Things just continue to get more difficult for the Edmonton Oilers in their quest to make the playoffs for the second time since 2006.
The team announced Tuesday that Oscar Klefbom — currently leading the team in ice time with over 25 minutes a night — will be out two to three weeks with a shoulder injury.
With that, the list of Oilers currently on the shelf or unavailable due to disciplinary reasons becomes even longer. Not only is it extensive, it’s expensive as well.
According to Bob Stauffer, an Oilers radio analyst, it includes Connor McDavid ($12.5 million), James Neal ($5.75), Klefbom ($4.167) Kris Russell ($4.0), Sam Gagner ($3.15), Zack Kassian ($1.95), Kyle Brodziak ($1.15) and Joakim Nygard ($0.925).
All told, that’s just over $33.5 million that potentially won’t be on the ice when Edmonton hosts the Boston Bruins, the league’s top team, on Wednesday. To put the lunacy of that number into context, the NHL’s salary cap for the 2019-20 season is $81.5 million.
You don’t need to be an expert to realize missing that many players of that calibre makes trying to stay in the Pacific playoff picture a big ask. Entering Tuesday’s action, the Oilers sat tied atop the division with the Vegas Golden Knights at 70 points. The Vancouver Canucks are just one point behind while the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes are just two points back.
“They're all key guys and all big contributors to our success, so it's obviously tough that guys are missing right now,” Leon Draisaitl said Tuesday. “I think every team goes through that. Some teams might have it at the start of the year. It's obviously bad timing for us right now, but we have to find ways to win hockey games and battle through it.”
Edmonton did get some good news when it comes to their injury woes recently, though. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reported Sunday that McDavid’s recovery from a quad ailment sustained on Feb. 8 is progressing nicely.
Russell is getting close to returning as well. Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said that the shutdown defender skated before practice on Tuesday, but the 32-year-old won’t be ready to go for Wednesday.
Therefore, Edmonton will probably need to call up another defenceman from the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. For the sake of that individual, we can only hope they don’t get stuck on the ice against the dynamite offensive unit of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak at any point in time.
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