When it comes to franchise centerpiece Connor McDavid, the Oilers aren’t taking any chances. When asked about how many games McDavid would play in the coming preseason, new GM Ken Holland was very honest: “Either one at most or very likely zero… I’d rather be safe than sorry.” He took it further than that as well, stating that if McDavid is not fully ready for Opening Night, he won’t play. McDavid has spent the off-season rehabbing a leg injury suffered late in the regular season, but has already been skating with his teammates and early reports are cautiously optimistic that he will be at full strength come October. Holland and company will play it safe though if their star player isn’t back to 100% in time and don’t appear willing to risk that status in the preseason either.
- Holland also spoke about estranged winger Jesse Puljujarvi, but it was a similar refrain. “I believe there are teams out there that are interested,” he said, adding “I’m not going to force something. If it’s there I’ll explore it. If it’s not, I am prepared to sit.” Puljujarvi recently signed with Karpat of the Finnish Liiga, but Edmonton doesn’t seem fazed by the change in status quo. The team will retain his NHL rights no matter what and have held steady in their message that they will hold out for what they deem is a fair price for the young winger, even if that means he plays in Europe all season. The 2016 fourth overall pick recorded just nine points in 46 games last season and so far teams seem reluctant to pay up for his potential.
- The Oilers have announced their first round of training camp cuts today, sending several rookie game invites away before the NHL veterans join the team-owned prospects on the ice. Three of those participants were re-assigned to AHL camp with the Bakersfield Condors. While Steven Iacobellis and Jakob Stukel were not a surprise, having signed with Bakersfield this off-season, defenseman Brendan De Jong will also be given a chance to win a spot with the Condors. De Jong, a former Carolina Hurricanes prospect, was not tendered a qualifying offer this summer and became a free agent. With both incredible size and offensive instincts, De Jong has been a valuable member of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks over the past few years and could still turn out to be an effective pro.