasn’t played much lately, hasn’t played well in those games he has started and doesn’t require waivers.