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Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Slepyshev heading back to the KHL

According to KHL insider, Aivis Kalnins, the Edmonton Oilers will be getting a little bit more shallow on the right side as Anton Slepyshev could be signing with CSKA Moscow sooner than later.

With CSKA Moscow acquiring Slepyshev’s rights from Salavat Julaev and rumours swirling for months that the winger could be returning to Russia when the season was done, it looks like #58’s time with the Oilers is over. Slepyshev, a former third-round pick in 2013, spent five seasons in the KHL before coming to North America to join the Oilers organization for the 2015-16 campaign. He spent most of that first season with the Bakersfield Condors as he tried to acclimatize himself to the North American game as well showing the big club he deserved a chance, a cup of coffee he finally got towards the end of the year. In 2016-17, however, Slepyshev looked like he was ready to make the NHL jump after seemingly carving out a niche for himself in the bottom six, playing in 41 regular season games and 12 more in the playoffs.

The guy had some size, a great shot, and looked to be a player that could contribute even while playing limited minutes, which was exactly what this team needed. After scoring a few clutch goals in the playoffs, Slepyshev seemed like he would be pretty close to a lock for a job on what was a position of weakness within the organization — the right side. Unfortunately, this season didn’t go the way Slepyshev, the Oilers, or anyone that watches hockey would have expected as the team tumbled down the NHL standings and limped their way into a 23rd place finish. That’s not to say that Slepyshev is solely to blame for what went down, but having him take a step forward was certainly one of the bets made by Peter Chiarelli that didn’t work out. Slep needed to be better and I think he would agree. That said, you have to wonder how many opportunities Slepyshev was truly given as he averaged just under 12 minutes per night on mostly non-skilled lines when he wasn’t crushing popcorn in the press box.

To see him head back home for Russia where he will likely play a more prominent role with his new club isn’t exactly surprising, is it?

THE WRAP

This past season was a weird ride for Anton Slepyshev and the Edmonton Oilers after the winger had a decent playoff run (12GP: 3G, 0A) with the club in 2017 but followed it up with a lacklustre season, seemingly derailed by an early injury. After missing training camp with a bum ankle, Slepyshev was never able to find his groove or do enough to earn the coach’s trust which led to him playing in only 50 games, registering a mere six goals and six assists for 12 points. For a player that was expected to fill some of the gap left by the Jordan Eberle trade, Slep didn’t produce enough points or consistency which landed him in the press box at times or riding the pine at others. In his defence, points are a lot harder to come by when you’re usually playing in the bottom six.

At the end of the season, Slepyshev said that he would be happy to stay in North America if he felt like he had an opportunity to play, but clearly, this news points to him feeling otherwise. When you consider that there were trade rumours about him flying around in January, it’s not exactly a stretch to think that the Oilers had given up on him as a part of their future and that Slepyshev knew it. For me, it’s hard to know what to make of this news as it’s not exactly tough to replace a bottom-six guy that has only 12 but the weird part is that they seemingly believed in his abilities just last summer. Not to mention, the Oilers are incredibly shallow on the right side and losing another prospect (?) that they put the last three years into developing is a weird play by an organization that hasn’t had a lot of luck developing players over the years.

It’s not that Anton Slepyshev isn’t necessarily replaceable that bothers me, but the fact that the organization made a pretty big bet on him and then loses him less than a year later is certainly concerning as is the lack of depth on the right side. So was Chiarelli flat out wrong? Was it McLellan? Is Slepyshev just not that good? The reality is that it’s probably a combination of all of those things that led to this point, but the one thing we know for sure is that losing Slepyshev to the KHL added another item on Chiarelli’s summer to-do list that seems to be getting longer by the day. Once again, the Oilers’ offseason just got a little bit more interesting.

SLEPYSHEV’S NHL CAREER

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2017-2018 50 6 6 12 -4 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 73 8.2
NHL Career 102 10 13 23 -4 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 133 7.5
    • TruthHurts98

      PC and the Good Ole Boys club is destroying this team piece by piece. Colorado just signed a goalie from the KHL for 670K a year with far better numbers. Pak and Slep gone. Nurse will want 6-7 mil/yr so Nuge will be gone next for nothing. PC is ensuring DOD 2.0 is here. I can’t see how this team won’t be bottom 5 next year. Cap hell and Connor has to do it all by himself. Eventually he’ll want out if they don’t find competent replacements in upper management.

