Oilers News & Rumors: Benson, Nygard, Neal, Tatar, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, rookie Tyler Benson will finally see his first action in the NHL on Thursday and he spoke to the media before the game. And, with Benson in, it means Sam Gagner will move up. In other news, Joakim Nygard’s injury is pretty serious but James Neal looks to be closer to a return. And, what is the latest trade buzz as the Oilers creep closer to the NHL Trade Deadline?

Benson Slots In, Finally

With a loss comes the potential for change. The Oilers didn’t play terribly against the Arizona Coyotes but a 3-0 defeat means new looks, specifically that forward Tyler Benson will see his first action in the NHL.

Benson was called up a week ago and has sat watching a couple of key games for the Oilers. As Edmonton was winning, he was getting familiar with the team and their systems but he’s ready to go and he’ll come into the lineup against the San Jose Sharks in front of a ton of family and friends. “It’s definitely been a long road but that’s what makes it more special to be at this point. I feel ready for it, I’m excited to do the best I can out there tonight, ” Benson said when speaking the media after practice.

He added, “I think being here for a weeks, it’s helped me.”

As Benson comes in on the fourth line, it appears Sam Gagner will be elevated to the first line alongside Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian.

Related: Myth of the Montreal Canadiens’ Early Success

Nygard Out Six-to-Eight Weeks

Likely hand-in-hand with the Benson news is news that Joakim Nygard’s injury isn’t short-term. He’ll be out six-to-eight weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken hand.

Nygard took a shot off the hand with less than a minute left in the first period of a game against the Calgary Flames. It didn’t seem like anything too serious at the time but he didn’t return and it was later revealed he’d broken the bones. According to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, he reportedly had surgery on the hand on Jan. 31.

James Neal Skating With Oilers

James Neal was back skating with the team after being day-to-day with a foot injury. He’s listed as an extra forward for the Oilers which means if he’s not in tonight, he’s likely close and could see some NHL action by the weekend.

James Neal Edmonton Oilers
James Neal, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers need Neal back in and shooting the puck. Before going down with the mysterious injury, he’d only scored 5 goals in his last 24 games and had a single shot in the last three games.

Jason Gregor reported that Neal told him he was dealing with an ankle issue so I suspect they will be cautious with his return timeline. “Sprains can be re-aggravated easily,” said Gregor.

Related: NHL Rumors: Flames, Kings, Sabres, More

More on Oilers Trade Buzz

As was reported in yesterday’s NHL rumor rundown, there was news from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun that perhaps the Oilers would make sense as a team interested in Mike Hoffman from the Florida Panthers. If so, it appears there are other teams also in the running.

Montreal Canadiens Tomas Tatar
Montreal Canadiens left wing Tomas Tatar (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

While that might be a less-likely move, the latest is that the Oilers have kicked tires on Tomas Tatar out of Montreal. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest 31 Thoughts column that the Oilers have “looked into” the Montreal Canadiens forward and this is a player Ken Holland is extremely familiar with.

It’s not a certainty the Montreal Canadiens move Tatar but as a team expected to be sellers, there are a few names popping up in the rumor mill when it comes to that franchise.

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