Then, on Monday, the Oilers lost to the Canucks 3-2 in overtime. Even worse, they lost captain Shawn Horcoff, who had just returned to the lineup after suffering a neck injury, to a broken knuckle.
During Monday's game, the team lost 70 percent of faceoffs, and it became shockingly evident that there is a lack of depth at center. With Belanger and Horcoff on injury reserve, the team needs to compensate.
On Tuesday, Edmonton recalled Mark Arcobello from the Oklahoma City Barons to fill the hole at center. Wednesday will be the 24-year-olds first NHL game as the Oilers face the Stars.
Arcobello is the Barons' best forward, with 14 goals and 39 points this season. The AHL options aren't plentiful, and Arcobello is the most suitable. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that a player with zero NHL games is going make up for the loss of two veteran centers.
Ideally, the Oilers would make a trade, but it is unlikely that at this time in the season any teams will be willing to move a quality center. In the shortened season, Edmonton doesn't have the luxury of waiting until the deadline.
The Edmonton Journal suggests that the Oilers look into the free agency pool. There is talent on the market. However, there is a lack of good defensive forwards. Nonetheless, if they want to win games, the Oilers may have to make do with what is available.
Among their list of potential candidates is Jason Arnott. While Arnott is likely the most distinguished player available, he probably won't answer Edmonton's problems. He doesn't kill penalties and with Horcoff and Belanger gone, that is something the team needs.
A better fit would be a player like Dominic Moore. Moore is excellent in faceoffs, kills penalties, and is reliable defensively. However, it is unclear whether Moore will return to the NHL this season after the passing of his wife Katie just less than a month ago.
The Journal's list also includes Daymond Langkow, Brendan Morrison, and Jesse Winchester.
For now, as they face the Stars, the Oilers will just have to keep their fingers crossed that the injury situation isn't as bad as it seems.