THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST

The Edmonton Oilers sent nine players out this afternoon and have now pared the roster to 50 overall. None of today’s cuts should be considered surprising but the timing (last year’s first cuts happened after the SS games against Calgary) does jive with Todd McLellan’s stated wish to get down to a reasonable number quickly. With a busy week of games ahead, suspect all 50 employees who remain will see action.

There are five goalies, 16 defensemen and 29 forwards left in camp. Let’s see what that looks like.

tc roster after first cutsThe cuts coincide with the lowest-ranked player at each position on the depth chart (all were on my distant bell list). What does that mean? The Oilers didn’t have any in this group who were able to pass the men above them—that’s not a criticism, the gap between the defensemen (as an example) and the blue who stayed is several year in experience and age in most cases. One player who might want to put a some spur in his side is Ben Betker, who did not stand out among the defensemen sent out today: That’s bad.

One other thing: Loik Leveille was a player who, at one time, was thought to be a candidate for signing ala Joe Hicketts (and famously attempted Vladimir Tkachev). It doesn’t look like that has happened here.

LAST YEAR’S CUTS

Edmonton didn’t make this move until September 23 last season and the men who got sent down included Greg Chase, Tyler Bunz, Ben Betker, Keven Bouchard, Frans Tuohimaa, Graeme Craig, Matt Ford, Mitch Holmberg, Marco Roy, Connor Jones, Kellen Jones, Alex Krushelnyski, Connor Boland, Jackson Houck, Kyle Platzer, Josh Winquist and CJ Ludwig.

BAKERSFIELD EARLY

BAKERSFIELD EARLYThe Bakersfield Condors are going to be a fantastic AHL team, I can’t see any way around it. The forwards sent down today have talent and all three of them may spend significant time in the ECHL this season.

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42 Responses to "THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST"

  1. RexLibris says:

    I’m guessing the lineup tomorrow features the Hall/McDavid line here in Edmonton and the Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle line as the top line in Calgary.

    Not sure where Draisaitl/Lander/Yakupov go, but I’d love to see them get 2nd line minutes behind Hall/McDavid.

    My guess is that the Flames do the same thing as the Oilers and send their B-squad to Edmonton, keeping Bennett and the Monahan line in Calgary.

  2. John Chambers says:

    The first cut may involve the greatest number of bodies, but the last cut will be the most interesting … especially if it’s Nikitin or Scrivens.

  3. RexLibris says:

    John Chambers:
    The first cut may involve the greatest number of bodies, but the last cut will be the most interesting … especially if it’s Nikitin or Scrivens.

    Yep, last cut could leave the most blood.

  4. jp says:

    What about the G Bouchard? Was he sent out already?

    It sure looks like those pro cuts are the guys headed to Norfolk.

  5. striatic says:

    Was hoping to watch Bear on Monday but this is for the best. Radically cutting down after the SS to virtually the game 1 starting lineup would be a welcome change.

  6. Gordies Elbow says:

    RexLibris,

    Today, the Connor McDavid and Anton Lander lines were in the white, and RNH and Letestu lines were in the blue.

    I’d say that it’s likely that the scrimmage teams are likely the same as what they plan on running in the SS games.

  7. Lowetide says:

    jp:
    What about the G Bouchard? Was he sent out already?

    It sure looks like those pro cuts are the guys headed to Norfolk.

    Yeah, that group was sent out (Tyler Soy, KevEN Bouchard, etc) right after the rookie tournament.

  8. jp says:

    Lowetide: Yeah, that group was sent out (Tyler Soy, KevEN Bouchard, etc) right after the rookie tournament.

    I had a vague memory of that but wasn’t sure. Thanks.

  9. stush18 says:

    Anyone at training camp right now? I’m curious how miller, yak2, pak, JJ and moroz are looking. Same with Reinhart, nurse, music, and Davidson.

    We had all these reports out of rookie camp, but I’m not really hearing anything from this camp. Pulled our hair about every mistake at the rookie tourney.

    Perspective people.

  10. Real_Hockey_Fan says:

    Lowetide: Yeah, that group was sent out (Tyler Soy, KevEN Bouchard, etc) right after the rookie tournament.

    Hey is that you knew nickname for Boochard?? Empty net Kevin!!!

