Eight NHL preseason games is too many. Now that we got the obvious statement out of the way, we can focus on tonight’s tilt in Seattle. None of the Oilers’ big-name forwards will be going. Kailer Yamamoto will play. Seattle is the closest NHL city to his hometown, and he’ll have some family and friends at the game. Same for Derek Ryan, and the other veterans making the trip include Tyson Barrie, Mattias Janmark, Devin Shore, Jake Virtanen and Gregg McKegg.
Tonight’s roster will mainly consist of players trying to get head coach Jay Woodcroft’s attention and earn more preseason games.
Reid Schaefer was on a guest on my radio show on Friday, and when I asked him about playing a preseason game, he immediately talked about how great it would be to play in Seattle. He plays for the Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League, and he will get his chance to play in front of his WHL teammates and his billet family tonight. I expect Schaefer will remain in Seattle after the game and focus on having a dominant season in the WHL.
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LINEUPS…

Oilers

Janmark-Shore-Ryan
Benson-Hamblin-Yamamoto
Schaefer-McKegg-Virtanen
Esposito-Philp-Griffith
Broberg-Barrie
Niemelainen-Wanner
Peters-Kesselring
Rodrigue
Fanti
Tyler Benson, Jake Virtanen, Noah Philp, James Hamblin, Markus Niemelainen and Schaefer will play their second game in as many nights. Niemelainen was very good on the backend, bringing his usual physical presence, but he also improved his puck skills. The goal was a bonus, but he was up in the play more and used his speed to join the rush more than we’ve seen in the past. Niemelainen skates very well for a 6’6″ player and he will push for a spot this season. The organization likely doesn’t want him as the seventh D-man, but if there is an injury I could see them recalling him and playing him ahead of Ryan Murray. Niemelainen brings a presence they don’t have.
Benson was noticeable last night and looked a bit quicker. Foot speed is the only thing holding him back from being a regular NHLer. He’s adopted an abrasive, annoying style to his play and that gives him a role. We’ll see how his speed looks tonight against a more NHL-laden Seattle roster than the one Winnipeg dressed last night.
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The first 50 minutes of last night’s preseason game might have been the most uneventful preseason game I’ve watched. Almost nothing happened. The Oilers scored three goals in the final 10 minutes to give the crowd something to cheer about, but for much of the game it was lacking emotion. It is to be expected, as both rosters didn’t have many NHL players, and the ones who were dressed weren’t regular linemates for years.
KRAKEN…
Donato-Beniers-Bjorkstrand
Burakovsky-Wennberg-Donskoi
Tanev-Geekie-Froden
McCormick-Petman-Melanson
Kempny-Schultz
Evans-Larsson
Seppala-Rafferty
Jones
Daccord
Seattle will have eight of its regular NHL forwards and three defenders in the lineup. It will be a better test for the Oiler players looking to get noticed.

QUICK HITS…

Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Ryan McLeod (71) warms up before the game against the Colorado Avalanche in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Ryan McLeod had a strong game last night. He stood out — as he should have, considering the Jets lineup — but the fact he did was impressive to me. He was better than Foegele or Puljujarvi and had the most energy of the three.
  • Dylan Holloway — or as Tyson Barrie calls him, “Hollywood” — made a strong first impression. Holloway has been noticeable in every game he’s played starting at the rookie tournament. Young players need to get noticed, and he’s done that consistently thus far. The competition level will increase the deeper we go in preseason, but so far, he has looked very good.
  • Max Wanner is a player I’ll be watching tonight. He will be going back to Moose Jaw in the WHL at some point, but he’s made big strides since the Oilers drafted him in the seventh round in 2021. He’s a very powerful, wide-track skater, and he added some offence to his game in the second half of last season. He is a prospect I’ll be monitoring.
  • Broberg and Barrie have been a pair since day one of camp and are a good bet to start the regular season together. Jay Woodcroft told me today he plans on starting Nurse/Ceci as the top pair in the regular season and giving them a heavy dose to elite competition just like they did last year. And because of that, I think the Kulak-Bouchard and Broberg-Barrie pairings will be together to start the year. Unless there is an injury.
  • Janmark and Ryan are in a battle for a spot on the 21-man roster. Unless a trade is made one of them will be placed on waivers. Janmark is younger, but Ryan is the only right shot player they have to take draws. It will be an interesting battle to watch.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Seattle’s more experienced lineup wins 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Former Oiler Justin Schultz scores.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Beniers picks up three points and gives Seattle fans hope they will have more skill up front this year.
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#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

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