EDMONTON, AB - One of the Oilers biggest storylines of camp is sitting tonight against the Ducks.
Drake Caggiula is slated to get some rest, having played every pre-season game thus far. The college free agent signing has been turning heads at camp, and making a valiant push to crack the roster.
While getting him more chances to prove himself is important, letting him sit tonight is even more so.
"He's got to rest first," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "It's been taxing on him. A lot of the college players are not accustomed to playing game after game and hauling big bodies around. He's got to adjust, but he's a mature player. He's got a mature body and a pretty good approach to the daily routine. I think he'll get the rest he needs. After that, if he just keeps playing the way he is he has an impact every night, he shoots the puck, he makes plays, looks comfortable on the power play, he's been able to penalty kill and that's not a bad menu for a rookie coming into training camp for the first time."
Caggiula has two goals in four games this exhibition season. He's also shown versatility, sliding inside from the wing to play centre. That flexibility to play both positions has given the Oilers options.
DRAISAITL IN THE MIDDLE… FOR NOW
Caggiula's play has given Edmonton something to think hard about. Leon Draisaitl has returned from his stint at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. The natural centre also has an ability to produce from the wing. Should the Oilers wish to play Caggiula in the middle on the third line, Draisaitl could slide nicely to flank either Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Connor McDavid.
That's where Draisaitl was at morning skate. The 20-year-old was on the wing with Benoit Pouliot and RNH for a few rushes.
"I'm very comfortable with playing the wing," said Draisaitl. "I've said it many times before, again, I don't really care where I'm playing. I can play wing as good as I can play centre. For me, it's really not a big deal but it's nice to be with those two guys. I've played with them for a while last year, and it's nice to be on that line."
On the contrary, the wing is not where Draisaitl will play tonight. Instead, he will centre Patrick Maroon and Nail Yakupov.
"Leon will play in the middle tonight - his first game coming back," said McLellan. "We certainly have options with the way Drake Caggiula has performed to this point. He's played a very admirable game and been a factor in each of them. He's allowed us to think about some other things, one being Leon on the wing. But it is certainly not written in stone. We've got a lot of pre-season left to play and we've got a number decisions we need to make moving forward."
MAROON BACK AFTER SCARE
The Oilers had themselves a scare when Maroon went down in their pre-season game against the Jets last Friday.
"Going for the puck, my back was turned and he cross-checked me," said Maroon. "When I went down, you could see on the reverse angle that my knee kind of tweaked a little bit but I was wearing my knee brace."
That knee brace could have played a factor in Maroon's availability for tonight's game.
"Luckily, that saved me. It's just a little bruising," he said. "(The training staff) just wanted me to take some time off because with these knee injuries you never know what can happen once you hurt them. I hurt it before and was out for two months. You've got to just be cautious."
Knowing how knee injuries are not to be fooled with, Maroon said there were some concerns when he first went down.
"You get scared, but you can't get too mad. You've just got to see what the doctors say and what happens. Get their diagnosis and see what happens from there. I was really just hurting at the time and wasn't thinking how long I'd be out. I just wanted to make sure I'd be OK."
For Maroon, it was a side impact injury on the knee and structurally he is fine.
"I got lucky."
As for where he will be playing, Maroon is with the aforementioned Draisaitl. It's a spot he's most comfortable with.
"I played with him quite a bit last year, in Columbus and I think a little bit in Philly," said Maroon. "Like I tell anyone else, Nuge, Connor (McDavid) and Draisaitl are three great centremen in the league and some of them could be top ones on any other team in the League. Just having a chance to play with those guys, play my game and play with elite players is pretty exciting."
Brandon Davidson, who was on the receiving end of a high hit by Los Angeles Kings forward Tanner Pearson on Sunday, was not on the ice this morning. McLellan said the defenceman looks good, but is still day-to-day. Pearson is slated to have a disciplinary hearing with the Department of Player Safety. Kris Versteeg is also day-to-day, while Cam Talbot is expected to get the start in net.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (3-2-0) at DUCKS (0-3-1)
TV: 7 p.m. MT; Streamed on EdmontonOilers.com
Oilers team scope: With only 33 players left in camp, Oilers fans should be treated to a lineup sprinkled with a good handful of veterans. On Saturday, Leon Draisaitl and Andrej Sekera both returned from the World Cup after both players helped carry Europe to the tournament finals. There's a good chance at least one of them finds their way into the lineup tonight. ... The Oilers brass might want to get another look at Anton Slepyshev as the forward leads the Oilers in points so far this pre-season with a goal and three points in four games. ... Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson have both played two games and could see a third very soon. Klefbom has a goal and an assist in two outings so far, with the second game cut short having to leave in the second period due to injury. Larsson has an assist in two games.
Ducks team scope: The Ducks have had trouble scoring so far this pre-season with only four goals in four games. Michael Sgarbossa leads the way with a goal and an assist in three contests. ... Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry both still haven't played yet in the pre-season after both skaters helped lift Canada to the World Cup. ... Ryan Kesler, who suited up for Team USA, also has not played in the pre-season so far. ... RW Nick Sorensen has a goal and eight shots through three games. ... LW Nick Ritchie leads the Ducks with 12 shots on goal through three pre-season games but hasn't scored yet.