  11. Halfwise says:

    Real_Hockey_Fan: Hey is that you knew nickname for Boochard?? Empty net Kevin!!!

    Will you always be like this, trying too hard with the fake bad spelling?

  12. Bag of Pucks says:

    Here’s a useful quote the next time you’re having a chat with a Flames fan, or as I like to call it, “punching the donkey.”

    ‘Some teams are born to greatness and some are born to have greatness thrust up in them.’

  13. G Money says:

    stush18: Reinhart

    Yeah, I’m most interested in hearing how Reinhart is doing. Also Gryba. Other than Bruce’s “leaner quicker” comment, haven’t heard much.

    There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth (well, OK, mostly Verdad) about the return of FSN, but I do not believe that is Chia’s plan. He’s a smart guy, I’m certain he and TMac looked at the games from last year and drew their own conclusions.

    I think Ference is done, and thankfully so. Gryba is a bigger, younger, stronger replacement. So how he does (if he handily beats out Ference for 5D, as I expect him to), this will bode well for the future.

    The Oilers with Ference were terrible; without him they were passable. When we talk of FSN or NSF, it really should be F and then NS. He’s on an island of badness by himself. This was true by both eye and by fancystats.

    Nothing will improve this team defensively as much as having him off the ice. (Expect that’s also why we’re hearing about the new Captain to be named; can’t have your captain in the pressbox most nights)

    Nikitin is on the bubble, we know this. The eyes see him bad, the stats say he’s OK. Both can co-exist: it suggests he’s often doing the right thing and we don’t notice, and then he does something massively boneheaded and that’s when we go “F**KIN NIKITIN”.

    If Nikitin comes in healthy and in better shape and plays half decently, that’s a big win from last year. If he doesn’t, then Reinhart takes his job. Maybe Reinhart plays so well, he takes Nikitin’s job anyway.

    I do believe that’s why Reinhart is here – to take Nikitin’s job in the bottom pairing this year, and eventually in the Top 4 (where NN was supposed to go) next year. The verbal is setting him up for that. He just needs to deliver it on the ice.

    Schultz will be there regardless. I’ve posted many “walls of text” explaining how much of the Oilers offense occurred with Schultz on the ice, and how much it dried up when he wasn’t. That’s even adjusting for QoT and ZS. Get rid of him, and there may be some bad unintended consequences.

    Fans hate to admit that, we hate his lollygagging and his terrible defensive coverage … but if you’re in that “get rid of him” camp, you might want to consider that all three of his coaches – and I expect most Oiler fans respect at least one of those guys, possibly two – made Schultz their #1D by ice time.

    If you hate Schultz and see nothing redeeming in him, you should be asking yourself what those guys saw that you are missing.

    I suspect Chia and TMac saw the same thing. They saw all his warts, but also recognize his value. To that effect, Chia has done exactly the right thing: signed Schultz to a one-year show-me contract. He either fills in the missing parts of his game – or he gives Chia a year to find someone to replace the offense.

    Hence TMac’s commentary: McLellan believes in Schultz’s abilities and hopes he and the staff can help the 25-year-old have a big season.

    “I do know that it’s an important year for all of us and he’s a big part of the team,” said McLellan. “We know he can have a lot of success. We know it’s our responsibility as a staff to help him as much as we can and we want him to succeed. We need him to succeed.

    This contrasts with the verbal on Nurse which is very much setting up to send him down to the AHL.

    Barring a shocker, I think that’s the team to start the year: Sekera-Fayne, Klef-Schultz, Gryba-Reinhart.

    How well the Oilers do will depend an awful lot on whether Gryba can outperform Ference, Reinhart/Nikitin can outperform Nikitin … and Schultz can outperform Schultz.

  14. G Money says:

    And I will remind everyone again that last years opening night D by ice time was: Schultz-Hunt, Nikitin-Fayne, Petry-Ference.

    That’s right. Hunt was the #2D. Nikitin was the #3D.

  15. Lowetide says:

    G Money: Agree, and it makes sense. At this point I’d bet on 8 men starting the season and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the 3 and 4 pairings (Ference-Nikitin, Reinhart-Gryba) rotate in and out of the lineup until a trade is made.

