All 31 NHL teams have to submit their 23-man roster to the NHL on Tuesday.
Who will be on the Oilers roster for opening night?
There are some obvious choices.
Cam Talbot and Laurent Brossoit will be the goalies.
Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, Matt Benning, Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba will be the starting six defencemen. Yohann Auvitu will be the 7th D-man. Andrej Sekera and Ryan Stanton will start the season on injured reserve.
Connor McDavid, Leon Draisialt, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Letestu, Jussi Jokinen, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Ryan Strome and Drake Caggiula are locks as forwards.
The Oilers have placed Mark Fayne on waivers, so I’d expect them to have 14 forwards on the opening 23-man roster.
That leaves five forwards battling for three spots: Kailer Yamamoto, Iiro Pakarinen, Jesse Puljujarvi, Chris Kelly and Anton Slepyshev
Saturday morning many reported Slepyshev would make his preseason debut in Vancouver, but he wasn’t in the lineup. If healthy he is for sure on the roster.
It would shock me if the Oilers exposed Pakarinen to waivers. He is a decent depth forward, and I have him on the roster.
Kelly hasn’t done enough for me to earn a contract. If the Oilers signed him he’d be their 50th contract, which would drop to 49 once Yamamoto is returned to Spokane of the WHL.
I felt Brad Malone did more than Kelly in preseason, and I wouldn’t offer him a contract.
Which leaves one forward spot, if they elect to start with 14, up for grabs between Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.
Puljujarvi is eligible to go to the AHL, while Yamamoto must be returned to the WHL. Once he reassigned he wouldn’t be eligible to play for the Oilers until after Spokane’s WHL season is over, or if the Oilers are in an emergency recall situation.
Yamamoto has had a better preseason, and I’d send Puljujarvi to Bakersfield. Both are 19 and neither looks like they’ll be an impact player this season; which is fine. No one should be frustrated Puljujarvi hasn’t dominated thus. He’s very young. He had to adjust to life in North America and a smaller ice surface all the while trying to compete against the best players in the world. I don’t understand why some are concerned about Puljujarvi’s play.
I suspect he will be recalled at some point this season, but right now he isn’t NHL ready. He only played 9:19 yesterday with all his TOI coming at even strength. He isn’t on either PP unit and he won’t kill penalties, so getting him regular ice time will be difficult. I’d send him to Bakersfield.
Yamamoto has impressed at camp, but if he cracks the opening roster it will be a short stay. I see no reason to have him in Edmonton all season. I’d rather him continue to develop and get stronger in the WHL.
If Slepyshev is healthy and ready to play Wednesday vs. the Calgary Flames, will Yamamoto be in the lineup?
Kassian didn’t play on Saturday, but he’ll take Puljujarvi’s spot on a line with Letestu and Khaira.
Would McLellan dress Yamamoto instead of Strome or Caggiula? It is possible, but I’d be surprised. Caggiula played on both special teams units on Saturday, and despite what some have suggested, I didn’t see Caggiula struggling in preseason. I’d have him on my opening night roster.
Strome was acquired this summer for Jordan Eberle. He scored three times in the preseason and played both right wing and centre. McLellan likes his versatility.
If Slepyshev is deemed healthy and ready to play, I believe he takes Yamamoto’s spot in the lineup.
Yamamoto and Puljujarvi will have an opportunity in the future to help the Oilers, but I don’t see it happening right away.
From where I sit, the most intriguing question is when will the Oilers send Yamamoto back to junior?
I understand the rationale to reward him for a good camp and be on the 23-man roster, and possibly play a few games, but will they? Is it necessary?
Who is on your 23-man roster, and if Yamamoto is on it, how long does he stick with the Oilers?
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Question #13: What would Maroon extension look like?
- Question #12: Will the NHL continue to call stick infractions?
- Question #11: Where can the Oilers improve?
- Question #10: Is Sekera Replaceable?
- Question #9: Will the Oilers win the Pacific Division?
- Question #8: Can RNH return to 50 points?