- Josh Archibald has been confirmed as the Edmonton Oilers player that has declined the COVID-19 vaccination, meaning he may miss 30 or more games this season depending on travel restrictions. Archibald wasn’t on the ice today as he finished a quarantine, but is expected to join his teammates tomorrow. Duncan Keith, who was recently vaccinated in the U.S., will not participate in camp until next Friday as he finishes his own quarantine.
The Edmonton Oilers announced some bad news today, as GM Ken Holland told reporters that goaltender Alex Stalock is not expected to play this season. Stalock is being evaluated for a possible heart condition and though Holland explained that things could change down the road, he’s not counting on the depth goaltender.
Stalock, 34, is on the final season of a three-year deal signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2019 and carries a cap hit of $785K. He was expected to be the team’s third goaltender this season after he was claimed off waivers last season. Holland is not currently looking to add another veteran option to fill the role Stalock would have, meaning Stuart Skinner is likely once again penciled in as the team’s third option.
While losing a third-string goaltender is certainly not a doomsday scenario for the Oilers, it actually may be worse for them than most teams. Edmonton is currently heading into the season with 39-year-old Mike Smith as the presumptive starter and 33-year-old Mikko Koskinen behind him. The former was excellent last season and has been relatively healthy throughout his long career, but will be counted on to carry the load again without much of a depth chart behind him. Koskinen posted an .899 save percentage in 26 games and has struggled when handed the starting job for any significant stretch.
Skinner, meanwhile, made his NHL debut in 2020-21 and posted strong numbers at the AHL level. His development is coming along nicely, but as a 22-year-old goaltender with only one successful professional season under his belt, he’s still not ready to take on a big role with the Oilers. He may not need to, but losing Stalock puts him one step closer.
- Kevin Lowe, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2020 will have his No. 4 retired by the Edmonton Oilers on November 4. It’s fitting that the New York Rangers are in town on that night, as that’s the only other NHL team Lowe played for during his 19-year career. A veteran of 1,254 regular season games, Lowe was a core member of the Oilers teams that won five Stanley Cup championships in seven years and was still effective enough to help the Rangers take home the 1994 title at age-35. Lowe now serves as alternate governor for the Oilers after previously serving as head coach, general manager, and president of hockey operations for the club.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw during last night’s development camp tilt against the Calgary Flames, the team announced Sunday afternoon. The defenseman will be out six weeks, missing the rest of training camp and the beginning of the regular season.
Samorukov, originally a third-round pick of the Oilers in 2017, is returning to North American this season after spending last season on loan with CSKA Moscow in the KHL. He’s shown solid upside at all levels of the game, scoring 45 points in 59 games with the Guelph Storm in his last OHL season in 2018-19. He continued his development with a successful rookie campaign in the AHL, getting into 47 games with the Bakersfield Condors in 2019-20. Last season’s stint in Russia saw him post eight points in 48 games while exhibiting solid two-way skill.
While it was unlikely Samorukov would crack the roster for the Oilers this season, the injury likely hurts those chances even further. However, he’ll be an important part of the defense core in Bakersfield this season as he enters his third professional campaign. Steps forward there this season could very well lead to an NHL opportunity in the future, possibly as soon as a call-up at the end of this season or next. He likely sits as the second defenseman on the depth chart in Bakersfield behind Philip Broberg, a first-round selection of the Oilers in 2019.
The Edmonton Oilers and restricted free agent forward Kailer Yamamoto have come to terms on a one-year bridge deal. The team has announced that Yamamoto has agreed to a $1.175MM contract for 2021-22. Yamamoto will be a restricted free agent again next season.
Both sides are inherently taking a risk with such a short deal. Yamamoto, 22, is betting on himself with this contract. He took a considerable step back last season after a stunning run of 26 points in 27 games in 2019-20. His numbers fell off across the board, eventually including his ice time, as his offense dried up almost entirely late in the year leading to a final tally of eight goals and 21 points in 53 games. For a player of Yamamoto’s skill and creativity, more is expected than .39 points per game, even at his young age. If the 2017 first-rounder cannot improve, he may be stuck with a multi-year contract at or close to his qualifying offer at best.
