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Photo Credit: twitter.com/edmontonoilers

Notes on every player the Edmonton Oilers are bringing to training camp

The Edmonton Oilers announced their 52-player training camp roster on Wednesday evening.

Some of the names are just here to warm up, some are here to battle for a spot on the team, and some are here just for the experience. Here are some thoughts on all of them…

NOTE – Players with a star next to their name aren’t signed to NHL contracts. 

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G – Olivier Rodrigue

This is a big year for Olivier Rodrigue. He’s entering the third season of his entry-level contract with two years of poor results at the professional level and will be up for a new contract next summer. The Oilers traded up to select Rodrigue at the 2018 NHL Draft, the last one before the Ken Holland era, so he has to impress new management.

G – Ryan Fanti

The Oilers inked Ryan Fanti to a two-year entry-level contract following an excellent season for the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2021-22. He’ll be competing for a spot in AHL Bakersfield with Rodrigue.

G – Calvin Pickard

The Condors didn’t get good goaltending outside of Stuart Skinner last season as Rodrigue, Ilya Konovalov, and Alex Stalock all had sub-900 save percentages. Veteran Calvin Pickard will steady the net in Bakersfield so long as we don’t have another Anton Forsberg situation and the Oilers are able to get their third-string goalie through waivers.

G – Stuart Skinner

Stuart Skinner generated a lot of hype with an impressive 13-game cup of coffee while Mike Smith was injured last year. This season, Skinner will be on the Oilers’ opening night roster and he’ll have a chance to play a key role on the team. Pickard is around an insurance option in case Skinner isn’t ready.

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G – Jack Campbell 

The Oilers inked Jack Campbell to a five-year contract worth $25 million this summer. The hope is that Campbell can give the Oilers a steady and reliable starting goaltender, something they haven’t had in a few years.

LD – Dmitri Samorukov

Dmitri Samorukov has been a highly-touted prospect because of his size, skill, and mean streak, but his progression has been slowed due to injuries. Samorukov’s 2020-21 season in the KHL ended early because of a shoulder injury, his 2021-22 season was delayed because of a broken jaw, and it ended early because of another shoulder injury. Samorukov is waiver-eligible this year which will help his case for cracking the team right off the hop. The Oilers could use his size and edge on their blueline.

LD – Markus Niemelainen

Another young defender in the mix to add a physical element to the Oilers’ blueline is Markus Niemelianen. The big Finn made a name for himself as a heavy hitter during his 20-game debut last season. Niemelainen doesn’t need waivers to go down to the AHL, which is why Samorukov seems to be the more likely candidate to make the opening night roster.

LD – Ryan Murray

Ryan Murray, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2012 NHL Draft, has the ability to be a very good defensive defenceman, but his biggest issue is staying on the ice. Murray appeared in 37 games for the Colorado Avalanche last season and was injured during their Stanley Cup run. It’s a little surprising the Oilers aren’t bringing back Kris Russell to be their veteran blueline insurance option.

LD – Philip Broberg

Evan Bouchard broke out as a top-four defender for the Oilers last season and the hope is that Philip Broberg can do the same this season. He might start in the AHL but it’s difficult to imagine he’ll be down for long.

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LD – Brett Kulak

The Oilers acquired Brett Kulak at last year’s trade deadline. He thrived playing with Tyson Barrie on the third pairing and fared well in the playoffs on the top pairing when Darnell Nurse was suspended. Kulak figures to start as the second left-handed defender this year, ahead of Broberg and behind Nurse.

LD – Darnell Nurse

Nurse admirably battled through a torn hip flexor during Edmonton’s playoff run last spring and should be back at full health for the start of the 2022-23 season. He was good last season but the expectations of Nurse will be even higher now that he’s getting paid $9.25 million annually.

LD – Alex Peters*

Alex Peters split time between the AHL Condors and ECHL Thunder last season. He was selected by the Dallas Stars in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft but never signed a contract.

LD – Darien Kielb*

Darien Kielb bounced around the minors last season, spending time with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL and the Laval Rockets, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, before finishing the season with the Condors.

LD – Yanni Kaldis*

The Oilers inked Kaldis to a two-year AHL contract after playing four seasons at Cornell. He broke out in the second year of that deal with the Condors and scored 31 points across 53 games. He’s on another two-year AHL deal and will be auditioning to try to earn an NHL contract by the end of it, just like Vincent Desharnais and James Hamblin have.

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RD – Vincent Desharnais

It’s been a long road for the seventh-round pick from the 2016 NHL Draft but Vincent Desharnais is knocking on the door for an opportunity in the NHL. Desharnais played four seasons of college and three seasons on a minors deal in the ECHL and AHL before finally earning an entry-level contract in March. A smooth-skating 6’7″ defender who plays physically in front of the net is somebody the Oilers could use.