  • RexHolez

    I look at better teams wingers and wonder if shelpyshev would even have played in the nhl on other teams. Like say Toronto, they’ve been rebuilding for 2/3 years and I doubt Slep would’ve played a game for them

  • OilersBro

    Slepy would have stayed if he had playing time. My question is why wasn’t he played with Looch and Drai after that line was so effective last year in the playoffs?

    • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

      Slepyshev is the prime example of coaching and player mismanagement this year. He was brought back too quickly from his ankle injury, and should have been given more time to get up to speed in the AHL. Then they bring him up anyway, and McLellan never really gives him a chance to succeed. McLellan gave Cammalleri, Caggiula, Rattie, etc… all the chances in the world, but it seemed like Anton never got his shot, which is incredibly disappointing. He had all the tools to succeed, and I would have loved the Oilers to give him a 15-20 game stretch to at least prove himself. But McLellan’s trust issues prevented that from happening and Slepyshev was stuck on the 3rd or 4th line all year. If he got his shot and threw it away (see Brossoit), then I’m okay with this. But we’re essentially letting a guy walk in what should be the prime of his career without even knowing what his full potential is, which is insane.

      • TKB2677

        What exactly are you basing your opinion off of? Are you looking at the same Slepyshev? In 102 games he has 10 goals, 23 pts. That isn’t even mediocre 4th liner numbers. In the AHL in 59 games, he had 16 goals and 31 pts. That isn’t even good AHL numbers. So where is this injustice?

      • 15-20 games? You wanted McLellan to give Slepyshev an entire quarter of the season to maybe find his game with McDavid? That’s the exact same as gifting roster spots and roles as we’ve done the last deacde. He obviously didn’t get enough chances but he was given some chances and didn’t do much. Rattie was able to score 2pts in his first game with Connor.

      • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

        Let’s compare Caggiula and Slepyshev over the last two years. Slepyshev had 22 points in 91 games for .24 points per game. Caggiula had 38 points in 127 for .30 points per game. That equates to less than a 5 point per 82 game difference between the two players. When you consider the playing time with McDavid and Draisaitl that Caggiula got, and Slepyshev didn’t, that is a negligible difference. So how can you not justify giving Slepyshev a shot too? Especially considering the tire fire of a season that we were having, I think its completely reasonable that Slepyshev should have been given a decent look on one of the top two lines for a few games and been given some sort of leash, not pulling him off the line when he didn’t immediately produce.

        • 24% body fat

          dont forget the power play time difference. No tool that caggulia has would any professional team consider a use on the powerplay. Now when you have the best player in the game on the right side with a left shot setting up, hmm let me think a big hard shooting righty might be what we need.

  • Consultant

    Too bad, he is the type of player we need. Wish they would have given him a chance in that right shot spot on the PP. He has one of the better shots on the team but doesn’t get much of a chance to show it on the fourth line. Guess we will never know…

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Definitely talented, certainly inconsistent. Just didn’t put enough together for long-enough stretches. Sorry to see him go, but he’s hardly irreplaceable. Wish him well.

  • TKB2677

    I would like the Oilers to get away from having guys in their NHL line up who are just there. You don’t have to score a goals all the time to do something to help your team. You can create chances, lay a body check, create energy, be hard on the forecheck, get in a guys face, cycle the puck and grind down the other teams defense. Do something to get noticed! Skating up and down the wing for 45 seconds to give other guys a breather while accomplishing nothing isn’t enough. Slep is a big body who’s not tough or remotely physical. He can skate reasonably well but you rarely see him hard on the forecheck or flying down the ice chasing down pucks making the dman get all flustered because the pressure is on. He doesn’t kill penalties. People can say “well he didn’t get a chance to produce.” He’s got 10 goals and 23 pts in 102 NHL games. That’s not even mediocre 4th liner numbers. So why on earth would any coach want to promote him to “give him a chance” when he doesn’t even produce at a decent 4th liners rate? I wouldn’t even call him cheap because he was making 925k and given how little he brought to the team and how often he was completely invisible, that isn’t cheap. If you want to see cheap, look at Khaira. In his first real NHL season he scored 11, 21 pts. Played both center and wing, shows some potential to win faceoffs, its big, physical, tough, kills some penalties. Now that is a value contract. So other than being right handed, what exactly did the Oilers lose in Slep?

