OILERS COMMENTS: Samorukov May Get His First NHL Look In St. Louis

If he plays, it will be his first NHL game since being called up in the third round four and a half years ago

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Dmitri Samorukov bided his time as two other left-handed Edmonton Oilers defenders, Markus Niemelainen and Philip Broberg, were called by the Bakersfield, California ranch, but his wait to skate his first solo NHL round may be over.

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Samorukov may get the nod to Broberg for the game in St. Louis because of Broberg’s contract/bonus structure in terms of the tight salary cap. He broke his jaw in a rookie game in September when he suffered a shoulder to the face after undergoing major shoulder surgery in the 2020-21 Kontinental Hockey League season.

If he does, it will be his first NHL game since being called up in the third round four and a half years ago.

“This was a lot of fun,” Samorukov said of practicing with the Oilers after being recalled from California. “Back to Russia again.”

Getting injured, he says, is part of the job.

But it put him organizationally behind Niemelainen and Broberg on the left. He says he wasn’t frustrated that he wasn’t called. And has no hard feelings.

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“I’ve had a lot of injuries and stuff. It was more about working on my game to show them what I could do,” said Samorukov, whose name may have come up last summer when the Oilers tried to trade for Arizona. goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper and the Coyotes were looking for a top contender in the deal.

With Niemelainen and Broberg’s surprising play, teams may also be circling the trade deadline for Samorukov if the Oilers make a move for a veteran who plays in the top six.

“Samorukov played a lot of minutes when the other defenders were here and hopefully he’ll jump in and go,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “Last year he was doing well in the KHL and the first reports were that he was doing a good job (with SKA St. Petersburg), but he got injured. It looked like he was ready for a great camp and got injured again. He has to play.”

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READY TO ROLL

Duncan Keith passed his final COVID-19 test after being on protocol and was paired up with Cody Ceci on Tuesday before the team flew to St. Louis. So that will be a regular defensive pair against the Blues. It looked like Tyson Barrie will be playing Slater Koekkoek with Evan Bouchard, either with Samorukov or Broberg.

IMPRESSION ON THE TEACHER

Tippett certainly noticed that fourth-line striker Tyler Benson turned his offensive American Hockey League game into a more irritating one to make it as an NHLer. Maybe there’s a bit of a rat in there. He is like former Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar, now a good face-off man and checker in Boston.

“I give Tyler a lot of credit for wanting to be an NHL player. There’s a little bit of combativeness, making sure he gets his checks done. Guys come out as great attacking players, but it’s all about a role in the NHL He’ll do whatever it takes,” Tippett said.

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NOT SO SILENT MINORITY

Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues, who is said to have played in the Olympics for Russia, joined several NHLers upset by the league deciding it was not sending players due to COVID.

“They promised us we could go and they took it away, but we still play (NHL games) here. You dream about the Olympics while growing up, like in any country in the world. Canada or USA or Russia or Finland. Any country,” he told St. Louis media.

Tarasenko said he would have gone even if he had to go through isolation in China for several weeks if he tested positive for COVID there.

“I think you’d be surprised how many people would go,” he said.

This and that: The Oilers TV broadcast crew flew the team to St. Louis, so Jack Michaels and Louie DeBrusk will be broadcasting the game live rather than off a monitor, as they’ve done quite a bit during road races. But Cam Moon and Bob Stauffer, the CHED radio guys, stay behind to work on the game here in the CHED studios.

Email: jmatheson@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @jimmathesonnhl

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