Slepyshev it is for Oilers...He goes to AHL and Larsson is activated.— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) December 18, 2017
According to Jason Gregor, the Oilers have activated defenceman Adam Larsson in advance of tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks. In a corresponding roster transaction, the Oilers have sent forward Anton Slepyshev to Bakersfield of the AHL.
It was assumed that Eric Gryba would be the odd man out when Larsson returned, given that the rugged defender had been passed on the depth chart by Yohann Auvitu and Brandon Davidson. But with the Christmas break around the corner, it makes sense that the Oilers didn’t want to waive the veteran who’s battled hard through two-and-a-half seasons with the club.
Slepyshev is one of just two Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi being the other, who’s eligible to be sent to the minors without having to clear waivers. With Puljujarvi clearly ahead of Slepyshev on the depth chart and the team trying to avoid waiving someone at this point in time, it makes sense that Slepyshev was the odd man out.
In 15 games this season, Slepyshev has one goal and two assists. He started the year with an ankle injury and it took him a little while to find his footing after returning. He’s bounced in and out of the lineup, but the Russian winger has looked effective in a bottom-six role.
Larsson was placed on the Injured Reserve back on Dec. 1 and missed seven games. In his absence, Kris Russell stepped up and played on the top pairing with Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning played with Oscar Klefbom, and Yohann Auvitu and Brandon Davidson held down the fort on the third pair. The blueline was pretty effective, but getting Larsson back will be a big boost. Also, not very long from now, Andrej Sekera will be set to return, meaning the Oilers can ice their ideal blueline for the first time this season.