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NHL Notebook: The latest on Edmonton Oilers prospects Maxim Denezhkin, Maxim Berezkin and Tomas Mazura, thoughts on Jayden Grubbe trade, Kailer Yamamoto a buyout candidate, and more

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Photo credit:St. Lawrence University
Zach Laing
9 months ago
Lots to get to here today.
Off the top, the Oilers have under a day to sign unsigned prospect Patrik Puistola before he becomes an NHL free agent. That deadline comes on Thursday for the prospect the Oilers acquired in the Jesse Puljujarvi trade. I would be surprised if he was offered a deal, but in the same breath, the Oilers have a lot of room in the organization right now with just 32 signed players and prospects.
Puistola reportedly signed for another year in the Finnish Elite League, so who knows how high on the radar North American play is.
The team made a move to sign another unsigned prospect, however, in a trade-and-sign with the New York Rangers for Jayden Grubbe. Edmonton gave up a 2023 fifth-round pick and now just has three in this year’s draft: a second, a sixth and a seventh.
Ken Holland has operated with a willingness to trade draft picks. In franchise history, the team has only has six or less picks in 11 draft classes — four of which under Holland’s watch.
Four picks: 2022
Five picks: 2006, 2008, 2018
Six picks: 1979, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020, 2021
So as it stands today, the Oilers would have the fewest draft picks in a single draft class in franchise history. With the team in a cap crunch once again, it will be interesting to see if the Oilers use one of Kailer Yamamoto or Cody Ceci as bait for more picks.

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Prospect updates

A little news regarding some Oilers prospects.
Since Puistola is from the 2019 draft class and played in Liiga, the Oilers are about to lose his rights as a prospect ahead of tomorrow. That’s why they need to sign him. Grubbe, the player the Oilers acquired and signed today, was also set to be a free agent from that glass.
Edmonton took six players in that draft class.
First and second round picks Philip Broberg and Raphael Lavoie are both coming off their entry-level deals. Third round pick Ilya Konovalov signed with the team, but the Oilers mutually agreed to terminate his contract in June 2022.Fourth round pick Majej Blumel played in the USHL after being drafted and the Oilers lost his rights in June 2021.
Draft picks in the sixth and seventh rounds were Tomas Mazura (USHS) and Maxim Denezkhin (Russia Jrs), respectively.
I’ve confirmed through hockey resource site PuckPedia their status’ as prospects, as many other prospects from the 2019 draft are left unsigned. In the case of Mazura, this technically would be the year he would need to be signed, but that time frame got extended four years as he went to play college hockey. He will need to be signed by Aug. 15, 2025 when he is 24 years old.
In terms of Maxim Denezkhin — as well as 2020 fifth-round pick Maxim Berezkin (Russia) — the Oilers would be able to declare them as defected and keep their rights forever, if they chose to do so. This, according to PuckPedia, is due to the fact that there is currently no agreement between the NHL and Russia.
Mazura, 22, was drafted out of High School and has spent the last two season in the NCAA. In 2021-22, he played eight games for Providence College scoring one goal and two points. Last season he was with St. Lawrence University scoring three goals and 12 points in 28 games.
Denezhkin played in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization until 2021-22 when he played for Lada Togliatti in the VHL scoring 15 goals and 36 points in 48 games. He spent last season with Gornyak-UGMK in the same league soring eight goals and 21 points in 37 games.
Lastly, Berezkin (also spelt Beryozkin), has remained in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization and last year scored seven goals and 26 points in 52 games. He’s signed to play there next season, too.

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Back to Grubbe

I don’t mind the move to acquire Grubble and ink him to an entry-level deal. The Oilers have two other right-handed center prospects in Noah Philip and Xavier Bourgault, the latter of whom spent some time on the wing this season.
While Grubbe gives the Oilers another big-bodied forward prospect who could play NHL games on the fourth line, he’s a guy who very likely will need some seasoning. Even still, he’ll be closer to playing NHL minutes than anyone the Oilers draft this year.

On Yamamoto

Maybe burying the lede a little today, but it appears that Kailer Yamamoto could be getting bought out this offseason.
On Wednesday, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported Yamamoto as the top player who could be bought out. The window to do so will begin on the latter of June 15th, or 48 hours after the cup is lifted.
Here’s what Seravalli had to say of the potential buyout:
Contract: 1 more season, $3.1 million AAV
Buyout Structure: 2 seasons at $433,334 and $533,334
Scoop: Yamamoto struggled through this season with a lingering neck issue that impacted his production and consistency, suffering from a whiplash-type of hit. At just 10 goals and 25 points, the Oilers can ill afford that little impact next year – particularly on the right side – at a $3.1 million cap hit. They can use the space better this summer. The preference, of course, would be to get a team to take a flier on rehabbing Yamamoto for no cost – as they did with Jesse Puljujarvi at the trade deadline. Short of that, it makes little sense to attach an asset to move him, not when the resulting cap hit from a buyout is approximately half of league minimum pay given that Yamamoto is just a one-third buyout because he is under age 26.

Maple Leafs hire Treliving

The Toronto Maple Leafs made it official Wednesday hiring Brad Treliving the 18th general manager in franchise history.
Over at DailyFaceoff, Matt Larkin offered up the following on the hire:
In ousting a GM who only won a single playoff series but also helped his team win its first playoff series in 19 years, Shanahan and the Leafs boxed themselves into somewhat of a corner. They had a team squarely in its contention window, with multiple stars in need of contract extensions and an extremely busy summer to-do list ahead. Another progressive, forward-thinking hire that could grow into the role simply wasn’t going to work. They forced themselves into needing a turnkey hire. During the presser, Shanahan essentially admitted that when he explained that experience “would be attractive” as a quality.
In an instant, Brad Treliving’s name shot to the top of every logical candidate list. Unlike fan-fiction option Doug Armstrong, Treliving was actually available, having just parted ways with the Calgary Flames. He had taken that team to a pair of division titles over his nine seasons with them. He of course had the relevant recent high-profile experience of making major roster overhauls involving superstars in a Canadian market and, despite Calgary’s poor showing this season, was perceived to have done extremely well in replacing Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau with Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri. Really, had the Flames gotten even average goaltending this season, they would’ve made the playoffs.
So Treliving steps into the job as the most sensible hire out there, especially when compared to the other options. The image-conscious Leafs were never going to touch Stan Bowman, and even Marc Bergevin would’ve raised some eyebrows, too. With so much at stake during their current contention window, they weren’t going to try a Jason Botterill redemption arc or crown a first-time GM such as Eric Tulsky. It had to be Treliving.
He has himself a new stretch of runway, albeit not nearly as long as what he had in Calgary. But the question now is: how much runway does Shanahan have left?
He theoretically will be bringing in a GM who will work within the confines of the MLSE and Shanahan influence when it comes to making roster decisions, something Dubas reportedly was tired of doing. But while Shahanan will have the final say over Treliving – it’s Treliving who will have the power over what happens to Shanahan next.

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@thenationnetwork.com.

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