The Edmonton Oilers ran their exhibition record to 3-2-0 with a costly victory over the Los Angeles Kings last night, as Brandon Davidson (day-to-day) and Iiro Pakarinein (at least a month, according to Todd McLellan via Jack Michaels) hit the ice in dramatic fashion.
- G Laurent Brossoit: Played well for most of the game, at least one goal was tipped and the second GA may have been, too. Likely to be start the season in Bakersfield, but the battle for backup is winnable and one suspects he has an inside champion among the management group. I think he is a better G than Jonas Gustavsson, which is not the same as saying he is a capable backup. Stopped 27 of 29 .931.
- Jonas Gustavsson: DNP, likely gets the game Tuesday or Thursday.
- LD Darnell Nurse: He had some distressing shifts early, but settled in as the game wore on. I saw some calm feet and good passes, and of course there were periods when those things were not on display. Young defenders take time, but this was an encouraging outing. Oilers should not rush this player. Oilers should not rush this player.
- LD Brandon Davidson: Made some errant passes too, but was the first of the pair to settle in and play his game. Mobile defender began finding the range by pass and carry before the other blue, and for my money was the best in the group. The head hit was idiotic and the penalty should involve hot coals.
- LD Jordan Oesterle: His mobility was on display and stood out compared to some of Edmonton’s defenders. I think he dealt with the chaos of his pairing pretty well, and would suggest his performance was the best of the three D who played last night (and are applying for No. 7 job). He is the modern prototype.
- RD Matt Benning: He is a difficult player to get surrounded in terms of skill set. Undersized, he is determined and hits like a truck. Also wins more battles than you would think. Good passer, I think he needs time but could easily see NHL duty at some point this year. Picked up an assist on the McDavid goal. Good skater, suspect he is fairly high on Chiarelli’s whiteboard.
- LD Mark Fraser: The boots will keep him from playing much (or at all) in the NHL, but he is a Chiarelli player. Heavy, heavy hitter, cannot imagine it is much fun to play against him. Very little finesse, grabbed an assist so what do I know.
- RD Eric Gryba: Big man finally gets a chance during this TC. Slow wheels early, and an insane icing sequence late, but overall I was struck by his ability to defend. I know you don’t like it, but defending is useful—perhaps even necessary! Had some crushing hits on a night when the Kings were running Oilmen.
- LC Connor McDavid: Scored a goal and an assist, actually had another goal but the ref blew the whistle. How many chances? I don’t know, eight? Contested all over the ice, sublime skater in coast mode, something other-worldly when the jet boots kick in. The mind kind of blurs, I find myself impatient for his next shift. Why must these other people get their turns, anyway? Six shots on goal.
- L Milan Lucic: He is finding his way now, picked up an assist on the Eberle goal and made some nice decisions with the puck. Not every sortie works, but he usually does something in a shift that makes you notice. I do not like ML on the power play, wonder if the Oilers are beginning to think about Pouliot as an alternative.
- R Jordan Eberle: Smoked the goal, that tells us the shoulder injury is over and he should be able to one-time the puck. 35 goals? He could post a very strong number if everyone plays 82, like Ken Hodge in 1969. 1-1-2 on the night. The line was much better last night.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Skated miles, worked hard, I do not recall a shot on goal and he was not on the ice for a goal either way. I liked his work and his passing, would like to see him be more aggressive offensively. At the end of his career, Dave Keon expressed regret at not having been more aggressive, to push once the puck turned over.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi: Fabulous goal, it was a shot from Laredo but had real torque. Cannot believe the Oilers good fortune at having him fall to them. Hey-zeus they have had a run at the draft table. He needs to keep playing well, but I liked his game last night.
- L Benoit Pouliot: Sublime two-way winger picks off errant passes and disrupts progress routinely. Two shots on what proved to be a quieter offensive line for him (he moved down for a time after the Pakarinen injury), I still liked his game a lot.
- C Drake Caggiula: The impact games may be gone (LAK had several NHLers) but it was a good game to my eye. Took a nasty cross check to the face (McNabb?) but kept on coming. He is a slippery bugger, and skilled. There was a play (second period) where he got himself from a poor shooting position to a good one while being closely guarded all the while. Impressive little moment. Needs to keep doing this and the competition is increasing.
- L-R Kris Versteeg: He was in the middle of several things and forechecked well. Did not show a lot of offense, but made himself useful in other ways. His skating looks fine to me and he is good with the puck on his stick. How on earth this guy arrived on a PTO is one of life’s great mysteries. Sign the man.
- R Nail Yakupov: I saw him very good last night, he was creative, hard on the puck and involved physically. In fact, Caggiula with the two Russian wingers were a complete pain in the ass for the Kings when they were together. Todd McLellan may have found a sweet spot there (3line with Caggiula) where the Russian can flourish. If we see Caggiula-Yakupov opening night, remember Vernon.
- L Anton Slepyshev: He was very effective last night, using his size and speed to get into the action and have an impact. Picked up an assist on the Puljujarvi goal, skated miles and seems to be on the right side of the puck more often than one year ago. Impressive player.
- C Anton Lander: He had a better game, in the role he would likely play if he should make the Oilers (not a sure thing). He was good in the FO circle, does have a physical side (and that showed a little last night) and can help a team. His speed is a concern, as that 3-4line axis has some slow boots built in.
- R Iiro Pakarinen: Nasty injury, and it sounds like he will be gone for a month or so (early words from Todd McLellan).
NEXT ROUND OF CUTS
I think we can play along from here and get close to the roster. Laurent Brossoit may get one more appearance, and he has outplayed Jonas Gustavsson, but the easy play is to send the youngster to Bakersfield to start the season. On defense, Mark Fraser and Dillon Simpson would appear to be next up, suspect Griffin Reinhart gets another chance—with Matt Benning probably getting another start, too. For me, the 7D job is likely down to Jordan Oesterle versus Eric Gryba and it is possible both men make the team (8D). Up front, Edmonton could send down Jere Sallinen, Anton Slepyshev and Tyler Pitlick—although the injury to Iiro Pakarinen may change some plans.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI 2014-15
- 5×5 points per 60: 0.91
- 5×4 points per 60: 3.94
- Corsi for 5×5 %: 49.1
- Qual Comp: 3rd pairing
- Qual Team: 2nd pairing
- Corsi for 5×5 % REL: 4.7
- Shots on goal/percentage: 147 shots/5.4
- Boxcars: 69, 8-26-34
- (All numbers via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com and BehindtheNet.ca)
He was injured a year ago, so this is the latest information we have to view Wisniewski. It is later in camp, but the Edmonton Oilers do not have a RH shooter from the point on the power play. My suspicion is that the team does have plans to sign one or both of their PTO invites still in camp, so Wisniewski may not be an option. I believe he should be a strong option for this team—this is a player who would be a solid fit for a real need. Perhaps PC has another player in mind? You have to believe Wisniewski’s skating issues are phenomenal.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260—heavy on the hockey today. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. WCOH, injuries, RFAs and training camp battles.
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue/The SuperFan. Oilers roster spots, where to play Yakupov, top 6D, where to play Leon.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Oilers and Yak, Eskimos win a big game, Blue Jays!
- Andrew Stoeten, BlueJays Nation. Toronto is in for the wild card game, will they be in Texas later this week?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon! (I am on the round table today).