GDB -6.0: Final Week to Win a Job (8pm MT, Streaming)

Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
9 months ago
The Oilers have three more preseason games before they have to finalize their roster. Barring an injury to a player with a high cap hit, the Oilers are expected to start the season with 12 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on the roster. They could go with 13 forwards and six D-men, and have Philip Broberg in the minors, as he doesn’t require waivers, but I highly doubt that happens.
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This week the main audition will be for the 12th forward spot on the roster. Brandon Sutter was in the mix, but he informed Ken Holland and Jay Woodcroft that due to his health (long COVID), he wouldn’t be able to play, and he announced his retirement from the NHL. I’m happy he was able to give it a try. He will be able to move into the next phase of his life, knowing he gave it all, and hopefully, that makes the transition to the next stage of his life a bitter easier.
That leaves Lane Pederson, Raphael Lavoie, Adam Erne, Brad Malone and James Hamblin battling for the final roster spot. Hamblin doesn’t require waivers, so he will be in tough to make it out of camp. Malone and Pederson are centres, while Lavoie and Erne are wingers. Ideally, they’d keep a centre, but Derek Ryan can play the middle and will do so tonight in fact. Malone is more physical than Pederson, while Pederson is a better skater with more offensive upside. I’d argue Seth Griffith has more pure skill than these five — he always finds ways to produce — but he seems like a long shot.
Lavoie has yet to play an NHL game, while Erne has played 355 games. He has the edge in experience, but Lavoie has more potential long term and is a better finisher. The Oilers play tonight, then at home to Calgary and Seattle on Wednesday and Friday. The players on the bubble might get one more game after tonight. The opportunities to make an impression are dwindling, but the quality of competition is increasing as we will see rosters on both teams with close to 60% of their regular season rosters, and that number will increase in the final two preseason games.
Dylan Holloway has looked very good in the preseason. He looks stronger and more confident. He has created a lot thus far, and while not on the bubble, he is still someone I’ll be watching closely tonight.
Erne and Lavoie are on the same line, and that internal competition is great. We will see who elevates their game. I’ll also be watching to see how Ryan fares as a centre. He’s played there before, but he’s played more wing in Edmonton, and I’m sure Woodcroft will be watching to see if his speed is capable of playing centre. Ryan’s play could have a direct impact on the fate of Erne and Lavoie’s chances of making the opening-night roster.




Draisaitl – McDavid – Hyman
Holloway – Ryan – Janmark
Erne – Hamblin – Lavoie
Griffith – Malone – Bourgault
Kulak – Ceci
Gleason – Broberg
Dineen – Kemp
Playing McDavid with Draisaitl likely won’t happen often at 5×5 in the regular season, but it will happen, so it makes sense to have them play one preseason game together. The bottom six forwards should be very hungry to make a good impression. I’d like to see a bit more from Xavier Bourgault.
I was told on Thursday, the Oilers are hopeful that Ryan McLeod and Mattias Ekholm will get into one, or both, of the final preseason games. If Ekholm doesn’t, then I wonder what D pairs we would see on opening night if he were unavailable next Wednesday. There is no need to rush him, but unless the Oilers place a player on LTIR, they only have room for one scratch per game right now. Nagging injuries could force them to play a game with 19 skaters before they could make an emergency recall. I don’t expect that for opening night, but don’t be surprised if we see the Oilers ice a 19-player roster for one game due to their limited cap space.
Campbell was excellent in his first preseason start in Calgary last Friday. He looked more comfortable than most of last season. I expect him to have a solid campaign with a Sv% between .904-.910 and take some pressure off the shoulders of Stuart Skinner.
McCann – Beniers – Eberle
Schwartz – Wennberg – Burakovsky
Kartye – Wright – Yamamoto
Shore – Poturalski – Hayden
Evans – Larsson
Dumoulin – Schultz
Megna – Fleury
Five former Oilers will be in the Kraken lineup tonight with Jordan Eberle, Kailer Yamamoto, Devin Shore, Adam Larsson and Justin Schultz. Yamamoto and Shore were very popular with their teammates the past few seasons, and I’m sure we could see a few friendly barbs tossed between them tonight.
The main question in Seattle this year is if they can get better goaltending. Their goalies were abysmal last season and they still finished with 100 points. They had excellent production from all four lines, and that allowed them to win games when their goalies struggled.
The Kraken will be hard pressed to have a fourth line produce as much as Daniel Sprong (15-17-32), Ryan Donato (14-11-25) and Morgan Geekie (8-19-27) did last year. All three have moved on to other teams, and the Kraken will be looking for a new fourth line. However, if their goaltending improves from their gaudy .890Sv%, then they won’t need they high of production from their fourth line.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid and Draisaitl have some preseason fun and finish with two points each in a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Someone will be upset McDavid and Draisaitl are on a line together. “This team will never win if they can’t be on their own line,” will be their reasoning.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Erne scores in back-to-back games and keeps himself in the conversation to earn a contract and make the opening night roster.

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