Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan McLeod, Mattias Ekholm remain absent from practice as team mixes up bottom-six

Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
8 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers have a new look bottom-six ahead of their Wednesday game against the Calgary Flames.
At practice Tuesday, the club remained without the likes of Ryan McLeod and Mattias Ekholm, as Brett Kulak was absent, as well. The latter of the three was slated to play Monday night against the Seattle Kraken on the top pairing alongside Cody Ceci, but was a late scratch as Philip Broberg took his place.
McLeod is expected to be ready for the start of the season while he works through something undisclosed.
As note by The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, that pairing remained at practice.
The Oilers’ bottom six sees Raphael Lavoie get a bump up alongside Lane Pederson and Warren Foegele. The centre iceman on this line is likely a placeholder for McLeod. Lavoie showed well playing 3:45 with Dylan Holloway and Connor McDavid Monday night and his hockey IQ was present.
It could be seen in McDavid’s goal when he took the puck near the Oilers’ blueline and walked down the half wall. Lavoie, meanwhile, drove to the backside of the Oilers’ net pulling a Kraken defenceman with him and giving McDavid a clear lane to shoot. It wasn’t just that, however, as Lavoie put himself in a great spot to clean up a rebound, should one have popped free.
The Oilers’ fourth line is getting a new little test drive, too, with Adam Erne and both Mattias Janmark and Derek Ryan flanking Brad Malone. Erne is someone who could find his way onto the opening-day roster.
On the blueline, Darnell Nurse and Evan Bouchard remain together on the top pairing, as did Broberg and Ceci on the second. With Ekholm and Kulak both absent, it’s hard to put much credence on what the second and their pairs could look like. The most logical and apparent, however, would see Ekholm play with Broberg.
With two games left in the pre-season it’s safe to say we can start putting some weight behind what we’re seeing from these lines as we inch nearer to the season-opener on Oct. 11th.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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