We are going camping! The rumored number for today’s TC release is 63, let’s see how close we can get. The Oilers have given us some major clues, but there are things we cannot know until the final list is released.
THE CORRECT 63 FOR TC?
- G Cam Talbot—A big part of Chiarelli’s rebuild, looks like they will ride him heavily.
- G Jonas Gustavsson—No. 2 goalie going into camp, good home plate number.
- G Laurent Brossoit—Probably starts in the minors.
- G Eetu Laurikainen—We still don’t know that much about this player.
- G Nick Ellis—Wobbly in places during the UofA game, impressed with his performance so far.
- G Dylan Wells—Acrobatic performance at the Young Stars was his Oiler baptism.
- G Keven Bouchard—May hang around for UofA game, or it could be Knapp in this spot.
- LD Oscar Klefbom—Oil could sell tickets to his first skating session. Will he play PS G1?
- LD Andrej Sekera—One of several players who is still away, may get him back soon.
- LD Brandon Davidson—Another health worry, it will be interesting to see if he plays Monday.
- LD Darnell Nurse—A big season for him, third pairing is best case scenario.
- 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 D, he has insane competition on LH side. Facing a tough TC.
- LD Dillon Simpson—Under the radar, but I think he has a chance to play in the league this year.
- LD Mark Fraser—He will be sent to Bakersfield during TC, but early or late?
- LD Joey Laleggia—Oilers are looking for a PP option on the blue line, he has that skill set.
- LD Ben Betker—Impressive a rookie camp, one of the best D (and it was a strong group).
- LD Caleb Jones—One of the stars of rookie camp, fantastic passing on display every game.
- LD Andrew Ference—I enjoyed watching him, fine career.
- LD Markus Niemelainen—Rangy blue with wheels who makes intelligent decisions. Young and good.
- RD Adam Larsson—Oilers have a top-pairing defender with NHL experience.
- RD Mark Fayne—NHL veteran should hold on to his job. Should.
- RD Eric Gryba—Veteran arrives on a PTO, tightening the race for the final defensive slots.
- RD Matt Benning—Effective defender with range of skills. How many AHL games until he is ready?
- RD Frankie Simonelli—AHL defender from Providence. Has yet to play an NHL game.
- RD Ethan Bear—A strong game at the U. of A. event, good vision. Improved mobility?
- RD Kayle Doetzel—Probably the last man on this roster, RHD gives him the edge.
- LC Connor McDavid—McDavid makes life better.
- LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Opening eyes at WCOH, but we knew about him all along.
- LC Leon Draisaitl—He will be coming to camp hot as a firecracker.
- 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—Probably the No. 1 AHL contender for a job among forwards.
- RC Kyle Platzer—He is emerging from that large group of 2013 Oilers draft picks.
- C Josh Currie—He is a jack of all trades, had a good AHL season one year ago.
- 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.
- RC Chad Butcher—He showed well at the rookie tournament, despite taking a knock.
- L Milan Lucic—I can’t wait for Oilers fans to see how much skill he possesses.
- L Benoit Pouliot—Could be a big season for him, no matter where he lines up.
- L Patrick Maroon—Big winger should play a significant role this year.
- L Matt Hendricks—Likely to play some center, important for PK purposes. Rugged F.
- L Drake Caggiula—Played C through rookie camp, good not great.
- L Jere Sallinen—KHL and SM-Liiga veteran, he can also play center.
- L Mitch Moroz—In a bad spot, former high pick not connected to current GM or coach.
- L Braden Christoffer—Rugged winger, good forechecker, needs to bring more offense.
- L Ryan Hamilton—In camp on a PTO, he is ticketed for California.
- L Scott Allen—Big winger looks like a Chiarelli type.
- L Tyler Benson—Rumors have him possibly getting into a pre-season game.
- L Collin Shirley—Kept getting on the score sheet at the rookie camp.
- R Jordan Eberle—If he can hang with McDavid, Eberle might score 90 before the end of his contract.
- R Kris Versteeg—I think he is all that or nothing at all. We will see, doubt there is a middle ground.
- R Nail Yakupov—All kinds of talent here, but I think the winds of change are coming.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi—If you listen to the verbal closely, it sounds like the opening of For What It’s Worth.
- R Zack Kassian—Suspect he is 4R opening night.
- R Iiro Pakarinen—Could get squeezed for a roster spot, especially if the club runs 8D.
- R Tyler Pitlick—Hard nose the highway for an opening night job, staying healthy also an issue.
