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EDMONTON OILERS: UNEXPECTED APPEARANCES

It seems fairly clear that heading into the 2016-17 season the Edmonton Oilers have a completed roster. There could be improvements in certain positions, and there will be debate over how well this roster will perform, but Edmonton has 13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders pretty well locked into NHL jobs.

Jordan Oesterle Photo credit IQRemix via VisualHunt  CC BY-SA

You may have them slotted into different positions or on your Oiler depth chart, but the players look like:

Forwards


Connor McDavid
Jordan Eberle
Milan Lucic
Patrick Maroon
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Benoit Pouliot
Leon Draisaitl
Nail Yakupov
Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks
Mark Letestu
Iiro Pakarinen

Defense


Andrej Sekera
Oscar Klefbom
Adam Larsson
Mark Fayne
Brandon Davidson
Darnell Nurse/Griffin Reinhart

Goal


Cam Talbot
Jonas Gustavsson

This 2016-17 roster is an improved one. The Oilers are more balanced, still skilled, but bigger and tougher in a Pacific Division where bigger, tougher and skilled matter. But bubbling under are players looking to cement themselves as bonafide AHL talent and prospects worthy of an NHL opportunity. In the event of injury or poor showings by those making the initial roster, who in the system might see some time and make an unexpected appearance in 2016-17?


Jesse Puljujarvi

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said about Puljujarvi. At the number four spot, he fell into the Oilers laps at this year's draft and Edmonton took the podium as quickly as possible for the right to call his name and put a jersey on him. 

He's an offensive driver of the play, has speed to burn and is big, skilled and by most accounts, NHL ready. A lot of experts have him penciled into the starting lineup already and that wouldn't surprise me. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he started the season on the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Benoit Pouliot. Puljujarvi could legitimately be a threat for 50 or more points and might be Calder Trophy material. 

Jordan Oesterle


Oesterle might not be that big a surprise. He's got to be on the cusp of a six/seven role on the blue line already and perhaps gets the nod over Nurse or Reinhart if the Oilers are looking for a puck-moving defenseman or cap relief. He may not appear on the immediate Oiler roster list only because of a log-jam on the left side blue. Oesterle is a proven AHL defenseman and he's made a couple of cameos in the NHL. He's fared well for himself and showed he could be ready for a bigger role in they system.

If there's a downside, it's that Oesterle isn't Edmonton's best as a defensive specialist. He has a hard time stopping the cycle, retrieving dump-ins and winning puck battles. The upside is that he's got an excellent first pass, he's got speed and he sees the offensive plays unfold, often making the correct play. If his progression continues, it's more than likely he sees extended time in the NHL.

Jujhar Khaira


Players like Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick are hanging on by a thread in the NHL and both should be legitimately concerned that their positions could be filled and their depth on the Oilers chart affected by the progression of Khaira and his 6'3", 214-pound frame.

Khaira didn't just see some time in the NHL last season, he was awarded playing time on the top-two lines with skilled forwards. Khaira will likely start in Bakersfield, but so far he's showed he has what it takes to get called up and provide enough gusto to stay in the lineup. He's physical, fast, will muck it up and can play on any line. These are useful tools in the NHL.


Laurent Brossoit


Jonas Gustavsson was signed as the backup goaltender this summer, but it was interesting choice. Chiarelli has some history with the "monster" but there were plenty of better net-minding options available and they chose Gustavsson anyways. Why? I think they believe Brossoit has a legitimate chance to be a backup in the NHL and Gustavsson's role is to push Brossoit just the right amount.

Gustavsson will likely falter. His statistics show it's a matter of time. Brossoit will be the first call up and if he plays well, he may win the backup role. Gustavsson is on a short-term, fill-in type of contract. I think the Oilers expect big things from Brossoit, but want to give him some time without rushing him into the NHL. He may prove he's ready quicker than expected.

Drake Caggiula


A college signing by the Oilers in May, Caggiula is a fiesty, fast and skilled forward who can play wing and center. He's not afraid to hit (in fact he loves to), he can create insane scoring opportunities on the rush and he's a 22 year old with a lot more experience than some of Edmonton's higher-end prospects. He just needs time to get accustomed to the speed of the NHL. Once he does, he could be dangerous.

Caggiula was a highly touted free agent that happened to love the direction the Oilers were headed and chose Edmonton as the place he wanted to start his NHL career. He's undersized, but has a wicked shot, great vision and highlight reel talent.

The Cast by Order of Appearance


Keep an eye out for any of the above-listed players and watch closely as they get and seize opportunities in the NHL. All of these prospects have the ability to earn or steal a roster spot on this year's Oilers and could be good enough not to lose that spot. My order is Puljujarvi, Oesterle, Brossoit, Kharia, Caggiula.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.





Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.



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