Oilers assign three to the AHL


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.

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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.

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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

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    • fran huckzky

      It’s not Darnell’s fault that the Oil have no depth on defense and they are forced to play him about 10 shifts more a night than a d man his age and experience should be playing. He needs a rest now, not more ice time in the A.

      • fran huckzky

        of course it’s not, but that doesn’t change the fact that we should develop him properly.

        He’s getting destroyed out there, by soft competition. it’s not a shot at Nurse, he’s a champ, but it’s best for his development.

      • Twitch

        Nurse has regressed so much the last few months. Again the Oilers put a player in over his head. Nurse should concentrate on preventing goals not rushing the puck every time he touches it. Needs another year in the minors or this team will ruin him.

      • fran huckzky

        I agree with Willis that Nurse needs a rest so sending him down today not the best move. However after the ASG and if both Klef and Davidson are playing, Nurse might get sent down.

    • S cottV

      sure, as long as you discount any type of measurable statistic for defensemen, even with the more recently run of softer competition. Then yea, holding his own just fine.

      It’s not a shot at Nurse, he just needs a breather and more time to develop.

    • I think (and I could be wrong) that he hasn’t played 10 games for the Oilers since being recalled so he does not have to clear waivers.

      I’m sure someone will correct me, but it’s something like that.

      • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

        While Kassian and Reinhart make sense to return to the AHL to keep playing and continue conditioning.

        I think it makes zero sense to send Draisaitl down or anyone who’s been in the NHL playing regularly.

        First these guys need to recharge, step away from hockey for a bit, second these guys are most likely beat up a bit and the rest would be needed.

        Lastly the Oilers don’t need to draw anymore negative press on themselves, even though most has been earned,

        Can you imagine sending a Draisaitl down only to be injured, this would amount to the stupidest thing an organization could possible accomplished in one life time.

        Centre depth must grow on trees in ON land.

        • Spydyr

          We got him for a song and he was sent down once already. If he can get through the year with no relapse, his value may come back. But, he’s too big a risk right now. In my opinion.

          • fran huckzky

            He was sent down because he hadn’t played all year and he’s going down again to get some games in over the break. So far he has been solid and if you think he is too big a risk then you haven’t had a very good look at our depth chart.

          • Dan 1919

            I guess you don’t quite understand what the situation was the last time he cleared waivers vs. if he had to clear this time…

            The last time he cleared waivers was with Montreal after finishing the NHL rehab program, at this time every NHL GM thought his career as an NHL player was likely over and his off-ice issues were too big a risk.

            Edmonton made an AHL transaction for Kassian, then recalled him, and he has since shown he is very capable of a middle-6 forward job in the NHL and able to keep his off-ice issues in check (so far).

            If he had to clear waivers this time he’d be gone because now NHL teams would be very interested. To quote ScottV “OMG-Jonesy, we would lose him so fast your head would spin”.

  • Mac07

    With Nurse staying up, could a trade be coming over the break that would see Nurse’s ice time reduced? The game where Nurse and Schultz were limited to 15 min, they played well. Kassian can use the games. Hunt I think, is done here.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    So Nurse is struggling. Probably be better for his development to go down to Bakersfield instead of watching him drown.

    This is what gets me: Chiarelli needs to improve this defence. When you say that people come out of nowhere and start saying, oh, he needs to be patient. They were never expecting to make the playoffs this year.

    If they were not expecting to make the playoffs this year, why did they waste a season of Nurse’s eligibility to play on a 28th place team that was never planning to make the playoffs? He would have been better off in Bakersfield playing 20-25 minutes a game.

  • fran huckzky

    When Principe interviewed Draisaitl and said something to the effect of emptying the tank knowing you don’t play for a while…and Draisaitl basically said “yeah, we know that and we’re leaving it all out there”. Now Draisaitl did play a good game and leave most of it out there, but can half the team say that? I mean seriously, that was not a frenetic pace they were playing at, it was a boring slow moving game for the most part. So if these guys think they’re leaving it all out there, then there in is the problem. They DID NOT leave it ALL out there on the ice…far from it. So, until they get a true look at their lack of effort, they’ll never get better. That was a lazy performance by many. Disgusting to make that kind of money and not perform for it.

  • fran huckzky

    Chiarelli is an absolute incompetent.
    As is MacLelland.
    After this past week of horrific indifference to losing , no rational organization would not have fired both of them.
    Playing Schultz should b a firing offense.

    Not fixing the defense last summer should have been a firing offense.

    NOt gutting the gutless , heartless forwards is a firing offesne.

    Instead the rationalizations should go on and on.

    Fire the fool. No fanbase should have to be so abused.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        very little
        Why would anyone like much of anything about them?
        Look at Poile of Nashville.
        A near genius for 20 years, compare him to the idiots who have managed this team.
        At the moment, I like Davidson, Kassian and Draisatl.
        Everyone else who played last night I would be happy to have them off the team sooner than later.
        But Chiarelli doesn’t have a clue about improvement.
        Endless assessment is just a cover for incompetence.

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            Poile has offered his fanbase, a fanbase that barely knows what hockey is, a consistently credible winning hockey team for 20 years.
            The Oilers have had the worst winning percentage in hockey.
            All because of managerial incompetence.
            An incompetence that has now reached all time highs with Chiarelli

            The greatest outrage is that the fool would not take on the onus of making the playoffs this year.
            His whole tenure should have turned on that.
            If that had been the case then we might have seen him earn his salary, instead of essentially doing nothing all year.

            Contrast him to Poile. A genuis versus an absolute incompetent.

