Oilers News & Rumors: Khaira, Kulikov, Kahun, Nugent-Hopkins, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Dmitry Kulikov looks like he’s ready to go for Edmonton. Where will he play and who will be his defense partner? Meanwhile, Jujhar Khaira is already back on the ice at Oilers practice. It feels really early to be bringing him back, but is this a good sign for the forward? Dominik Kahun is getting a look on the top line with Connor McDavid and what does Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have to do to up his game?

Kulikov Ready to Go for Oilers

Expect to see Kulikov in for the Oilers on Monday as Edmonton takes on the Winnipeg Jets. From practice, it looks like he’s going to start out in a pairing with Adam Larsson, which is an interesting choice by head coach Dave Tippett.

In many ways, Kulikov and Larsson employ the same style of game. While Larsson is a bit more gritty a player, Kulikov is known to be a strong shutdown defenseman, good at breaking up the cycle. That Tippett is going with two similar guys on the same pair means one of two things: he either wants a shutdown duo that can take big minutes against other team’s top scorers, or he’s not keen on breaking up pairings he’s relied upon so far this season.

Related: 5 Oilers Who Can Reach Milestones Before the Season Ends

Khaira Back at Practice Already

This is not to suggest the Oilers are thinking about putting Khiara back in the lineup already, but the forward was skating with the team at practice Friday. This comes just a couple of days after he took a big hit from Alexander Romanov that left him wobbly and it appeared he might have suffered two hits in a short amount of time that were concussion concerns.

Jujhar Khaira Edmonton Oilers
Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

We assume this is great news for the player as it would only makes sense the Oilers medical staff thoroughly checked him out before letting him get back on the ice. Still, that won’t stop a lot of people from suggesting this is way too soon. We’ll see if the Oilers intend to play him on Monday with the expectation that Zack Kassian will miss some games with a left leg injury.

Kahun to Get a Look Beside McDavid

This is either a sign that things aren’t going well, or a sign that the coaching staff sees something in Kahun, but the forward was on the ice with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi on Friday. Kahun has struggled this season and not lived up to expectations when signed this past offseason.

He’s got six goals and 10 points in 37 games. The hope here must be that he’ gets a positive rub from being on that top line. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal took a look at the Kahun decision and wrote:

Kahun? He’s another glue player. He’s OK on defence. He moves the puck well. He’s not much of a sniper. But he’s smart and quick enough to work with McDavid. He doesn’t need the puck to play his “A” game. He reads the game well on the attack. He will almost certainly be as effective as RNH was on McDavid’s wing and he may even be better. Again, it’s worth trying out Kahun in this role to see if it works. If it doesn’t, the Oilers can then try someone else there, maybe Ryan McLeod if he holds up in third or fourth line duty.

source -‘ Edmonton Oilers promote Kahun to play with McDavid. Is this their best possible line-up? Maybe’ – David Staples- The Edmonton Journal – 04/23/2021

Related: Puljujarvi Could Become Second-Best Player from 2016 NHL Draft

The DRY Line Together

Part of the argument for trying Kahun on the top line is because Nugent-Hopkins just isn’t working out well in that spot and the Oilers need to get a second line going. It appears Tippet will go back to Leon Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto heading into Monday’s action.

We talked on a recent Oilers OverTime show about what how being out of the lineup hurt Nugent-Hopkins’ value and what he needs to do to in the playoffs to really make himself an indispensable player heading into unrestricted free agency this offseason. This line combination may be the best thing for him and a way to rocket-boost his production.

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