    • Big Nuggets

      We didn’t lose anything. We wanted to replace him anyway. He was only in the NHL last season because the Oilers had no depth. He would not have played on most(all) other teams. The trade rumours were silly. If Chia thought other teams would have given up something for Slepy he is delusional. I don’t mean to be hard on Slepy, he did what he could. He had the occasional nice goal, but he was ineffective the rest of the time.

    • oilerjed

      I liked Slep and hoped he would pan out if for no other reason then he had a pretty good shot. Couldnt hit the net that often ala Yak but at least it was an option.

  • puckle-head

    Like Pakirinen, Slepy was a useful player in a position where we lack depth, but they’re departure isn’t a huge loss. I’m more concerned with why they left than the fact that they are gone… it seemed all last year that certain guys had the coach’s favour, while others couldn’t catch a break. If useful players are being drummed out because inferior players are getting better opportunities, that’s a sign of some deeper issues in the organization.

    • BINGO. Don’t know why they even draft Russian players. Track record is horrible, but par for the course. I am sure they can find a player that does less and costs more. The never ending gong show continues. Colorado gets a backup goalie with better numbers for under $700 k, we pay 2.5 mill. The Old Boys Club is alive and well, and they will probably add a couple of friends from the 80’s this year.

    • oilerjed

      Access to the practices would be nice. Maybe Slep was the kind of guy who didnt work so hard in practice. That is the kind of thing that can turn a coach on you. People try so hard to pin everything on the coaches and GM lately that they forget that players have a lot of say in what happens in their careers.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      How come the Oilers have so much difficulty, drafting and developing forwards? Who was the last forward they did a good job developing that wasn’t taken in the 1st round?

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    Fringe piece that will have little to now impact.

    The core will stay in place for next year and the team will look something like this:
    Nuge McD Ratti
    Lucic Drai ???
    Cag Strome Pul
    Aberg Khaira Kassian

    Nurse Larrson
    Sekera Russel
    Kbom Benning
    Bear

    Talbot
    Koskinen

    If you all look at this team and hate it, find a new team to cheer for it’s simple. Fans bashing their own team is pointless. Either be a fan or don’t.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Well in my opinion that lineup above had too many question marks. I am indeed hoping that the speedy goal scorer RW Michael Grabner is signed. I think we are going to need him if we’re depending on guys like Rattie, Aberg, Caggiula, Khaira and Pool to score in a supporting role!

    • NewPants

      I agree he was on the outside looking in anyway. We need two wingers better then him and a D upgrade at one spot would be nice.

      Nuge McD Ratti
      ??? Drai ???
      Lucic Strome Pul
      Aberg Khaira Kassian
      Drake

      Nurse Larrson
      Sekera Russel
      Kbom Benning
      Bear

      Talbot
      Koskinen

  • Oil9744

    Like you said it’s a combination of things, Slepy didn’t play good when he returned from his injury but not many players do, unless your Mcdavid, I also think Mclellan’s line shuffle disaster has a lot to do with it, that must be brutal for the players, imagine not knowing who your going to be playing with every night, with Mclellan it’s shift to shift he changes the lines up and it’s beyond ridiculous, I really hope he cools it with the line shuffling next season so players actually got to form chemistry with each other, but knowing who stubborn Mclellan is he probably won’t

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I think he had the tools but just couldn’t seem to put it all together. That said, he seemed like a scapegoat and never got the opportunities that, in my opinion, a lower upside player like Caggiula got. Plenty of blame to go around but it’s obvious the Oilers have no long-term plan. Bank on a guy taking a step forward then give up on him when he starts slow coming off an injury.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Sorry but I agree with some on here and also say….meh. and you don’t keep an ineffective player just because he plays in a “position of need” and is “cheap”, not if you ever want to win a cup !

