The Edmonton Oilers‘ fourth line will be without their centreman for at least the next month. The team announced that Devin Shore would be out four to six weeks with a lower-body injury. Shore played in eight of the Oilers’ 10 games this season and was performing like a regular on the fourth line.
Shore contributed to the Oilers’ excellent team faceoff percentage with a 53.7 personal win percentage. He played at centre but could also play the wing. The line of Shore, Brendan Perlini, and Kyle Turris found chemistry in the preseason and attempted to get things going in the regular season. He has played on the fourth line with them more than anyone else this season.
Shore has produced one goal and one assist this season in his eight games, but both have come in the last three games. It’s pretty unlucky that just as he was finding his stride, he goes down to injury. Not to worry, though, as the Oilers have options to fill the void left behind in Shore’s absence. Turris is an option to spend time at centre, while Tyler Benson, Brendan Perlini, and Colton Sceviour should see a bit more time, and most notably, Ryan McLeod has been recalled after being sent down earlier in the season.
Ryan McLeod Can Slide in the Lineup Seamlessly
McLeod made the Oilers’ roster out of training camp after finishing up last season with the big club. He is a natural centreman and will only get time at that position with whatever wingers the team chooses to play him with. The Oilers wouldn’t have recalled him if they weren’t planning on getting him in a good amount of the games in Shore’s absence.
A big reason why they sent McLeod down in the first place was that he didn’t have to go through waivers like the others who were in contention of playing time on the fourth line were. It was also better for his development to play over 18 minutes a night in the American Hockey League rather than eight to 12 on the fourth line and not in any significant points in the game.
With the Oilers this season, McLeod has no room to move up, as the top three lines are set and will continue to remain the same as long as they continue to produce. He produced while in Bakersfield, recording one goal and five points in seven games. With Shore sidelined, McLeod is the top candidate to centre the fourth line right now.
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Turris Shifts to Centre
Another option is that Turris can take some games or shifts at centre on the fourth line. He has played in that position for most of his career and was signed last season to a two-year deal to hopefully be the Oilers’ third-line centreman. Last season was a down year for Turris, and by the end of the year, McLeod had assumed that third-line centre role.
This season, it seems as though Turris has performed better on the wing with Shore centering him. If McLeod doesn’t perform up to the standard the Oilers have set for him after the call-up, we could see Turris get more playing time down the middle. We may also see an adjustment period, as Turris could need time to form new chemistry with his new linemate after his chemistry with Shore was clear from the start. Maybe Turris will regain some of his old self after getting another shot at centre.
Opportunity for Oilers’ Fringe Players
With bad news and an injury for one player comes the opportunity for another to come in and earn a more permanent spot on the roster. As a fringe fourth-line player that doesn’t know if they will be in the lineup or scratched on any given night, the chance to get in more games and prove their ability is all they desire.
Three more Oilers players will get that opportunity with the injury to Shore: Benson, Perlini, and Sceviour. Perlini has played seven games for the team this season, the most of the bunch. Then there is Benson with three and Sceviour with only two. Each will be gnawing at the bits to stay in the lineup and be a part of this special group this season.
Perlini has the option to play either wing, so it makes him a bit more valuable in that he can slot in at right wing or left wing as needed. Benson only plays the left side, while Sceviour exclusively lines up on the right. They may try and expand their abilities to provide the team with an easier time slotting them into the lineup.
The Oilers’ fourth line has been the one thing that seems to be changing almost every night, and there are now five players competing for three spots in the lineup. Looking on the bright side of things, hopefully this lights a fire under each and every one of them and we see some more production and when every one of them gets a shot.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.