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Photo Credit: Fringe

The Fringe Five

With my 20 in 20 Line Combination Extravaganza now behind us it’s time to deal with the logical next step. From what I can gather 22 spots on the Oilers 17-18 roster are pretty much already spoken for.

Forwards (13):

McDavid
Nuge
Draisaitl
Strome
Lucic
Rieder
Rattie
Puljujarvi
Brodziak
Kassian
Caggiula
Khaira
Aberg

Defenseman (7):

Klefbom
Nurse
Larsson
Sekera
Russell
Benning
Gravel

Goaltenders (2):

Talbot
Koskinen

The Questionables:

I know a few of you are already criticizing the 22 names I’ve listed. The two names that probably have you shaking your head are Pontus Aberg and Kevin Gravel.

I won’t be shocked if neither of them makes the team out of camp but I do believe the safe play right now is to pencil them in. Heck, the Oilers have already announced which number Gravel will be wearing this season.

Based on the list above, the team will have one spot left on the 23-man roster to open the season. Will they run with 14 forwards or will they keep eight defensemen? I believe the final roster spot will come down to one of these five guys.

The Fringe Five

Oct 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matthew Murray (30) makes a save against Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kailer Yamamoto:

He made the team out of camp last year so it’s not unthinkable that he’ll do it again and if he does it won’t be as a 13th or 14th forward. The scenario is a simple one. If Yamamoto is in the opening night line up one of Rattie, Khaira, Puljujarvi or Caggiula will be joining Pontus Aberg in the press box.

Part of me wants to believe the best thing for Yamamoto will be to start in Bakersfield and force his way onto the big club around the mid-way point of the season. The other half of me is thinking he will come into camp stronger than last year and will be ready to handle the top six minutes right away.

Cooper Marody:

From what I’ve been told, from someone within the organization, Cooper Marody is likely more NHL ready right now than Drake Caggiula was two years ago. The former Michigan Wolverine can play centre or right wing so his versatility may be something the coaching staff will want around sooner rather than later.

Unlike Yamamoto, Marody won’t need to secure a spot in the top six to be effective. If he doesn’t start in Edmonton I’d definitely put him near the top of the call-up list.

Brad Malone:

Malone wouldn’t be a sexy pick to start the year in Edmonton but he does perfectly fit the role of a 13th or 14th forward. The reason most teams have a guy like Brad Malone on their roster is so players in the mold of Yamamoto and Marody don’t have to be plucked before they are ripe. I’d like to believe that’s the reason Malone is back with the Oilers this season.

Evan Bouchard:

I won’t be surprised if Evan Bouchard is on a plane overseas in September but I will be surprised if it’s just him and six other defensemen. If Bouchard makes the team I’d expect Gravel to be around as well, meaning the team will be carrying eight blue-liners.

Bouchard didn’t light the world on fire at last week’s World Junior Showcase but he certainly wasn’t a disappointment. If the Oilers do keep him around I’d assume he platoons in and out of the lineup with Matt Benning. When he’s in the line up he’ll be on the third pair and see a decent amount of time on the power-play. With the amount of junior experience he already has under his belt I don’t think limited minutes in Edmonton would ruin his development in any way.

Ethan Bear:

In order for Bear to be on the opening night 23 he will have to drastically outplay both Bouchard and Gravel because I don’t see a situation where the Oilers keep both Gravel and Bear on the team to start the year.

Based on the glimpse we had of Bear last season another solid dose of seasoning in the minors is probably what’s best for him right now. I do think he’ll be in a position where he’s the first call up out of the minors when the injury bug inevitably hits.

The Wild Card:

I would still toss around the idea of a player currently not on the roster starting the year as the Oilers 14th forward. No, I’m not talking about a blockbuster deal to bring in Max Pacioretty, I’m talking about a player on a PTO.

