This just in…
The Edmonton Oilers have re-called prospect C Ryan McLeod from Bakersfield and assigned him to the NHL club’s Taxi Squad.
It’s expected he could be in the Oilers lineup as early as Monday versus Montreal.
Here’s what we wrote this morning at The Cult of Hockey, RE: McLeod:
-Dave Tippett and his staff know they’re in the postseason. While they’re absolutely still trying to win each and every game, they are concurrently getting their “looks” at certain lines, matchups and other configurations. Come playoff time you need to be prepared to expose every weakness your opposition may have. And an argument can be made that all 3 of the Oilers potential playoff opponents (in the Canadian division, that is) have one weakness in common: Their blueline can be exposed with the forecheck. Winnipeg’s D is the weakest of the 4. The Canadiens are suspect once you’re past their Top 3 and Shea Weber (whom I respect) has lost half a step. The Leafs have improved their D but still have only 3 fewer Goals Against than Edmonton. And I see their goaltending as the bigger question mark of the 4. So, who could Dave Tippett add that improves the Oilers forecheck? Nygard is one, we saw that on Saturday. Dylan Holloway is almost certainly not in the picture any longer. Who else on the taxi squad or Bakersfield possesses that specific skill, but who also brings enough other things to the party to be able to contribute at an NHL level for more than just 7-8 minutes a night? I believe that Ken Holland did look at a few veteran wingers at the trade deadline to help fill this role. But at the end of the day, it’s likely that Holland decided whoever was available and for the price that Ken was willing to pay…wasn’t as good and didn’t check as many boxes as. Ryan McLeod. He’s enjoying a breakout season with the Bakersfield Condors. After a spectacular performance Saturday, he now has 28 points in 28 games (14 goals and 14 assists). McLeod is a strapping kid (6’2, 210) and skates well above the NHL average. Those 2 traits in particular could add up to a strong Bottom-6 forechecking candidate. McLeod can also play either the wing or center (he’s over 50% in the circle this year, a big area of growth), is a top penalty killer and is responsible defensively 5v5 (he’s +23 on the season, among the AHL’s leaders). Oh, and McLeod’s cap hit is only $834K. That also matters to the cap-strapped Oilers. A lot.
-Now, you may think that it’s better for Ryan McLeod to stay put in Bakersfield and get some playoff experience. But I’m made to understand that some AHL owners may not even want to even have a playoff. While some clubs have started letting some fans in, it’s not at any level where most of them could make any money. Or, more to the point, lose less of it). There won’t be a Calder Cup. So why lose money just to play divisional championships? Besides, McLeod is already dominating at that level. He’s ready. Plus, how long is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out for? Do we know? Head injuries like concussions are hard and dangerous to predict”.
If you only have 4 call-ups and Nygard is one, James Neal or Tyler Ennis is probably the 2nd. A 3rd Defence spot will likely be held in reserve in case there’s an injury on the RHS and you need to re-call Evan Bouchard? Logic dictates that the 4th spot would be a Center. And if your postseason plans past McDavid and Draisaitl focuses on employing an aggressive forecheck, is that Center Kyle Turris? Or is it Ryan McLeod?
Clearly, it would seem, the latter.
More to come…