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BLOG: Oilers will keep players who earn spots

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
There are several battles for roster spots amongst Oilers players right now. One of the positions, seemingly up for grabs, would be right up the middle. Aside from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon, the Oilers are still looking to solidify their lineup at centre.

Third-overall pick Leon Draisaitl is one of the possibilities and he’s shown flashes of his playmaking skills in the pre-season so far. 2013 third-round pick Bogdan Yakimov has come in and impressed from the opening face-off in Penticton, BC at the Young Stars Tournament. Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander have NHL experience are locked in that same battle.

So far, it looks like the rookies are pushing to get noticed and when asked on Monday if the Oilers would hesitate in starting the season with two rookies at centre, Head Coach Dallas Eakins says there wouldn’t be any.

“I don’t want to speak for my boss, but we’ve had the talks and I don’t think we’d hesitate at all,” he said. “But we are looking to go with the guys who have earned their spots in camp… You don’t want to play safe all of the time. Safe is okay, he doesn’t need waivers so send him down, keep this guy and see what happens. We want to go with the guys who have earned the spots. Is there a danger with that in waivers? Absolutely. But that’s where the battle is.

Eakins stressed that there is still a battle to be played out here, but whoever has earned a spot will stay with the club.

“There is still lots of time here and I’m not sure that they’ve outplayed those guys, but there are certainly all of these guys in the mix. No one has stepped up way ahead of each other yet. It will be real interesting here over the next few games to see who’s going to step up. My real honest answer, and I will be honest, I don’t think there will be any hesitation. We’ll take the guys who have played well, played the best and who we think are going to help us win our first game.”

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