Brandon Davidson played his way into the Edmonton Oilers’ lineup during the 2015-16 and was one of the more welcome surprises for the club during yet another down season, but injuries derailed the end of his rookie campaign and appear to have him sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Davidson, 25, missed the final 14 games of the 2015-16 campaign with a knee injury, suffered a concussion in the pre-season and now it appears an upper-body injury will put him on the sideline for what could be weeks.
“(He’ll) be out a while,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “Upper-body injury. Not a head or concussion problem, but an upper-body injury.”
The injury came during the Oilers’ season opener on a play that some felt was borderline by Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk. Late in the second period, Tkachuk broke down the left wing and fired a shot towards the Oilers net with Davidson defending. The puck went out of play, but as Tkachuk and Davidson got tangled up, Tkachuk threw Davidson to the ice and the Oilers blueliner appeared to land awkwardly on his left shoulder:
Asked if the play was clean or not, McLellan said that it was a “call other people than I have to make,” according to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson.
With Davidson out, the question becomes who replaces him on the Oilers blueline. Eric Gryba was called up from the AHL days after signing a two-day deal with Edmonton, and the Oilers have Mark Fayne and rookie Matthew Benning as potential replacements, if they so choose.
Davidson has proven his strengths with his mobility and puck-moving ability, and that may tip the scales in favor of Benning if the Oilers are looking for a one-for-one replacement for Davidson in terms of style. Benning, an Edmonton native, hasn’t yet played an NHL game and comes to the Oilers by way of the NCAA’s Northeastern University. During his three-year stay at Northeastern, Benning posted nine goals and 57 points.
However, even if Benning might be the most similar defenseman to Davidson, the veteran ability of Fayne, 29, and Gryba, 28, might give McLellan more comfort as replacements.
"We won't make that decision yet," McLellan said Thursday. "We've got to take a look at our pairs, take a look at how we want to role them out."
Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson was also absent from practice Thursday, but according to McLellan that was simply a maintenance day and there’s no concern about him missing time. Larsson took a hit from Tkachuck late in the Oilers’ opener and he was moving slow after the hit.
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