Oilers News & Rumors: Russell, Kassian, Draisaitl, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is great news out of Edmonton as the Oilers are getting a few key players back from injury, Leon Draisaitl is one point away from 100, and Zack Kassian is looking to make a big impression now that he’s back in the lineup after serving a seven-game suspension.

Russell Is Back In

The Edmonton Oilers have activated Kris Russell from the LTIR and the defenceman is set to slide into tonight’s lineup as the Winnipeg Jets come to town in an important game for Edmonton.

Finally back from a concussion he sustained in January, he’s been out action since January 30 and despite often being underappreciated, he’s been missed, especially with Oscar Klefbom also out of the lineup. Russell will slot in alongside Matt Benning.

Unfortunately, newly acquired defenseman Mike Green will miss his first as an Oiler after being traded for at the NHL Trade Deadline. Green is out four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL and the Oilers are hoping to have him back sometime before playoffs begin.

In a coinciding move to Russell coming off LTIR, the Oilers also placed Joakim Nygard on the LTIR as he recovers from a broken hand suffered in a game against Calgary a number of weeks ago.

Zack Kassian will also return after serving the last of his seven games for kicking Erik Cernak with his skate blade.

Related: Is Yamamoto the Oilers’ Missing Link?

Yamamoto Still Out

Unforunately, while the Oilers get Russell and Zack Kassian back, Kailer Yamamoto is still not quite ready to go. He took a full practice with the Oilers but “He’s close but he won’t play,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett told the Edmonton media today.

Kailer Yamamoto Oilers
Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He added that Yamamoto likely could have gone but because he’s smaller and bit more tenacious in the way he plays, Edmonton thought it best to give him a little more time. Tippett explained:

“Hopefully we get him back Monday or on the trip some time… The way he plays, the tenacity he plays with, we want to make sure that there’s no setback so we want to give him a couple of extra days here.”

Alex Chiasson will slot in along with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. James Neal is also still out and Mike Smith will get the start in net.

Related: Origins of Every NHL Team: Western Conference

Athansiou Hoping to Impress on Home Ice

The good news is that Andreas Athanasiou’s injury was also only minor and he will not miss any game time as he’s back in the lineup Saturday. He’ll play with Connor McDavid on Edmonton’s top line.

This will be Athansiou’s first home game with Edmonton and said, “After joining the team on the road, it felt good to come back here & get settled in. I’m looking forward to tonight.” It will be interesting to see if that line has any extra giddy-up in their step. Once again, he’ll play with Tyler Ennis as the two will flank McDavid and try to continue their early chemistry.

Related: NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Rangers, Flyers, Oilers, More

Draisaitl One Point From 100

One of the storylines Oilers fans will be watching tonight is how Draisaitl plays as he’s only one point away form 100 on the season. This will be his second season, a back-to-back, where he was 100-plus points.

If he’s successful — and there’s very little reason to doubt he will be — he’ll become the 7th player in Oilers history, the 43rd in NHL history and the only German-born player to have more than 100 points in consecutive seasons.

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