Training Camp Notes

I spent some of the day at Rexall watching the Oilers players and prospects scrimmage. The NHL players still look like NHL players, the skill prospects are small and the big prospects lack skill and on and on it goes.

Well, not really.

There are some nice signs for Oiler fans. I have two points to make before going any further:

1. I’m a fan. I don’t see the game the way scouts and coaches and pro hockey players see it, so nuance is not going to come from me. On top of that I don’t put as much importance on “saw him good” as many others so the impressions I get are funneled through some other things (like stats, where the player is on the development curve, etc) so don’t expect any broad statements like “they need to trade this guy.”

2. It’s the first damn day.

NHLers
  • Stoll: Looked very good to me, skated miles in his scrimmage and scored a goal scorer’s goal (on a nifty feed from Nilsson).
  • Smid: He looked relaxed with the puck and making decisions, and had more of a physical element to his play today.
  • Penner: He looked tired compared to the others, possibly because he hasn’t had as much time off. Missed the net on the breakaway, but did do some Frank Mahovlich type things when he was out there (he wore #27).
  • Greene: He’s certainly big and strong, and mobile. Made the usual number of good plays and head scratchers we’ve come to expect from him.
  • Horcoff: Looked good to me. Bulled his way into scoring opportunities and forechecked like a demon.
  • Hemsky: My God what a beautiful hockey player. They had him on D for a long period (possibly because Souray wasn’t playing but I’m not certain). Anyway he scored a goal almost before I sat down and made everyone else look like they were on a PTO.
  • Moreau: Chopper was Chopper. Missed the net a bunch, had a Forsberg moment where he owned the puck and looked dangerous until Gilbert reached out and tapped it away. It was kind of funny, good to see the big man back.
  • Staios: Stood out in the first scrimmage as the best overall defender in all three parts of the ice. He’s a really good hockey player.
  • Reasoner: Took every FO I can recall against Stoll and won as many as he lost iirc. They had him at center and some other centers at wing which I think is an important observation from today.
  • Nilsson: He looked very skilled and pretty small. He isn’t 5-11. He’s a terrific skill player, made a wonderful pass to Stoll for his goal. Can’t check his hat, he grabbed Colin McDonald’s shirt and held on for the most hilarious penalty I personally have ever seen. He scored a goal later, seemed to play well with Stoll.
  • Sanderson: Scored an open net goal, looked fast and maybe a little bored. I think he may be able to help, but my guess is he won’t help 1.5M worth.
  • Torres: Looked like Raffi to me. He shot the puck a lot, he was physical and he made things happen. I was surprised by the negative overall feeling about the guy in the stands, he’s a better hockey player than the people I overheard think he is.
  • Tarnstrom: Played very well I thought, scored a nice goal and looked like an NHL player skating around some guys who wandered onto the ice.
  • Pitkanen: He skates wonderfully. Looks calm with the puck and carries the play well. He has good size and closes the gap nicely. I’m really convinced now he’ll play top pairing.
  • Thoresen: Was a freak out there today. Seriously. If they had asked me to pick a star on the day it would be this guy. Looked dangerous every time he was on the ice.
  • Garon: He was solid. Plays angles well and he’s really good at reading the play. Offers a different look than Roli, I think they’ll be a nice combination.
  • Roloson: Looked good, the only flaw being a Pouliot goal that showed he’s either rusty or Pouliot added a foot to his slapshot this summer.
  • Souray: Didn’t play that I saw.
  • Pouliot: Had a very nice game. Played with Schremp for a time and they looked good together, and took a beauty feed from Cogliano on his goal. He’s a really good player, I honestly don’t see why people question him being good enough to make the team. PLayed RW.

