The Edmonton Oilers released their training camp invite list today, and one thing is immediately clear: The team isn’t going to be spending a lot of time entertaining long shots.


There are exactly 23 NHL jobs available at Oilers camp, and Andrew Ference is going to be on IR. Bakersfield will take another 25 (or so) and Norfolk will have some stragglers. So Edmonton has little room for surprises in terms of pro rosters, as we know those 50 names pretty well as of today. The club has a bunch of junior kids who will be sent back, and of course two guys on PTO’s who could end up anywhere, including their own driveway. With the list out, let’s see if we can slot everyone in to their logical spot (we will re-visit this at the end of training camp).


  1. G Cam Talbot—Sure No. 1 G, will he play 60 games? 
  2. G Jonas Gustavsson—Oilers backups opening night rarely last the season in recent years.
  3. LD Oscar Klefbom—Poised for a big year in 2016-17. 
  4. RD Adam Larsson—Steady defender who can move the puck acquired for top pairing. 
  5. LD Andrej Sekera—Playing RH side at WCOH, where will he play in Edmonton. 
  6. RD Mark Fayne—I remain stubbornly convinced EDM won’t find six better blue. 
  7. LD Brandon Davidson—A revelation one year ago, can he play top 4D all year long? 
  8. LD Darnell Nurse—He fits a Chiarelli team like a glove. Fast, strong and aggressive. 
  9. RD Eric Gryba—Astute PTO addition, suspect the Oilers will sign him.
  10. LC Connor McDavid—The house that McDavid built will see him play there next week. 
  11. LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Strong WCOH, a recovery season on the way?
  12. LC Leon Draisaitl—Fantastic performances in Olympic qualifying and WCOH. C or W?
  13. RC Mark Letestu—A good fit on this depth chart, he can play in all three disciplines. 
  14. LC Anton Lander—Can play C or W, penalty kill and has an agitating side. Roster spot in ?
  15. L Milan Lucic—Oilers will look a lot different to the opposition this year. 
  16. L Benoit Pouliot—Can play with McDavid, Nuge or Leon. Multi-faceted talent. 
  17. L Patrick Maroon—Is he the giant for the crease on the PP? Tremendous first impression. 
  18. L Matt Hendricks—Likely to play some center, important for PK purposes. Rugged F.
  19. R Jordan Eberle—Big minutes on skill lines could mean a 30-goal season. 
  20. R Kris Versteeg—If he is healthy, I think the Oilers sign him and play the hell out of him. 
  21. R Nail Yakupov—His role on this year’s team isn’t as clear as one year ago. 
  22. R Jesse Puljujarvi—I don’t think it is a reach to suggest he makes the opening night lineup. 
  23. R Zack Kassian—Like Maroon on LW, Kassian gives Edmonton options on RW.


AHL roster limits and restrictions take time to explain, but here is a quick thumbnail sketch. There is no limit in terms of roster players, but a team can only dress 18 skaters and two goalies per game. No more than six of those 20 men can be veteran or veteran exempt for any game.