            MacLelland is no better. He plays Schultz. An outrage to every Oiler fan.

        • passenger

          Never in a million years would I have expected this from you Verdad. You could not have picked a worse example. No cups, no conference, no division champs. One of the very few teams (2?) in the league with absolutely nothing to show for its entire existence. I expected more from such a hockey mind as yours.

    • Eakins' Beard

      I’ve been reading your comments for a while now. I always find them intriguing and find myself wondering who you are. I think I’ve figured it out and all I have to say, Mr. Eakins, is that trolling Oiler’s blogsites asking for Chia to be lynched won’t get you your job back. While us Oilers fans miss your hair (it truly was the envy of every male Edmontonian) you were a terrible coach.

      But, by all means, please keep trolling ON. We all find you delightfully entertaining.

  • fran huckzky

    Chiarelli is an absolute incompetent.
    As is MacLelland.
    After this past week of horrific indifference to losing , no rational organization would not have fired both of them.
    Playing Schultz should b a firing offense.

    Not fixing the defense last summer should have been a firing offense.

    NOt gutting the gutless , heartless forwards is a firing offesne.

    Instead the rationalizations should go on and on.

    Fire the fool. No fanbase should have to be so abused.

    • Jiff

      I agree. They should trade for OEL (don’t worry about the details, just do it) and appoint him GM replacing Chiarelli. I’m confident this is the best course of action. If not, I’m sure verdad with chime in a couple of weeks into OEL’s tenure to tell the team where they went so wrong.

      • Spydyr

        I defy anyone not to concede that this team would have been much better off with OEL than Hall.
        But most of all it should not have hired Chiarelli.
        An entire house cleaning was in order.
        Instead Chiarelli is a loser who listened to other losers.
        But what do they care? They still get paid regardless of performance.
        Why don’t you demand his firing?
        If he faced real pressure this season would not have been the abyss it has turned into.

        And btw, he allows his coach to dress Schultz.

  • Spydyr

    Reinhart was the best Oiler last game.

    18:33 of ice time and kept the puck in Preds zone instead of bailing to centre ice.

    Had 4 shots and 5 hits; tops on the team for both categories and also had an assist.

    Very solid on D.

  • fran huckzky

    Here we are after 50 games: 31 losses and 19 wins. (12 more losses than wins)

    This team needs to improve immensely next season, even if they would win half their games for once.

    The last time the Oilers won half their games (41) was 2007-2008 and they missed the playoffs.

    Before that was 2005-2006; 41 wins and lost in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

    • camdog

      9 wins in 50 in regulation. Even when the Oilers win they give up points to the opposition. Thankfully the league went to 3 on 3 overtime, otherwise the Oilers are likely on pace for the same number of wins as last season.

  • fran huckzky

    CHIARELLI, MCLELLAN and MCDAVID are the best things to happen for the OILERS since GRETZKY and MESSIER! KASSIAN has been AWESOME. I agree with Spydyr- “we need two more of him”. Thoroughly enjoying the Oilers season so far- their record notwithstanding! Oiler hockey is FUN again!!!!!

    • Spydyr

      You want another Kassian-type or two? Jujhar Khaira may fit that want. Since returning to the Condors, Jujhar seems to be playing a nastier style of hockey–a couple of fights, and a two-game suspension for kneeing.

      Have the Oilers asked Jujhar to take his physical game to a higher level?

      Jujhar is also getting points. He is a much better player at the AHL level this year. Oiler fans may see Jujhar again this season, possibly after the Feb 29 trade deadline.

  • Jiff

    The break / time off should do a lot of good for Nurse. All that ice time the kid has had dumped on him this year is catching up with him. Time to lick wounds and clear heads.

  • Petrolero

    Nils son is one of the main reasons the Oilers have even a faint hope to making the playoffs (at least until the new year), so I understand why Chiarelli thunk he can get more out of him.

    Talbot has not been very impressive in the last 2 games. He seems to have trouble tracking the puck often. Those 2 goals yesterday were all a product of talbot not knowing where the disk was. Other games I’ve seen him look around in panic whenever the puck goes up high or bounces around.

    I’m cheering for Reinhardt.

  • Eakins' Beard

    If the reason Nurse was not sent down was because he needs some rest, then I’d say that’s a solid reason and have no problem with that.

    However, after the break if Davidson and Klefbom are back I would like to see Nurse in the AHL for a bit. He’s struggling and could use some time to regain his confidence dominating the AHL.

    Nothing wrong with taking a step back and giving Reinhart a shot now. Both are young and inexperienced. Davidson is also a rookie, but notice how he’s been developed slowly in the AHL and now that it’s time to make the jump there is hardly any worry of rookie mistakes because he is ready. Would like to see the same path taken with our two top D prospects – nothing wrong with a taste of NHL action but also nothing wrong with more AHL time.

    Post All-Star Break:

    Sekera – Fayne

    Klefbom – Shultz

    Reinhart – Davidson


  • Van isl Oiler

    Nurse should not be sent down. It is obvious he is tired. He’s still a kid, a big kid, but a kid non the less. He is playing too many minutes, but who else is there? If I could give him some advice it would be to go and spend some time with family and maybe pay uncle Donovan a visit. You are a super stud Darryl! Use this time to rest and be around positive people.

  • fran huckzky

    Good insight JW. ZK & GR could use the top minutes. BH is not NHL but we are so banged up he is in the depths of the depth chart so we need him.

    The commitment to Nurse is fine. He could use a rest. OK, GR and him are the future so they may as well get the trial by fire right now. Sekera is there.