If the Edmonton Oilers can find internal solutions to any potential depth issues prior to this year’s NHL trade deadline, that would be a huge win for the organization. With questions in goal and depth issues on the left side of their blue line, having to find an effective depth center would be problematic if not close to impossible given the limited cap space GM Ken Holland has to work with.
That’s one of the reasons the emergence of Ryan McLeod as an actual NHL player is such a big plus. While it’s still early and McLeod could have bumps along the way, the speedy center is starting to look like he’s grasping the pace of the NHL game. He scored a beautiful goal during Saturday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks and he’s now got two on the season. He’s starting to play a little more in different situations (including the penalty kill) and he’s been bumped up to the third line in the absence of Derek Ryan who is dealing with concussion issues.
Ryan will be back and the debate about where to slot him will be a real one. If McLeod can continue to grow as a player, the Oilers’ third line of Warren Foegle, Zack Kassian, and McLeod could be quite effective and Ryan as a fourth-line center is an ideal fit. From there, Edmonton would need to find the right mix on the fourth line.
With Devin Shore out for some time, the current options are Kyle Turris, Tyler Benson, Colton Sceviour, and Brendan Perlini. None have really grabbed a hold of their respective spots on that line. The Oilers could use some size and speed and one scribe wonders if Dylan Holloway is the right fit.
Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal writes: “I expect Dylan Holloway to be an antidote for the Oilers’ 4th line by the time the Olympic break is over. Finding another player as fast, skilled and gritty as Holloway isn’t impossible but it would be expensive.”
He adds that using Holloway as a winger (he’s a natural center) gives him time to get used to the speed of the NHL and gives the Oilers depth on faceoffs because you can never have too many wingers who can also play the middle. So too, if the Oilers can see what Holloway has to offer before the trade deadline, they can focus on areas of real need.
The Less the Oilers Have to Do, The Better
Edmonton is off to a strong start but until recently, haven’t played their best hockey for 60 minutes. The Oilers need to find that gear and know who is a part of their playoff roster and who isn’t. Assuming they can avoid further injuries, it will be a big win if the depth of this team comes from players already in the system.
Philip Broberg showed well in his debut on Saturday. Stuart Skinner looks incredibly poised in the net considering he’s only played six NHL games. Finally, the Oilers believe Holloway has big-time potential. Is that enough?
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