As NHL Training Camp Rosters Shrink, Bubble Players Gain Valuable Lessons



As NHL Training Camp Rosters Shrink, Bubble Players Gain Valuable Lessons

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With the NHL pre-season in full swing, players outside the regular season rotation are getting opportunities to showcase their skills. However, as training camp rosters start to shrink, the focus shifts to the makeup of teams on opening night. The pre-season is anything but uniform, with varying numbers of exhibition games and locations ranging from neutral sites to distant locales.

Roster cuts occur on different schedules, reflecting teams’ objectives. Many clubs field more NHL-experienced lineups for home games to engage fans and minimize travel for established players.

The Edmonton Oilers recently took a different approach, reducing their roster to 33 players after a 2-2-0 pre-season record. General Manager Ken Holland aims to reach a salary-cap-compliant 21 players by October 9, one day before the regular season begins.

The Oilers’ remaining players, including injured individuals, will embark on a two-game west-coast road trip. While they faced a 5-2 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks, Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft praised the young players for their performance.

For players like Raphael Lavoie, who is fighting for a roster spot, the opportunity to face a fully-loaded Canucks team is invaluable, providing valuable learning experiences.

Other unproven players made their mark despite less-than-optimal lineups. For instance, young players in the New York Rangers’ lineup impressed, and Joakim Kemell stood out for the Nashville Predators.

In Detroit, 25-year-old free agent Matthew Phillips scored his first goal for the Washington Capitals in a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. Meanwhile, Cross Hanas, a 21-year-old sophomore pro, had a strong game for Detroit.

With more pre-season games ahead, roster cuts will continue around the league. The Edmonton Oilers will focus on team chemistry during a west-coast road trip before facing the Seattle Kraken on Monday night.

As teams make adjustments and finalize their rosters, the regular season draws closer. The Oilers will open their regular season with a home-and-home series against the Vancouver Canucks in October.”


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