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Explaining today’s roster moves by the Oilers

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers placed Raphael Lavoie, Lane Pederson and Ben Gleason on waivers today. The reason both Lavoie and Pederson are there is because Markus Niemelainen is injured, and you can’t send injured players to the American Hockey League.
The challenge of running with a 21-man roster is injuries can impact your decisions more than they would with a 23-man roster.
After speaking with a source within the Oilers organization, here’s what I know.
Niemelainen is injured and he will be on the opening day roster. Placing him on Injured Reserve solves nothing, as players on IR still count against the salary cap. He also won’t be placed on LTIR this week. He missed the final three preseason games, and they are hopeful his injury won’t keep him out 24 days (which is how long he’d be out if placed on LTIR). For those wondering why they wouldn’t just put him on LTIR today? First off, a doctor has to put their reputation on the line, saying he is that injured. Despite what some think, players aren’t placed on LTIR on a whim. They are placed there when the doctor is confident the player will be out 24 days or 10 games. Niemelainen will likely be on the roster for the first two games, and they will re-evaluate him next weekend. He may be placed on LTIR if there is no progress.
Adam Erne is in a holding pattern. He hasn’t been released from his PTO, but he also hasn’t been signed. He has a few young kids at home in Connecticut. Would he want to move his family to Bakersfield or would he be more comfortable signing a with an AHL team closer to home. Is there another team willing to sign him? The Oilers will know more tomorrow when they find out the availability for Ryan McLeod, Brett Kulak and Mattias Ekholm. If McLeod isn’t ready, then the Oilers could send Philip Broberg down, he doesn’t require waivers, and recall a forward or sign Erne. He is a rare exception, in that he could sign a new contract tomorrow (a one or two-way deal), be placed on waivers and not count on the 21-man roster. His future with the Oilers hasn’t been determined at the time of writing this.
McLeod, Kulak and Ekholm are all very close to returning, and whether it is Wednesday or Saturday remains to be seen. But none are injured badly enough to qualify to be placed on LTIR, which would open up a roster spot, or two.

THOUGHTS ON PLAYERS ON WAIVERS…

Oct 6, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Raphael Lavoie (62) protects the puck from Seattle Kraken defensemen Brian Dumoulin (8) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
I thought Rapheal Lavoie was okay in preseason. He had one really good game, was never bad in any and he was okay in the rest. But he didn’t really stand out either. He’s in a tough spot, because the Oilers are in to win, and rarely does that mean a rookie fourth liner is a factor in the playoffs. He might get claimed, he might not. It is hard to say. It is far from a lock, either way. If the Oilers lose him, they will be disappointed, and it will be a blow to their forward depth. But good for him as he will be on an NHL roster. If he isn’t claimed, he will get more time to develop in Bakersfield and should be one of the first forward recalls.
Pederson came as advertised. He was solid, and like Lavoie, could fill a 4th line role, but I don’t think he stood out. I’d be surprised if he was claimed, but there is a slight chance.
Gleason was very good in camp. His puck skills, decisions with the puck and overall confidence were noticeable. He is a defenseman, and his defending was okay. Based on preseason play, if the Oilers run into injury issues, he could be the first recall. Like Pederson, I’d be surprised if he was claimed.
The Niemelainen injury forced the Oilers to pivot on their roster construction. That is the risk of having a 21-man roster, and it might be an issue for a game, or two, during the regular season as well.

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