Less than two weeks to go until the regular season begins. The Oilers made a slew of cuts on Friday, but there’s still plenty more to go.
Some were sent down a little earlier than expected. I’m thinking about Cooper Marody, who I thought would have still been on the big club. Some have lasted longer than I would have expected. I’m thinking about Brandon Manning, who has what looks to be a legitimate shot at being the team’s seventh defenceman come October.
Some thoughts on some players
TOMAS JURCO: Alright, he could be this year’s Ty Rattie, which is to say that he could have a hell of a preseason and an absolutely uninspired regular season. In two games, Jurco has two points. (1-1-2) That’s not going to blow the doors off anywhere, but I had Jurco on a short leash when camp opened. It’s foolish to suggest that his short time in Edmonton will automatically translate to success in the regular season, but a few more games of Tomas Jurco this week could help seal the deal for him in the quest to the 23 man roster.
JOEL PERSSON - Don’t look now, but Joel Persson could find himself in a top four situation before long. Persson has played alongside Oscar Klefbom in a couple of games now, he has two points (0-2-2) and doesn’t look out of place playing in all situations. Averaging just under 22 minutes in two games, there’s a real chance that he sees significant ice time during this regular season. It might be a little premature to toss him into a top four role, but the right side currently features Adam Larsson and Matt Benning now that Kris Russell appears to be filling in for the bought-out Andrej Sekera.
EVAN BOUCHARD - There’s a lot of questions surrounding the right side of the defence, and most of them were previously addressed in the last paragraph with Joel Persson. If Bouchard makes the team out of camp, it would be wise to start him on the third pair to get his feet wet. Completely plausible to see both him and Persson make the club out of camp, though I’ve got Bouchard in the AHL for some prime minutes if Persson is in Edmonton.
MARKUS GRANLUND: I haven’t noticed a whole lot about him. Signed to a one year deal during the July free agency period, you figure he’ll factor in somewhere on the bottom six. Pulling fifteen minutes a game for two games so far, we’ll probably see at least one more game with Granlund this preseason. Watch and wait.
WILLIAM LAGESSON: Already described as a clock-muncher. Averaging just over nineteen and a half minutes in two preseason games, he’s still hanging out and could be the club’s 7th defenceman to open the season.
ZACK KASSIAN: They’re really going to have him up top with 97 again, aren’t they? Kassian had a goal and an assist in Edmonton’s 6-2 party against the Flames on Friday night.
JAMES NEAL: I’ve got rose coloured glasses when it comes to James Neal. James Neal could probably prop up a La-Z-Boy recliner at centre ice on October 2nd and I’d still call his deal that sent Milan Lucic to Calgary a win. He’s got a goal in two games so far. I’ve got him pencilled in on the second line to open the season, though there’s still plenty more camp to get through.
CONNOR MCDAVID: I think he’ll make it.
ANTON BURDASOV: Late PTO is 6’3” and has a killer shot, though I’m going to have to see some more before I feel comfortable offering a contract. The wings are so thin right now, it’s anybody’s guess where he could play if he makes it to October. Oilers head coach Dave Tippett says that he’s “intriguing”, which is something I usually say when I see something that’s way out of my price range before walking off.
JOSH ARCHIBALD: Like Granlund, he hasn’t made a whole lot of noise in the two games he’s been in. Archibald scored 22 points in 2018-19 with the Coyotes, and is an Actual NHL Player who is going to see some bottom six time come regular season.
Evan Bouchard has had himself a camp. Joel Persson has made himself known. Who’s impressed you the most? Cooper Marody? Gaetan Haas? One of the vets?
We’ve got less than two more weeks to go before the regular season begins. The roster will be trimmed to a slender 23 by that time. Who makes the final cut?