The Edmonton Oilers are planning to address depth at center via the trade route, as Ryan Rishaug put the David Legwand rumors to rest late Thursday afternoon.
So, we move on.
NAMES WE’VE HEARD
The Edmonton Oilers are a funny organization. They pride themselves on being smarter than everyone, have forever, and yet they also can’t keep quiet about what they have planned. The Oilers supply their fans with transactions, thrills and spills, but also a narrative that guides us through these events. They offer groups of options, we fasten ourselves to one possible solution, and then the Oilers drop the hammer and we either rejoice or throw ourselves overboard. It’s like Clue or Charades or a Poe story: you’re casting about for answers based on the narrator clues.
- Brayden Schenn—He’s been thrown out to the fanbase for years now. Schenn is a former high draft pick who hasn’t blossomed in his time with the Flyers. Although originally drafted by the Kings, the recently signed Schenn may be an Oiler some time this summer.
- Josh Bailey—Bailey has been mentioned a number of times, most recently yesterday. He’s not really a center anymore, but the name keeps showing up on the Oilers wheel of meat, so he could be in Edmonton by summer’s end.
- Patrik Berglund—The drumbeats have been louder of late, I can’t see the Blues dealing him for picks and long range prospects. Edmonton doesn’t have a useful player who can be sent down for recall as required (beyond Marincin and Klefbom), I think that’s a likely barrier to a deal.
- Zack Smith—Travis Yost and I traded him to Edmonton several times.
- Cody Eakin—A fairly recent addition.
- Brandon Sutter—A two-way center we talked about during the Olympic break.
- Nazem Kadri—Less talk lately, but he’s certainly a quality player.
- Artem Anisimov—Perfect fit, more wishful thinking than actual rumor.
- Ryan Strome—Islanders are always in rumors, they trade away their young constantly.
Mark Arcobello looms large on this roster right now, either as a 2line C or 4line C or utility outfielder. I’d rather hire Loktionov (who we discussed yesterday) than pay a pretty penny for Josh Bailey. There’s a sense I get that Oiler fans are deathly afraid that we’ll begin the season Nuge-Arco-Dr. Drai-Gordon, but I’d rather begin the beguine addled than give up Jeff Petry for a bridge solution at center. The Oilers don’t NEED a 10-year answer to this question, they need the five years Jeff Petry has in front of him.
I’m beginning to like this kid more. In an interview over at the Hockey Writers, Yakimov details his summer training and how he feels about Edmonton, the Oilers and the possibility of playing in the AHL this season. The AHL and the KHL are (imo) probably similar leagues in quality, so if we extrapolate Yak 2’s numbers over a complete AHL season, we get 76GP, 16-12-28 based on his Russian winter in 2013-14. I suspect he’ll score better than that, Bogdan wasn’t playing heavy minutes in the KHL. If we take his 9:32 and boost that by half again, we end up at 76GP, 24-18-42 for a full AHL season.
Nothing scientific there, but it gives us a little glance into what we might expect from him this coming season.
That was Craig MacTavish before the draft this summer, and I’ll take him at his word here because it matches the Oilers established past. Much is being made of Nurse being sent down last year, breaking the chain of players who went from the draft podium to NHL ice. It’s not really a clear case of patience, because Nurse is a defender and that’s a tougher gig to suss out.
Joanne Ireland has a piece up at the EJ about Nurse and orientation camp. The young man wants it bad, I love seeing that in these prospects. He’s facing an uphill climb, and the organization has placed all of these obstacles in front of him. His reaction? Don’t care, I’m going to make them break my heart again.
- Nurse: “I’m close. For sure. I’ve been pushing myself this year to different lengths than I ever have.”
Love it! You keep pushing kid, give these old coaches and managers a real headache, make them fret about sending you back this time. I believe there’s a 9-game available to Darnell Nurse if he kicks out the jams during main camp and pre-season. More importantly, Darnell Nurse thinks he’s close. This is going to be one helluva training camp on the way.
- Michael Parkatti on Nurse: “All you can really ask of your prospects is that they progress. I think it’s pretty obvious he progressed year over year. It’s probably a function of the opportunity he was given, he was playing behind some older players during his draft season. It’s good to see that he performed pretty well when given the chance. In terms of his chances, you have to look at the depth chart and think he has a shot here.”
The depth chart has changed since Parkatti said them on the Lowdown, but the thought still applies. The Edmonton Oilers didn’t bring Pronger in this summer, after all.