Of course, if Yamamoto greatly outplays his miniscule salary this season – which should be easy to do – then the pressure will all fall back on the Oilers. While the cap-strapped team is happy to have their young weapon under contract for cheap money this season, they may be regretting not coming to an agreement on a longer term next summer. Yamamoto has already showed that he can score with ease in the NHL, even if that was two years ago. If he can get back on track, likely slotting into one of the more talented top-six groupings in the NHL, he could put up massive numbers in 2021-22 and his price tag will skyrocket.
At the end of the day, the two sides got a deal done without negotiations dragging on into training camp and the relationship growing contentious. That was crucial, as Edmonton needs affordable young talent to buoy several big-money contracts and Yamamoto would be hard-pressed to find a better place to improve his own scoring potential and earning ability than by playing with the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The two sides could continue talking into the season and come to terms on an extension well before next off-season, potentially mitigating the impact on either side somewhat. However, a one-year bridge deal always leaves open limitless possibilities for what could come next.
- As part of their attempts to re-sign him, the Oilers offered defenseman Adam Larsson a fifth year, reports Postmedia’s Jim Matheson. However, the veteran opted for a fresh start, ultimately inking a four-year, $16MM contract with the Kraken during the expansion draft negotiation window. Matheson suggests Edmonton’s offer for Larsson likely exceeded the money he received from Seattle as well.
Just yesterday we listed Sceviour as one of the players still available as a PTO candidate, given his 500 games of NHL experience. Last season the 32-year-old scored five goals and ten points in 46 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while averaging fewer than ten minutes a night.
With career-highs of 11 goals and 26 points, Sceviour isn’t going to bring a ton of offensive ability to the table but can still be a relatively useful bottom-six player. He’s joining an Oilers roster that is anything but settled in that regard, with players like Devin Shore and Brendan Perlini in the mix for the fourth line.
Just today, the team announced that top forward prospect Dylan Holloway will be sidelined for the next several months after wrist surgery, which also could complicate the Oilers’ plans. Someone like Sceviour could easily fill a 13th or 14th forward role for the first few months of the season at least while the team determines where their young talent is best utilized.
Of course, it is important to remember that professional tryouts are not necessarily only a showcase for the team that signs them. Sceviour will be able to train and compete against other NHL players while he looks for work around the league. For the Oilers specifically, the team is over the cap until they place Oscar Klefbom on long-term injured reserve, meaning a contract for Sceviour could also come down the line after some other transactional gymnastics take place.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dylan Holloway was one of the biggest names to watch at training camp this season after signing his entry-level contract and turning pro earlier this year. Now he’ll miss rookie and the main training camp after undergoing a second wrist surgery. The Oilers have announced that during the recovery process for his previous procedure, which was to repair a scaphoid fracture he suffered during his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin, it was determined that he required further surgery. Holloway will now face a recovery timeline of at least three months.
Still just 19, Holloway was the 14th overall pick in 2020, selected after a good-but-not-great rookie season at Wisconsin. That proved to be quite the pick as he exploded in his second year, scoring 11 goals and 35 points in just 23 games. While he did get some time playing beside college phenom Cole Caufield, it wasn’t a case of being carried by a more effective linemate; Holloway centered the Badgers second line for most of the season, while Ty Pelton-Byce benefited from the talents of the Montreal Canadiens’ sniper.
This surgery was a troubling setback for the young forward, who was set to at least make his professional debut in the minor leagues this season, if not the NHL. While there is obviously still plenty of time for him to develop and contribute for the Oilers, missing another three months right now is probably the worst thing that could have happened. Hopefully this latest procedure is the last he’ll need for a while.
