The deeper we get into the playoffs, the greater the chance we see one of the extra players enter the postseason. Edmonton has been blessed so far this season, with very few major injuries obstructing progress.
PART-TIME PLAYOFF OILERS
- Iiro Pakarinen 1gp, 0-0-0
- Eric Gryba 1gp, 0-0-0
Pakarinen played one game in the SJS series but Anton Slepyshev has owned the spot for six games this spring. Same deal with Eric Gryba, as Matthew Benning has (so far) played well enough to keep Gryba on the bench. Here are (according to the Oilers website) the available players who have not yet played in a postseason game this spring, in the order I think coach Todd McLellan might insert the into the lineup:
- Mark Fayne: Although the Oilers kept him in the AHL most of the season, Fayne is a terrific option for the club as a No. 8D. I think there is a good chance he sees some playoff action.
- Matt Hendricks: Veteran played in 42 regular season games but hasn’t seen playoff ice. Speed is an issue, but for me Hendricks probably gets into the lineup before the end of the playoffs for Edmonton.
- Anton Lander: He is well known to Oilers fans and has a skill set that Todd McLellan should value. Unfortunately, foot speed issues and inconsistent offense have him on the outside looking in. Will he get a last chance Texaco with the Oilers? Edmonton wouldn’t hesitate to insert him if the need arises.
- Jujhar Khaira: Big forward got into 10 NHL games during the year, but battled injury and is on the sidelines. Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev grabbed playing time that might have belonged to Khaira without injury. I still think he is part of the Oilers’ future, and I think Todd McLellan would trust him enough to play him.
- Griffin Reinhart: Reinhart seems to have re-emerged as an option for the team, although I’m not certain he would be inserted before Oesterle. Speed in the postseason seems to be a priority so far in Edmonton, but I’ll guess Reinhart is No. 2 on the D list.
- Jordan Oesterle: I think the Oilers would consider Oesterle as a third-pairing option if injury impacts the current 6D.
- Joey Laleggia: The best scoring option in the pressbox, Laleggia’s progress as a winger in Bakersfield was one of the best stories out of the system this season. Uncertain he will see NHL action this spring, as he has never played in an NHL game.
- Nick Ellis: I’m not certain what would need to happen in order for Ellis to get into the lineup, but it probably isn’t good. A fine prospect along for the experience.
That’s my ranking, what about you? Will Todd McLellan go with Mark Fayne on defense or Matt Hendricks among forwards, or trust a younger player? Let me know what you think.