It was a busy Tuesday for the Edmonton Oilers, just hours removed from a 5-3 home victory over the San Jose Sharks. First, the club placed forward Nathan Walker on waivers for the purpose of assignment to AHL Bakersfield. The reason for this? The club is expected to activate defender Andrej Sekera in the coming days, possibly as early as Thursday night.
Speaking of the IR, the club placed defender Oscar Klefbom on injured reserve, meaning he is out of commission until at least next Tuesday. In a corresponding roster move, Edmonton recalled forward Anton Slepyshev from the AHL after assigning him to the Condors less than 24 hours ago.
Lastly, Edmonton traded forward Greg Chase, who was with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for future considerations. Edmonton also assigned D Mark Fayne to Florida’s AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Take a breath, that was a lot for one morning.
Walker On Waivers:
After playing just two games in Edmonton, Nathan Walker’s time with the club is likely over. The Australian forward wasn’t very noticeable in his two games with the team, and there just wasn’t enough room for him. With Jujhar Khaira and Jesse Puljujarvi both establishing themselves as NHL’ers, Edmonton couldn’t find room for Slepyshev, Walker and Caggiula in the lineup. As it is, it’ll be tough enough getting even one of those players in the lineup on a nightly basis.
Odds are Walker will get claimed. Washington didn’t want to lose the player in the first place, and multiple teams placed a claim on him when Walker was on waivers last month. Ideally he clears and Bakersfield gets a bit of a boost at forward, but the likely outcome is Walker will be elsewhere tomorrow. The good news? It would put the Oilers at 47 contracts.
Klefbom To IR:
Peter Chiarelli confirmed on Oilers Now two weeks ago that Klefbom was playing hurt and that was a reason for his slow start to the season. Since then, Oscar has turned it on but his injury is still clearly bothering him. After missing practice on Sunday, Klefbom played less than 20 minutes in last night’s win over the Sharks.
This is a strategic move by the Oilers, because they can activate Klefbom after just two games. The Oil will play St. Louis and Montreal before the Christmas break, meaning when a week is up the club will have only played twice. Todd McLellan’s quotes earlier certainly seemed to point to this being a chance to rest Klef up, so hopefully this is just the team taking advantage of the Christmas break.
Personally, I’d be stunned if Klefbom wasn’t back by the New Year.
Yup, no surprise here. Slepy going to Bakersfield was never going to last, it was mostly a paper transaction so Adam Larsson could draw back in last night and Eric Gryba could hang out here for the holiday. I’d rather see Slepyshev in the lineup over Drake Caggiula on Thursday, for what it’s worth.
Edmonton making these moves today signifies that Sekera will be ready to go before the holiday roster freeze is over. That means prior to December 28th. I wouldn’t be shocked if, with Klefbom out, Sekera returns on Thursday night. This is a huge get for Edmonton and it simply cannot be understated.
Sekera is arguably Edmonton’s best offensive defender, is clearly one of the club’s three best rearguards and should help a struggling powerplay group. It’s going to take him a little time to get back up to speed, but Sekera returning is a massive addition and will only help Edmonton’s push to the postseason.
Minor League Shift:
My biggest gripe with the Edmonton Oilers is that they simply do not play the kids enough at the AHL level. Is winning important in the AHL? Absolutely it is, but the THE most important thing is development. The Oilers have struggled developing NHL talent in a big way in recent seasons.
One reason is because the Oilers have drafted poorly and their top picks have all went straight to the NHL, but another key reason is that the club simply doesn’t play its young guys enough. Greg Chase is another example of this.
After a promising WHL career, Chase impressed in multiple training camps and rookie tournaments before starting his pro career. After two plus seasons, Chase still hasn’t established himself as an everyday AHL’er. Part of that is because I don’t think there is an NHL player there, but part of it is because the Condors have never given him a lengthy look in a top-nine role.
Today Edmonton dumped Chase to the Florida Panthers in exchange for future considerations. The payoff for Edmonton? It’s a contract off the 50-man list, currently putting the club at 48 contracts pending Nathan Walker’s stint on waivers. This gives the Oilers some flexibility for NHL additions without subtracting a contract.
In addition, the Oilers assigned Mark Fayne to Springfield of the AHL from Bakersfield. The reasons to make this move are abundant. First off, Fayne was never making it back to the NHL as an Oiler. Todd McLellan doesn’t like the way he plays and his contract is far too big for a seventh defender / third pairing option.
If Fayne isn’t going to make the NHL roster, then he’ll need to play at the AHL level. The Oilers are currently trying to develop Ryan Mantha, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones down there while Dillon Simpson also continues to marinate. There isn’t much room for the veteran.
I was also told this off-season that Fayne, had he stayed in the AHL, preferred to play closer to home. The New England native gets his wish and is without a doubt happy with this result.
I suspect by this time next week we are looking at having both Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom in the Oiler lineup. On top of that, I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw Edmonton add an NHL forward to the mix now that they are opening up contract spots on the 50-man list. These weren’t massive moves today, but they set the table for possible movement down the line.