RD – Mike Kesselring

Mike Kesselring was quietly one of the most impressive Oilers during the Young Stars Classic in Penticton this year. The first season of his entry-level deal went well and Kesselring will push for a larger role on the Condors in 2022-23.

RD – Phil Kemp

Now in the final season of his entry-level contract, Phil Kemp is auditioning for his next professional contract. The seventh-round pick from the 2017 NHL Draft plays well in a shutdown role but doesn’t bring much offensively.

RD – Tyson Barrie

The emergence of Evan Bouchard has made the offensively-minded Tyson Barrie somewhat redundant on Edmonton’s blueline. Barrie played well in 2021-22, especially after the team added Kulak, but the possibility of a trade will loom through training camp given the Oilers’ cap situation.

RD – Evan Bouchard

Evan Bouchard broke out last season as the top-four defender the Oilers were hoping for when they selected him No. 10 overall a few years ago. If Bouchard gets off to a strong start in 2022-23, there’ll soon be talk about getting him signed to a long-term contract.

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RD – Cody Ceci

Cody Ceci is quietly one of Ken Holland’s best additions since becoming the general manager of the Oilers. Signed for four seasons at $3.25 million annually, Ceci emerged as a legitimate top-pairing defender last season.

RD – Maximus Wanner*

The Oilers’ seventh-round pick from the 2021 NHL Draft, Max Wanner had a solid season for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, scoring 23 points in 55 games and seven points in nine playoff games. Another quality season in the WHL and the Oilers will get him signed to an entry-level deal.

RD – Jason Demers*

Veteran defender Jason Demers will be at training camp on a professional tryout contract looking for an NHL gig. He had a strange season in 2021-22, playing five games in the KHL while also representing Canada at the Olympics in Beijing.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

LW – Reid Schaefer

This is Reid Schaefer’s first training camp as a pro and he’ll head back to the Seattle Thunderbirds with plenty of momentum heading into his last WHL season. It’ll be interesting to see if he cracks Canada’s World Junior roster this winter.

LW – Matvey Petrov

Since Petrov was drafted out of Russia rather than the OHL, the Oilers can choose to send him back to the North Bay Battalion or to the AHL to play with the Condors. If they choose the latter, they’ll have more say over his development, but playing in the AHL as a 19-year-old isn’t easy.

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LW – Carter Savoie

Carter Savoie is among the exciting group of rookie forwards who will be joining the Condors as a rookie this fall. Savoie was dominant playing in the NCAA and it’ll be interesting to see how his game translates to the professional level. The Oilers need cheap wingers who can score goals and Savoie might soon be that.

LW – Tyler Benson

Tyler Benson scored one goal and one assist in 29 games with the Oilers last season and made it through waivers in March. It looks like the second-round pick from the 2016 NHL Draft is organizational depth as opposed to a prospect at this point.

LW – Dylan Holloway

Dylan Holloway looked like a man on a mission in Penticton as he completely dominated the Young Stars Classic. He might start in the AHL but he won’t be down for long. The Oilers have never had a Calder Trophy winner before, maybe Holloway can become the first.

LW – Mattias Janmark

The Oilers inked Janmark to a one-year, $1.25 million deal this summer to provide them versatile depth but the signing feels a bit odd now given the team’s salary cap issues.

LW – Warren Foegele

Another player to keep an eye on when it comes to the Oilers and their salary cap situation is Warren Foegele. He’s a solid bottom-six player but isn’t cheap at $2.75 million annually.

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LW – Zach Hyman

Zach Hyman signed a seven-year, $38.5 million deal with the Oilers last summer and he showed up and set career-highs with 27 goals and 54 points in his first season in Edmonton. It’s difficult to imagine a better intro season for a free agent signing than the one Hyman had.

LW – Evander Kane

The Oilers inked Evander Kane to a show-me deal last January after he was released by the San Jose Sharks and he provided the team major value on the ice. Now he has the comfort of a multi-year contract and the hope is that he can continue to produce at the same level.

RW – Tyler Tullio

Another exciting rookie who will be joining the Condors this fall is Tyler Tullio, a winger who compares his game to that of Brad Marchand. There’s plenty of competition for playing time in Bakersfield this year so Tullio will likely start in a bottom-six role.

RW – Raphael Lavoie

Raphael Lavoie had a slow start last season, appeared to hit his stride, but then trailed off towards the end of the year because of an injury. This is a big season for the team’s second-round pick from the 2019 NHL Draft as it’s the final one in his entry-level deal.

