Centre of gravity? Absolutely. Those gaping month-long holes down the middle of Edmonton’s line-up are as grave as it gets for a team that was already Spandex thin at centre. With Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins lost until November the Oilers are now left with the urgent task of having to replace their top two centres for as many as 14 games. “We’re hopeful we have the depth to withstand this” said general manager Craig MacTavish who wants to solve the crisis from within and took another look at the candidates in Monday night’s pre-season game with the Winnipeg Jets. “’Our guys will be back pretty quickly.” Not quickly enough for those and there are many who are genuinely concerned that this is enough to seriously jeopardize the season. “With adversity comes great opportunity that’s the only way you can look at it here” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins a few hours before Vancouver’s Zack Kassian was suspended five games for the high stick that broke Gagner’s jaw. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had a disturbing play by a disturbing player take out one of our top players. What do we do go ‘we’re done we quit?’ No.” The show must go on. And with converted winger Taylor Hall playing the part of Nugent-Hopkins the role of Gagner will go to one of several understudies vying for the spot - Anton Lander Mark Arcobello or Will Acton all of whom played in the 2-1 win over Winnipeg. “On certain individuals (the picture) was clearer and on others it was more cloudy” said Eakins. “Some guys that needed to have a good game had it and some guys that needed to have a good game were just OK. “I have a funny feeling this evaluation process might go to the last few seconds of the last exhibition game.” Acton turned his game up a notch Monday scoring his second of the pre-season and bringing a physical element to the table.
With Nugent-Hopkins in recovery and Gagner out, OIlers have a larger hole to fill in the middle of the lineup
Edmonton Sun | Sep 24