  • oilerjed

    How is it possible to spin this one as a GM problem Baggedmilk? The fact that The KHL will spend big money on mediocre players means that unless a team wants to seriously overpay a player (and be roasted for it) they will continue to lose players. In the end there is really nothing a team can do if a russian club decides to back up the brinks truck and offer top line minutes to a player. This ladies and gentlemen is the RFA offer sheet of our generation. Its not other NHL clubs that need to be worried about

    • crabman

      Where do people get the idea that the KHL pays their players so well? Kovalchuk was the highest paid player at $5.5M. The NHL had 138 players make at least $5.5M last year.
      The KHL has been in financial trouble for some time and have been eliminating teams from the league. 2 last year and another 5 for next year. Bringing the number of teams down to just 24. They have also been lowering their salary cap. Next year it is set at $15M usd and will continue to drop each year falling to 10.5M usd for the 2020-21 season. There will be the option to have a star player not count against the cap and wealthier teams will be able to go over the cap to a degree and pay a luxury tax like in baseball but to start at just a $15M cap isn’t a league paying big money to all their players like you suggest.
      The most recent list of salaries from the KHL I could find was from a sportsnet article of the 30 highest paid players in the KHL from 2016. the 30th Highest paid player made $1.05M usd, 10K less than Montoya made last year. Only 9 players in the entire league made $2M or more. In the same year, 2016, 367 NHL players made $2M or more. Players aren’t fleeing to the KHL for the big money.

  • TKB2677

    I actually think that Kassian will get traded. I don’t want him gone but at 1.95 mill, he makes way too much for a 4th line winger. I see the lines more like this.

    Nuge McD Ratti
    Lucic Drai ???
    Khaira Strome Pul
    Cag Khaira Aberg

    Nurse Larrson
    Sekera Russel
    Kbom Benning
    Bear

    Talbot
    Koskinen

    I think the question mark at forward is either a vet they sign or is someone they bring back when they trade Kassian.

    I also have a feeling a guy like Sekera is traded. Just my hunch.

    • TKB2677

      Oops. I think someone is brought in to take the 4th line center spot that I show Khaira in. Like a Derek Ryan. He’s a right handed center that played for Carolina. Had 15 goals last year Played for the U of A. Stauffer mentions him all the time.

      • TKB2677

        When you have Lucic and Khaira up front and Nurse and Larsson beating the hell out of you on defense? Benning is not soft either.

        How many nasty guys does Vegas have who kicked everyone’s ass this year?

        I said in my post they need to add another winger. What’s stopping them from bringing in another guy with some edge? My whole point is you can’t have a 4th line winger making almost 2 mill. It’s too expensive. Kassian had 129 hits this year, he had 201 last year. That big of a drop is pathetic.

    • Big Nuggets

      I hope Boston has some interest in Kassian amd we can swap him for McQuaid. I know McQuaid probably doesn’t excite your loins like some other RHDs. Just trying to think of actually plausible scenarios. Boston has a bunch of young defensemen that will want playing time and they might be intrigued by a player that can get greasy, as Kassian is known to do. IMO we need another NHL level D-man and this way we just transfer that 2 mil cap hit to the defense and add a cheap 4th line winger to replace Kassian. Wingels was more effective than Kassian last season and half the price. Also I am hoping we sign Brodziak over Derek Ryan. I think a 4th line center that can defend well and PK is more valuable than another soft center with some offensive flair. The offensive zone starts should go to Draisaitl’s line. The McNuge line gets us into the offensive zone, Drai bats clean up. Strome gets in where he can. Brodziak taking the defensive burden would allow us to set the other lines up for success. And would allow Kaira to compete for a spot further up the line up, since we are short on wingers.

  • Vanoil

    On McL’s Oilers, if you don’t speak English, or, McL thinks you don’t get what he is trying to say, you get no ice time. Sleps only fault is that he had to try and figure things out on his own. Is that on him? I don’t know how Chicago, Washington or Columbus manage to integrate their Russians, but this isn’t the first Russian who has had a direct conflict with McL’s coaching.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      “On McL’s Oilers, if you don’t speak English, or, McL thinks you don’t get what he is trying to say, you get no ice time” – This is what I am talking about with OIler fans…this is something you just made up in your head. There is zero knowledge or data to support this.