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GDB -8.0: Thankfully, It Is The Final Rehearsal (7pm MT, Streaming)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
8 months ago
Eight is Enough was a TV comedy-drama series in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The show was based on the life of newspaper columnist, Tom Braden, who was married and had eight children and authored the book, Eight is Enough. 
Fast forward to today and I could pen a book that would be titled, Eight is More Than Enough, and base it on the Oilers’ preseason schedule. Mercifully, the Oilers will play their eighth and final preseason game tonight against Seattle.
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Edmonton is one of nine teams that like the cash grab of eight preseason games. Anaheim, Calgary, Detroit, Florida, LA, Ottawa, St. Louis and Toronto are the others. Calgary, Florida, LA and St. Louis did have one set of split squad games (played two games on the same night).
Columbus, Buffalo, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Tampa and Vegas played seven preseason games. Pittsburgh and New Jersey each had a set of split-squad games.
Which means the other 15 teams played six games and Seattle and Carolina had a set of split squad games, so they only had five nights of preseason hockey. Edmonton has played eight preseason games for years, so I’m not holding my breath thinking they will reduce the number next season, but they should. There is zero benefit to play eight preseason games. It increases the risk of injury, and often the opposition isn’t close to NHL caliber.
Connor McDavid said prior to the preseason that three games is a good number for him. Most veterans would agree or say four at the most. The truth about most NHL rosters when training camp begins is you have 25-27 players, at the most, who have a realistic chance to make the team. Six games are more than enough to give young players a game or two, while giving four games to those battling for a roster spot.
Currently, the NHL has a rule that teams must play at least five preseason games, but they should make a rule outlining a maximum of six games. I guarantee the NHLPA would be in favour of it and so would the fans. Half the league is already doing it, so make it even across the board. It would give more practice time for coaches work on their systems or implement any tactical and systemic changes they want to input.
The rule won’t change today, but it is worth discussing.

FINAL REHEARSAL…

Players on the bubble will have one final chance to make a good impression on the Oilers coaching staff. You could argue the coaches likely know who they want to keep on the roster already, but the players have to believe a good showing could help. Edmonton has to cut one goalie, four defensemen and three forwards before Monday’s 3 p.m. MT deadline. Calvin Pickard will be the goalie placed on waivers. Markus Niemelainen, Cam Dineen, Ben Gleason and Phil Kemp are the likely defenders. And three of Brad Malone, Adam Erne, Lane Pederson and Rapheal Lavoie will be placed on waivers. Or in Erne’s case released from his PTO. Edmonton could sign him to a two-way deal if they wanted, but they already have Drake Caggiula, Seth Griffith and Greg McKegg signed as veteran forwards in the AHL. Add Malone and I don’t see room for another veteran on the AHL roster.
Realistically, I think it will come down to Lavoie and Pederson. Pederson is a center, while Lavoie a hard-shooting right winger. Both require waivers. Pederson carries a $775K cap hit, while Lavoie has an $874,125K cap hit.
The salary cap is $83.5m this season. Here’s a breakdown of the Oilers’ cap.
McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, Kane, Hyman, Brown, Foegele, McLeod, Janmark, Holloway and Ryan total $45,1m.
Nurse, Ekholm, Bouchard, Ceci, Kulak, Broberg and Desharnais total $26,775,833.
Skinner and Campbell are a combined $7.6m.
James Neal buyout has $1.916,667.
They have a bonus overage penalty of $850K from Bouchard last season.
That equals $82, 242, 500. They have $1.257, 500 in available cap space. If Lavoie is on the roster, they start with $383,375 in cap space. If Pederson is on the roster, they’ll have $482.5K in cap space.
They will start the season with a 21-man roster and for the first time in a few seasons they will be able to accrue cap space during the year. However, if a player goes on LTIR, then they won’t accrue space for the time he is on LTIR. They have no cap space to recall a player if someone is injured and goes on IR. If they have two players injured, they will play one game with 17 skaters, and then they would be able to have an emergency recall.
We could see seven or eight teams start the season with 20 or 21-man rosters. The limited cap increases the past four seasons has many teams with little to no cap flexibility.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUP…

Oilers

Kane – McDavid – Brown
RNH – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – Pederson – Lavoie
Erne – Janmark – Ryan
Nurse – Bouchard
Gleason – Ceci
Broberg – Desharnais
Campbell
The Oilers will dress close a roster similar to their opening night roster. Ryan McLeod skated with the main group again, but he won’t play. He is confident he will be ready for opening night. Mattias Ekholm skated with the main group for the first time this morning. He won’t play and couldn’t commit 100% that he will play opening night. He said the injury has healed slower than he expected. He originally thought he’d be back over a week ago, so he didn’t want to say for certain he will be ready next Wednesday. But he added he feels good and has had a few good days in a row.
I didn’t see Brett Kulak on the ice this morning, and he won’t play tonight. His status for opening night is uncertain right now. Dylan Holloway is healthy, but he gets the night off.
Jay Woodcroft outlined that he wants to see Ryan and Janmark together on a line to see how they do. Ryan is a right shot and can take draws on his strong side, while Janmark, a lefty, will take them on his strong side.

Kraken…

McCann – Beniers – Eberle
Schwartz – Wennberg – Burakovsky
Tolvanen – Gourde – Bjorkstrand
Kartye – Bellemare/Wright  – Tanev
Evans – Larsson
Dumoulin – Schultz
Oleksiak – Borgen
Grubauer
The Kraken will ice a very NHL-laden lineup as well. Seattle dominated Edmonton on Monday, but Jack Campbell stole Edmonton the game. Vince Dunn did skate today with the Kraken, but won’t play. He’s in a similar position as Ekholm.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton finishes the preseason with a 4-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid scores his fourth preseason goal in four preseason games.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Warren Foegele taps home his first of the preseason.

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