The Edmonton Oilers bounced back with a sound performance in Game 2 of their series with the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and tied the best-of-seven first-round matchup as they head on the road for Game 3. They did so without the services of Mattias Janmark and it’s not clear if he’ll be making the trip with the team as reports are he’s “done for the series at least.” after blocking a shot in Game 1.
Coming off a strong regular season where he was one of the Oilers’ better penalty killers, the timing of the injury is absolutely devastating for the forward. Not only could he potentially miss a good chunk of the playoffs, but he’s a pending UFA that needs a contract at the end of the season. The salary situation in Edmonton is tight and Janmark was probably already facing a 50/50 scenario where the team would probably like to bring him back, but it wasn’t a guarantee. A depth forward making $1.25 million this season, he wasn’t a regular to start the 2022/23 campaign, but he worked his way into that role and became a solid asset down the stretch.
Now, as Janmark sits, the more the Oilers’ penalty kill finds success, potentially the less likely he is to get another offer from GM Ken Holland.
In Game 1, the Oilers took too many penalties and it cost them. The Kings stormed back in the final minutes and eventually tied the game. Another penalty in overtime gave them the win. In Game 2, it was a different story. The Oilers’ penalty kill was tested again, but this time it was perfect. They didn’t allow a goal against when down a man, and that was without Janmark available, someone they typically rely upon in that role. In fact, no forward played more on average when killing a penalty than he did.
What happens if Edmonton continues to be strong on the penalty kill and learns they can find success without Janmark? The answer is that they’ll probably lean towards low-balling him on the next offer they make (if they make one at all) and that could mean the end of his run in Edmonton. But, what happens if the Oilers’ penalty kill struggles without him? Well, his value to the team goes up exponentially.
A Lot Rides On The Next Few Games For Janmark
No matter what happens, Janmark will likely never require a long-term commitment from Edmonton or big bucks to keep him in the fold. That said, players of his skill set can be quite useful, especially if it’s determined that one area of the game is either greatly affected by his presence in the lineup or marginally affected when he’s not. It’s a tough spot for Janmark to be in. As a teammate, he wants the Oilers’ kill to be effective. Selfishly, he probably also wants the Oilers to recognize just how valuable he is in that regard.
This doesn’t even bring into account the fact that head coach Jay Woodcroft often likes to go 11-7 with his deployment of the roster. If that format continues to find success for the Oilers, a strong penalty kill and a string of wins could make Janmark getting back into the lineup, even when healthy, a bit more complicated.
Logic suggests the Oilers are eager to get him back. That said, a lot of what happens next depends on whether the Oilers can keep killing penalties effectively in the next couple of games.
Next: New Maple Leafs Referee Drama, Even as McCauley Sits Game 2
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