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At Random: Housekeeping

With the big names signed and the big money spent, we’re into the period of the off-season when Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland and his counterparts are taking care of housekeeping items on their to-do list. Like signing depth guys, looking for a useable player in what’s left of the UFA market. No earth-shattering moves, just the necessary details.

Which brings us to Holland’s signing of Brendan Perlini, a big, quick left winger who spent last season toiling with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss League after 239 NHL games and stops with Arizona, Chicago and Detroit. So, what was Perlini – selected 12th overall by the Coyotes in 2014 ahead of notable names like Dylan Larkin and David Pastrnak – doing in the Swiss League? More important, what might he bring to the Oilers? 

“I went over to Europe last year with full intentions of coming back here,” said Perlini, who met with Oilers’ coach Dave Tippett in Scottsdale to discuss how he might fit on his roster. “I think the fit here with Edmonton for me – I was looking at a few other teams – it just matched up really well. I met here in town with Tipp and we thought that opportunity was there.”

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Perlini, 25, played for Tippett in Arizona in 2016-17, a promising debut in which he scored 14 goals in 57 games. He followed that up with 17 goals in 74 games with the Coyotes. After managing just two goals in 22 games in Arizona to start 2018-19, he was dealt to Chicago, where he scored 12 goals in 46 games. Perlini played just one game for the Blackhawks in 2019-20 before being traded to Detroit. After 1-3-4 in 39 games, he packed for Switzerland.

THE ROAD BACK

“I know what he (Tippett) likes and what he doesn’t like,” Perlini said. “More importantly just for me, I get my foot kind of back in the door. The opportunity might be a bit better in Edmonton than the other areas I had offers from. Obviously, the first step is to play well and show them kind of what I’m all about, try and make the team and go from there.”

Inconsistency has been the name of Perlini’s game as a pro. He’s shown he can skate. He’s shown he can score, but that comes and goes. Not knowing what they are going to get from a player game in and game out drives coaches up the wall. So, what might Tippett be able to coax out of Perlini this time around? He’ll start behind Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Warren Foegele on the left side.

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“Most importantly, my skating,” Perlini said when asked what he’ll bring to the table. “Obviously, being a big guy, I can keep up with a lot of guys. Edmonton has a quick team and stuff, so I like to play a fast-paced game. That been a huge part of my success in the past . . . I feel like I’ve matured and developed.

“That’s what the whole Swiss experience was about. I’m really glad I did it. You’ve almost got to sometimes take a step back to take a step forward, if that makes sense. Once you’re out of the NHL, you realize how good it is and how bad you really want to be back there, right?

“Coming back this time, I won’t take anything for granted or anything like that and really be grateful for any opportunity and especially like this opportunity I have in Edmonton.”

WHAT ABOUT SLATER?

The Edmonton Oilers’ Slater Koekkoek (20) battles the Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat (53) in Edmonton on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM /Postmedia

When Holland looks at adding a veteran depth player to the blueline, we keep hearing Slater Koekkoek’s name come up. It makes sense because Koekkoek played 18 games with the Oilers last season, so Holland knows what he’s getting. He’s a cheap, plug-and-play defenceman who can spend as many nights in the press box as he does on the ice.

Koekkoek, 27, had barely settled in last season when a busted collarbone knocked him out of the line-up. Simply put, Koekkoek is a meat-and-potatoes guy – he’s a defender first and foremost who gets in the way of pucks and people. Even at his best, he won’t produce much on the offensive end, but he could again be a fit, this time in the No. 7 spot.

As it stands now, indications are Kris Russell with start on the left side of the third pairing alongside Evan Bouchard. Russell’s a good fit for Bouchard as he settles in a fill-time player. When Bouchard moves up, as many expect he will, I can see Russell playing with Cody Ceci in the third pairing with Koekkoek next-up.

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WHILE I’M AT IT

Truth be told, we wouldn’t even be talking about Koekkoek as an option if William Lagesson was further along the development curve.

Lagesson is 25, but he’s only got 27 NHL games on his resume. He hasn’t shown enough in the looks he’s had to become a fixture in Tippett’s third pairing, and I don’t think you can put him alongside Bouchard to start this season. I’d much rather have Russell as my seventh guy than Koekkoek.

Previously by Robin Brownlee