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RW – Seth Griffith

Seth Griffith signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Oilers in 2020 and earned another one following a huge season for the Condors in 2021-22 where he scored 30 goals and 80 points. Edmonton’s depth on the right side isn’t great and Griffith could earn a look in the NHL if he continues to produce like that.

RW – Xavier Bourgault

We know Ken Holland likes to move slowly with his prospects but Xavier Bourgault might put pressure on that philosophy this season. Bourgault is turning pro following an excellent season in the QMJHL and could command a gig in the NHL before too long.

RW – Jesse Puljujarvi

There have been all kinds of talk that the Oilers and Jesse Puljujarvi want a divorce but the big Finn is still around. As I’ve said with Barrie and Foegele, there’s a chance he’s the domino that needs to fall in order for the Oilers to make it work with the cap.

RW – Kailer Yamamoto

Kailer Yamamoto took a one-year deal worth $1.175 million after a tough 2021 season and set career-highs in goals with 21 and points with 41. Now on a two-year, $3.1 million annual deal, the expectation is that Yamamoto has arrived and that he can be a consistent part of the team’s top six.

RW – Jake Chiasson*

Edmonton’s fourth-round pick from the 2021 NHL Draft missed most of last season due to an injury. The hope for Chiasson this year is that he can stay healthy and be a major player on the Brandon Wheat Kings. He’s been limited to just 43 games across his second and third WHL seasons because of the pandemic and injury.

RW – Justin Bailey*

Justin Bailey has had some impressive seasons in the minors, scoring 15 goals in 30 games in 2021-22 and 28 goals in 53 games in 2019-20 for the Canucks AHL affiliate. That success has never translated to the NHL level but you can see why the Oilers are taking a chance on the 6’5″ winger. Bailey is signed to an AHL deal with the Condors and is also in camp on a PTO with the Oilers so he could upgrade to an NHL deal if he does well.

RW – Luke Esposito*

Luke Esposito played his college hockey at Harvard and is going into his fifth season with the Condors. Ken Holland also had him with the Grand Rapid Griffins in 2017-18.

RW – Jake Virtanen*

I don’t believe Jake Virtanen is good enough at hockey to be worth the drama that surrounds his presence.

C – Noah Philp

Noah Philp inked a one-year deal with the Oilers in April following a successful run with the U of A Golden Bears. The 24-year-old has a lot of more established names ahead of him on the organizational depth chart for centres so he’ll have to prove himself in Bakersfield.

C – James Hamblin

Like Vincent Desharnais, James Hamblin earned his entry-level deal the hard way. Hamblin played five seasons in the WHL, signed a two-year AHL deal with the Condors in 2020, and then inked a contract with the Oilers in March. He scored 21 goals and 35 points for the Condors in 2021-22 and got positive reviews for his defensive game. Hamblin has speed, skills, and smarts and could pivot a modern NHL fourth line. He looked very good playing between Dylan Holloway and Xavier Bourgault in Penticton.

C – Greg McKegg

Signed to a two-year, two-way deal over the summer, Greg McKegg gives the organization another veteran option for the Condors who can play in the NHL. The 30-year-old appeared in 43 games for the New York Rangers in 2021-22 and has 233 NHL games played in his career.

C – Brad Malone

Brad Malone has quietly become one of the longest-serving Oilers. He inked a two-year, two-way deal in July of 2017, signed two different one-year deals after that, and is back again on another two-year, two-way deal. Malone appeared in eight regular-season games and two playoff games for the Oilers in 2021-22 and is in the mix to be the team’s fourth-line centre.

C – Devin Shore

Devin Shore was a popular fourth-line player when Dave Tippett was the head coach but he was passed on the depth chart by Malone after Jay Woodcroft took over. The battle for the Oilers’ fourth-line centre role is wide open.

C – Derek Ryan

Derek Ryan was signed to be the team’s fourth pivot but he did better when he was playing on the right wing. Given the team’s lack of depth on the right side, that might be where we see Ryan most during the 2022-23 season.

C – Ryan McLeod

Ryan McLeod got squeezed into a one-year, $798k contract because of Edmonton’s salary cap issues. He had a very impressive rookie season last year and another step forward will have many people around here talking about a long-term contract.

C – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will likely spend most of his time on the left wing but there’s merit to the idea of using him as the veteran pivot on the third line with a young gun like Holloway. Nugent-Hopkins is eighth in all-time games played for the Oilers and he’ll soon pass Jari Kurri for seventh. Time certainly flies.

C – Leon Draisaitl

The performance that Leon Draisaitl put up in the playoffs last season on a bum ankle was nothing short of incredible. He’s scored 110 points twice in his career now and it’s a fair bet to say he’ll top it in 2022-23.

C – Connor McDavid

This is the year Connor McDavid scores 50 goals. Book it.