Minor Leaguers

  • Stortini: He looked really good. Played on a big line (with I believe Horcoff and Penner) and scored a goal.
  • Dubnyk: He gave up a point blank goal to Stoll on the Nilsson beauty feed and then was slow to see the puck in a scrum in front of the net. He looked really big, and slow.
  • Cogliano: A lot of effort and a lot of easy plays for the D. Cogliano didn’t look ready in terms of moves but he has plenty of speed for the NHL game. I like him a lot.
  • O’Marra: Best non-NHLer today imo. Big, fast, played the game with aggression in all areas but was under control. Very impressive.
  • Jacques: He skated around a lot and bumped a little, but he doesn’t look like a confident player at this time.
  • Grebeshkov: A nice player. Had good mobility, passed the puck very well and made excellent decisions with or without the puck. If this is typical he’ll be in the NHL this year.
  • Rick Berry: Looked like an AHL guy. Dominated the kids and was exposed by the NHLers.
  • Glenn Fisher: He played well. Based on today, he’s a much better goalie than his resume implies.
  • Roy: Played a steady game, the kind we’ve seen before from him. Easy to get lost in the mix, but he’s a valuable RH defender on this team.
  • Andy Contois: Never noticed him.
  • Deslauriers: Looked good, he is a very active goalie. I like watching him, he looked confident.
  • Rohlfs: He’s really freaking big. He’s also pretty fast. I think he might be a pretty good pro.
  • Syvret: He played a quiet game, made good decisions with the puck and didn’t make any mistakes. Didn’t make any impact plays either, though.
  • Plante: He’s hurt, didn’t play. Back, maybe.
  • Almtorp: He’s a pretty good player and he’ll get lots of notice from the coach. Maybe the best back checker among the minor leaguers I saw today.
  • Freddie Johansson: I was impressed with him today. I don’t think he has any chance to make the big club but he can do some things.
  • Micflikier: He did some things with the puck when he had it but this is a level or two beyond him imo.
  • Berube: Can’t recall seeing him.
  • Ben Simon: Didn’t make any mistakes, made a couple of nice plays in neutral zone.
  • Peckham: He’s a big kid with all kinds of promise. Moved the puck pretty well and is a very physical kid.
  • Bryan Pitton: He didn’t look like much during the drills and struggled a bit during the game. He’s not ready for this level, but this level is outstanding in goal.
  • Brodziak: He was a hair behind Thoresen for the “best player of the day” imo. He’s a smart player with some size and seasoning. I bet he’s pleased with his day. Played RW.
  • Allan Rourke: Didn’t notice him, doesn’t make it a bad thing.
  • Stamler: Haven’t a clue.
  • McGinnis: Nothing. Not one damn thing.
  • Huxley: Got into a fight early, so I noticed him a little (I think he fought Flinn). Gave up maybe 6 inches but hung in there plenty.
  • Chwedoruk: Didn’t see him do anything.
  • Colin McDonald: O lord, I like him again. He’s not as big as some of the other Coke Machines and he needs a year in the AHL (at least), but he does some nice things. Battles, has average to above average speed and handles the puck well. Good passer.
  • Trukhno: I think he might be hurt. He was the slowest forward out there today either way, but he had a very nice point blank chance early and got an assist later on the Pouliot goal. Nothing about his day tells me he can’t play, unless that is his top end speed.
  • DePape: I don’t remember, I don’t recall.
  • Bisaillon: He was okay. You notice him because of his size and shot, but he seems to make good decisions too.
  • Derek Leblanc: Don’t know.
  • Tim Sestito: Scored a goal, but I was on the phone.
  • TJ Reynolds: Noticed him a little, made some nice plays off the rush without the puck.
  • Ryan Flinn: He’s a big guy, strong as an ox.
  • Troy Bodie: Faster than I thought he’d be, and he’s big. I don’t know which of these big wingers will end up with an NHL career, but if it’s Bodie I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • Spurgeon: A smart, heady hockey player. Gets it. If he has an NHL career it’ll be down the road apiece, but there’s some nice things here.
  • Kytnar: I noticed him a lot, he’s got terrific instincts. This guy is way better than he has any right to be based on age and draft pedigree.
  • Quist: Raw. A project. However, there’s some unique qualities to him.
  • Jordan Foreman: Wouldn’t know him if he robbed me right now.
  • Todd Scott: Seee Foreman.
  • TJ Kemp: Had some big hits, didn’t look out of place to me.
  • Matt Pepe: Never saw him.
  • Nick Holden: Was he there?
  • Bryan Young: He looks calm. Really calm. And smart.
  • Tom Gilbert: If I WAS a person who believed in “saw him good”, I’d be saying that they cannot send him out this fall. He definitely fits in with the NHL defenders here. Tom Gilbert is an excellent hockey player. Right now.
  • Goulet: This is the big guy, right? He had I believe Sanderson along the boards for about an hour and didn’t do much. Needs to be way more aggressive.
  • Karamnov: I liked him. Saw him on the PK a lot and even though he was the smallest guy out there he showed some things. Sign the guy.
  • Paige: Musta been sleeping.
  • Dobek: Nothing.
  • Paukovich: He’s a big man, no doubt. Blocked off the D pretty well and moved the puck when he had the chance, cycled well. Based on today, he’s a player of interest.
  • Reddox: Mixed it up a little, I was hoping for more.
  • Kronschnabel: Didn’t notice him.
  • Schremp: Looked good to me, very good. The game at this level has slowed down enough for him to make plays and he’s aggressive with the puck. A “holler” guy in that he wants that puck, but credit where due he drives to the net when he gets it.
  • Sam Gagner: He showed well for a guy giving up a lot of weight and experience to pretty much everyone else on the ice. Staios flattened him, he held his own in FO circle.

If I forgot anyone, post it and I’ll make up something. Later days.

PS, I had at least as good a time with Louise as I thought I would. Good company is a very important thing.

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18 Responses to "Training Camp Notes"

  1. Devin says:

    After reading you and Louise flirting back and forth for months now, I’m glad to hear the rendezvous went well, LT.

