Last Word on Hockey is bringing you its Black Aces Series, covering every team in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. Recently the NHL owners and NHLPA agreed to an expanded playoff format to finish the 2019-2020 season and award the Stanley Cup. There will be 24 teams participating as opposed to the normal 16 teams. Today, we feature the Edmonton Oilers Black Aces.
There are a lot of details to be worked out as well as the schedule and location of the games. With the AHL season being canceled, that makes a lot more players available to the NHL teams participating. NHL Black Aces are once again in the news so today we are looking at which players may be among the Edmonton Oilers Aces selected.
Edmonton Oilers Black Aces
The term “Black Ace” was once used negatively. The term originated from Eddie Shore, who would refer to spare players as a “Black Ace.” Shore would say that a team would be in bad shape if they had to use one of their Black Aces in a game. However, recently, it has been used more positively. A team would use a Black Ace to help them overcome the loss of a player or if they thought a different player could be utilized in a way to help the team win. Let’s look at the Oilers aces in the hole.
Edmonton is not a team that has a lot of bubble players this year. Ken Holland made key moves at the deadline to bolster up his lineup for the playoffs. So for the most part, every player’s role is quite defined on the team. However, they do have some players that may be able to step up in the event of an injury. There is a mix of players who already have some NHL experience, as well as prospects that may surprise when given the opportunity.
Today, we’ll break down a few players who could be considered Edmonton Oilers Black Aces. We also predict how they can impact the team this summer.
Tyler Benson is one of the most NHL-ready forwards in the Oiler’s pipeline. In 47 games for the Bakersfield Condors this year, Benson has found the net nine times, along with 27 assists for a total of 36 points.
He appeared in seven NHL games for the Oilers this season but did not show enough to stick around long-term. From what we saw, adjusting to the speed of the NHL game was the biggest concern for Benson. Aside from that, the organization values Benson for his high hockey I.Q. and excellent playmaking abilities.
Like all young players adjusting to the speed at the NHL level, Benson should improve with experience. As he is only 22-years-old, he still has time to make a good impression with the Oilers.
If needed to plug into the lineup during the playoffs, Benson could give the Oiler’s another depth skilled winger to support their two stars (Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl). But the chances of him seeing a big role in this year’s playoffs is low.
Markus Granlund is arguably the most experienced player on this Edmonton Oilers Black Aces list. With 335 games of NHL experience, Granlund is also one of the most proven and versatile Black ace options at forward.
Granlund stuck around with the Oilers for a bit this season, appearing in 34 games, but only managed to score three goals and one assist. In Bakersfield he put up better numbers, scoring six goals, nine assists, and 15 points in 20 games.
At 27-years-old, it’s hard to say if Granlund will make a significant impact for the Oilers if they do decide to inject him into the lineup. Compared to others on this list, Granlund might have the most limited upside. But at the same time, he can play both the centre and the wing and can be used as a penalty-killing option.
So his experience and versatility may come in handy if the Oilers go on a deep playoff run.
Tomas Jurco is another player with some NHL experience that could be on the Edmonton Oilers Black Aces this year. Since being drafted in the second round in 2011, Jurco has played over 200 NHL games in the past six seasons.
He also made the Oilers out of camp but failed to impress management to keep him around all season. He appeared in 12 games for the Oilers, and only managed to get two points with the big club.
Jurco has spent the majority of 2019-20 with Bakersfield. Despite battling with some injuries, he almost scored at a point-per-game rate with seven points in eight games.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jurco has a little bit of NHL playoff experience, appearing in t 10 games for the Detroit Red Wings. He also has the versatility to play both wings. So having him as a Black Ace forward should give the Oilers more options down the stretch.
William Lagesson is likely a top defence candidate on the Edmonton Oilers Black Aces list this year. The 24-year-old appeared in eight games for the Oilers in 2019-20 and was called upon a few different occasions.
At 6′-2”, 207 pounds Lagesson is a dependable stay-at-home defenceman with good size. From what we have seen, his offensive upside may be limited at the NHL level, as he has yet to register a point in 2019-20.
However, the Oilers do lack a bit of experience on the blueline with the likes of Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones on the team. Perhaps this will give Lagesson a shot to squeak into the lineup if the former doesn’t perform well during the playoffs.
Evan Bouchard is likely the most interesting name to follow on this list. The former first-round pick of the Oilers is one of the best defensive prospects in the organization. Despite spending the entire 2019-20 season in the AHL, Bouchard put up decent numbers. Scoring seven goals, 29 assists, and 36 points in 54 games.
At only 20-years-old, Bouchard still has plenty of room to grow and improve. And when he is ready to take that next step, he should be a core piece on the Oilers’ blueline for a long, long time.
As of now the Oilers’ defensive roster is pretty stacked. Especially with the addition of Mike Green at the deadline. So it might be tough for Bouchard to see any playing time for the Oilers in the playoffs. Rushing Bouchard is likely not on the Oilers’ agenda.
But nonetheless, the Oilers might put him on the Edmonton Oilers Black Aces list simply for the experience. Getting a chance to potentially experience a deep playoff run will become invaluable for Bouchard’s NHL career in the long run.
Even though the Oilers already have two proven goalies in net this year, it never hurts to have another one in the barn just in case. Stuart Skinner likely fills in that spot, as a prime goaltender candidate on the Oilers’ Black Ace list.
The 21-year-old has been gradually improving his game in the AHL over the past two seasons. In 41 AHL games this year, Skinner posted a 3.31 GAA along with a .892 SV%. Those numbers aren’t particularly solid but he is still young and has time to significantly improve in the next few years.
Granted that both goaltenders stay healthy, it is unlikely that Skinner will see any NHL playoff action this year. But all in all, being on the Oilers’ Black Ace roster should be beneficial for his development.