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Adam Larsson is getting closer to a return to the lineup. The veteran defenseman, who has been out since opening night, will be going on the road trip with the club and could play by the weekend. As a result, the Oilers have sent Joel Persson to AHL Bakersfield. The rookie Swede made the team out of training camp, but has struggled to stay in the lineup recently.
Persson brings good speed and puck moving ability to the lineup. His skills are a good fit for the modern game. At times, he’s been a strong part of Edmonton’s defensive group. Consistency has been an issue here, and Persson has also shown some issues adapting to the North American game.
He’s played ten games for the Oilers and has two points (0-2-2) while averaging 15:43 TOI-per-game. His possession numbers aren’t overly strong either. He has a 46.6% Corsi For while starting 56.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone. You’d like to see that number a little higher. Relative to his teammates, Persson has been a slight drag on possession with a Corsi Rel of -2.4%.
He’s also working with a favorable PDO of 102.8, which has masked some of the underlying issues early in his NHL career. (Numbers via hockey-reference)
I’m a firm believer that there is a player here. Persson’s skills are very useful in today’s games. Speed and skill from the blueline is key to the transition game, and Persson showed flashes of being a useful piece while with the Oilers. This stint in Bakersfield should help him.
Sitting in the press box won’t do Persson any good. He needs to be in the lineup and playing heavy minutes. He’ll get that chance under Jay Woodcroft. This could end up being the best thing for Persson in the long run.
He’ll get to play under Woodcroft and assistant coach Dave Manson, who have a done a great job mentoring young defensemen since taking the bench over last fall. Just look at the progress made by players like Ethan Bear, William Lagesson and Caleb Jones.
A brief AHL stint helped Gaetan Haas reset in October, and I think it is fair to say he has been a better player since returning from California. The Oilers hope that will happen with Persson as well.
Here’s how the Oilers defense lineup up on Monday at practice before heading off for San Jose. They’ll battle the Sharks at SAP Center for the second time in seven days tomorrow night.
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom – Caleb Jones
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
Brandon Manning – Adam Larsson
Both Manning and Larsson remain on IR.