A big part of Edmonton’s future is in Toronto this week playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Connor McDavid played magic man for Team NA early on a fantastic goal (with Auston Matthews), Leon scored in OT for Europe and the Nuge was Dave Keon for Team NA. I was heartened by reaction (here and elsewhere) to RNH’s efforts last night—and remain relieved the Oilers didn’t trade him this summer. From his very first stride in an Oilers uniform, Nugent-Hopkins represented peak two-way forward in terms of the yutes. Last night, for team NA, Nuge was healthy, splendid and deadly effective. Music!
The centers three give Edmonton the kind of ‘build up the middle’ head start we haven’t seen here in 30 years, I swear. Do not break this group up, even if Leon spends some time on the wing. Aside from the clearly made up team names, it was a helluva night for the Edmonton Oilers future. Nuge is tied for No. 1 in scoring, McDavid and Leon are tied for No. 6 overall. All stats here.
IDENTIFYING TRAINING CAMP ROSTER (62)
Jim Matheson has an article up that is a worthwhile read, lots of things in it including an update on Eric Gryba. He also says ‘The Oilers will have 62 players at camp — seven goalies, 19 defencemen and 36 forwards — depending on what happens with Gryba’ and that means we may be able to surround the actual TC list. Our number is 62.
THE CORRECT 62?
- G Cam Talbot—Stay healthy, get your rest, flu shot too. Godspeed young man.
- G Jonas Gustavsson—No. 2 goalie going into camp, good home plate number.
- G Laurent Brossoit—There is an NHL job to be won.
- G Eetu Laurikainen—He could play in Bakersfield, Norfolk or Finland this year.
- G Nick Ellis—After strong Young Stars performance, his spot on the depth chart could be heading north.
- G Dylan Wells—He plays goal like Tarzan based on last night.
- G Keven Bouchard—May hang around for UofA game, or it could be Knapp in this spot.
- LD Oscar Klefbom—Is this the year for Oscar to bust a move?
- LD Andrej Sekera—If he can play second pair, Edmonton should have a solid top 4D.
- LD Brandon Davidson—May end up top 4D, a lock for the top 6D if healthy.
- LD Darnell Nurse—Getting mighty crowded if Kris Russell is added.
- LD Griffin Reinhart—He will get a long look, and will likely play a substantial number of NHL games.
- LD Jordan Oesterle—A strong TC could land him a job in Edmonton.
- LD David Musil—Waiver eligible defender, he has insane competition on LH side.
- LD Dillon Simpson—Under the radar, but I think he has a chance to play in the league this year.
- LD Mark Fraser—May grab final D spot, especially if Edmonton runs with eight blue.
- LD Joey Laleggia—Oilers are looking for a PP option on the blue line, he has that skill set.
- LD Ben Betker—He was strong at the Young Stars and should hang around in main camp for a bit.
- LD Mikael Tam—Strictly a Bakersfield-Norfolk option, we will see where he lands.
- LD Caleb Jones—Two-way defender may get an extended look in TC before heading back to junior.
- LD Andrew Ference—I enjoyed watching him, fine career.
- LD Markus Niemelainen—He was one of the best stories in Penticton. Nice range of skills.
- RD Adam Larsson—Two-way defender who can be effective 22 minutes a night.
- RD Mark Fayne—He is a good defenseman but wildly unpopular. I may call him Edsel.
- RD Matt Benning—I think he has a slight chance to make this team. Terrific Young Stars.
- RD Frankie Simonelli—AHL defender from Providence. Has yet to play an NHL game.
- RD Ethan Bear—Looking forward to seeing his improved mobility in camp. Quality prospect.
- LC Connor McDavid—A very special player. Running out of words to describe him.
- LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—A quality two-way C, actual NHL player, age 23.
- LC Leon Draisaitl—Big C with terrific hands and vision. A big season from him may mean playoffs.
- RC Mark Letestu—He is an actual NHL player, I like him as 4C.
- LC Anton Lander—Probably hangs around for PK, job is not secure entering camp.
- LC Jujhar Khaira—Big forward ideally situated for playing time in the NHL this year.
- RC Kyle Platzer—He should get some feature time during pre-season, big minutes in Bakersfield.
- C Josh Currie—Effective a year ago as a utility AHL forward.
- C-L Joey Benik—Great scoring instincts were on display in Penticton.
- C-R Ryan Vesce. Skill C has posted strong numbers in various leagues over his career. 34. TC invite.
- L Milan Lucic—A unique player with a range of skills. Oilers will have a different look.
- L Benoit Pouliot—An important player in the top 6F, underrated.
- L Patrick Maroon—A bargain contract, useful winger with good hands.
- L Matt Hendricks—Likely to play some center, important for PK purposes. Rugged F.
- L Drake Caggiula—He is small and skilled, Edmonton probably has room for one more.
- L Jere Sallinen—KHL and SM-Liiga veteran, he can also play center.
