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Oilers News and Rumors: Kassian, Khaira, McLeod, McDavid, More

With a mandated day of, let’s take a look at the latest updates, news and rumors surrounding the Edmonton Oilers.

Oilers Kulikov Khaira Kassian

The Edmonton Oilers had remained relatively healthy through most of the 2020-21 NHL season. But, two intensely physical games versus the Montreal Canadiens have created a slight pause for concern. While it’s a positive that the Oilers not only managed to stay competitive in two games they aren’t necessarily “built for” (winning one), a couple of injuries could pose problematic as time rolls along.

Related: Maple Leafs News and Rumors: Keefe, Rittich, Foligno, Nylander, More

Wednesday evening, Zack Kassian left the game early with an odd injury to his left leg. What many has assumed is a charley horse of some kind, the injury occurred on Kassian’s second shift of the game when he finished a check on Canadiens captain Shea Weber. He went in awkwardly, even though it didn’t look like much and it was easy to tell he was in some serious discomfort. He stood in the tunnel for a while before making his way to the dressing room and not returning.

The 30-year-old Kassian missed 17 games earlier this season with an upper-body injury and while the hope here is that this is minor, there’s no word on his status, other than a report that more tests will be done today.

He has two goals and five points in 26 games but he was starting to engage more in the action and at just the right time as the Oilers needed some more physical bodies.

Khaira Done For The Season?

It hasn’t been confirmed, but there’s some chatter that Jujhar Khaira’s season might be over. He’s said to be in good spirits after taking a big hit from defenseman Alexander Romanov, but two potential concussions in a short amount of time is really not good news for the depth center. There may be some internal medical protocols the Oilers have in place that could keep him from returning anytime soon.

The Oilers recalled James Neal off the taxi squad for Wednesday’s game and, as such, have used two of their four taxi squad recalls. If they activate Ryan McLeod, which they are likely to do, the Oilers are quickly running out of options for depth when it appeared they had a surplus of forwards they could call upon just a week ago.

Is McLeod A Top-Six Option?

Speaking of McLeod, one has to wonder if the Oilers consider giving him a look in the top six, despite no official NHL regular season or playoff games on his resume. He’s fast, he’s skilled and he’s likely to produce better results with more skilled players. So too, because he’s not a penalty killer, it might make more sense to leave someone like Gaetan Haas and Devin Shore in your bottom six.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal writes: “Eleven Oiler games left and I’m sure Dave Tippett would like to have his four lines figured out. Very up in air in bottom six. No reason C Ryan McLeod can’t force his way into picture there with his speed and size.” He’s scored 28 points in 28 games for Bakersfield in the AHL. Of course, that’s not NHL caliber hockey, but don’t be surprised if the Oilers give him a look alongside some high-end talent.

McDavid and 100 Points?

After three straight multi-point games, McDavid (25-52—77 in 45 GP) is now is on pace to finish the 2020-21 season with 96 points. Most insiders have suggested 100 points is out of reach, but how can you doubt McDavid at this stage in the game?

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers captain also is on track to become the 8th-highest scoring player in NHL history through 400 career games (187-359—546 in 396 GP). He took over both games against Montreal and while he was able to successfully help the team mount a comeback in the first matchup, the Oilers fell just short in round two.

Kulikov to Join Roster

Newly-acquired defenseman Dmitry Kulikov skated with the Oilers regular roster on Wednesday and he’s set to join the team for their next game against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday , April 26th. Who he slots in for is unclear.

One has to guess that Caleb Jones might be the odd man out here, even if he has shown glimpses of strong play. He coughed up a puck on a terrible give away during Wednesday’s game and while that was only one play, it’s those kinds of mistakes that Tippett will likely look at and say, ‘we need to go with experience here.’

Next: Tortorella Leaving Blue Jackets As Coach Following NHL Season [Report]

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