A lot of these Ramblings over the last couple weeks – and really months – have been stat-heavy but at a point, it’s worth taking a step back. For that reason, let’s look at some stories that have emerged over the last week, as well as some stories to keep an eye on heading into training camps.
A few days ago we learned that Edmonton winger Anton Slepyshev suffered an ankle injury during training and would miss training camp. That puts his season debut in danger, and though there’s no official word, I find it hard to believe that a player who spent time between the AHL and NHL last year would be a lock for the opening night roster without having taken part in training camp, especially if he can’t get in exhibition games.
This should clarify things a bit, at least to start the year, for the Oilers up front. Working under the assumption that Leon Draisaitl opens as the second-line centre behind Connor McDavid, it likely means Ryan Strome will be McJesus’ line mate at right wing. I suppose it could be Jesse Puljujarvi (and that linked piece earlier suggest even Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, though I can’t see that), but Strome would make the most sense. It would allow Puljujarvi to ease into softer minutes with a talented centre, the Oilers to maximize the utility of Strome, and the team to run McDavid-Draisaitl-RNH down the middle.
What to do with that information is a different story. Supposing Strome starts the year on McDavid’s right wing, how long does he last? If they don’t click through the first five or six games, and Slepyshev is healthy at that point, do they move Puljujarvi to the top line and Slepyshev to the second line? Does Slep move to the top line? Does Draisaitl get moved back to McDavid’s wing at some point? Despite the clarity now, this is a situation that will likely be muddled all year.
For a more severe injury, Nashville defenceman Ryan Ellis underwent knee surgery and has a timetable to return of four to six months. General manager David Poile seems to think it’ll take the full six months, and that would likely have Ellis out of the lineup until after the All-Star break. That is a devastating injury for the budding star and for his team.
Ellis is part of that elite-tier top-four defence corps the Predators have, and logged nearly 18 minutes of