Oilers News & Rumors: Puljujarvi, Russell, Benson, Braun, Graves, Kubalik

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the NHL Trade Deadline is creeping closer and while the consensus opinion seems to suggest the Oilers won’t be terribly active, there are a few players insiders and media members are suggesting Oilers’ fans keep an eye on. Part of why the Oilers might not be busy is because they are starting to get some players back from injury and in many ways, these additions are like mini deadline deals.

Puljuarvi Returns to Lineup

Jesse Puljujarvi was activated off of IR on Thursday and will be in the lineup when the Oilers take on the Buffalo Sabres. Winners of three in a row, Edmonton is coming into two more games against opponents they should fare well against and Puljujarvi coming back is insanely good timing.

He was asked how he felt and the winger noted he was ready to come in a play at full speed and he felt, in a way, like it was the start of a new season. It is likely he’ll slot in on the top line with Connor McDavid.

Kris Russell Also Activated

Saying he was dealing with something, Kris Russell and the team decided it needed to be nipped in the bud. Russell is back from LTIR and ready to play a depth role on the Oilers’ blue line. He will be a welcome addition as the team has found themselves often bleeding chances against. The Detroit win on Tuesday — where the Oilers let Detroit score five goals after getting up 3-0 in the first few minutes — was a prime example of where a shot-blocker and stable veteran would have been helpful.

Russell hasn’t been in a game since Jan. 31 and had been hampered by a neck issue.

Tyler Benson Clears Waivers

The Oilers placed Tyler Benson on waivers this week and he cleared on Thursday. He’ll be loaned back to the Bakersfield Condors. Some will suggest this was done to make room for Puljujarvi while others will contend that Josh Archibald has shown in a short sample size that he’s worth keeping on the roster in any games the Oilers can get him into.

Tyler Benson Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Benson, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Benson has given the Oilers some decent defensive play but he’s not been able to offer offensive production and his shooting percentage is among the lowest on the team. It’s been a consistent case of him not being able to find a spot on this roster and hang onto it. There’s still certainly a question of whether he’s a legitimate NHL player or not.

Oilers Looking Into a Few Defensemen

A few sources have mentioned Justin Braun’s name in connection to the Oilers heading into the trade deadline. Edmonton has scouted Philadelphia and there’s a belief the Oilers like what Braun could bring, but there are other teams also interested in the defenseman as a potential trade deadline rental. So too, Braun is not the only defenseman the Oilers might be looking at.

Ryan Graves New Jersey Devils
Ryan Graves, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kurt Leavins said in his “9 Things” article that Braun is among a few names the team might be targeting. He also mentions names like Carson Soucy, Ryan Graves, Brett Kulak, Marc Staal and Nick Holden. He writes:

In the past I have mentioned, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun (expiring UFA at $1.8m). But perhaps with Cody Ceci, Tyson Barrie and Evan Bouchard all healthy they instead look at a left-handed shut-down option? … Of all these guys, I like Graves best. He regularly plays both sides, has had a 5v5 CF over 50% the last 3 seasons, is very physical and at just 26 years old…he would fold nicely into the rest of the core. We wait.

source – ‘As the Edmonton Oilers battle for a playoff spot their future percolates in Bakersfield: 9 Things’ – Kurt Leavins – Edmonton Journal – 03/13/2022

Related: Oilers and Flyers Emerging As Potential Trade Partners

Mark Spector also mentions that the Oilers could target Braun as he kills penalties and has 100 NHL playoff games of experience. He does suggest that the asking price will be out of the Oilers’ reach. Saying Holland is only going to give up a fourth-rounder or worse, Braun should fetch a higher return than that. It’s not clear what the Devils would want for Graves.

Dominik Kubalik on Oilers Radar?

A rumor that circulated a while back was that Edmonton might have some interest in forward Dominik Kubalik out of Chicago. That rumor has surfaced again as Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Blackhawks are making progress on a Kubalik trade. The Oilers are among the teams rumored to have an interest.

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug didn’t think the report was accurate, or at least not something that should be taken too seriously. He writes, “I suppose things can change quickly, but it is my sense that Kubalik is not on the Oilers radar at this moment in a meaningful way.” He added, “I believe the focus remains on some blue-line help. A depth F is a possibility but not at or near top of the list.”

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