Oilers News & Rumors: Puljujarvi, Keith, Nugent-Hopkins, Koekkoek

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the information filing in is mostly lineup and COVID related as the Oilers try to put together a full roster that will play against the Seattle Kraken in one of the few games still remaining on Saturday’s NHL schedule. After a handful of games were postponed, the Oilers are playing, but they are down a number of players.

The way the Oilers are dropping like flies, one has to wonder if there’s still a chance tonight’s 8 PM MT start will be postponed.

Puljujarvi Latest Addition to COVID Protocol List

The Oilers just announced that Jesse Puljujarvi is out for Saturday’s game. Mere hours before the contest, he’s been added to the COVID protocol list, joining Duncan Keith, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Devin Shore, and Dave Tippett. This is a big loss for the Oilers as Puljujarvi was just starting to get hot again and had two goals in the opening period of Thursday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Jesse Puljujarvi Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Oilers chose not to skate Saturday morning to try and avoid more losses before Saturday’s game. The Puljujarvi announcement came after coach Glen Gulutzan spoke to the media and said the Oilers were feeling pretty good and were working through all of this as a team. There’s been no feeling of the players thinking they have it as most of the names being pulled aren’t feeling sick in any way.

Slater Koekkoek Slots In

Helping give the Oilers six defensemen tonight versus Seattle, Slater Koekkoek comes in off of the injury reserve and will play on the Oilers’ left side. As for whether or not the long time away will hurt his game or hinder his ability to step right in and play a big role for the team, Keokkoek said, “It’s been challenging. Any time you’re out, it’s hard work to get back.”

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Where he’ll slot isn’t entirely clear, but the expectation is that Edmonton will stick with Darnell Nurse alongside Evan Bouchard, Koekkoek will play beside Cody Ceci, and William Lagesson will likely play with Tyson Barrie, who will still be quarterbacking the power play.

Oilers Call Up Marody and Griffith, Other Roster Changes

Seth Griffith and Cooper Marody have been recalled from Bakersfield so the Oilers have enough forwards to play the game tonight. Outside of defenseman Markus Niemelainen being placed on IR, Kris Russell was put on LTIR and Keith was added to the COVID protocol list this weekend, the forward lines are a mess.

The forward groupings will be interesting, especially if Zach Hyman is still unable to play. Whether the Oilers load the top line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl or try to balance out the roster with less experienced players may be a storyline to watch throughout the day, even throughout the game.

Ice Time for Everyone

With such a limited roster and with call-ups playing in the game to help round out the Oilers’ roster, there will be no shortage of ice time says Gulutzan. Marody will draw in at center and will play the second-unit power play. Marody said of his opportunity, “I put a lot of work in Bakersfield. I took my game to another level.”

The Oilers don’t plan to hide the call-ups and will ask them for some energy. The hope is that their desire to show well will energize the team.

And, for players who are regulars, the trick will be to conserve them in spots they’re needed while also understanding they will play a lot. The Oilers don’t want to overload guys who have to play the penalty kill, so others might get chances to play in situations where they may not normally.

Mike Smith Not Back, Skinner Gets the Start

Stuart Skinner will go for the Oilers in net on Saturday. Smith is still not ready to go and there will have to be some adjustments made to the salary cap to reactivate Smith off of LTIR, as per Puck Pedia.

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