    Reinhart is absolutely going to get the first push and I hope he knocks it out of the park.

  16. Woodguy says:

    RexLibris:
    I’m guessing the lineup tomorrow features the Hall/McDavid line here in Edmonton and the Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle line as the top line in Calgary.

    Not sure where Draisaitl/Lander/Yakupov go, but I’d love to see them get 2nd line minutes behind Hall/McDavid.

    My guess is that the Flames do the same thing as the Oilers and send their B-squad to Edmonton, keeping Bennett and the Monahan line in Calgary.

    They have Bennett playing 3C, soft scoring line similar to DryYakLand

    Monahan plays with Gaudreau.

    Backlund centers the second line which is a very good checking line with some scoring

  17. Gerta Rauss says:

    G Money: Yeah, I’m most interested in hearing how Reinhart is doing. Also Gryba. Other than Bruce’s “leaner quicker” comment, haven’t heard much.

    I think he’s getting better every day,” said Chiarelli. “He’s a very smart, heady player. He moves the puck very well. His testing has been good so I like what I’ve seen so far

    http://oilers.nhl.com/club/podcastplayer.htm?pid=98&iid=51966

    Chia covers a lot of ground in a short interview,(mostly the K-bomb signing) the Reihart(and Gryba) comments are at 4:45

  18. Hammers says:

    I want to see Reinhart playing. Like against St. Louis

  19. wheatnoil says:

    Good for Christoffer and Winquist… sticking around for another day. I imagine they’ll get a game in the split-squad before they’re sent down but it helps make it clear where they stand in the pecking order of AHL signings. Winquist makes sense with it being his second year at camp, but this is nice little win for Christoffer.

  20. RexLibris says:

    Flames have posted their lineups for tomorrow.

    The YEG group is very undermanned.

    Backlund, Jones, Colborne, Engelland, Russell, Wideman and Ramo are the only established veterans on the team.

    The YYC group is star-laden, even by pre-season standards.

    http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=779865

  21. RexLibris says:

    The Flames playing in YYC include:

    Bennett (of course), Monahan, Gaudreau, Frolik, Hudler, Bollig, Raymond, Stajan, Brodie, Giordano, Hamilton, and Hiller.

    I get putting on a show for your home fans, but that’s a pretty tilted roster when weighed against their B squad.

  22. B S says:

    RexLibris,

    That Calgary squad is basically a line and a Dman short of their NHL starting line up isn’t it?

  23. RexLibris says:

    Woodguy: They have Bennett playing 3C, soft scoring line similar to DryYakLand

    Monahan plays with Gaudreau.

    Backlund centers the second line which is a very good checking line with some scoring

    I was thinking they might have Bennett start the season next to Frolik and Backlund so that he gets the best supporting players he can get.

    3C is fair. It’ll be interesting to see how well Hartley adapts on the road, though. He uses ZS pretty severely and won’t be able to shelter the Monahan line to the same extent. It’ll also put Bennett and Ferland at the mercy of the opposition matchups.

    I’m really curious to see how he works around that.

  24. RexLibris says:

    B S:
    RexLibris,

    That Calgary squad is basically a line and a Dman short of their NHL starting line up isn’t it?

    Virtually.

    If you add in the YEG group and subtract any AHL or rookie player from the YYC group, there’s your starting lineup – done.

    It’ll be a real test for both Oilers groups though, because they could look at the YEG group and say “we got this” while the YYC group is a far stiffer test and they have only the RNH line to hide behind.

  25. Snowman says:

    Was everyone aware that Klefbom had 18 of his 20 points in the final 36 games? He may be a 40 point Dman after all.

  26. spoiler says:

    wheatnoil:
    Good for Christoffer and Winquist… sticking around for another day. I imagine they’ll get a game in the split-squad before they’re sent down but it helps make it clear where they stand in the pecking order of AHL signings. Winquist makes sense with it being his second year at camp, but this is nice little win for Christoffer.

    Agreed, especially for Christoffer. Nice reward for a good pre-season thus far, being kept over Roy, Loiseau, & Rankin etc.

    Not great news for Roy, however, much like Betker.

  27. RexLibris says:

    Snowman:
    Was everyone aware that Klefbom had 18 of his 20 points in the final 36 games? He may be a 40 point Dman after all.