  • Veteran—A veteran is someone who has played 321 or more professional games in the AHL, NHL, or elite European Leagues. Ryan Hamilton is an AHL veteran, David Musil is not.
  • Veteran-exempt— A Veteran Exempt player has played in 261-320 games in the AHL, NHL or elite European Leagues. It takes a long while to accumulate that kind of total—Tyler Pitlick is still shy. Both categories are veterans.
  1. G Laurent Brossoit—I think he gets NHL time at some point this year. 
  2. G Eetu Laurikainen—He could be in Finland by Christmas.
  3. LD Griffin Reinhart—He could make the NHL opening night, more likely a recall in-season. 
  4. RD Matt Benning—He has a strong resume, AHL time guaranteed before making NHL push. 
  5. LD Jordan Oesterle—His speed and offensive acumen fit a need at the NHL level. 
  6. LD David Musil—Waiver eligible, maybe the Oilers keep 8D to start the season. 
  7. LD Dillon Simpson—Has improved in every year since he was drafted, a rare item. 
  8. LD Mark Fraser—Veteran will serve as mentor and injury insurance at the NHL level. 
  9. LD Joey Laleggia—If Oesterle makes the Oilers, Laleggia could spike offensively in the AHL. 
  10. LD Ben Betker—Impressive a rookie camp, his mobility appears much improved.
  11. LC Jujhar Khaira—Probably the No. 1 AHL contender for a job among forwards.
  12. RC Kyle Platzer—AHL playing time vital for him, he is a solid two-way prospect. 
  13. C Josh Currie—Effective AHL forward, can play multiple roles. 
  14. C-L Joey Benik—College man has soft hands and could be a valuable scorer in Bakersfield. 
  15. C-R Ryan Vesce. Skill C has a long and productive AHL/Euro career with some NHL time.
  16. L Drake Caggiula—Expect he will get NHL time, bona fide prospect had a big college career. 
  17. L Jere Sallinen—KHL and SM-Liiga veteran, he can also play center. A bit of an unknown. 
  18. L Mitch Moroz—Final year of entry-level deal, it will be interesting to see where he lines up. 
  19. L Braden Christoffer—Rugged winger is a pain in the butt to the opposition, probably AHL. 
  20. L Ryan Hamilton—He is one of the important AHL veterans for the coming season. 
  21. R Iiro Pakarinen—My guess is that he misses the NHL to open the year. 
  22. R Tyler Pitlick—Lost in the flood of activity over the summer, he looks ticketed for Bakersfield. 
  23. R Taylor Beck—He will push for NHL employment, but things are getting mighty crowded. 
  24. R Anton Slepyshev—It will be harder to get NHL minutes this winter, but he has talent. 
  25. R Patrick Russell—College man with PF resume, lacks speed and only average in size. Can score. 
  26. R Greg Chase—Badly needs a strong second season pro, preferably in the AHL.
  27. R Jaedon Descheneau—Impressive scorer, might surprise in a Josh Winquist kind of way.


  1. G Nick Ellis—Could spend time in both AHL and ECHL this season.
  2. RD Frankie Simonelli—AHL D, played with Providence last season. Yet to make NHL debut.
  3. L Scott Allen—Big winger looks like a Chiarelli type. Should be an interesting TC player.


  1. G Dylan Wells—Looked acrobatic in Penticton, a big OHL season on the way. 
  2. G Keven Bouchard—Oilers draft pick, unsigned, is here for some work before heading back for 20-year old season in the Q.
  3. LD Andrew Ference—Oilers time did not go as hoped, but a fine career. 
  4. LD Markus Niemelainen—Rangy defender showed well at the Young Stars and Golden Bears games, big man with mobility headed (eventually) for the OHL.
  5. RD Kayle Doetzel—Made some friends when he fought a giant (Hunter Smith) at the Young Stars, showed some ability at the hockey, too. Maybe (maybe) an AHL deal?
  6. RD Ethan Bear—He had a terrific WHL season last year, can he build on it back in the dub this year?
  7. LD Caleb Jones—One of the stars of rookie camp, fantastic passing on display every game. Another strong WHL season ahead. 
  8. L Tyler Benson—Terrific winger has been injured all camp, but a big WHL season hopefully on the way.

I think that is right based on official roster.

Now, there are all kinds of players who are going to play for Norfolk and or Bakersfield (like Connor Knapp) but that is the group at camp and where I see them heading when the team makes all of the final cuts. Do you agree?

      • Randaman

        Hate to say it but Benson seems to be following the Pitlick model with all the injuries.

        Hope he can bounce back and have a big year.

        I think Ellis is going to replace Eetu on the depth chart very quickly. He might even give LB a good run for the money.

      • TruthHurts98

        Very detailed assessment, however I wonder if Lander will step up in preseason and earn a spot? It’ll be tough, it’s nice to have depth. I think Fayne will be the 7/8 dman this year. I heard he’s got into the best shape of his life, so if he comes to training camp with a fire under his rear end maybe he does make it. Really have to applaud PC for acquiring more pieces and making this the deepest camp in over a decade. Can’t wait for the season to commence!

