The Edmonton Oilers have sent Markus Niemelainen to the minor leagues, clearing a roster spot for the imminent return of Evander Kane. Speaking with reporters including Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic today, Kane – who was a full participant at practice – explained that he is meeting with doctors later today.
Of course, the Oilers will have to make some other moves to activate Kane from long-term injured reserve. The team currently does not have the cap space to fit him back in, and will need to be rather creative to open it.
One easy way would be moving Kailer Yamamoto to LTIR, though that would require him to miss nearly a month. Yamamoto is still being evaluated, according to head coach Jay Woodcroft, after missing the last couple of games.
They could also just waive a player like Devin Shore, who also wasn’t at practice today. Ryan Murray, who hasn’t played since November, could also be shifted to LTIR depending on what other moves they make.
Either way, it’s the end of Niemelainen for a while, after he was essentially passed on the depth chart by Vincent Desharnais. The last two times Niemelainen appeared, he received just five and six shifts respectively. The 24-year-old defenseman will try to polish his game further in the minor leagues and wait for his next opportunity.