The Edmonton Oilers have internal options to replace top defender Adam Larsson, who unfortunately suffered a major injury – a fractured fibula – in the very first game of the year. The team has recalled promising prospect Evan Bouchard and could also turn to another prospect in Caleb Jones or veteran Brandon Manning, who both remain with AHL Bakersfield. However, none of those three will be a seamless fit as Larsson’s stand-in and Edmonton will feel his absence even if the rest of their defense corps steps up. Facing a six-to-eight week prognosis, the Oilers may need to look elsewhere if they want to avoid a rocky start through the first two months of the season. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the team is not necessarily looking for a trade already, but is not opposed to going outside the organization to try to replace Larsson. McKenzie opines that a similar defender, one who can log major minutes and play a shutdown role, is not exactly available though. The one name McKenzie mentions as an affordable acquisition is recently-waived veteran Thomas Hickey of the New York Islanders, but McKenzie doubts that Hickey could adequately fill the role left by Larsson and feels his three-year contract is not worth the gamble. It seems the team is most likely going to work with their current group for the time being, with Kris Russell the most likely candidate to move up to the first pair, and will wait to see if an addition is truly needed. Of course, if the Oilers decide to truly try to replace a player of Larsson’s ability via trade, Jesse Puljujarvi remains the organization’s biggest trade chip.
- Ahead of the San Jose Sharks’ season opener, it seemed that the final blue line spot was a decision between rookie Mario Ferraro and veteran Dalton Prout. However, both defenders ended up playing as Erik Karlsson missed the game for the birth of his child. The decision won’t be very difficult moving forward though. After missing the team’s morning skate, The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz has confirmed that Prout is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury suffered in the opener. There is no timeline for his return, meaning Ferraro could have plenty of time to assert himself as a regular member on the San Jose blue line. Additionally, the team has recalled defenseman Jacob Middleton to add some more depth on the back end.
- It looked like Antti Raanta would be healthy to begin the season for the Arizona Coyotes, but the team opted not to rush him back, likely in light of how Darcy Kuemper played in his stead last season. Raanta began the season on a conditioning stint with AHL Tuscon, but it was unclear if he would actually see action or simply treat the experience like an extended training camp. Wonder no more, as beat writer Alexander Kinkopf reports that Raanta will actually get the call for the Roadrunners in their season opener tonight. Kinkopf relays word from Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet, who says that Raanta wanted to “sharpen his game” with live action before returning to regular NHL duty and he will get that opportunity tonight. It remains unclear how long the Coyotes expect to be without Raanta as he’s on a conditioning stint, but with the recently-extended Kuemper and recently-claimed Eric Comrie in the mix, with a serviceable third-string in Adin Hill around as well, the team may be looking to make a trade from their goalie depth upon Raanta’s return.