I think we have the Oilers fall roster surrounded. The club is at 50 contracts (two slide rules, so a little wiggle room) and if we are honest most of the roster is probably in place. Things change. A year ago, Griffin Reinhart was going to have to play his way off the team (he did) and Kris Russell was looking for a long-term deal (he did not find it). The camp roster for 2016 is here, and contains names like Nail Yakupov, Kris Versteeg, Ryan Vesce and Jonas Gustavsson.
At this time of year, we stare at the 50-man list, put together lines and pairings, and make sweeping statements. I know I do. In the spirit of this point in the offseason, here are five sweeping statements that you may or may not agree with at this time.
- Kailer Yamamoto stays WAY later in training camp than expected. He is very small and really young, so the Oilers might send him out before NHL pre-season games. If he gets a sliver of a chance, I suspect the skill will shine through. Could Yamamoto hang around for some actual NHL games? Seems a distant bell, but this guy has ridiculous puck skills and the Oilers are famous for giving youngsters lots of playing time in exhibition games.
- Yohann Auvitu makes the opening night roster, and plays more games than Eric Gryba, Mark Fayne or Ryan Stanton. Edmonton has a mobility problem across the roster, and Auvitu helps the speed in a big way. I can’t figure out the best pairing setup with Auvitu in the lineup, but that’s what training camp is for each season. I think this fellow has too much skill to be denied (by the group above).
- Milan Lucic will improve markedly in 5×5/60 scoring. Lucic’s 5×5 number plummeted from 2.04/60 with the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16 to 1.22/60 with the Oilers. Patrick Maroon grabbed the marquee job on LW and only substantial power-play time saved the Lucic boxcars. I imagine he feels challenged and we should see better results.
- Oscar Klefbom scores more than 15 goals and exceeds 45 points. With Andrej Sekera missing and Auvitu not a sure thing for the roster, the Oilers are going to give Klefbom major minutes on the 5×4. The more chances he gets to unleash the howitzer, the more goals he scores. Martin Jones still hasn’t seen that shot in Game 5.
- Cam Talbot plays 70 games again. I know the plan is to use Laurent Brossoit more, and the Oilers like Nick Ellis. It’s easy to talk about giving Cam Talbot a rest in July, but what about during the regular season? If the Oilers are in a race from wire to wire with a combination of teams from Calgary to California, how many L’s does Todd McLellan risk on the season’s journey by playing the backup? A 90-point season that follows up a 103-point season is noxious for a coach trying to push successful results.