- R Taylor Beck—Interesting addition, how far can he climb the depth chart.
- R Anton Slepyshev—A big season for the big winger, needs a strong TC.
- R Patrick Russell—I liked him more at the Golden Bears game than in Penticton.
- R Greg Chase—A better game at the U. of A., he should be a stronger option entering draft +4.
- R Jaedon Descheneau—He looked good in most every shift I saw him during rookie camp.
GOLDEN BEARS NOTES
- I have been so impressed with the quality of the defense this week. Matt Benning leads the way—as he should, he is older—and was joined by Caleb Jones, Ben Betker, Markus Niemelainen and Ethan Bear in the prospect category. Going back to 2010, I do not recall as many fine outlet passes, good reads and quick recoveries. Not perfect, but wildly improved.
- Jesse Puljujarvi is such a dynamic player (two assists last night, six shots) at this level (while also being 18) it is easy to suggest he can play in the NHL this season. I don’t believe that is necessarily true, but based on the Oilers own past and this young man’s unique skill set, I feel there is a growing sense that JP has an NHL job to lose this fall. The moment he scores on the PP (The Alvkarleby Assassin!) it may seal the deal. I do think 20 games in the AHL wouldn’t go a-miss, but feel like a man who has fallen in the well and is waiting for Lassie. It is over, in my opinion. Puljujarvi could be as high as 2R but more likely 3R opening night.
- Drake Caggiula had his best performance of the week (2 goals) against the Golden Bears, I really like his skills and speed while also believing the Oilers have room for a small forward. It is not certain he is ideally suited to center, but beyond that he enters camp with momentum and (imo) a real chance to make an impression. He could be an Oiler by Christmas.
- Patrick Russell had his best night by a lot, a goal on eight shots and seemed to be around the puck a lot. I don’t think he will be a major factor in training camp, but last night showed why the Oilers thought enough of him to get his name on a contract.
Early in the game against Sweden, Connor McDavid broke through on a breakaway. It was vintage McDavid (vintage McDavid? Well, yeah!) as he simply overwhelmed the Swedish blue. McDavid was impossible to defend multiple times during the game as Team North America (eventually) won the game in overtime—while also not advancing. We will know more about NA’s immediate future after the Russian game against Finland (Russia wins and they are in). Edmonton will have McDavid, Nuge, plus the coach and GM back for TC if Russia wins today, but I would love to see this beautiful NA team for another week. You?
BATTLES ENTERING CAMP
Entering training camp, there are incumbents who will need to show well in order to keep their spots on the roster. Nail Yakupov will face competition from Jesse Puljujarvi on one hand and Kris Versteeg on the other, although Edmonton could send Puljujarvi to Bakersfield for 20 games (and that would be my preference) to relieve the pressure. Reading the tea leaves, I suspect we will see the forwards line up this way opening night:
- Milan Lucic—Connor McDavid—Jordan Eberle
- Benoit Pouliot—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Kris Versteeg
- Patrick Maroon—Leon Draisaitl—Jesse Puljujarvi
- Matt Hendricks—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian
That would leave Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov in the press box. For me, the better plan is Nail with Leon, allowing Puljujarvi to find his way in the AHL, but there will be a tipping point this fall (and it may have already occurred) where JP passes Nail in terms of organizational esteem. I think it is somewhat inevitable—the Oilers themselves have shown a clear tendency to go with the bright shiny object whenever possible. I am not saying it is unwise in this case—maybe Puljujarvi scores 30 as a rookie—but rather want to get some idea of the temperature of this battle entering camp. I suspect Nail is in trouble.
The other player who is possibly on the bubble is Mark Fayne, who was sent out a year ago and could lose his job before opening night. I do not see it—unless Peter Chiarelli makes another move before opening night. My guess for lineup on D and G opening night:
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Andrej Sekera—Mark Fayne
- Darnell Nurse—Brandon Davidson
- Eric Gryba
- Cam Talbot—Jonas Gustavsson
I will tell you that it is my belief we will see a trade before opening night, and I will tell you that it is my annual belief we will see a trade before opening night—and it never happens. Balance. It is not among us, but we can see it from here.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Puljujarvi versus Yakupov, Gryba versus Fayne and McDavid is the man.
- Travis Yost, TSN. The Senators need to fix that blue, have they? Plus NFL and Oilers.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. We will discuss Team NA, WCOH, and opening of training camps around the NHL.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!