Oilers Trim Roster, Major Decisions Still Loom

The Edmonton Oilers continue to trim their training camp roster as we get towards the final 23-man roster for opening night on Oct. 12. The Oilers’ roster now sits at 36 (as of this writing). The most recent reassignments include Eetu Laurikainen (G), Joey LaLeggia (D), Jujhar Khaira (F) and Mitch Moroz (F), who were all assigned to the Oilers AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. Edmonton also placed David Musil (D) and Taylor Beck (F) on waivers for the purpose of AHL re-assignment.

This leaves the Oilers with three goaltenders, 13 defensemen, and 20 forwards left in camp. The team will continue to trim their roster this week. It’s expected the team will start the year with two goaltenders, seven defensemen, and 14 forwards. Camp battles are intensifying, and several players are surprising early in camp.

So what’s the final roster going to look like? Here’s what we know and what’s left to figure out.


Cam Talbot

Jonas Gustavsson

Laurent Brossoit

The obvious result here is that Talbot, 29, will be the Oilers starter. The not so obvious is who the backup will be when the season starts. Brossoit, 23, was pegged to be the Condors starter this season and the Oilers No. 3. The young goaltender struggled when he was handed the reigns as the Oilers backup following the Anders Nilsson trade, so the team signed free agent Jonas Gustavsson this offseason. Through the preseason, Brossoit has looked good; battling through traffic to stop pucks, playing calm and square to the shooter.

Related: Oilers Trim Camp Roster to 36 Players

Related: Updated Oilers Camp Roster

Edmonton has just three preseason games remaining and will need to figure out what to do in goal behind Talbot. The betting man would say that Gustavsson will be given the net behind the Oilers starter. Brossoit is still waiver-exempt, and there isn’t a situation where the team is being forced to keep him on the main roster. That said — Gustavsson, 31, is on a one-year deal and the team could do something similar to what they did with Anders Nilsson last year: trade him mid-way through the year and give Brossoit the crease. That said, another year in the AHL playing a heavy workload won’t kill Brossoit’s development either.



Oscar Klefbom

Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera

Mark Fayne

Darnell Nurse

Brandon Davidson

Jordan Oesterle

Eric Gryba

Griffin Reinhart

Matthew Benning

Mark Fraser

Dillon Simpson

Andrew Ference (INJ)

Six spots on the Oilers defense will be spoken for; it’s the seventh and eighth spots that are uncertain. Oesterle and Benning have both looked good in the preseason and Reinhart has shown that his skating still needs to improve to get up to NHL standards. Gryba is making the most of his professional tryout (PTO). Mark Fraser hasn’t exactly stood out, and brings a rather one-dimensional game to the Oilers defense. The likes of Oesterle and Benning have better all-around skills in comparison, and that puts them in better positions to start with the big club over Fraser.

Reinhart did finish the year with the Oilers last season and improved his overall game as the year went on with the Condors. That said, how much of that will factor into the final decision of who stays? All three are waiver-exempt so the team wouldn’t lose whichever player they send to the AHL. A decision on Gryba’s contract status will be known in the next week or so.



Milan Lucic

Connor McDavid

Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Jesse Puljujarvi

Patrick Maroon

Leon Draisaitl

Kris Versteeg

Drake Caggiula

Mark Letestu

Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks

Anton Lander

Nail Yakupov

Jere Sallinen

Tyler Pitlick

Tyler Benson (INJ)

Iiro Pakarinen

Anton Slepyshev

Above isn’t the Oilers exact depth chart. McLellan has been trying several combinations up front as the preseason enters the final week. What we know, is that eight of the twelve starting spots are known. From the looks of it; the Oilers top line will be Lucic, McDavid, and Eberle. There is another pairing of Pouliot and Nugent-Hopkins and then Maroon likely with Draisaitl. Kassian and Letestu will be locked for the fourth line, but everything else is up in the air.

Related: Pakarinen Out For a Month

It’s a murky situation with Caggiula, Yakupov, Versteeg and Puljujarvi still jockeying for position in the Oilers top-nine. Hendricks factors in as the 12th-14th spot, but Pitlick has done everything he can to start the year with Edmonton. Who hasn’t shown much? Three Europeans in Pakarinen, Sallinen, and Slepyshev. Pakarinen is out for at least a month with a lower-body injury, according to head coach Todd McLellan.

What Does It All Mean?

Oilers Roster
Drake Caggiula (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Edmonton doesn’t have much in the way of contractual liabilities that will muddy the construction of their opening night roster. The guys like Ference and Pakarinen will both be put on the injured reserve (IR). There are no one-way contracts the team needs to protect from the waiver wire, outside of Pitlick. So, the players that play the best will be here on Oct. 12.

In goal, it’ll likely mean the team will start the year with Talbot and Gustavsson. Brossoit will get a heavy workload with Laurikainen backing him up in the Condors crease. Nick Ellis, a college prospect the team signed this summer, will likely be the organization’s ECHL starter.

On defense, you’re looking at Klefbom-Larsson, Sekera-Fayne, Nurse-Davidson as the top-six. Gryba will more than likely get signed and be the seventh defenseman. It was a role he carried out admirably last year, and there is more to the overall development of Benning, Reinhart, Oesterle and company to start the year playing minutes instead of sitting in the press box. If the team does go with eight defensemen, look for Benning to secure that final spot. He’s just been head and shoulders above the rest of the class.

Up front, the lines are close to being set. Lucic-McDavid-Eberle and Pouliot-RNH-Puljujarvi seem set at the moment. Puljujarvi has been lights-out, and he’s pulled ahead of Versteeg and Yakupov for that top-six spot on RW. The third unit is where things get a little messy. Maroon and Draisaitl look like locks, and the third-line RW spot could end up going to one of Versteeg, Yakupov or even Caggiula if the team moves him over to the right side. Versteeg has looked good, and it’s not farfetched to see him get a one-year deal in the next week or so.

It’s possible the final third line RW spot could trickle-down implications on who ends up with Letestu and Kassian on the fourth line. Overall, it could very well be possible Versteeg and Caggiula start with the Oilers bottom six, with Hendricks and Yakupov starting the year as the spare forwards.

Whichever way this shakes out, Edmonton finally has some balance, and the team will be competitive for an entire season, instead of being out of the running by November-December.

Exciting times in Edmonton.