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Nikitin's Injury An Early Test For Oilers Depth

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An early injury to Nikita Nikitin leaves the Oilers a bit of a conundrum

Keep him.
Keep him.
Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Wescott gave us this update on Nikita Nikitin's ankle:

"Twisted his ankle," Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said after the game. "We don’t expect it to be one of those longterm ones that guys get. They threw a boot on him as a precaution but we’re hopeful right now that it’s just going to be a week, two weeks tops."

It seems like we've been down this road before.  An injury to a defenseman opens up a whole slew of problems for the Oilers.  Ryan's opening night lineup had Nikitin on the bottom pairing, though I don't know if the Oilers saw it the same way, leaving Justin Schultz exposed on the second pairing:

Martin Marincin - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Mark Fayne
Andrew Ference - Nikita Nikitin
Keith Aulie

The Oilers 7th defenseman is probably going to play 40+ games this year.  Keith Aulie has been terrible against pre-season competition thus far and having him in reserve for just such a situation isn't inspiring confidence in anyone.  Given the physical, yet uneven, play by Darnell Nurse thus far, he might not be a lock to make the roster, but both he and Oscar Klefbom have certainly outplayed Aulie.

The Nikitin injury gives the Oilers two weeks to find out if Darnell Nurse is that guy before sending him back to Sault Ste. Marie, or an easy out to bring Klefbom up and send Aulie to Oklahoma City and admit the mistake early and avoid four games of the Ference - Aulie show.