The business of hockey continues to roll along. The Edmonton Oilers are looking to take care of some house keeping, according to GM Ken Holland.
Holland admitted on Monday that contract discussions continue with prospect defensemen Filip Berglund and Markus Niemelainen. Holland then confirmed on Tuesday that the club has had talks with forward Anton Slepyshev. Slepyshev is currently in the KHL.
Offer Extended To Slepyshev:
Not only did Holland admit an interest in bringing Slepyshev back, he also confirmed to reporters that an offer has been extended to the Russian forward.
Holland said he's interested in signing Anton Slepyshev and an offer has been made.— Daniel Nugent-Bowman (@DNBsports) April 7, 2020
Originally a third-round pick in 2013, Slepyshev had 10 goals and 23 points (10-13-23) in 102 NHL games during his first stint with the Oilers. He added 15 goals and 31 points (15-16-31) in 59 AHL games with the Bakersfield Condors.
Slepyshev struggled with injury after a strong 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the club. He missed training camp in 2017, and never seemed to regain the trust of then-head coach Todd McLellan.
Following the 2017-18 season, Slepyshev bolted to Russia and signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Slepyshev had 33 goals and 70 points (33-37-70) in 110 games during his two-season stint.
KHL players are eligible to officially sign with NHL teams on May 1st. That said, the KHL officially cancelled the remainder of their postseason due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Berglund, Niemelainen Coming Over?
The Oilers prospect pipeline is working when it comes to defensemen. The team has successfully graduated Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones to the NHL, with William Lagesson likely done in Bakersfield as well.
Evan Bouchard is expected to seriously challenge for an NHL roster spot in the fall, if not make the team outright. That’s great news for the Oilers, but there is also a fallout form all of this development.
The Oilers are going to need defensemen for Bakersfield. They are also going to need prospects at the position to keep the pipeline flowing. Dmitri Samorukov is likely to return for a second year on the farm. After that?
The Oilers don’t have anything in North America. Philip Broberg isn’t the answer in 2020-21 either. Holland confirmed that he will remain in Sweden and play another season in the SHL.
While confirming that, Holland also told Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now that the club is currently negotiating with prospects Filip Berglund and Markus Niemelainen.
Berglund, selected 91st overall in 2016, played for Skelleftea AIK of the SHL last season. It was his fourth full season with the club. He appeared in 52 games and collected 20 points (5-15-20).
Berglund is a more well-round defenseman who has seen some powerplay time in Sweden according to some reports. It’s likely he can come to Bakersfield and play a top four role while adapting to the North American game.
Niemelainen, meanwhile, was selected 63rd overall in 2016. The hulking Finnish defenseman stands in at 6’5″ and plays a shutdown game. After a decent junior career, Niemelainen returned to Europe. He’s played in Finland in each of the last three seasons. In 2019-20, he suited up in 55 games for Assat Pori.
Niemelainen is a left-shot defenseman, while Berglund is a right-shot. Both would likely play big roles for coach Jay Woodcroft if they came over from Europe.
Niemelainen and Berglund’s rights expire on June 1st.