Oilers News & Rumors: Bear, Neal, Turris, Puljujarvi, McDavid, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the Oilers will play against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday evening and head into the game with a 7-3-0 record in their last 10. The Jets won’t have Pierre-Luc Dubois in the lineup tonight and the Oilers have been getting scoring without huge offensive outbursts from Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. “We’ve played better,” head Coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve taken some steps forward here, which I’d like to see us continue to do. There’s lots to work on here but we feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

In other news, Ethan Bear isn’t quite ready to slot back in, James Neal has cleared waivers and the Oilers are moving him to the Taxi Squad, Jesse Puljujarvi is probably going to play and Kyle Turris said he wants to contribute more.

Bear Won’t Play Versus Jets

Tippett has relayed news that Bear won’t be playing tonight for the Oilers, even though he practiced on a pairing with Evan Bouchard on Sunday. Some are seeing this as a bit of downer, but the Oilers have plenty of options and the fact Bear is close to a return is a positive sign.

Ethan Bear
EDMONTON, AB – MARCH 3: Ethan Bear #74 of the Edmonton Oilers lines up for a face off during the game against the New York Rangers on March 3, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Honestly, there shouldn’t be a rush to get Bear back into the lineup. When he’s on, he’s one of the Oilers most steady and calming defensemen. But, he’s struggled at times this season and the team has others stepping up in his place and playing well. Evan Bouchard has been what Bear was to this team last season. Bouchard has come in, done his job better than most would have expected and he’s quickly making a case that there’s no reason to take him out of the lineup.

So too, players like Caleb Jones haven’t gotten much of a chance to slot back in because William Lagesson has also gotten a ton of praise and played a solid game when he’s called upon. The Oilers have too many able bodies and that’s a good problem to have.

Neal Clears Waivers and Will Go to the Taxi Squad

Devin Shore has been recalled and Neal has been loaned to the taxi squad. The Oilers placed Neal on waivers this weekend and no other team was willing to take his $5.75 million salary (not unexpected). The question was whether or not the Oilers would loan him to the taxi squad now that they could.

Whether it’s because he’s fallen out of favor, other players have looked better, or the Oilers just want to get a different look and keep players who have been sitting engaged, Neal will sit Monday night.

Turris Says His Legs Are Starting To Come Around

When asked about adjustments he may have made when joining the Oilers, Turris said, “there’s always an adjustment.” He added that he’s obviously not contributed as much offensively as he would have liked but it’s something he’s working on and he feels his legs are starting to come around. He said he’s felt good the past three or four games.

If the Oilers can get a bit more scoring from Turris, that would be a huge plus.

Puljujarvi Likely Back In After Being Cleared

Puljujarvi traveled back to Edmonton this weekend after being cleared from COVID protocol. He had a number of negative tests and was allowed out of isolation. He practice with the team, is likely back in for Monday’s contest and only missed one game despite being left out of a practice last week.

Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tippett discussed how everything went down and how the team dealt with Puljujarvi’s situation. The coach noted, “In Jesse’s case, you hate to see a young guy like that feel bad about how things turned out but everybody knows that’s the world we live in right now. He’s back, he’s smiling today, he’s working hard and it’s good to have him back.”

Draisaitl and McDavid Set to Explode?

In the past three games, both McDavid and Draisaitl have been excellent players but they’ve slowed from their torrid scoring pace. The Oilers are picking up wins regardless, but it almost feels as though both players are set to explode offensively.

So far this season, when either player has been held off the scoresheet, they’ve come out and responded with outstanding performances. Is tonight the night each has a multi-point game? Could they score three or four points each? It’s hard to put it past them based on the fact they’ve got a wide lead in NHL regular season scoring and have been relatively quiet over the past three contests.


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