It’s been a good start for the Edmonton Oilers in terms of wins and losses this season. The Oilers are 2-0 so far, although the team’s play hasn’t been that stellar. Still, they are winning and one cannot fault the bottom line.
The team heads into Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for their Tuesday night’s tilt against the New York Islanders. It’s interesting how much Canadians appreciate the game more than many other US locations. The Islanders were once a dynasty, but now you can go to one of the team’s home games for $6. Imagine trying to get a ticket in Edmonton for that price. You simply can’t.
Here on NHLTradeTalk.com, we will try to offer an update on each Canadian team’s news at least once weekly. This is our first edition of the Oilers’ news.
Item One: Russian Prospect Anton Burdasov Wants Another NHL Chance
Anton Burdasov is a 28-year-old prospect with size and speed. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Russian winger was a late addition to the Oilers’ training camp, but he made a good impression on head coach Dave Tippett. Still, the Oilers cut him. He promptly returned to the KHL, and there he will play for SKA St. Petersburg.
However, it looks as if the Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland will travel to Russia sometime during the 2019-20 season with a contract offer in hand for next season. If he could make the Oilers sometime in the future, that would be of high value to the team.
Item Two: Mikko Koskinen Will Get Some Minutes on the Oilers’ Road Trip
According to head coach Dave Tippet, Mikko Koskinen will get at least one start during the Oilers’ upcoming road trip. Last season’s starting goalie, has been a fixture on the bench as the backup for the first two games of the season, and newcomer Mike Smith has backstopped the Oilers to a pair of victories (sloppy as they were).
The 6-foot-7, 202-pound Finnish goalie expected to be the Oilers’ starting goalie this year, but when the regular season rolled around, he was replaced by veteran Smith. Smith’s claim to fame is that he is one of the best puck-handling goalies in the NHL.
In fact, when present-day hockey analyst Brian Burke was the Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations, he was quoted as saying that Smith’s ability to control the play by controlling the puck made an invaluable difference for the Flames. Specifically, Burke noted, “He gets behind the net and stops the puck and moves it and our D are not getting hit nearly as much or as hard or as often as they did a year ago. We’re down over 100 hits on our top four defencemen over this stretch of the season.”
Item Three: Newcomer Riley Sheahan Cleared to Play
In early September, veteran 27-year-old center Riley Sheahan was signed as a way to add depth to the Oilers’ bottom-six. Sadly for him and for the Oilers, a concussion forced him to will miss a number of games to start the season. Finally, the Oilers announced that Sheahan has been cleared to play and it looks like he’ll draw into the lineup on Tuesday. Of course, he will be checked out prior to the game to ensure he’s ready to go.
Sheahan agreed to a bargain one-year $900,000 contract with the Oilers. Last season, he split his playing time (he played in 82 games) between the Florida Panthers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. In total, he scored nine goals, 10 assists, for 19 points. He’ll play in the bottom six, but he also has some skill as a penalty killer.
Item Four: Why Did the Oilers Fail to Sign Josh Ho-Sang?
There was a lot of talk about the New York Islanders’ prospect not being claimed off waivers by any team, in this case the Oilers. So why, when Ho-Sang was placed on waivers, did no one pick him up? He had put Islanders’ general manager Lou Lamoriello in a bit of a pickle when Ho-Sang’s agent asked the Islanders to trade him.
In the case of the Oilers, there was a belief that – as much of a prospect as Ho-Sang might be, he would not be guaranteed a spot in the top-six so it would not be a good risk.
Ho-Sang has been unable to earn a full-time role with the Islanders since being selected by the team in the first round of the 2014 draft, but he’s shown some potential during his limited time with the Islanders, scoring seven goals and 24 points in 53 games. The 23-year-old forward believes he’ll have a better shot at a consistent NHL role with a different organization.
Good luck to him. I’m not a general manager but he seems the kind of player that a team might take a flyer on. He has a bargain contract, at just under $900,000 per season and – well – one never knows.
Item Five: How Do the Oilers Replace Adam Larsson?
The Oilers’ opening-night victory against the Vancouver Canucks didn’t come without a cost. The team lost stalwart defenseman Adam Larsson with an ankle injury. News is that he’ll be out for up to two months. That leaves the team with a problem. How can he be replaced? He’s part of the team’s top defensive pairing and, without him, they have a big hole to fill.
For now, it looks as if the team will replace the big Swede with Ethan Bear, who shows up paired with Darnell Nurse on the depth chart. However, they might also use Kris Russell, the shot-blocking machine, who’s recently been playing on the team’s third defensive pairing. We will see against the New York Islanders tonight.
My prediction for tonight’s game is 5-3 Oilers. I believe James Neal will score another goal.