The Edmonton Oilers will pile another bunch of gifted kids in a giant van and head over to Clare Drake Arena for the annual game against the Golden Bears tonight. This little game has boasted some of the greatest hockey names in recent history, and is generally regarded as the official beginning of training camp. Before we discuss tonight’s lineup, let’s look back on last year’s group who played.
OILERS ROOKIES 2015
- L1: Cole Sanford 3GP, 0-2-2—Connor McDavid 1GP, 1-1-2—Anton Slepyshev 3GP, 1-0-1.
- L2: Josh Winquist, 3GP, 4-1-5—Leon Draisaitl, 3GP, 2-3-5—Braden Christoffer, 3GP, 3-1-4.
- L3: Cole Linaker 2GP, 0-0-0—Alexis Loiseau 2GP, 2-2-4—Rihards Bukarts 3GP, 0-0-0.
- L4: Connor Rankin 3GP, 2-0-2—Kyle Platzer 3GP, 1-2-3—Greg Chase 2GP, 0-2-2.
- D1: Darnell Nurse 2GP, 1-0-1—Joey Laleggia 2GP, 1-2-3.
- D2: Ben Betker 3GP, 0-0-0—Loik Leveille 2GP, 0-1-1.
- D3: Caleb Jones 2GP, 0-0-0— Ethan Bear 2GP, 0-0-0.
- G1: Eetu Laurikainen, Jordan Papirny
Edmonton won, McDavid was fire (the most insane play of the night saw Luke Siemens of the Golden Bears get a toe on the puck to save the U. of A. on a breakaway. McDavid had three assists, Leon went 1-3-4 and Anton Slepyshev posted a goal, too. A fine evening was had by all. A lot of the men in this game went on to have good things happen, notably Braden Christoffer. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were the class of the group, and along with Darnell Nurse spent much of the year playing for the Oilers.
TONIGHT’S OILERS LINEUP
- L1: Joey Benik—3gp, 4-3-7; Drake Caggiula—2gp, 2-1-3; Jesse Puljujarvi—2gp, 2-4-6.
- L2: Braden Christoffer—3gp, 0-0-0; Kyle Platzer—3gp, 0-3-3; Patrick Russell—3gp, 1-1-2.
- L3: Jaedon Descheneau—2gp, 2-1-3; Chad Butcher—2gp, 0-1-1; Greg Chase—3gp, 0-0-0.
- L4: Collin Shirley—3gp, 1-0-1; Lane Bauer—3gp, 0-0-0; Tomas Soustal—2gp, 0-0-0.
- D1: Caleb Jones—2gp, 0-0-0; Matt Benning—2gp, 0-0-0.
- D2: Markus Niemelainen—2gp, 1-0-1; Ethan Bear—1gp, 0-0-0
- D3: Ben Betker—3gp, 0-1-1; Kayle Doetzel—2gp, 0-0-0
- G1: Nick Ellis—1gp, 1.00, .967; Dylan Wells—1gp, 2.87, .921
The top line is the marquee trio, and one suspects that line could go off in a significant way. The hockey Gods owe Kyle Platzer a goal or two, and that third line should be able to push for some chances. I like all of the pairings here, will be interested to see the outlet passes from the group tonight. Nick Ellis is going all the way tonight (per Marc Majeau).
We should hear about cuts either during or shortly after the game (as is the style) and if we are lucky a training camp roster will appear by magic before my morning post tomorrow (it will not).
THINGS I AM LOOKING FOR
- Puljujarvi’s speed and skill combined with his size make him a perfect fit for this roster. Watching him play in these early games may be our only chance to see the big Finn in Edmonton this year (I am clearly lying now).
- Nick Ellis looked very strong in Penticton. This is a different level of competition, it will be interesting to see if he can duplicate it. We are miles from knowing about this player, but each step that brings good arrows is another bullet point on the resume.
- For a guy on an AHL deal, Joey Benik sure scores a lot. He has a nice shot.
- The mobility of the defense should be fun to watch.
- Greg Chase should be able to impact this game in several areas. Will he?
- If you are at the game and get a chance, spend a few shifts watching Lane Bauer. Speed is an issue, but he is a smart center who makes good plays with or without the puck. If this was 1975, no doubt in my mind he would have been drafted, but the game’s pace has changed enormously in the last five years—let alone the past 40.