Late this afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers announced via their social media channels that the team has recalled (D) Markus Niemelainen from Bakersfield while also loaning Brad Malone back to the Condors. A little forward for defence swap, they call it.
Another day another round of roster swaps for the Edmonton Oilers as the team announced that it would be bringing Markus Niemelainen back to the big club while also loaning Brad Malone back to the Condors. The Oilers get a big, tough defenceman. The Condors get their captain back. What does it mean? Well, I can only assume this swap signals that Coach Woodcroft and his staff are seeing the same thing we are over the first two games in that this club is having a really hard time defending in its own zone. They’re not physical enough, they’re taking too long to clear pucks out of harm’s way, and that sloppiness has been giving opponents more looks on net than they should rightfully have.
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According to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic, the Oilers had been planning to call up defenceman Markus Niemelainen from the Bakersfield Condors this week, and after the poor defensive performance the club put in against Calgary on Saturday, they can use all the help they can get. Nugent-Bowman also mentioned at the tie that the Oilers would then roll with 12 forwards and seven defenders on their roster, which is exactly why Brad Malone was loaned back to the Condors to create the spot. Last season, Niemelainen played in 20 games for the Oilers and quickly developed a reputation as a big, physical defenceman that will punish you if you’re not paying attention. Listed at 6′ 6″, 190 pounds, Niemelainen will surely give the Oilers some much-needed size and physicality on a back end that’s missing some bite.
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At this stage, it’s completely unfair to assume that Markus Niemelainen will come into Edmonton and plug the holes that are showing up in the Oilers’ defensive coverage, but I do think he’s a guy that can show up and chip in with some physicality and a defence-first style play that will help keep the puck out of the net. I also think that Niemelainen’s physicality will help give his teammates even a split second more time to make decisions with the puck because other players will get quickly flattened if they land in his bubble for too long. That said, we’re still talking about a player with only 20 NHL games on his resume so expecting too much from Niemelainen will likely end in disappointment, but in the short term, I absolutely expect him to contribute positively to a group that seems way too easy to play against on the back side. Even though we know there will be mistakes, that’s a gamble we need to take right now because getting pushed around in our own zone isn’t working, and the sooner we can solve that issue the better. Here’s hoping Niemo’s recall is step one. LFG.
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MARKUS NIEMELAINEN’S PRO CAREER SO FAR

NHL Totals
20
0
1
1
4
SeasonTeamLeagueGPGAPtsPIM+/-PGPGAPtsPIM
2018-19
HPK Hameenlinna
SM-liiga
50
1
4
5
8
5
18
0
2
2
4
2019-20
Assat Pori
SM-liiga
55
1
6
7
42
-6
2020-21
Assat Pori
SM-liiga
14
0
3
3
35
-2
2020-21
Bakersfield Condors
AHL
21
2
4
6
6
0
2021-22
Bakersfield Condors
AHL
34
2
6
8
12
4
3
0
0
0
0
2021-22
Edmonton Oilers
NHL
20
0
1
1
4
-5
2022-23
Bakersfield Condors
AHL
2
0
1
1
0
1