The third phase of the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp will start either July 10 as scheduled or July 13 as rumoured. The roster is now publicly available, thanks to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal (see below; from ‘Ethan Bear and Patrick Russell join Edmonton Oilers voluntary skate,’ Edmonton Sun, 06/29/2020). The list is down to 34 players. During Phase 3, the Oilers are expected to pare the list much closer to the 23-player active roster permitted and then, of course, they will choose 20 for any official game. As usual, some tough decisions will have to be made.
Oilers fans can guess the top 16 or 18 players who will make the active roster. We also know, or can assume, that Philip Broberg will be going back to SHL’s Skellefteå AIK, as reported here at The Hockey Writers.
Markus Granlund apparently signed a two-year deal with the KHL team Salavat Yulaev. Expect him to head to Russia next season. For now, he is around for his veteran presence.
5 likely Candidates
Forwards Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod, and Cooper Marody
Tyler Benson will be in Edmonton for Phase 3. He has helped his cause by being consistent in the AHL. For example, the 2016 second-round Oilers pick (32nd overall), scored 24 goals and 81 assists in 120 games for the Bakersfield Condors. He picked up those points in parts of three seasons from 2017-20. We expect the 22-year-old Edmonton native to be given every opportunity to make the team.
Regarding his NHL debut in February, Benson told Global News, “I learned the pace of play, the condition you need to be in to play at that level. I’m doing the best I can to get as fit as I can so the next time I do step on the ice, I can try to impress.”
Ryan McLeod and Cooper Marody are a couple of young centres who will get long looks, but the Oilers are thick with talent up the middle. In making the team, McLeod will have his work cut out for him. He may need at least one more season in the AHL with the Condors. However, he played well during 2019-20, picking up 23 points in 56 games. The 20-year-old was drafted 40th overall in 2018.
Marody was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 158th overall. He has been productive with 84 points in 91 games for Bakersfield since 2017. Right-handed shooters add extra cache as there are few around. He also plays a strong two-way game, and his value is potentially higher than his ranking. Since his NCAA days, he has been considered a responsible player. Expect the 23-year-old to get a little more playing time once the NHL returns.
Defencemen Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson
Expect rearguards Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson to show their skills, along with Broberg. Broberg needs the exposure to big-league North American hockey; this stint will be an eye-opener for him.
For Lagesson, at age 24, it is time for Goteborg, Sweden native to turn some heads at camp. At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, he likes to play the game in his own end, yet he possesses good finishing skills. The Oilers may be an offensive juggernaut, but they will need some defensive responsibility in the future. The Swedes have changed their game to a more physical brand over the past few years and Lagesson is very much a part of that metamorphosis.
Bouchard should make the team. The 20-year-old Oakville, ON native, is big at 6-foot-3, intelligent with the puck, and is another 200-foot player. His skating is smooth, fast, and versatile. He is fast off the mark, and he can skate for miles at speed. For a team that fancies itself a skating team, Bouchard should complement that nicely.
|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||Leon Draisaitl||Kailer Yamamoto|
|Tyler Ennis||Connor McDavid||Zack Kassian|
|Andreas Athanasiou||Riley Sheahan||Josh Archibald|
|James Neil||Jujhar Khaira||Alex Chiasson|
|Joakim Nygard||Gaetan Haas||Patrick russell|
|Tyle Benson||Cooper Marody||Markus Granlund|
|Oscar Klefbom||Adam Larson|
|Darnell Nurse||Ethan Bear|
|Kris Russell||Matt Benning|
|Caleb Jones||Mike Green|
|William Lagesson||Evan Bouchard|
During the 2019-20 season, Bouchard scored seven times for the Condors and picked up another 29 assists in 54 games played. At 19, he became the youngest Oilers defenceman to score a goal, when he potted his first against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals during a 4-1 win two seasons ago. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
Although each of the five players indicated should see some NHL game time for the benefit of both the team and the players, the Oilers will likely stick to the status quo. Secondary scoring is tough to come by during the cap era, and regardless, the Oilers look good now for the future.