If Edmonton Oilers want a quick start to making the playoffs for only the second time since 2006, they’ll have to win some games on the road.The Oilers open at home with games against the Vancouver Canucks Oct. 2 and Los Angeles Kings Oct. 5, but have nine of their next 13 away from Rogers Place including a four-game trip to play the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Chiacgo Blackhawks, a three-game trek to Detroit, Columbus and Pittsburgh and two road games in Minnesota and Winnipeg.Notable home dates:Nov. 6: Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues Dec. 14: Toronto Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews Dec. 20: Montreal Canadiens Dec. 21: Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby Dec. 31: New York Rangers. Feb. 19: Stanley Cup finalist Boston Bruins In a quirk, the Oilers don’t play their main rival Calgary until Dec. 27 here, the first of five games against the Flames (three in Calgary, two at Rogers Place). The Oilers play six of their last seven at home if they’re chasing a playoff spot, finishing the season in Calgary April 4.The Oilers have nine back-to-back games this season and nine afternoon games, three at Rogers Place (Florida Panthers Oct. 27, Dallas Stars Nov. 16 and Coyotes Jan. 18)They have have a 10-day break in January because of the mandated five-day break for all teams, plus the all-star game. It starts Jan. 19 after the afternoon tilt against Arizona with the next home game against the Flames Jan. 29.Qualifying movesPredictably, the Oilers qualified wingers Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira Tuesday to keep their rights but didn’t send out QO’s to Ty Rattie and Tobias Rieder so they’ll be unrestricted free-agents July 1. Rieder could end up in Germany unless another NHL team wants to sign him for a bargain basement price ($1 million). Rattie had a terrific camp last fall (seven goals) but it didn’t translate to regular-season where he had four goals and 11 points in 50 league games.The Oilers are also letting farmhands Colin Larkin and Tyler Vesel go to UFA status.Oilers looked around for trading partners for Puljujarvi at the draft — there was one report Pittsburgh might be interested but the Oilers wanted Bryan Rust which was rejected — but GM Ken Holland wants either a top forward prospect for him or a ready-made NHL winger who can play in the top 8 the next three or four years.So somebody in the 23- to 27-year-old range.If Puljujarvi goes back to Finland rather signing a one-year deal here, so be it.“If Jesse wants to go, it’s a socialization thing (uncomfortable European) not how it is on the ice,” said an NHL executive, when asked about his desire for a fresh start.Perry on radarThe Oilers still have Corey Perry in the back of their minds as a free-agent signing. The question is can Perry play a whole season at 34, coming off a major knee problem that limited him to 31 games in Anaheim. They believe there’s still lots of fight in this junkyard dog winger, who loves being on the ice and around rinks, but will his body hold up for most of a season if signed?This ‘n’ thatDefenceman Dmitri Samorukov won’t play in the Billy Moores Cup Thursday and won’t be on the ice for any competitive puck drills the rest of the development camp because of lingering medical issues from his playoff time in Guelph. “He had a shoulder injury at the end of his season. That’s sore but not a serious problem and he hurt his wrist in the Memorial Cup and it didn’t feel right. He’s had an MRI but we don’t know the results yet,” said Oilers VP of player personnel Scott Howson. Ex-Oiler winger Matt Hendricks, who just turned 38, has retired after 607 NHL games and is in player development with the Stars now. Hendricks, beloved in every NHL stop, has NHL assistant coach written all over him down the road. Swedish defenceman Joel Persson, who had knee problems before the playoffs in Vaxjo, is healthy and will be at camp. “I talked to him every two weeks and he’s fine,” said Howson. Defenceman Evan Bouchard will be staying in town for a couple of weeks after the development camp to work with the fitness staff to make sure he’s on the right path. Another former Oiler Mark Letestu, who played last year with Cleveland, Columbus’s AHL farm team, still wants to play if he can get a two-way deal somewhere. He’s not ready to go down the coaching path, which is what his former Oilers coach Todd McLellan says is a natural for him. A report out of Switzerland says the Oilers have an offer on the table for 27-year-old national/Olympic team centre Gaetan Haas (six-feet, 181 pounds) who plays in Bern and had 38 points in 50 league games. Philip Broberg’s mother and father, both civil engineers, are here with him for development camp. Philip turned 18 Tuesday which means he could have a beer. Boston College centre Aapeli Rasanen (sixth round, 2016) isn’t at camp (college players don’t lose their eligibility for development camps as long as they pay their own way to them) for a second straight year, this time because he’s hurt. “Dislocated shoulder and he had surgery,” said Howson. Winger Kirill Maksimov won’t be playing in the Billy Moores Cup, either. “He tore his PCL (knee) at the end of regular-season (junior). He’s not 100 per cent but it’s nothing to be concerned about,” said Howson. Finnish winger Patrik Siikanen (Espoo Jrs), seventh round, 2018) will be playing in their top league with JVP Jyvaskyla, the city 130 km from Tampere, next season. “I would expect him to play in the world juniors (under 20) this year because he’s always been part of their national team (program),” said Howson. Howson said the Oilers wouldn’t be signing Providence College senior Hayden Hawkey, whose rights they obtained from Montreal in 2018 for a fifth-round draft pick, even though he had a big last season. He’ll be a free-agent this summer. Too many organizational goalies (Shane Starrett, Stuart Skinner, Dylan Wells) in pro and Olivier Rodrigue one year away. firstname.lastname@example.org
Oil Spills podcast: Oilers’ needs obvious as NHL free agency approachesAn NHL goalie and a forward with some scoring prowess are high on Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland’s shopping list as this summer’s NHL free agency comes closer.Hockey beat writers Jim Matheson and Rob Tychkowski talk to host Craig Ellingson about free agency and about the Oilers’ bounty from the recent NHL Draft, which saw the team take defenceman Philip Broberg in the first round.