In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the team is preparing for a Saturday night game against the Calgary Flames and there are roster changes, questions about deployment, injuries, and there are players to watch heading into a Battle of Alberta that will include fans in the building. The Oilers are excited about this game and Edmonton badly wants a win here and to earn another two points.
Kassian Returns to the Team
After falling on the ice and being knocked unconscious, Kassian has cleared concussion protocols and is ready to return. He says he feels good and isn’t at all concerned about having to fight if the situation calls for it against a much heavier Flames team. He looks at his fall as a fluke thing that has never happened to him before but can happen in these situations.
Kassian will slot in on the third line alongside Warren Foegele and Derek Ryan. Head coach Dave Tippett said it was a line he is counting on and noted, “The last game they played they looked like a line that could work.” Tippett talked about the importance of having a line that could play heavy and Kassian will be a part of that. Ryan said, “I think we’re going to be a hard forechecking, hard-working line that likes to play in the O zone.”
The Oilers certainly don’t want to get into a physical battle with the Flames, but they’ll want to be able to withstand what will likely be an attempt by Calgary to rattle the Oilers skilled players. If they can weather the storm, Edmonton is hoping to out-gun Calgary offensively.
Devin Shore Out
Devin Shore tweaked something in practice this past week and is being considered day-to-day. He won’t be in the lineup against the Flames Saturday. While his injury won’t affect how the Oilers look at him and his role on the team, it’s not a great start for a player who wants to cement himself a spot on this lineup after signing a two-year deal.
Zach Hyman Getting Praise
There is a lot of talk about how well Hyman played against the Vancouver Canucks in the home opener and first game of the Oilers season. I was shocked to hear that Tippett was choosing to separate Hyman from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but am glad to admit that he drove the play far more than I ever expected him to. He made Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto better and Tippett is going back to the well with that deployment again.
Hyman will start tonight’s game on the second line and likely get some power play time on the top unit. The Oilers are hoping to get more than two chances on the man advantage while limiting how many penalties they take.
Hyman was arguably the best forward on the ice for both teams against Vancouver. Needless to say, if he continues to play like this, Oilers’ fans will fall in love with this guy in a hurry.
Evan Bouchard Minutes
One player to watch tonight will be Bouchard who played a ton more minutes than most people probably would have assumed in the opening game of the season. Tippett was happy to go with the young blueliner who is hoping to move from the third pairing to a top-four pairing at some point this season. He’ll be playing alongside Slater Koekkoek on Saturday, but watch for Bouchard to get more ice time as the game goes on.
One of the things Tippett said in his review of Bouchard’s play on Wednesday was how good he looked on the penalty kill. The assumption is often that skilled players of Bouchard’s pedigree are just offense, but Tippett says the blueliner has taken a liking to playing on the penalty kill and his hockey smarts and skill could make him extremely efficient at it.
In a way, Bouchard is connected, (but he also isn’t) to Ethan Bear. Bear is getting early praise in Carolina and for fans to accept this trade and not poo-poo all over it as the season rolls along, Bouchard will have to show he’s improving incrementally as the season rolls along.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”