So Now What?

Straight from the Edmonton Oilers official website, a list of cuts came Sunday night immediately following the 5-4 overtime win over Vancouver in Edmonton's final preseason game. Being sent down were forwards Jordan Eberle - who was assigned to the WHL's Regina Pats - and Rob Schremp, who was placed on waivers. In addition, forward Kip Brennan was sent to the Falcons as well as blueliner Taylor Chorney and goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

These moves leave the following list of players on the Oilers current 27 man roster:

Injured (4) - Ethan Moreau, Theo Peckham, Fernando Pisani, Marc Pouliot

Forwards (14) - Gilbert Brule, Andrew Cogliano, Mike Comrie, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, J-F Jacques, Steve MacIntyre, Robert Nilsson, Patrick O'Sullivan, Dustin Penner, Liam Reddox, Ryan Stone, Zack Stortini

Defencemen (7) - Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov, Ladislav Smid, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios, Jason Strudwick, Lubomir Visnovsky.

So what can fans expect?

Either Monday or fairly early this week, a few more cuts will come. Liam Reddox, Robert Nilsson, Theo Peckham and Steve MacIntyre are the most likely to go. What may delay such moves are any options that might exist for the Oilers to make changes prior to a final roster announcement or the injury status of players like Peckham himself, Pouliot and Pisani (Pouliot being the only possibly more serious and lengthy injury).

We've heard that tire kicking has taken place between Nashville and Edmonton involving Robert Nilsson and others. Could a move be made before a decision to keep or demote the skilled but frustrating forward is?

The Oilers are in desperate need of a right handed third line faceoff style centre and they are well aware of it. They may also desire a bit more grit that can last a full 82 game schedule since most of the "dirty" style players the Oilers look to be adding to the roster have yet to play a full season in the NHL.

With other teams in the same boat Edmonton is and roster and/or waiver cuts coming, would the Oilers wait all the way up until the deadline to decide? By no means are the Oilers the only team faced with difficult decisions and a player that suits their need, but doesn't fit on the team from which he's being cut could fall into their laps knowing they sit in a fairly strong position it terms of waiver positioning.

So too, now that teams have had a good look at their rosters, some smaller scale trades in the NHL could start popping up based solely on teams identifying players that fill smaller holes, but don't fit in their current location.

Hence a player like Rob Schremp. While he won't be traded unless he clears waivers, for the fourth year he's failed to make the Oilers roster. Could a team like the Islanders, Predators, Lighting or another NHL squad find a use for Schremp where the Oilers couldn't? If so, do the Oilers quickly fill a removed contract with someone who is more suited to fill the void(s) in some very lacking areas? The next couple of days will provide some answers. The same could be a similar future for Robert Nilsson.

A while back I wrote that Nilsson would be someone to keep an eye on terms of making the news. It's taken some time, but I think this is the week Nilsson gets a lot of press time from Oiler media and fans. Whether he stays or goes, opinions are strong and we'll hear much from both sides I'm sure. At $2 million for the next two years, he's not nearly as attractive on the waiver wire, but there is a possible team or two willing to take a chance.

What about players on the roster that might likely stay on the roster?

Many are suggesting Jacques is a lock for the top nine forwards. I think they're riding the fence pretty hard trying not to go out on any kind of limb about a player that has literally surprised everyone. Is there any reason to suggest after his play in the preseason and how public Quinn has been about wanting some size on each line that Jacques wouldn't get the start with Hemsky and Horcoff on October 3rd? His two point effort tonight only solidifies my thought that this is exactly what we'll see.

Did anyone else notice he gave more room for Hemsky and Horcoff to do what they do? I was surprised that while the skill was evident, Vancouver was significantly less gritty than I was expecting. It only makes sense that it's tougher to play that style when on every line, someone is willing to answer the bell. Gilbert Brule proved that on Sunday.

Speaking of Brule, he seems to understand just what he needs to do to earn his spot. He knows what the coaches and management need to see and he's delivering. Placed on the ice in OT with only 3 other faceoffs to his credit during the game, they wanted to see if he could win the big one. He did, the Oilers scored and came away with the victory. He also needed to show an edge to his game, so he got into a fight. He didn't necessarily win it, but he didn't need to. His goal was to show he wanted to be physical and he did that too. Expect to see Brule in the opening lineup when the regular season begins.

With preseason done, a lot of work still needs to be attended to in terms of the Oilers final roster. Some steps were taken Sunday, more steps will come; but at least there are a few positive notes and the Oilers finish with a win over an extremely strong Vancouver team.


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