Following last night’s 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets and today’s practice at Rogers Place, the Oilers cut 13 players off their training camp roster.
Forwards Evan Polei and Chad Butcher were released from their ATO’s, while veteran forwards Ryan Hamilton, Josh Currie and Zach O’Brien were released from their PTO’s. All five of those players are signed to AHL contracts, and will report to Bakersfield this weekend for AHL training camp.
NHL contract wise the Oilers assigned goalie Shane Starrett, defenders Ethan Bear, Ben Betker and Ziyat Paigin and forwards Kyle Platzer, Greg Chase, Braden Christoffer and Joe Gambardella to Bakersfield of the AHL. They too will report to California this weekend for AHL training camp.
None of these decisions are really a surprise. While I wanted to see Butcher in a preseason game, it was obvious he and Polei weren’t at all in the NHL plans for this season. They’ll now have a chance to establish themselves early as top-six options with the Condors.
Hamilton, Currie and O’Brien are all in the same boat as Butcher and Polei, except their NHL futures are likely nonexistent. They are helpful for the AHL squad and will help the Condors compete this season.
As for the NHL contracts, also no surprises here. Platzer, Chase and Christoffer are all in danger of falling off the proverbial cliff and out of favor in the organization. They haven’t done much to standout and have yet to have breakout AHL seasons. This coming winter will decide their future with the organization.
Betker, Bear, Paigin and Gambardella will be worth watching in California this winter, but they too need development time and weren’t close to outperforming the remaining group. It’s possible we see one or more of these guys during the season depending on their AHL performance.
Rookie Shane Starrett should get a heavy workload this winter, and I look forward tracking his progress in either the ECHL or the AHL. I’d wager he starts the season as the starter in the ECHL.
Next up for the Oilers is a preseason game tomorrow night at home against Vancouver, followed by another game Saturday night versus Winnipeg. I expect the next round of cuts will take place on Sunday.