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Just A Little Off The Top

Some surprising names in today’s wave of cuts, some surprising names left on the main roster

Edmonton Oilers v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Just three games remain until the Oilers kick off their regular season on Wednesday, October 12. Edmonton made a handful of cuts today, and there are a few on the list that I was surprised to see.

Among those who have been sent away:

  • Xavier Bourgault (F) - Oilers’ 2021 top selection played a couple of games after an impressive YoungStars tournament; will look to have a big season in Bakersfield after completing his tenure at Shawinigan. Will hopefully don sweater number 98 in Bakersfield as he did in Junior, I’ll regretfully understand if he does not.
  • Phil Kemp (D) - Seventh round righty from 2017 draft kept around for a little bit and could be a call-up if the Oilers get down a few righties. His stock (like Michael Kesselring’s) will increase a little if the Oilers move Tyson Barrie between now and the beginning of the season.
  • Luke Esposito (F) - showed well in Edmonton’s 3-2 shootout win over the Jets last night; on an AHL only deal but would probably be an OK 13th or 14th forward at this juncture of his career
  • Olivier Rodrigue (G) - second round selection from 2018 split time between Wichita and Bakersfield last season, will be firmly behind Calvin Pickard on the depth chart
  • Noah Philp (C) - on a one year deal, made some noise this preseason. Had a goal pulled off the board in a game versus Seattle, looked OK in Friday’s loss to Calgary.

Who’s still around?

  • Tyler Benson. I thought Benson’s number had been pulled for good when the Oilers literally gave away his number to Derrick Brassard, Noted Penalty Killer™ last season. Benson is having himself a camp right now and could make the team in a 12th -14th forward role. Scored a goal in last night’s win over the Jets, which never hurts.
  • Calvin Pickard. Slated to be the number one goaltender in Bakersfield this season, he’s everything you can ask from a guy in the 3 spot this preseason. Skinner has been lights out this preseason, Pickard would get a shot if one of Skinner or Campbell were unable to go for whatever reason.
  • Jake Virtanen. Yeah, I don’t know either. Not sure what we’re doing here.
  • James Hamblin. Can both Hamblin and Benson make the final roster? Hamblin another candidate for that 12th-14th spot. Impressive YoungStars tournament, scored a nice goal against David Rittich of the Jets last week, just 23 years of age, hometown kid.
  • Dylan Holloway. Just make this guy 3LW already. Heck of a YoungStars tournament, a very good game last night against the Jets. Buy a house already. At least check out the rentals.
  • Markus Niemeläinen. Physical player who along with Dmitri Samorukov giving Philip Broberg a run for his money toward the main roster. Broberg should be the obvious choice to open the season, the fact that a decent argument can be made for either Niemeläinen or Samorukov on opening night ought to be be eye-opening.
  • Ryan Murray. Playing both sides on D is a good way to hang around. It helped Kris Russell for what seemed like a decade in Edmonton. Murray looked just fine on his off side in Edmonton’s 2-1 win over the Flames on Friday, there’s a fair chance he gets a ticket to the dance. And then there’s RHD Jason Demers, who is on a PTO and has lasted this long.

Expect a few more cuts after tomorrow night’s game against Vancouver.

Just three more preseason contests to go until they all count for real.