Oilers Coach Kris Knoblauch behind the bench.
Photo credit: SaltWire

Oilers' coach Knoblauch makes tough decision to scratch veteran player

Published January 5, 2024 at 1:34 PM
With a few days off between games, the Edmonton Oilers had a chance to ease themselves back into the NHL schedule after the holiday break, which provided some players much-needed time to recovery from nagging injuries.

Over the last few days, both Sam Gagner and Dylan Holloway were cleared to return to the lineup. The Oilers sent Holloway to the AHL to get more ice time, but there hasn't been a similar solution for Gagner. In fact, Head Coach Knoblauch is projecting Gagner to be a healthy scratch, potentially for the next few games.

With the Oilers currently on a six game win streak, Knoblauch clearly doesn't want to disrupt the run the team is on by subbing out the bottom six forwards. In recent games, even Connor Brown has seen some improvement and gained a little trust from the coach.

Although Gagner has had a great season so far, there's merit in Knoblauch's decision. Gagner will have more time to practice and get back to game speed after his injury, and some Oilers players will have incentive to battle as hard as they can to stay in the lineup, knowing Gagner is waiting in the wings. For a fourth liner with minimal opportunities, Gagner has an impressive 4 goals and 9 points in 18 games, while also being a veteran and a fan-favourite player.

Additionally, Knoblauch revealed that the team is planning to recall a seventh defenceman for their upcoming road trip. Whether that could be Philip Broberg, perhaps called up for a showcase to trade, or another depth defenceman to simply plug the gap for a road trip, we'll have to wait and see to find out.

January 5   |   279 answers
Oilers' coach Knoblauch makes tough decision to scratch veteran player

Is it the right move to scratch Gagner for now?

Yes, the team is on a roll14853 %
No, he's a veteran who deserves to be in9634.4 %
See Results3512.5 %
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