EDMONTON, Alberta — Jon Merrill watched the Golden Knights’ past five games while wearing a suit and tie, patiently waiting for his chance to get in the lineup.
That opportunity came Tuesday.
“I’m really looking forward to just getting out there with my teammates and help contribute to some wins and be a big part of this team,” Merrill said after the team’s morning skate. “We’ve got a great group of guys, so it makes it fun to be a part of this team in any way.”
Merrill played alongside defenseman Nate Schmidt, as Sbisa did not make the trip to western Canada because of a lower-body injury.
Merrill got the nod over defenseman Shea Theordore, which allowed coach Gerard Gallant to keep the Deryk Engelland-Brayden McNabb and Brad Hunt-Colin Miller partnerships together.
Merrill was scratched in 13 of the Knights’ first 16 games and hadn’t played since Oct. 31 against the New York Rangers.
“You just got to be a pro about it and work hard every day,” Merrill said, “look forward to opportunities like this to get in the lineup and help.”
Edmonton’s Todd McLellan was the latest opposing coach to heap praise on the Knights for their work ethic.
McLellan said the team’s fast start is a tribute to general manager George McPhee, assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon and Gallant.
“They’ve done a really good job of putting their team together, and I would say they’ve developed an identity a lot faster than any of the expansion teams of the past,” McLellan said Tuesday after the Oilers’ morning skate. “When you get that identity quickly, you get confidence.”
Injured goaltender Malcolm Subban made an appearance near the end of the Knights’ morning skate to test his lower-body injury.
Subban did not practice or face any shots during the 30-minute workout and remains on the injured-reserve list. Dylan Ferguson was the backup for Maxime Lagace against the Oilers.
The Knights announced they will have a canned food drive during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena.
Fans attending the 5 p.m. game can bring nonperishable food items that will be donated to Three Square Food Bank. The team also will hold a drive Saturday at City National Arena.
Odds and ends
Knights forward William Karlsson played in his 200th career NHL game. … The Oilers traded veteran forward Jussi Jokinen to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Mike Cammalleri before Tuesday’s game.