This has not been a good week for the Edmonton Oilers. More losses, more COVID protocol additions, trade concerns, and coaching questions highlight a few days that have everyone wondering what comes next for the team, its players and management.
The sky appears to be falling but as forward Zack Kassian said, “There will be highs and lows in a year. We had a real high to start and now we are in the lows of low. I’m confident we will get out of it. It has taken longer than we’d like… we just need to find a way to win the first one and go from there.”
11 Placed In COVID Protocol
According to the Oilers official website, the team has placed 11 people in COVID protocol, including five players and six members of the support staff. While names like Connor McDavid, Derek Ryan and Tyson Barrie were already on the list, the following players have been added:
- Kailer Yamamoto
- Evan Bouchard
- Slater Koekkoek
- Brendan Perlini
- Ilya Konovalov
As for what this means for the scheduled game against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, time will tell. This would be at least eight players out of the lineup due to COVID. If anyone else gets added between Saturday and Sunday, one would have to assume the league would need to look at postponing that game.
Dylan Holloway Skating With the Team
If there’s one shining bright light on the Oilers this week, it’s that highly-touted prospect Dylan Holloway was skating with the club at practice and the Oilers say he looks good, only needing to be cleared by medical staff before likely being sent down to the AHL to work with Jay Woodcroft in Bakersfield.
“He was an excited kid out there today,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. With the roster news, it’s hard to rule out the idea that Holloway could get a look if he’s getting closer to a return. After missing months with a hand/wrist injury, Tippett added, “Hopefully, he gets up and going and gets an opportunity, whether it’s in Bakersfield or here.”
Kassian said of watching Holloway’s work this season, “He’s always in the gym, he’s working extremely hard with our skating coach David Pelletier, so it’s nice to see him finally be able to take in a practice.” He added that the hard work seems to be paying off and believes Holloway has a bright future with the team.
Carey Price on Oilers Radar?
Eric Engels of Sportsnet recently reported that he could see both the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche as potential landing spots for veteran netminder Carey Price. There’s no guarantee Price is traded and no guarantee he’ll even return to the NHL this season, but if he does, many believe it could be to showcase himself for a potential trade.
The Oilers would have trouble making this trade work but Engels believes it could be an option if Montreal retains half of Price’s salary and takes a contract with money back.
Koskinen Could Go Down, Stuart Skinner Come Up
Jason Gregor recently chatted with Frank Seravalli during a Daily Faceoff podcast and noted that he thinks the Oilers will make a goaltending change and send Mikko Koskinen down to Bakersfield and bring Stuart Skinner up. Noting that the team could make other roster changes, this would be the big one and potentially a move that remains a permanent fix unless injuries or illness create an unavoidable situation where something needs to change.
The Oilers might have seen all they want to with Koskinen and Skinner has played incredibly well in the AHL since going back down there. There’s an internal belief that Skinner’s numbers in the NHL to start the season were not reflective of how good he was and that he’s earned a longer look.
Has Markus Niemeläinen Earned The Last Left-Shot Spot?
Gregor also noted that defenseman Markus Niemeläinen is potentially the guy the Oilers are looking at fill the final left-shot spot in the team’s defense corps. They really liked the different and physical element Niemeläinen brought to the lineup and his injury was just poor timing.
Niemeläinen was on the ice today for the Oilers optional practice. He’s trying to work himself back up to speed and recover. Once he’s ready, it is believed he’ll be a priority over players like Phillip Broberg, Dmitri Samorukov and William Lagesson.
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.”