    So you’re saying he’s the next Yakupov! Great way to jinx it!

    😉

  28. jp says:

    wheatnoil:
    Good for Christoffer and Winquist… sticking around for another day. I imagine they’ll get a game in the split-squad before they’re sent down but it helps make it clear where they stand in the pecking order of AHL signings. Winquist makes sense with it being his second year at camp, but this is nice little win for Christoffer.

    They deserve it. Both have put themselves on the radar for sure.

    And I really like the hierarchy that’s been clear in everything Chia/McLellan have done at camp. Everything is projected as they see it.

    The prospects are being sent away from camp in tiers reflecting where they’re at.

    Their ideal/expected lines and D pairs have been laid out from day 1. They read like a depth chart. Why mess around. Start as you mean to go!

    It’s nice for us fans to have a half decent idea how the opening night lineup is going to look. But I figure it’s got to be good for the players too. They know where they stand (like it or not). They know who their competition is. They know who they need to outplay to get into the lineup.

    Fine way to run an organization imo.

  29. wheatnoil says:

    Snowman:
    Was everyone aware that Klefbom had 18 of his 20 points in the final 36 games? He may be a 40 point Dman after all.

    He doesn’t have much of a history of getting points, though. In 48 games in the AHL last year, he only had 10 points, including just one goal.

    Aside from his run of 8 points in 9 games in the AHL this year, he’s never produced at any level (assist rules in the SEL acknowledged).

    That said, I’m not too worried about Klefbom’s points. I think points in general for defensemen are over-rated. There’s some evidence that ‘assists’ rate for defensemen are not necessarily related to “skill” so much as “usage”.

    Defensemen that switch teams from year to year have almost no correlation in their assists from one team to another. They do take some of their goal-scoring rates with them, but not their assists rate. (This is at even-strength)

    This would imply that the ability to rack up assists, at even-strength, for most defensemen is not a ‘skill’ that they take with them to a new team. It’s likely related to things like usage and quality of teammates.

    Klefbom got 20 points last year. 16 were at even-strength. Of them, only 2 were goals, 4 were primary assists, and 10 were secondary assists. So, for Klefbom, my guess is he got a lot of assists due to playing with Schultz, and therefore getting offensive zone starts and playing a lot with the top line. If his role changes, he won’t bring the points.

    And that’s okay. He’s still dreamy!

  30. Centre of attention says:

    I think K-Bomb averages about .3 ppg moving forwards and thats splendid. I see him in the “Vlasic” role, more of a shut down guy but he can get you 20-30 points a season consistently too. Splendid contract, with the exception of future injury concerns. With a rock-hard body like his though, its less of a concern.

  31. jp says:

    RexLibris:
    Flames have posted their lineups for tomorrow.

    The YEG group is very undermanned.

    Backlund, Jones, Colborne, Engelland, Russell, Wideman and Ramo are the only established veterans on the team.

    The YYC group is star-laden, even by pre-season standards.

    http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=779865

    So they’re conceding the split then!

    That is an impressive division of the roster. Hopefully RNH, Eberle, Draisaitl et al can throw a wrench into the split.

    Also, I wonder if Rasmus Andersson will be looking for a rematch.

  32. jp says:

    wheatnoil: He doesn’t have much of a history of getting points, though. In 48 games in the AHL last year, he only had 10 points, including just one goal.

    Aside from his run of 8 points in 9 games in the AHL this year, he’s never produced at any level (assist rules in the SEL acknowledged).

    That said, I’m not too worried about Klefbom’s points. I think points in general for defensemen are over-rated. There’s some evidence that ‘assists’ rate for defensemen are not necessarily related to “skill” so much as “usage”.

    Defensemen that switch teams from year to year have almost no correlation in their assists from one team to another. They do take some of their goal-scoring rates with them, but not their assists rate. (This is at even-strength)

    This would imply that the ability to rack up assists, at even-strength, for most defensemen is not a ‘skill’ that they take with them to a new team. It’s likely related to things like usage and quality of teammates.