Only fours weeks in to a “minimum” six-week recovery period following impromptu wrist surgery, Auston Matthews is hopeful that he will be at full strength to begin the regular season. The Toronto Maple Leafs star tells NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger that his rehab is “coming along well”, though there are still several major steps to go. Matthews remains in a splint and remains at least a couple of weeks from moving beyond that stage of his recovery to actually testing his wrist and building his strength back up. Matthews claims that the injury, which plagued him for much of last season, is not serious, but he is happy that he decided to address it this summer after the pain had returned during his early off-season workouts. Hopefully an elective surgery for a “not serious” injury doesn’t impact the start of Matthews’ season, but as of right now he does not believe that will be the case. Matthews tells Zeisberger that he plans to resume skating this week and then take his wrist rehab “day by day” as the season approaches. The Leafs open up training camp and begin preseason play within Matthews’ minimum recovery window, so that is surely to impact his preparation for the season, but if the reigning Rocket Richard winner is at least healthy by Toronto’s October 13 opener with no more lingering wrist discomfort, then the surprise surgery will have been the right choice on all accounts.
- The Edmonton Oilers are not expecting to see much from top prospect Dylan Holloway in their upcoming rookie camp as the talented forward is still working his way back from a broken thumb. Holloway suffered the injury at the end of the collegiate regular season, but continued on with the University of Wisconsin having qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers only lasted two games, but it still delayed Holloway’s surgery into April. This was expected to still be enough time for him to be fully healed by now, but instead Holloway is still being bothered, reports The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson. Holloway had x-rays done last week and is awaiting and evaluation from the Oilers’ medical staff. He is listed on the camp roster, but unlikely to partake in much if any action. Instead, he will hope to be healed up in time for NHL camp in two weeks. Holloway’s thumb injury cost him a chance to finish out last season with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors and gain some pro experience, so the skilled forward may be looking at a slow start to the season in the minors anyhow before getting a look in Edmonton.
- Though it may seem obvious by now given that he has not played in two years and now is working as a volunteer coach, Ryan Kesler is officially acknowledging that he does not expect to play in the NHL again. The veteran forward spoke with NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman and stated that he does not see his body getting back into playing condition again. “And to be honest, I’m still a far way away to even coming close,” Kesler said. Suffering through injuries to both hips, Kesler was slowed even before being sidelined. He tells Kimelman that he lost his drive and love for the game for some time as he dealt with constant pain and lacking results and he tried to keep playing. Now, with one year remaining on his contract with the Anaheim Ducks, Kesler continues to rehab and work toward getting back into a place that he is happy with, but acknowledges that he cannot be an NHL player again, nevertheless live up to his own reputation. Hopefully Kesler can get to a point that he is at least comfortable skating and can continue to be on the ice as a coach.
This weekend continues to be a slow one for the hockey news cycle. With less than two weeks until the start of preseason, teams and players remain in limbo alike on remaining negotiations. One of the more prominent restricted free agents remaining is Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto, who needs a new deal after scoring eight goals and 21 points in 52 games last season. It’s a step back in production after he broke onto the scene in 2019-20, scoring 26 points in just 27 games. But as names like Joel Farabee and Drake Batherson, both decent comparables to Yamamoto, have signed larger, longer-term contracts recently, The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson surmises that this likely won’t be the case for Yamamoto. As the addition of Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele into the picture puts Yamamoto’s top-six role in a small amount of jeopardy, combined with a tight salary cap picture for the Oilers, Matheson suggests Tyson Jost’s two-year, $2MM cap hit deal as a closer comparable for the former first-round pick. As of now, that deal would still push Edmonton over the maximum $4.17MM that they’ll be able to exceed the cap by due to Oscar Klefbom being placed on long-term injured reserve. Edmonton is listed as having a full 23-man roster on CapFriendly, though, and could send players like William Lagesson and Brendan Perlini to the minors to become cap-compliant.