The Edmonton Oilers got some roster clarity on Saturday morning, and also attempted to create even more flexibility among their forwards. The club placed veteran F James Neal on waivers on Saturday morning, and also officially removed F Jesse Puljujarvi from the COVID-19 protocol list.
Puljujarvi and G Mikko Koskinen both missed Thursday night’s 3-0 victory in Montreal over the Canadiens due to COVID-19 concerns. Puljujarvi had an inconclusive test, and as a result was held out of Thursday morning’s pregame skate. The game was pushed back from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm eastern in order for more testing to be completed. Eventually, the game was played while Puljujarvi was added to the COVID-19 Protocol List. Koskinen, who was believed to be a close contact, was also held out but was NOT added to the list.
Koskinen’s absence was out of “an abundance of caution”.
The Oilers announced that Puljujarvi, who later tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, is eligible to return. Puljujarvi will be available for the Oilers on Monday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The same can be said for Koskinen.
There are no Oilers currently on the COVID-19 Protocol List at this time.
Neal Placed On Waivers
There was a surprising note shortly after noon eastern on Saturday. The Oilers waived veteran James Neal. Neal, who has two more seasons remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5,750,000, is in his second season with the Oilers after being acquired via trade from the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2019.
Neal has three points (2 g, 1 a) in nine games this season. He missed the entirety of training camp with an injury, then wasn’t activated from IR until the fifth game of the year.
It’s unlikely, thanks to his contract, that Neal will be claimed on waivers. If he is, the Oilers will open $5,750,000 on the cap, which honestly would be considered a win for the club. It could save them from having to buy Neal out this summer, or potentially attach a pick or prospect to him to get the Seattle Kraken to draft him this summer.
If Neal clears, he’ll be eligible for the club’s taxi squad.