We’re only days away from the start of the NHL regular season and I felt like that was a good time for your ol’ pal Baggedmilk to come back with another dose of Random Thoughts to break down what’s going on around here. As always, I’ve taken my usual cruise around the Internet to see what’s going on with the Oilers and around the NHL for a little dose of hockey talk to wrap up your weekend.

KAILER YAMAMOTO

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Kailer Yamamoto missed Thursday’s game as a precaution after he took a knock to the melon in the 4-3 comeback win over the Calgary Flames, and it got me thinking about how desperately we need him to stay healthy this season. Even though he was able to come back for Saturday’s win over the Canucks — he scored a beauty goal too btw — I worry about our fun-sized winger’s ability to stay healthy because of how fearlessly he plays the game. Pencilled in alongside Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Yamamoto has a huge opportunity to rebound after a tough season in 2021 and the Oilers are going to need him to be at his best if they’re ever going to get away from the two-player team thing and a big part of that will include staying healthy. As much as it was great fun to watch Yamo pop a shortie against the Canucks, we need him to keep the good times rolling when the games matter otherwise, unfortunately, there are line blender options available that could mean that he loses his spot. Now, I think we’re still 100 years away from having Yamo sliding down in the lineup — I REPEAT I DON’T THINK HE’S SLIDING IN THE LINEUP ANYTIME SOON — but I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that he needs to add some of that Spokane finish to his little engine that can. Here’s hoping some of that finish we saw from him two years ago is starting to find its way into those hands of his because Gord knows we’ll need him. I believe in you, Yamo.

HIGH HOPES FOR THE THIRD LINE

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Before Kassian went down in that fight against MacEwan, I was looking at a line like the Foegele-Ryan-Kass trio and thought about how this is a line that could cause some damage if they can find a way to get going. Both Foegele and Ryan are new around these parts so we don’t really know what to expect quite yet, but Kass has been around for a while now and if he can’t play up in the top six then you’d think this is about as good of a spot for him as any. I mean, we’re not talking about playing with Gaetan Haas or Ty Rattie here, we’re talking about two linemates with a history of keeping their heads above water at the NHL level, and if Kassian can get it going with them once he’s healthy again then I don’t know where he will. Now, with that out of the way, I am expecting that this line will be able to cause a little mayhem on a nightly basis and that this bull in a china shop mentality will provide them with plenty of scoring chances. I know we’ve all been fooled before by illusions of scoring depth, but this is a year when I truly and honestly believe it to be true this time. Fingers crossed. Get healthy, Kass, and let’s make this happen.

KEITH AND CECI

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I know there are a lot of us Oilers fans that are nervous about how the defence will perform this year, but I can’t think of a pairing with more pressure to perform than the second pair with Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci. Both of those guys were brought in by Ken Holland with sizeable gambles attached to their names, and we need both of them to perform at a high level if this ship is going to make some waves this season. Whether it’s fair or not, these two guys are occupying significant roles and taking up a bunch of salary cap space and that means the expectations will be high in regards to what they provide here, and the results will be directly tacked onto Holland’s postseason report card. I know this probably seems like I’m adding even more digital pressure onto their shoulders, but I also think it’s fair to say that we need Keith and Ceci to be better than expected if we’re going to gain some real traction this year and I hope they can handle it. And to this point, at least for me, this pairing has been an adventure out there.

RYAN REAVES POSES FOR PHOTO

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Normally, I’d recommend that you not try and prank NHLers that are cool enough to take a picture with you in public, but this is not one of those times. Rather, this is an instance of some harmless shenanigans from an opposing fan that was captured on film for all of us to enjoy. No, my friends, there was no need for words nor chirps nor meanspirited barbs in this particular exchange. Instead, what we got was an Islanders fan with nuts the size of Volvos got Ryan Reaves to take a picture with him in his jersey without the NHL’s reigning heavyweight noticing until it was too late. A plan was put in motion and executed perfectly. A stupid, cheeky laugh was had by all, and one of the NHL’s scariest men gave a group of buddies a memory that will last a lifetime. And since I loved this clip and included it in this week’s article, I also feel like I should wish Reaves a speedy recovery after getting hurt this past week for the Rangers.

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