The Edmonton Oilers will be on the ice Monday morning, led by coach Dave Tippett, for a practice for the first time in over four months. The NHL officially opens for Phase 3 tomorrow, kicking off a 13 day training camp before teams report to their hub city on July 26th. There will be no travel for the Oilers, as the Western Conference will play in Edmonton.
On Sunday, the Oilers announced the roster that will take the ice on Monday at Rogers Place. Teams are allowed unlimited goalies in camp and 30 skaters. The Oilers will carry five goaltenders and 28 skaters.
Teams are allowed to bring 31 TOTAL players, goalies included, into game action.
The lone omission for the Oilers is veteran defenseman Mike Green, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline. Green elected to opt out of Phases 3 and 4 on Saturday night, and will not be available to the club. He’s slated to become a free agent in October.
Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner, Olivier Rodrigue, Dylan Wells
Smith, Koskinen and Skinner are almost certainly going to be the goalies carried into the bubble by the Oilers. Rodrigue will skate in camp, but will NOT be on the final roster, per GM Ken Holland.
The goal here is to get Rodrigue, who officially turns pro for the 2020-21 season, some NHL experience. Without a summer prospects camp and no ‘Youngstars Tournament’ in September, the Oilers felt it was important to get the former second-round pick some work. These 13 days will be a learning experience for him.
Wells is a surprise addition who struggled at both the AHL and ECHL levels in 2019-20. It’s doubtful he gets carried into the bubble, but with Green opting out there is an extra spot. Perhaps a fourth goalie does make the cut for insurance purposes.
Bubble Roster Goalies: Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen, Stuart Skinner
Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear, Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell, Matt Benning, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg
Broberg, like Rodrigue, is only coming to camp to get a little NHL exposure and some work in with the coaching staff. He will not play for the Oilers in the postseason. In fact, Broberg won’t play in North America in 2020-21. He’s slated to play another season in the SHL, and will report to a Swedish training camp later this summer.
The Oilers, as a result, will only carry nine defensemen into the bubble.
Expect the Swedish duo of Klefbom and Larsson to see time together, while Nurse and Bear get second-pairing duties. Matt Benning seems like a lock to play with Mike Green opting out, while Jones and Russell will both likely see time on the third-pairing, left side.
Bouchard and Lagesson will also serve as extras to start the playoffs, but don’t be surprised if either gets into game action. Lagesson showed well in brief NHL time this past season, while Bouchard’s offensive skills are certainly up to par.
Bubble Roster Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear, Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell, Matt Benning, Caleb Jones, Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson
Tyler Ennis, Connor McDavid, Zack Kassian, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, Andreas Athanasiou, Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, James Neal, Jujhar Khaira, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Gaetan Haas
The Oilers will carry 18 forwards into camp, and I believe into the bubble. The club can afford to bring 31 skaters, so 18 forwards is certainly in the realm of possibility. With Green not playing, I’d even say it is likely at this point.
The only real question is, who will play with who? I have a hard time breaking up the Draisaitl line with Nugent-Hopkins and Yamamoto on his wings. They were the league’s best second line for two months, and the club was 14-5-5 with them together.
Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian are almost certainly going to play together, but who goes on the left wing? My vote would be for Tyler Ennis, who does a lot of things well and has a knack for finishing off chances. He’s also a veteran with playoff experience from his time in Buffalo, Minnesota and Toronto.
Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald, two of Tippett’s main PK’ers, will almost certainly play on the third line. Andreas Athanasiou, who brings lots of speed and skill, and some size, makes sense to play with them. The leaves James Neal, Jujhar Khaira and Alex Chiasson on a heavy line that could succeed against the depth players of the Blackhawks.
Haas and Nygard impressed me in year one. Haas got better as the season went on, and although not overly skilled, he does a lot of little things well. Nygard can skate like the wind and has some skill, too. I’d imagine both see the ice during the playoffs.
Bubble Roster Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Connor McDavid, Zack Kassian, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, Andreas Athanasiou, Riley Sheahan, Josh Archibald, James Neal, Jujhar Khaira, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Gaetan Haas
Projected Game 1 Lineup:
Tyler Ennis – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Andreas Athanasiou – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
SCRATCHED: Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Gaetan Haas, Joakim Nygard, Ryan McLeod, Patrick Russell, Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson, Caleb Jones, Stuart Skinner