Oilers News and Rumors: Bouchard, Neal, Cuts, More

In today’s news and rumors report on the Edmonton Oilers, the team made a round of cuts heading into their first preseason game, one prospect dominated at the rookie scrimmage and there is excitement coming from James Neal about being paired with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Oilers Make First-Round of Cuts

The Edmonton Oilers have made their first rounds of cuts for the 2019-20 NHL Preseason. Much like the others who were sent back to their teams, there were no real surprises.

In this round they’ve sent 2019 second-round draft pick, forward Raphael Lavoie back to the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL and 2018 second-round pick, goaltender Olivier Rodrigue to the Moncton Wildcats, also of the QMJHL.

Jim Matheson writes, “Lavoie didn’t jump out at prospects camp and was just OK at Oiler main camp which is why the 2nd round draft is already going back to junior.”

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Tyler Benson Fighting for Job on Oilers Main Roster

One prospect who hasn’t been cut yet and might actually last longer than some had expected is Tyler Benson. Speculation is Benson will be given every opportunity to earn a spot on the Edmonton Oilers’ roster. He had a strong first scrimmage of the season.

Tyler Benson Vancouver Giants
Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

“I’ve kind of been feeling better as it’s gone on. I’m feeling more comfortable with the guys here, the practices have been pretty intense, and going into this game, it was an intense game and guys were battling hard.”

source -‘Door open for Tyler Benson with Edmonton Oilers’ – Derek Van Diest – Edmonton Sun – 09/15/2019

Coach Dave Tippett said of Benson and his chances of making the Oilers, “He’s one of those guys that is a bubble guy for me right now.” He added, “I think he’s going to play (Monday) night and the next step for him is the exhibition games and we’ll see how it goes.”

The Oilers take on the Winnpeg Jets in the first preseason game of the year tonight. Benson will play on a line with Colby Cave and Patrick Russell.

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Bouchard Dominates Oilers Scrimmage

According to Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland, prospects will really need to show they deserve to be in the main lineup over others who haven’t played as well. If defenceman Evan Bouchard’s performance at the scrimmage the other day means anything, he’s gone a long way in getting noticed as someone not to ignore.

Evan Bouchard Oilers
Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers, 2018 NHL Draft, Dallas, TX, June 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bouchard scored two goals and added two assists for Team White in a 7-1 victory. He was all over the ice, pretty much dominated the game and stood out in a positive way.

Tippett said of Bouchard’s performance, “That’s what he does, it’s amazing, he finds ways to create opportunities, not just for himself but for teammates.” Tippett liked not just how offensive he was but how responsible defensively he was as well. “He had four points (Saturday) and was pretty solid defensively, so we’ll see what happens.”

Like Benson, Bouchard will be in the lineup on Monday. He’ll play on the third pair defense unit alongside William Lagesson.

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Neal Excited to Be Paired With Nugent-Hopkins

Tippet’s idea for the start of season seems to be to give Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a more stable linemate than he ‘s had in a while and to give James Neal a center that is coming off a huge season so he’ll rebound from last year’s disappointing campaign in Calgary. That’s why Nugent-Hopkins and Neal have been paired up on the second line.

And, Neal is excited about it.

Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s nice to be able to play with a high end centre like that,” said Neal, who plans on having a major rebound from the seven-goal season that spelled the end of his time with the Calgary Flames.

source – ‘Nuge and Neal hoping to light it up for the Edmonton Oilers’ – Robert Tychkowski – Edmonton Sun – 09/15/2019

Neal discussed how confident Nugent-Hopkins will be coming off a strong season. “He’s a guy who can put the puck in the net and he can pass it, so he’s dangerous,” he said. From Nuge’s perspective, he’s hoping to find a consistent linemate that he can build chemistry with.

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