Prior to their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, the Oilers activated Oscar Klefbom from the Injured Reserve. It represented the first time all season that Edmonton had a fully healthy blueline.
But it also meant that somebody had to go. After the Oilers grabbed Brandon Davidson off of waivers from the Montreal Canadiens, they were set to have nine defenders when fully healthy. As a result, Eric Gryba was placed on waivers. He cleared and has been assigned to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL.
Before the season, Gryba was pencilled in as the team’s sixth defender and appeared likely to have a spot on the team even when Andrej Sekera returned from his lengthy absence. But bringing Davidson into the picture immediately shoved the rugged defender down the depth chart, and he was ultimately passed by Yohann Auvitu, who brings a more dynamic offensive skillset.
Gryba was a good soldier for the Oilers during his two-and-a-half seasons with the club, but he struggled in 2017-18 as the league clearly became too fast for him. Gryba noticeably struggled in a defensive role, frequently getting hemmed in his own zone and taking bad penalties. Still, as an AHL call-up, Gryba is a serviceable player and he’ll be available if the Oilers need an injury replacement.
The Oilers will now technically operate with 13 forwards an eight defencemen, but Auvitu has the ability to play forward in a pinch.