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WWYDW: Predicting The Edmonton Oilers’ Opening Night Roster

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 month ago
Two weeks from today, the Edmonton Oilers will kick off the 2022-23 season by hosting the Vancouver Canucks.
Only three players have been cut from Edmonton’s training camp thus far, as prospects Jake Chiasson, Max Wanner, and Reid Schaefer were sent to their WHL squads, but we’ll surely start to see more movement soon as the Oilers are set to play three pre-season games in the next four days.
For this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question, let’s look at the internal competition that’ll be taking place in these upcoming pre-season games and try to determine what the Oilers’ roster will look like come opening night.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The locks to make the team…

We can start things off with the players who, barring injury, are undoubtedly going to be on the team’s roster in a couple of weeks…
Forwards: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, Dylan Holloway.
Defencemen: Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, Brett Kulak, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg.
Goaltenders: Jack Campbell, Stuart Skinner.
There are seven forward, five defenders, and two goaltenders who appear to be locks to crack the Oilers’ roster out of training camp. Most of them are veterans and core members of the team, but there are also two rookies, Dylan Holloway and Philip Broberg, who will be on the opening night roster for salary cap purposes.
If Holloway or Broberg were to start the season in the AHL, their cap hit upon recall would be their salary plus their maximum possible performance bonus number. Both players are fair bets to crack the roster on their own merit, but the performance bonus thing ultimately makes it a lock.

Possible salary cap casualties… 

The salary cap is a big issue for the Oilers right now and the team being pressed so close to the ceiling might result in somebody getting traded or waived in order to open up some more wiggle room…
  • Tyson Barrie is a quality blueliner but he has an expensive cap hit at $4.5 million and he’s been passed on the depth chart by Evan Bouchard. Given how tight things are around the league right now, it’s hard to imagine the Oilers could find a trade partner for Barrie without taking on a similar contract.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi has been in trade rumours all summer. He’s apparently looking for a change of scenery because him and the Oilers can’t seem to agree on what his role on the team should be. Puljujarvi wound up inking a one-year show-me deal worth $3 million. It’s looking more and more likely that Puljujarvi will be back with the Oilers but a trade before the start of the season is still possible.
  • Warren Foegele is a solid bottom-six winger but he’s pricey at $2.75 million annually given he doesn’t provide much offence and the team doesn’t use him on the penalty kill. Like with Barrie, it’s hard to see another team taking on multiple years of Foegele right now, but for that same reason, he’s also a reasonable bet to clear through waivers. The Oilers would save $1.125 million with Foegele as a buried contract.
  • Mattias Janmark was signed early in the off-season to provide the Oilers some versatile forward depth, as he can chip in offensively, forecheck effectively, and kill penalties. He’s on a fairly inexpensive contract at $1.25 million and might not make it through waivers. If he was to get through waivers, Janmark would only cost the Oilers $125k as a buried contract.
  • Derek Ryan struggled early last season as Edmonton’s fourth-line centre but improved significantly when Jay Woodcroft took over the bench and started using him on the right wing. Ryan can chip in offensively and kill penalties and likely wouldn’t get through waivers given his affordable $1.25 million cap hit.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What does it all mean? 

As Puck Pedia noted last week, the Oilers could put together a cap-compliant roster for opening night that features 21 players, but it would involve waiving one of Ryan or Janmark and one of Dmitri Samorukov or Devin Shore…
The obvious issue with this situation is that the Oilers would only have one extra skater on their active roster, giving the team virtually zero room to navigate short-term injuries. Teams can only get salary cap relief for injured players if the injury is long-term, meaning they’re out for either 10 games or 24 days, so the Oilers wouldn’t be able to afford to call up short-term injury replacements in many cases.
Beyond that, the 21-player roster situation would also put the Oilers at risk of losing some decent players to waivers. Both Janmark and Ryan are solid veteran players on cheap contracts that another team would almost surely take if they had the chance. Samorukov is a quality young defence prospect that somebody would likely take a flyer on.
While finding a trade is certainly ideal, it won’t be easy to do so two weeks away from the start of the season given the reality that many other teams are navigating their own difficult salary cap situations.
What say you, Nation? What do you think the Oilers’ opening night roster will look like? Will there be a last-minute trade? Who would you be comfortable putting on waivers? 

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