In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, Zack Kassian has found himself on the receiving end of a few humorous shots from his teammates and both Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid talk about what’s going on with their downtime and what they’d like to see going forward with the NHL season. In other news, James Neal is listed as a potential buy out candidate by The Athletic and Ken Holland confirms interest in bringing back Anton Slepyshev.

Draisaitl On Staying Busy and Downtime

Draisaitl took part in a live video chat with and answering questions from fans and media, he said he didn’t have a preference as to whether or not the NHL decided to go with a regular season resumption or just jumped right into the playoffs. He said missing the game-day routines might be the toughest part about being out and that he’s just looking forward to getting back to playing.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He’s got a gym in his house so he’s doing what he can to stay in shape, but he’s also got a ton of time on his hands and has taken up doing a lot of puzzles.

When asked who he’d be concerned about being quarantined with, he said Zack Kassian would be interesting because he’s always good for a laugh. Interestingly, Connor McDavid said something similar, but noted that Kassian has far too much energy for McDavid and didn’t think he could handle being roommates with him. He said he’d choose Darnell Nurse, a player he used to share residence with.

As some fans have noticed, McDavid has been posting multiple videos of him doing workouts with his dog.

Related: Edmonton Oilers With 100-Point Seasons

Could James Neal Be Buyout Candidate?

The Athletic’s Allan Mitchell suggested James Neal as the obvious contract buyout candidate for the Edmonton Oilers and said that could happen even if the NHL chooses not to implement compliance buyouts.

Winnipeg Jets vs Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid, right wing Tomas Jurco, left wing James Neal, defenceman Oscar Klefbom and centre Leon Draisaitl celebrate (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

Citing his age (32), production (19 goals, 31 points in 55 games), and contract length ($5.75 million annually through 2022-23), he’s the easy decision for a team that needs to make changes should the salary cap stay flat next season. If there are compliance buyouts, Neal becomes a no-brainer decision.

Mitchell writes when looking at other potential buyout candidates, he notes:

The lone arguable exception is the rambunctious Zack Kassian, whose new deal looks generous in light of a falling cap and a couple of suspension-filled months in a lesser role. The Oilers aren’t going to buy out that deal before it starts, nor should they.

source -‘If the Oilers need to clear money with a buyout, they have one real option’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 03/26/2020

Related: Ken Holland’s Red Wings Legacy

Oilers Confirm Interest in Anton Slepyshev

“I met with Sleppy just before Christmas, watched him play in a tournament and I do have interest in bringing him over,” said General Manager of the Oilers Ken Holland. While speaking to the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, Holland noted that Slepyshev had a good season in Russia, which included a 20-game point-streak, but added, “I haven’t talked to his agent in two or three weeks but now that the KHL season is shut down, I’ll see what they’re thinking.”

Anton Slepyshev Oilers
Anton Slepyshev, Edmonton Oilers, Oct. 21, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He added that he’s going to try and convince Slepyshev to come play in the best league in the world and be part of what the Oilers are building, but that he’s not willing to overpay.

“Obviously, I’m not negotiating against the KHL, I’m in no position to do that.” … “If anybody wants to give him $2.5 million to $3 million, we’re not in the game anyways.”

source -‘Oilers only want Anton Slepyshev back at right price’ Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 03/30/2020

Related: NHL Rumors: Wild, Lightning, Blackhawks, More

Oilers Laying Off Employees

And, in news that seems to be hitting every industry hard, The Oilers Entertainment Group is temporarily reducing its staff by 139 employees. The decision comes in an effort to reduce costs and includes trimming compensation for those still working from home, the club announced Monday.

As part of the announcement, “OEG will ensure that all non-executive employees – whether they’ve been laid off or are still working from home – will continue to receive 75% to 90% of their respective salaries.”

Further to the news that non-executive employees will be taking a hit, on March 24, the Oilers’ senior hockey and business executives decided to temporarily forgo half to all of their respective salaries to help the organization financially.

Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors