Two more returning, and the intrigue begins

Two more players are returning to the Tips as the Edmonton Oilers announced this morning they were reassigning forward Reid Petryk and defenseman Ben Betker back to Everett. That leaves two Tips still with their NHL teams. Winger Jujhar Khaira remains with the Oilers, while defenseman Mirco Mueller is still with the San Jose Sharks.

Petryk’s return is the one that makes things interesting in Everett. The Tips have four overagers on the roster, with just three roster slots available for the season. There was always the possibility Petryk would earn a professional contract and play in the minors this season, which would have solved the issue for Everett. But with Petryk returning, Tips general manager Garry Davidson has a difficult decision to make. He has to pare one away from the following:

– Defenseman Matt Pufahl, who was acquired during the offseason specifically to give the Tips an experienced puck mover on the blue line.

– Forward Joshua Winquist, who was the team’s leading scorer last season and averaged two points per game in the preseason.

– Forward Manraj Hayer, who unless something funny happens today is going to finish as the league’s leading scorer during the preseason with 12 points in six games.

– Petryk, a big and strong player who was deemed worthy of a pro tryout.

I can see an argument for any configuration. You’d have to think Pufahl is safe because he’s a defenseman, and because the Tips gave up a valuable asset in Ayrton Nikkel to acquire him. But I’m not sure how Davidson is going to choose between the three forwards. They all bring a lot to the table. Winquist has the skill, Hayer has the speed, and Petryk has the strength. All three have trade value, and perhaps what Everett can get in return will come into play. Heck, I wouldn’t even be completely shocked if the Tips decided to keep the three forwards instead.

The overager deadline is in mid-October, so the Tips don’t have to make an immediate move. The team will, of course, only be able to play three in any games. If I’m the GM of a team that thinks it’s a contender, and if I have any kind of flexibility at the overager positions, I have Davidson’s phone number on speed dial.

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