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          it clearly looks as though the Oilers are now ready to move away from ineffective players still on the roster like Lander and Nail, especially if a center like Khaira can stick with the team. same with Nail. it seems to me that the Oilers are going to turn the page from this guy, especially if Versteeg and Puljujarvi work out.

          • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

            If the Habs are willing to trade Emelin for Yakupov

            I would make that deal in a heartbeat.

            He’s really steadying the Russian blue line

            • HardBoiledOil 1.0

              the TSN radio guys touched on it today that *if* Puljujarvi and Versteeg play here this season and have some effectiveness that trading Nail for a 3rd rounder or an Emelin type of player could still be done if a team needs to move a player before the season starts due to a cap issue and would thusly make moving Nail a lot less painful.

        • Randaman

          I’d rather sign Gryba and send Nurse down for more development. Time for Musil to sink or swim. I prefer Gryba for his toughness and steady play and he’s right handed

            • Randaman

              “Who will be the #7 D if we decide to sign Gryba? I hope it is not Nurse. I’ll rather keep Musil as the #7 and send Nurse down for more development”

              No you didn’t say not to sign him. My comment was more about Musil. Some of our left handed D are obviously going to fall away from the fold, whether that is through trade, waivers, or whatever. Musil could make a #7 but I would lean toward Osterle to inject some skating and offence when we play the right opposition? Thoughts?

              • pkam

                I thought Musil played okay in his 2 games audition. Why not give him a chance to see if he can survive? Before the start of last season, most fans here didn’t want to give Davidson a chance, Musil may be the next Davidson, who knows? If he doesn’t work out, then Osterle gets his chance.

              • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

                I just want to point out that Musil signed a 2 way contract on July 29th

                Just want to remind everyone of that

                Some around here think he is waiver eligible.

                That being said, I still would take him as the 7th and send Nurse down.

                *****HOPING FOR ANOTHER DAVIDSON*******

              • Beaumatters

                He is waiver eligible. A two way contract only means if he makes the Oilers he gets paid $$$$$, but if he plays in Bakerfield he gets paid $$. A one way contract means regardless where he plays he gets $$$$$. So, if David Musil is sent down, the Oilers risk he will be picked up by another team. Maybe not a high risk, but a risk.

              • Beaumatters

                Agreed. Pick up a RHD if they can fit under the 50 man limit absolutely. They might have to lose one to get one though. So, a Musil for a same RHD swap on the waiver wire would work fine by me.

              • Beaumatters

                That might include Jones and Bear, so once they return to Junior, it may be at 48. (if Versteeg / Gryba are signed) As for Fraser, not my first choice, but I think they were looking for just AHL toughness, experience. We sometimes lose site of it, but they need to build the entire organization, because there wasn’t much of one a couple of years ago. If Frazer means less fights for Nurse (if he ends up there) in the AHL, that’s a good thing. Riding at 48/49 isn’t a big deal as you can still pick up a guy, but you would think any trade would mean sending a couple of players for one.

        • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

          Agreed, The nurse fan boys need a reality check

          sure he has all the physical tools to be a good defenseman but he looks so lost out there.

          AHL will do him some good.

        • FISTO Siltanen

          People need to remember we are talking about the 7th dman. Not sure what the rush is to put Nurse in that spot and forgo more development.

          Isn’t that mentality what got this team in this mess in the first place and drives the hate for the Ole Boys?

      • OilCan2

        The addition of Larsson helps the D a lot. It moves everyone else to a more productive pairing and creates some healthy competition for NHL spots.

        Depth everywhere is great to see and should take the sting out of an injury bug bite.

        Puljujarvi may very well land on the opening night roster and Benson from this years draft will be back in the WHL but could prove to be a revelation and a steal in one short year.

      • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

        The more I think about the more I’m convinced Yakupov has no part on this years Oilers.

        The Oilers may lend Yakupov to the KHL to help grow his game, same way the Stars let Nichushkin go, I’m not sure what the details are but looking at that line up I don’t see him fitting in any RW spot.

        If J.P shows he can play a two way game and might get 35-40 points, Yakupov is done.