- L Mitch Moroz—It will be interesting to see how long he stays in main camp.
- L Braden Christoffer—His second pro season likely involves more AHL time.
- L Ryan Hamilton—In camp on a PTO, he is ticketed for California.
- L Scott Allen—Big winger added via PTO, on an AHL deal. May take AHL time from prospects.
- L Tyler Benson—Doubt he plays in UofA game, hope he is healthy soon.
- L Collin Shirley—He played well in Penticton, unsure if he will be in main camp.
- R Jordan Eberle—The best pure scorer on the team, can he score 40 with 97?
- R Kris Versteeg—Interesting PTO winger, he could play up and down the line.
- R Nail Yakupov—Despite our conversations, he could be a key player on this team. Shooter.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi—He enters camp with enormous buzz around him. A perfect fit: RH sniper.
- R Zack Kassian—Has a great chance here, a veteran at a spot with lots of uncertainty.
- R Iiro Pakarinen—He is in a battle for sure, but the coach likes him and that counts for a lot.
- R Tyler Pitlick—A strong, healthy training camp is vital for this player. Still cheering for him.
- R Taylor Beck—A little under the radar, there is a job open and he could win it.
- R Anton Slepyshev—Won an opening night job a year ago, can he do it again?
- R Patrick Russell—Speed is a concern based on Young Stars performance.
- R Greg Chase—Buried a little with the changes, his skills do fit a Chiarelli team.
- R Jaedon Descheneau—Skill winger on an AHL deal. He could be a revelation this year.
- R Joel Rechlicz—Enforcer will no doubt be a popular player in Bakersfield.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) September 20, 2016
We have talked about that 2013 draft a lot in the years since it went down, Nichushkin was the choice of many who frequent this blog. To re-set the verbal, here is my top 10 from that draft:
- L Jonathan Drouin: The most offensive potential in the draft. Outstanding prospect.
- C Nathan MacKinnon: Nice range of skills, not enough to make up for the gap in offense.
- D Seth Jones: Franchise defender. Offensive is not outstanding, rest of the package off the charts.
- C Sasha Barkov: Complete player, may step into an NHL lineup immediately.
- C Elias Lindholm: Impressive offense, nice range of skills. Getting lost a little, incredibly.
- L Valeri Nichushkin: A man among boys, scoring winger with an explosive quality.
- C Sean Monahan: Two-way C with the ‘perfect fit’ skill set for the Oilers.
- D Rasmus Ristolainen: Very little negative, across the board talent.
- D Darnell Nurse: He’s an excellent prospect, 2-way guy with plenty of room to grow.
- C Bo Horvat: Two-way C, he’s a bull in the middle (6.01, 203) and I bet MacT loves him.
I had Nichushkin No. 6, but always felt the gap between 6-10 was not great (while hoping that Monahan would fall to Edmonton). I had no quarrel with the Nurse selection—surely we can agree it was at least partly a draft for need—but remain convinced it is vital to develop him properly. That should include possible AHL time, and hopefully third pairing in the NHL should he make the team. Does the Nichushkin bolt change your opinion of the 2013 draft rankings?
Matty’s article gives hope for Gryba fans in terms of return to the Oildrop. I think the idea has merit for several reasons, not the least of which is that Gryba can actually defend (he is not a puck mover). Those who dislike Fayne (feign in Vayne?) will not like the idea, but with Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson coming off injuries and 8D possible, it is a reasonable move in my opinion. It takes a village to cobble together enough defensemen for an NHL season, it would be so very nice to spend a season with capable callup options.
THAT RW DEPTH CHART
It is possible to put together the LW (Lucic, Pouliot, Maroon, Hendricks) and C (McDavid, Nuge, Leon, Letestu) depth charts without breaking a sweat, but the RW list is long and full of possibilities. This (from the above list) could represent the pro depth chart opening night (top 5 in NHL):
- Jordan Eberle
- Leon Draisaitl
- Nail Yakupov
- Zack Kassian
- Kris Versteeg
- Jesse Puljujarvi
- Taylor Beck
- Iiro Pakarinen
- Tyler Pitlick
- Anton Slepyshev
What order would you place these players in? If you had to run Leon as a RW (I think he will be a center), where do you put Yakupov? The list is somewhat easier if Leon plays C, but it is still difficult to find roles for everyone. The opinions on Versteeg vary widely, but the real battle (imo) is going to be between Yakupov, Versteeg and Puljujarvi. If JP can score goals in the NHL exhibition season similar to that second goal Friday night, he wins the day. I am not prepared to suggest there is actual competition at an Oilers training camp, but we are approaching that kind of dilemma. Haven’t seen that kind of battle for a long time.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Training camp battles? What are those?
- Andrew Stoeten, Blue Jays Nation. Toronto with a big win last night, what about that bullpen?
- Chris Peters, CBS Sports. Team USA with a massive game tonight, and how many Americans are on Team North America (more than you think).
All starts at 10 this morning, TSN1260. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!