Poster Diesel was at the Orientation camp yesterday and posted the following comments. They are top drawer and a must-read:
- Spent the day in Jasper at the Orientation Camp. There’s a “Pray the Gay Away” joke there somewhere, but I’ll skip it and get to my observations.
- I did not stand there making notes on each player, as there are simply too many skaters and not enough time to develop much of an opinion. Instead I focused on The Saddle, Nurse, Khaira, Roy, and Houck. If anyone has any questions about a particular player I can reach into the ol’ thinkbox and see of anything is still rattling around.
- The first player I watched intently was (surprise!) The Saddle. First impression: My girlfriend and I could have a proper candlelight dinner while sitting across his shoulders. I initially thought he might be a bit top heavy until I saw him on the bike afterwards. He has the legs to match – just a nice thick build that may play a major part in getting him through the gauntlet this year.
- He was definitely full of nerves for the first several drills. Although he did improve over the course of the 2.5 hour session, I don’t think he quite reached a comfort level that was conducive to putting himself on display to an anxious onlooker like myself. He even looked a bit frustrated with himself at one point. This is all very understandable for a player in his circumstance, not to mention I’m not sure when he was last able to skate. Likely had some rust in there too. That being said, a few things were still noticeable. His straight line skating is certainly an area for improvement. He has a wide set stance that looks like he’s sitting in a… well, saddle. In contrast to his straight like skating that looks a bit clumsy, his footwork in close quarters (especially with the puck) is quite slick and agile. He’s able to pick up a puck that is rimmed around the boards with a remarkable little spin move that has him advancing to the net in the blink of an eye. He made use of that a few times as he intercepted a few outlet attempts. His finish in tight is also elite. Great hands in a breakaway/shootout scenario.
- The next player I noticed was for all the wrong reasons. Jackson Houck. His skating below average in the group, his shot rarely on target and with little pace, and in general looked quite out of place at times. To be fair, he may have jitters and rust too, or any player for that matter. Although I left with a pretty unimpressed opinion of him, maybe it was just a bad day.
- Marco Roy has an absolute laser of a snapshot. And deadly accurate. If you give him an attempt on net within 25 feet there’s a pretty good chance it’s clipping the bar/post and going in before the goalie can properly react. 2 on 1 situations he’s shoots 9 times out of 10 and is rewarded for it. Needs a Nuge to give him endless looks.
- Khaira is an absolute monster and is far too much to handle for almost every opponent he had in a battle scenario. I watched him at last years camp as well, so it’s not just a shiny new toy situation. He definitely put on more weight. If you tried to bump/pin him near the wall, he either smashed his backside or shoulder into you and gained a step to the net, or he absorbed the bump and employed some very slick hands to get the puck to a quick shooting position. If you got tired of this or tried to cheat to the outside, he had shades of Eberle with a quick and effective pull to the middle and before you realized he was around you. I was honestly shocked at the combination of brute force, positioning, and hand speed. On top of that, he can one time a puck in close and deflect shots like a pro. He has all the tools to be a skilled power forward – and soon.
- Darnell Nurse has left the NHL honeymoon glow in the dust. This guy is through with making friends and being happy to have stepped out of junior. I am more enamored with him than I ever have been, and you need to UP your expectations. He was nasty, nasty, nasty. Reminded me of the “fuck you, pay me” lines from Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. Want to cycle the puck in my end? Fuck you, pay me. Want to take the puck to the net? Fuck you, pay me. You want that rebound? Fuck you, pay me. Screen my goalie? FYPM. He single handedly upped the intensity of the whole group, and I guarantee you there are several skaters who can’t connect the dots between his off-ice persona and his on-ice attitude. At the other end of the ice, he made very heady plays straddling the blue line. His instincts to use the cannon, the jultz, or thread a pass were more evident than before. He’s also filled out quite a bit. From a distance I had a hard time distinguishing him and Khaira. I suspect he is 75-85% seasoned. Anyone order a Chris Pronger?
My sincere thanks to Diesel, that’s outstanding. No Lowdown today, but I will be filling in for Dave Jamieson noon to 2 this afternoon. Jonathan Willis will be a guest, and Steve Lansky will be by as well. The rest of the lineup is a moving target, but we’ll talk World Cup, Wimbledon and Eskimos among other things.
TSN 1260, noon.