Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland sets roster, expects tight North Division

Connor McDavid (97) and Caleb Jones (82) battle for the puck during a scrimmage at the Edmonton Oilers training camp in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The general manager of the Edmonton Oilers expects a fight in the finish in the North Division.

“I think there are seven really good teams. Three are going to miss (the playoffs). I think the standings are going to be really close. I think you have the possibility of lots of games going to extra time,” said Ken Holland on Tuesday’s edition of Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.

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The Oilers had the best regular season record of the seven Canadian teams last season. However, they were beaten 3-1 in a best-of-five qualifying round series when the NHL restarted in the summer. Holland has tried to make moves to help the Oilers five-on-five game.

“I think that we’re going to be able to move the puck a lot better,” said Holland, who landed skilled defenceman Tyson Barrie in free agency in October.

Read more: Edmonton Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom still debating fix for injured shoulder

Up front, the Oilers have the best third line they’ve had in years. Newcomer Kyle Turris will centre Josh Archibald and Jeese Puljujarvi, who returns to the Oilers after playing a season-and-a-half in Finland.

“The have the makings of being a good third line for us. Turris is a veteran guy, seems to have Jesse under his wing. He’d be a good role model and a mentor. He’s a good pro,” said Holland.

The Oilers active roster as of Tuesday afternoon was:

Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Kassian

Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto

Archibald – Turris – Puljujarvi

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Ennis – Khaira – Chiasson

Nurse – Bear

Jones – Larsson

Koekkoek – Barrie

K. Russell – Lagesson


However, that roster will change soon.

“We’re going to have nine defenceman on our opening day roster. One of them is going to be Evan Bouchard because of a cap situation. We are not going to carry nine defencemen on our active roster,” explained roster. “Boosh will go from our active roster to our taxi squad.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers online 50/50 to return for 2021 season

Having Bouchard on the opening day roster maximizes what the Oilers can of the Long Term Injured Reserve Pool. Oscar Klefbom, out with a shoulder injury, is on LTIR.

Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell, Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod, Alan Quine, and Stuart Skinner are on the Oilers taxi squad. Skinner is there after goalie Anton Forsberg was claimed on waivers by Carolina. The Oilers will eventually bring in a new goalie.

“We have to get somebody for Bakersfield,” confirmed Holland. “We’re comfortable with Skinner up here, but at some point we have to get Skinner playing.”

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The Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night at Roger Place. The game is on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6 p.m. The game starts at 8 p.m.