Oilers Takeaways: Sutter’s bid to return ends; Campbell sharp vs. Kraken

Top prospect Xavier Bourgault tallied two goals and Jack Campbell stopped 32 shots as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Seattle Kraken 4-1 in pre-season play.

On a night where the Edmonton Oilers came to grips with the loss of Brandon Sutter, they may have found a couple of other bright lights in Jack Campbell, Xavier Bourgault and Ben Gleason

Campbell stopped 32 shots and was spectacular, allowing just a single goal over 60 minutes for the second time this pre-season. If this is supposed to be a bounce-back season for Campbell, he’s starting off on the right foot. 

“I’m just doin’ it right now,” Campbell said. “I learned so much last year, worked super hard this summer on so many things. It’s just great to be back, and there’s nothing better than being around a bunch of guys who are craving to win.” 

Edmonton beat the Seattle Kraken 4-1 despite being outshot 33-14. Now they had home for their final two pre-season games Wednesday and Friday. 

“It was fun, Seattle played quick, they have a lot of talent. Always fun to play against them,” Campbell said. “Just fun to be out there. Pretty fast-paced, guys were blocking shots, and a couple of big plays in the crease to keep it out.” 

Bourgault scored twice, cashing a rebound and sniping a nice one-timer in the third period. 

“I think I was involved in every area of the game. Defensively, on the PK, and finding every area of the ice,” said Bourgault, who put on 10 lbs. over the summer  “My confidence is a lot higher. I am making more plays. If you’re going to the net good things happen, and tonight I got rewarded for going to the blue paint.” 


Alas, there may never be a Sutter who plays for the Edmonton Oilers, after Brandon Sutter’s bid to return from long Covid came to an abrupt halt on Sunday. 

“I met with Brandon (Sunday) along with Jay Woodcroft and (head athletic therapist) T.D. Forss, and he basically told us that due to health concerns, he was going to end his PTO,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said from Seattle on Monday. 

No one was saying specifically, but there was no injury or other illness contracted by Sutter. That he ended his PTO and retired this quickly tells us that the long Covid symptoms that kept him out of hockey for the past two season had returned. 

The effect on his immune system will render Sutter unable to play at the NHL level, and his career will end at age 34, with 770 games played for Carolina, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. 

“Out of respect for Brandon, I would just leave it at that,” Holland said when asked for further specifics. “He met with us yesterday, he had some health concerns, and he just felt that he was going to basically end his playing career. 

“I know he was very disappointed when we met with him. He’s from Red Deer, and there were a lot of things to like for him, looking for a job in the Bottom 6. I know he was very disappointed when he when he told us the news.” 

A six-foot-three, right-shot centreman with almost 800 games of NHL experience, Sutter was the perfect candidate for the Oilers fourth-line centre spot. Now, they’ll see if any internal candidates can fill the role, and watch the waiver wire over the next week as teams cut down. 

“(Lane) Pederson can play centre. We’ve signed him (two years, $775,000 per). Derek Ryan plays centre,” Holland said. “Dylan Holloway played centre in his college career, though I think we’d like him on left wing. 

“There are nights we’re probably going to play 11 and seven, and that’s really three centres and four sets of wingers. We’ve had some success with that, though ideally we’d like to go 12 and six.” 

Look on the bright side, Oilers fan: Some teams are looking for a first- or second-line centre. With Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan McLeod in the fold, the search for a 4C is something Holland can cope with. 

“I’ve been a manager for 25 years, and there’s always something down the road. It never works out smoothly. So you’ve got to prepare to go in lots of different directions.” 


A nice battle is forming on the blue line, where we’ve all just assumed that the only true competition is between Philip Broberg and Vincent Desharnais, with the loser claiming the No. 7 job. 

Broberg had a nice game Monday, with a lovely backhand feed on Bourgault’s second of the night, while Desharnais also had an assist and was plus-3. But it was Ben Gleason who stole the show in Seattle, with two assists on a plus-four night. 

Gleason’s chances of staying in Edmonton are slim and none, but he’s making a solid case to be the first defenceman called up from Bakersfield when injury strikes. 

“He’s a heads up player and made some good passes,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He seems to be growing in confidence as camp wears on. Lots of really good, clean plays from Ben tonight.” 

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