Prior to last night’s preseason tilt against the Winnipeg Jets, the Edmonton Oilers cut eight players from their training camp roster. The cuts bring Edmonton to 35 players remaining, meaning 12 more cuts are to be made before opening night.
There were some expected moves here, but also a few surprises in this round of cuts.
All eight players cut late yesterday afternoon will report to training camp with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
Forwards: Josh Currie, Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella and Patrick Russell
Defenders: Caleb Jones, Ryan Stanton and William Lagesson
Goaltenders: Dylan Wells
Up front, there is no surprise that Currie was sent to Bakersfield. While he earned a contract after another strong AHL season, he really was brought back to lead the Condors down the middle. I think it is important to have him there for the start of camp, as he’ll be a key player for them and likely won’t see NHL time this winter.
I’m a little surprised at the three other cuts, however. Gambardella is a player I like better than most, but he didn’t do much in camp and will head back for his second professional season in California. Benson looked really good in camp, and I thought the Oilers might give him a long look and a chance to make the roster, while Russell was a sleeper to make the club in my opinion.
It would have been easy, after a strong rookie camp and pair of preseason games, for Edmonton to give Benson a real chance to make the team. The fact they sent him to the AHL early to develop is a really good sign. Benson is going to be a player, but he isn’t ready yet. some seasoning in the AHL is NOT a bad thing at all.
Defensively, the only shock is Jones. I didn’t think he’d make the team but I thought he would get a longer look due to his skill set. If he improves his defensive coverage then he will without doubt be an NHL’er in short time.
The Oilers have 19 forwards, 12 defenders and four goalies in camp right now. I’d expect that number to get cut down after the weekend. The Oilers play tonight and then battle the Jets in Winnipeg on Sunday night. I suspect after that we will see the next round of cuts.
In goal, Shane Starrett is likely to be the next goalie cut as Al Montoya and Mikko Koskinen keep battling for the backup role behind Talbot. Koskinen will need to be better during the remainder of the preseason.
Defensively, I’d currently count Ethan Bear and Keegan Lowe as the next most likely to be sent to Bakersfield, while Cooper Marody, Brad Malone and Ryan McLeod could be among the next sent out up front.