Let’s just say, for example, someone like Tommy Wingels is invited to camp on a PTO and impresses the coaching staff. Management could sign Wingels to a one-year contract for the league minimum, leave Yamamoto and Marody in the minors and have Malone available as a veteran option when injury strikes.

In conclusion, I could see the Oilers carrying eight d-men until a decision is made on Bouchard and then bring up Malone or a forward they had originally brought in on a PTO.

P.S. The title of this article makes me miss the show Fringe. I loved Fringe from start to finish. Walter was an all-time classic character and how about Olivia! Sorry, I just had to nerd out.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

      • OriginalPouzar

        Benson, for this season? Sorry, I can’t imagine that happening – small chance of a call-up late in the year but I can’t see any possibility of him making the team out of camp.

        Benson is a nice prospect but he’s likely at least a year or pro hockey, if not two years, away.

        The one prospect darkhorse on forward (not including Yamamoto), to me, is Marody and I’m very hopeful that they give him some nice development time and time to get used to the pro game.

        • Oilman99

          Ethos the first time in a couple of years that Benson has had an injury free off season to train properly, don’t count him out so fast , the guy has the high end skills and smarts to be in the mix.

    • toprightcorner

      Benson??? No chance, he only had about 150 games in junior. He is at minimum a full AHL season from the NHL and most likely a mid season call up in 2019/20. There is no need to rush anyone.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I don’t think the possibility of Bouchard has any effect on the 7D listed. I think if Bouchard breaks camp with the team, they will carry 8D and 13F.

    Gravel should be #7 but there is an outside chance Stanton or even Lowe battle for that spot.

  • El Oilero

    How does management plan to sign a PTO without signing Nurse?
    This is where PC’s incompetence is showing. He over paid for a back up (from the KHL with no NHL experience) by $1M, he over paid Cags by 0.3M he burned $0.3M money on Gryba by buying him out instead of trading him (maybe for an AHLer). This alone would provide the extra 1.6M to finalize a Nurse deal. All this before we count the wasted cap space on Lucic, Russell etc….

    • OriginalPouzar

      I’m not going to get in to the specific mistakes by Chiarelli that you reference (and don’t disagree with them, in particular Koskinen and Gryba), however bringing a player (or players) to camp on a PTO carries zero commitment.

      If they end up signing a player to an actual contract it won’t really effect the cap anyways as, presumably that contract is in the $700K to $800K range and it isn’t just an add to the cap, its in replacement of another player that will be re-assigned – presumably a player with a cap hit that is buried completely upon reassignment (i.e. less than $1.025M).

      In fact, depending on the contract and who it replaces on the 23 man roster, it could decrease the cap.

  • GK1980

    I think Yamamoto will be the wild card this year. I might be in the minority but I thought he was fantastic in his 9 game review. He definitely has offensive weapons and is an excellent skater. Nuge-McDavid-Yamo would be pure offense.

    • Tooleybuc

      Reminder: Yamamoto went goalless in his 9 game review last year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t scream NHL offense (not yet, at least). In fact, he tied Griffin Reinhart in NHL goal scoring last year. Undoubtedly, a full year in the AHL, playing against men (for the first time in his life) is the best place for him to develop.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers need to go into training camp with the mindset that Yamamoto, Marody and Bear will play the full season in the AHL and Bouchard will be sent back to junior. The only way any of these players should spend more than the first 8 games with the Oilers is if they VERY CLEARLY outplay the other options BY A WIDE MARGAIN. If it is a toss up, hold them back. The Oilers are not in a position where they need to rush anyone and an extra 40 games on the farm never hurt one players development.

    Heck, delaying these players 1 year does nothing but help the cap in the future by pushing back their ELC another year.

    NOne of these players are likely to be enough of an impact to significantly affect the Oilers season, so why take a chance in rushing them and potentially hindering their development.

  • steveOilersfan

    Dustin the best part of “Fringe” was Walter always calling Asterid a different name, asterisk, asteroid, or something close but never her right name. With the Jerabek signing, how do you think this looks for the D to start the season now.