The Edmonton Oilers stunned the Winnipeg Jets in the final second of Sunday’s night game to take a 4-3 victory on the road. Today, they stunned fans when they placed veteran F and Edmonton product Tyler Ennis on waivers. Ennis, acquired via trade from the Ottawa Senators at the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, has scored zero points in four games this season and is a -4.
Ennis, who re-signed with the Oilers on a one-year contract in October, scored four points (2 g, 2 a) in nine regular season games after the trade last winter. He added two points (1 g, 1 a) in three playoff games against Chicago in August before suffering an injury that ended his time in the bubble.
Ennis has struggled this season, as has most of Edmonton’s bottom-six forwards. In four games, the veteran has a 38.03% Corsi For and has been outscored 0-4. In addition, the Oilers are managing just 38.10% of the shots when Ennis is on the ice. They have been outshot 26-16 through his less than forty minutes of five-on-five ice time.
Opponents also hold an 18-10 advantage in scoring chances against the Oilers with Ennis on the ice, and have ten high-danger chances against Edmonton’s four. Overall, Edmonton is getting just 35.71% of the scoring chances and 28.57% of the high-dangers with Ennis on the ice so far.
His expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 31.25% is also quite poor.
(All numbers via Natural Stat Trick)
The decision to waive Ennis, even amidst a tough start, is a surprise. Alex Chiasson, who has been a healthy scratch in both games since James Neal returned, was a more likely waiver candidate thanks to his contract. There was relatively no risk that he would be claimed, and it would be a positive if he was considering his salary. With Ennis, it seems more likely than not that he will in fact be claimed.
The Oilers will make a corresponding move prior to tomorrow night’s game against the Jets. The likeliest scenario is that one of Joakim Nygard and Evan Bouchard gets recalled from the taxi squad. Nygard, a left winger, is a natural fit to replace Ennis. His speed and skill could help spark the bottom-six.
Bouchard could make sense if Dave Tippett elects to dress eleven forwards and seven defenders tomorrow night. Darnell Nurse replaced Tyson Barrie on the powerplay Sunday, but that really isn’t his calling card. The powerplay is where Bouchard makes his money. Considering Edmonton’s struggles there early, it makes a lot of sense to give Bouchard a look on the player advantage.