For the final forty minutes of action on Sunday night, the Edmonton Oilers were the better of the two teams when they met the Winnipeg Jets in Manitoba. It wasn’t easy, but the Oilers were rewarded with a 4-3 regulation victory to move to 3-4-0 on the young season. Head Coach Dave Tippett isn’t resting on his laurels in victory, however.
The Oilers placed veteran forward Tyler Ennis on waivers Monday afternoon, indicating that lineup changes are coming for Edmonton. The team’s bottom-six forward group has struggled, failing to score a five-on-five goal until Kyle Turris lit the lamp in the second period of Sunday night’s victory.
“Yeah, we’re just looking for some flexibility in our lineup,” Tippett told reporters on Monday when asked if changes are coming. “With having eight D on the roster, it kind of limits your flexibility with forwards, so we’ll have some forwards that will have the flexibility to go back and forth to the taxi squad. It’s just flexibility more than anything in the lineup just to see where we want to go.”
Tippett could recall F Joakim Nygard from the taxi squad. Nygard, who has already cleared waivers and can freely go between the active roster and the taxi squad, adds an element of speed and skill to the bottom two lines. Jujhar Khaira, a physical penalty killer who has struggled at five-on-five, is also an option at forward. Defenseman Evan Bouchard, arguably the club’s top prospect, is also an option for recall if the club wants to spark the struggling powerplay.
No matter who it is that draws into the lineup for Ennis, they’ll be ready to go.
“The guys on the taxi squad have worked very hard. We’d like to make sure that people are getting an opportunity to show what they can do,” Tippett continued. “Those bottom couple lines are still fairly fluid here. We’re trying to find a nice rhythm there, so we’ll see where it goes tomorrow.”
With the top line of Connor McDavid centering Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi staying together, along with the Kahun/Draisaitl/Yamamoto line, there is opportunity on the third and fourth lines to help push Edmonton further. Ennis’ placement on waivers indicates change is coming as the group tries to find stride.
Perhaps it will be Nygard, perhaps it will be Bouchard as the seventh defenseman to spark the powerplay.