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BLOG: Tippett mulls difficult roster decisions

Head Coach Dave Tippett spoke towards making some tough choices when finalizing the Oilers roster for Opening Night

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - The wide array of talent at Oilers Training Camp worthy of a spot in the lineup on Opening Night meant there would be no easy decisions when it came down to finalizing the club's roster on Monday.

Factor in not having the availability of a taxi squad this season, and the choices became even more difficult.

"It was a unique year with the taxi squad," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "You knew you could carry so many bodies, so really there weren't as many hard decisions last year because there was going to be extra guys. This year, it came down to some hard decisions."

On Monday, from the extended list of 61 players who began Training Camp on Sept. 22, the Oilers solidified their 23-man roster that will begin the 82-game regular season starting Wednesday when the Vancouver Canucks visit Rogers Place.

Each of the 36 forwards, 18 defencemen, and seven goaltenders at Camp arrived with similar intentions of cracking the lineup, and the hard choices made by Tippett and Oilers management are signs of healthy depth in the organization.

"It's the meaning of Training Camp," Tippett said. "If a coach goes out there and tells a player they have a chance to make our team, the player feels like he has a legitimate chance to do that.

"To me with the Opening Night roster, there are players who are obviously going to be on that, but the ones that are on the bubble, they're going to have to earn it. That's what's happening in our camp, and I think that's a good thing."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 10.11.21

The dominos began to fall Sunday morning when the club assigned goaltender Stuart Skinner to the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League and placed defenceman William Lagesson and forward Kyle Turris on waivers. Both skaters cleared waivers on Monday, with Lagesson set to begin the season on Injured Reserve (IR).

"On defence, we had (Lagesson) kind of battling for a spot there and he ended up clearing (waivers) today," Tippett said. "He's battling a bit of an injury, so we'll see where that goes in the next couple of days.

Turris showed well over Camp and preseason as one of a handful of forwards entrenched in the battle for a limited amount of roster spots in the club's bottom six, and the bench boss was pleased to learn on Monday that the veteran forward cleared waivers and will remain a member of the organization.

"Up front, (GM & Pres. of Hockey Ops Ken Holland) and his group, we just decided we were going to try some different things, and we were glad (Turris) got through today and he stays on the team," he said.

"There's a lot more to it than Kyle being on waivers. Kyle had a really good camp, and we didn't want to lose him."

Despite both Ryan McLeod and Tyler Benson's inclusion in the Opening Night roster, Tippett gave the fourth-line edge to Devin Shore at centre and Brendan Perlini on the left wing.

The two young talents have to carry their hard work at Training Camp into trying to hold down a spot in the lineup on a night-by-night basis with the potential for 14 forwards being on the roster come time Wednesday's matchup.

"(McLeod) doesn't have to clear waivers, but we think he's close to making our lineup," Tippett said. "I think Shore played better than him in camp, so Shore is going to start in that position.

"On the left wing, we had a number of guys there, and Perlini played better than Benson during Camp. As it looks right now, depending on some injury stuff, McLeod and Benson will be the odd guys out at forward."

One of the final decisions left surrounds the potential signing of forward Colton Sceviour, who performed admirably during his Professional Tryout with the club over the last three weeks. 

"(Ken Holland) has had some talks with Colton just to see where he's at, so we'll see where that goes in the next couple of days," Tippett said.

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