The Edmonton Oilers roster is down to 29 players after another round of cuts on Monday afternoon. A number of veteran players were placed on waivers, while a roster hopeful was sent home….for now.
Some of the moves are surprising, while others make sense and were expected. The moves today also impact a number of players currently on the roster, in some cases for guys in positions they didn’t expect to be in.
Forwards: Cooper Marody, Brad Malone and Scottie Upshall (released from PTO)
Defenders: Kevin Gravel and Keegan Lowe
Lowe, Gravel and Malone were all placed on waivers today, and will be assigned to the AHL when they eventually clear. Lowe had an outside shot to make the roster, but I don’t think it’s a big surprise that he gets sent down. He’s likely to play a big role on the Condors, and will most likely be a top recall option.
I’m a little surprised Gravel gets sent down. I thought he’d win the seventh defender job, as he fits the club’s big and tough mantra but also has enough speed to survive in today’s game. His cut means big things for both Ethan Bear and Evan Bouchard.
Marody getting sent down is the right call, as the rookie forward didn’t look close to ready for NHL action. That said, he’ll handle a top-six role in the AHL and we likely see him at some point during the season. As for Malone’s cut, that doesn’t come as a surprise due to the numbers up front. He’s likely to be a leader and third liner for the Condors in 2018-19.
Upshall getting cut is disappointing but not totally surprising. He had yet to play in a preseason game and just wasn’t healthy enough to compete. The Oilers simply couldn’t give him a contract without knowing if he would be able to play. It’s too bad, but it’s the right call.
Personally, and I know some have hinted at this today, I wouldn’t be surprised if Upshall returned once he was healthy. Perhaps he takes the Chris Kelly route of skating with the team prior to getting cleared and signing a deal within the first month of the season.
It’s possible that Edmonton cut him with an eye to signing him in the future in order to give a younger player a test run early in the season. I firmly believe we have not seen the last of Upshall with the Oilers.
With Upshall (for now) and Malone out of the way, Alex Chiasson has to be feeling pretty good about his chances. The Oilers are desperate to add grit and ‘jam’ to the roster and certainly want to add a veteran to the room. Chiasson can be that guy, and if he has a good week I suspect he gets signed prior to the club’s flight to Germany on Saturday.
Defensively, it looks like Bouchard is going to Europe and will make the roster out of camp. I’m not overly surprised, as Bouchard getting nine games always seemed to be the likely outcome. His potential is so obvious and the talent oozes from this kid, but there are still some kinks to work out defensively and I’m not sure the Oilers can deal with that while trying to get off to a good start this fall.
The biggest surprise? Ryan McLeod is still with the club, and it sounds like he’ll be getting an entry-level contract in the coming days. I’m starting to think that he’s going to get a couple of games at the start of the season. That would be a big surprise all things considered, as second rounders almost never make the roster right after being drafted.
Other players that have to be feeling good today? Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear and Al Montoya.