According to the Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland, the team will have no choice but to call upon rookies and Slater Koekkoek to play on the team’s left side coming out of the NHL holiday break and the pause of games the league-mandated because of COVID protocol issues. Like most teams, the Oilers are being hit hard by positive tests and that’s going to leave them extremely short-handed when their games resume on December 27th.
During an interview with Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer, Holland noted:
“On the 27th, we’re expecting to have (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) back. We’re expecting to have (Devin) Shore back, and we’re expecting to have (Ryan) McLeod back. But (Duncan) Keith won’t be available, (Darnell) Nurse won’t be available, (William) Lagesson won’t be available, and (Jesse) Puljujarvi won’t be available, so we’re going to have some real cap challenges.”
The team will have no choice but to call up Dmitri Samorukov and Philip Broberg to fill in the gaps left by a depleted left side and Holland is grateful to have that depth in his organization. At the same time, he said it would be much easier if the NHL introduced a 10-day cap relief scenario. He didn’t know if the league was considering such a thing but said it could be fairly black and white. He notes, “… they could pivot on the fly where if you go on the COVID list you’re basically just off the cap for 10 days. Then, after 10 days, you’re automatically back on the cap. Right now, after 10 days and a negative test, you can come back.”
The NHL hasn’t budged yet on giving teams cap relief, but with so many players out and with teams unable to ice a roster, there has to at least be some discussion about what to do in order to avoid more games being postponed coming out of the break. Holland said, “Obviously with the way they count right now, if you’re in COVID protocol, you count against the cap. You get a roster spot, but we’re going to run out of cap space here.” His team won’t be the only one to face this issue.
This Could All Affect Trades
The depth the Oilers have is a blessing. Yes, they went on a bit of a losing streak but have won their previous two games and are still in the playoff hunt at 18-11. If the Oilers want to stay in the race but also have the depth to manage more absences, Holland will need to be cautious about what and who he considers trading.
There’s been talk that Jakob Chychrun might be on many team’s trade radar but not the Oilers. The depth could be why. If the Oilers have to move four pieces to land Chychrun, that means removing a couple of players the Oilers might be counting on down the stretch when they hit hard times.
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