EDMONTON, AB - After a victory in their pre-season opener over Winnipeg on Monday, the Oilers are right back at it on Tuesday night in Vancouver, albeit with largely a different group than the night previous.
Just four players from Monday's lineup will make back-to-back appearances as Oilers coaching and management aim to get a look at another batch of players who are using pre-season as an auditioning stage.
"So those (four) guys, they're all on that list when I say eight or nine players that we are going to have to see a lot of," said Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett of forwards Tyler Benson, Colby Cave and Patrick Russell along with defenceman Evan Bouchard, all of whom will be back in the lineup Tuesday night in Vancouver.
"We've got a lot of games in a short amount of time, so you're trying to get a gauge on everybody there… Let's throw them in again and see what they can do."
Throughout Oilers Training Camp, Tippett has made no bones about the fact that Benson is among that group that will get a long, hard look and is adamant about giving him as much time to showcase himself as possible.
"I talked to Tyler before camp started, and he knows he's one of those guys in a group of players that might have a chance to make the roster," said Tippett.
"We want to make sure he gets every opportunity to prove he can do that. He's a young player that had a real good first year in the AHL… He's worked hard all summer and we want to give him a chance to show what he's got."
With another opportunity on the pre-season stage tonight, Benson's focus remains on doing what got him this far.
"Right now I'm just kind of trying to play a simpler game to just get a feel for it, and I think as games go on I'm going to get more comfortable and more confident making plays," said Benson of pre-season action.
"This year compared to last year I feel more comfortable. I feel I belong a bit more just being around the guys again. I feel better just kind of skating with them on the ice."
Making his Oilers pre-season debut against his former team on Tuesday night will be veteran Markus Granlund. The forward signed with the Oilers as a free agent on July 1 and while the team's opening night roster remains unclear at this juncture, Granlund is eager to contribute wherever he might find a fit.
"Obviously you always want to play in the top-six, but we have lots of good guys here and we need all four lines to win the hockey game," said Granlund
"I think I can play all those different spots - I can play top six or bottom six - so I think that's a good thing for me."
The new Oilers forward is set to line up alongside Colby Cave and Patrick Russell Tuesday night in Vancouver. Granlund played parts of four seasons with the Canucks, finishing with 12 goals, 10 assists & 22 points in 77 games in 2018-19.
As the opening night roster continues to work itself out, Coach Tippett is also eager to see where the versatile Finnish forward might slot in.
"He's a solid player. I put him more in a veteran group, but we've got to get him into our group and get his role established," said Tippett, who especially likes Granlund's penalty killing abilities.
"He's smart with anticipation. He's got enough quickness, but he anticipates plays and understands the structure of how we want to play… I think he's going to be a good penalty killer for us."
Another player making their pre-season debut will be goaltender Shane Starrett. With five goaltenders still on the Training Camp roster, Oilers coaching staff is spreading pre-season work around. The opening night tandem is all but certain in veterans Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith but Starrett is among a trio of younger goalies waiting for their chance to prove they can be the next man up.
"He had a good year last year for Bakersfield and (Goaltending Coach) Dustin Schwartz would like to see him in a game tonight," said Tippett.
Starrett is coming off a stellar rookie season with the AHL's Bakersfield Condors where he compiled a 27-7-5 record, 2.33 GAA & 9.18 save percentage during the 2018-19 regular season while also being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.