    Klefbom got 20 points last year. 16 were at even-strength. Of them, only 2 were goals, 4 were primary assists, and 10 were secondary assists. So, for Klefbom, my guess is he got a lot of assists due to playing with Schultz, and therefore getting offensive zone starts and playing a lot with the top line. If his role changes, he won’t bring the points.

    And that’s okay. He’s still dreamy!

    Iirc, he outscored Schultz in 5X5 Pts/60 last year, so he’s not just riding on Jultz’s coattails.

    Also, his pre-draft scouting reports talked about his passing and offensive game more than rock solid defense, so there’s a history of skills there (example, under “talent analysis”: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/oscar_klefbom/).

    And while you’re completely correct he hasn’t scored as a pro in Sweden or NA prior to last year, he did put up some points as a Jr in Sweden (http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=16804).

    i think we agree he doesn’t need to score much to be a hell of a player. I don’t expect he’ll be putting up 40 points a year, but he does have some skill, and it didn’t come out of nowhere.

    Ahhh, the most optimistic time of the year!

  33. wheatnoil says:

    jp,

    Oh, I should clarify, I agree, he has skill. He’s a solid puck-moving defenseman with excellent mobility. I’m just saying that being a ‘skilled puck mover’ and ‘getting points’ for a D-man are not the same thing.

    Take Schultz. Many have commented (and LT recently did I believe) on his poor outlet passes and difficulty moving the puck up ice. I would argue that Schultz is not a puck-mover, yet he’s a point-getter. That seems to be a different skillset. Maybe it’s that back-door / trailer on the rush play that Schultz does so well.

    I think Klefbom is more like Petry. Gets the puck up the ice but may not get credit with points. And that’s okay because I think points for D-men are over-rated, hence my assists tangent above.

  34. jp says:

    wheatnoil,

    More like Petry than Schultz. That could work.

    And your point about defense scoring is well taken.

  35. rickithebear says:

    Klefbom’s .432 EVP/gm rate in an offensive role last 35 games
    80gm gets him 34-35 EVP avg rank is 4th best d in the game.
    His 18EVP in 60 games gets 24 EVP in 80gm which ranks as a top 24 even scoring D in the game.
    So last years scoring at worst was top 24 and when given the green light to be offensive he was top 4.
    Klefbom 4th-24th

    Sekera averaged 47th the last 3 years. Best was 12th. 12th-47th

    Schultz averaged 43rd last 3 years. Best was 35th. 35th-43rd

    Petry averaged 71st last 3 years. Best was 51st. 51st-71st

  36. haters says:

    Lots of talk around NSF and one of the three getting out played.
    I would throw Fayne in that convo too.
    Was not impressed with any part of his game last year and he might still have some trade cache?

  37. Yeti says:

    haters,

    Interesting. If you simply had to move a D from the logjam and would prefer not to bury Nikitin in the minors, then Fayne would likely be the easiest of the veterans to find a buyer for. And he didn’t have a good season despite a previously established level of play.

    That said, subtracting Fayne is akin to taking one more hinge off the cesspit floodgates. If the dam bursts, everyone’s going to be swimming in shit and not even a Connor McDavid lifejacket is going to rescue that mess.

  38. Marincin4president says:

    spoiler,

    Kind of disappointing for Loiseau I thought he would’ve stayed around as long as Christoffer would’ve

  39. spoiler says:

    Marincin4president:
    spoiler,

    Kind of disappointing for Loiseau I thought he would’ve stayed around as long as Christoffer would’ve

    I’d agree with that. I liked Loiseau too. I think they set the roster size ahead of time and he ended up on the wrong side of it. Fifty is a pretty even number, so I’m guessing it was a pre-set goal.

  40. leadfarmer says:

    There is so much travel involved especially for the western conference teams over the course of the season that I’m not surprised that Calgary is keeping their veteran squad home. I would too if I had the choice. Wouldnt be surprised if Chia does the same.

  41. rickithebear says:

    haters: I would throw Fayne in that convo too.
    Was not impressed with any part of his game last year and he might still have some trade cache?

    Yes we know you are the best in the game at defnding the slot and box.
    Yes we know that is were 85% of all even goals are scored.
    Yes we want you to abandon protecting the front of the net and over pressure the offensive zone.

    What is the worse that can happen?
    Twice as many medium and High chance shots.
    This is will work!
    Believe me!

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