  2. Black Dog says:

    Jeez LT this is terrific – some real good stuff. Have to admit I am getting a little excited about the season coming – was happy to hear that a large number of guys were together this summer – I think that will make a difference; also happy to hear that Raffi may be finally getting it in terms of conditioning and off ice activities.

    First day so as you said way early (no earlier) but nice reports on Pouliot, Thoresen and Smid make me very happy. Also Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Almtorp, Brodziak (ie/ guys who will probably play this season) and Schremp, Peckham, C. MacDonald, Gagner, Fisher, DesLauriers, Cogliano, O’Marra and Rohlffs for down the road.

    Being a total fan-boy I know, but its a little exciting to hear that some of these guys held their own – ridiculous? Sure. But its TC!

    Finally good to hear that the majority of vets looked like vets – ie/ they looked like NHLers out there. I think this team is going to play with some purpose this season – they will likely lose more games then they win but at least they will do us proud.

    Ok, I’ll stop dreaming now!

  3. Ribs says:

    I know they must have not played much together if at all (with Souray injured) but should we be looking into Schremps placement on a line with Hemsky? Or is it just a lucky draw for Schremp?

  4. Lowetide says:

    ribs: Hemsky played with everybody and then played D most of the second half (games were in halfs).

    Schremp played with multiple wingers and was effective (I thought) with each of them.

    He looked quite comfortable out there today. That’s one thing I wanted to mention and forgot. You can see the body language and such during the games and almost all of the juniors and new pro’s were able to compete at some level but fell off in other areas.

    The only jr-to-pro kid who didn’t back down at all up front was O’Marra, on D I’d say it was Peckham.

    For the AHL group, Brodziak, Schremp, Nilsson, Stortini and from the D Gilbert standing out. They were certainly able to get clearance today from a guy like Jacques, as an example.

    Among the Euro’s, they all looked very good without the puck I thought, with special mention of Johansson, Almtorp and Kytnar.

  5. Black Dog says:

    so lt, what’s the deal w/jfj – confidence? 1 day as you say but guys who have been down this road before (and in a couple of cases for the first time) sound more comfortable

    what’s the deal – does he need a hug? is MacT the man to give him the buck up he needs?

    or is he on his way to becoming a throwin in some deal? jeez, certainly not promising – I figured he’d come out on fire

  6. trader says:

    Nice Post LT, just to let you know that Oil Kings founders jacket you have looks real sharp.

  7. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: I think he’s lost. Louise doesn’t believe he “thinks the game” as well as a kid like Pouliot, which is probably the best description I’ve heard yet.

    You never know, it’s just one day and one man’s opinion but he seemed a bit off the pace today.

    trader: I like it too. Reminds me of my old high school jacket only nicer by about 250%. :-)

  8. jerk clown says:

    LT,

    What side does/did Grebeshkov play on? Left or right?

  9. Lowetide says:

    jerk clown: Left side for sure, don’t recall if he played right at all (Staios and Roy, plus Hemsky and Greene all played RD today though).

    One sequence on the PP saw Grebeshkov move his feet to get a better lane to the net with his shot. It was one of two wonderful plays on the day by D on the PP (Tarnstrom’s goal was a terrific low shot).

  10. Lord Bob says:

    I’d just like to say that I think LT and I must be distantly related, because his thoughts on Dubnyk, Goulet, and Spurgeon are really, really close to what I came with when I watched them in Victoria.

    Dubnyk, in particular, I soured on almost instantly when I saw him live: he has all the mobility of a sack of ground beef and half of the hockey IQ. You won’t play in the NHL if you essentially rely on “I’m huge!” as your only goaltending ability.

    Spurgeon always struck me as a guy to watch: fast, agile, good skills, brilliant mind, and (in the ECHL) the tantalising possibility that he could go end-to-end, but he’s not nearly stupid enough to try. Hemsky does the same thing on a far higher level: dekes his way into the open, and where Ovechkin would go for it, Hemsky/Spurgeon passes because they know that the fancy move could leave them looking stupid going back the other way.

  11. oilerdiehard says:

    Just great stuff LT, thank you.

    Good to hear Grebs is looking good early.

    What you seen with Schremp jives what I wrote in your comments a while back. How did you think his skating looked with the lay off in training?

    Thanks again and I hope Louise comes in here to give some thoughts as well. I will be looking forward to it. :)

    Cheers,

    ODH

  12. Lowetide says:

    ODH: I paid attention to his skating but it wasn’t an issue today. He was most certainly able to keep up with the play and several times made good hockey plays. Schremp didn’t look to be laboring and I made a point of watching him after play was whistled down to see if he was uncomfortable or favoring anything. Didn’t seem to be.

    He made a very nice pass from behind the net for a chance and he cycled a bit (maybe with Pouliot) and came up high for a chance.

  13. PDO says:

    LT:

    Firstly, thanks, it’s a great report and it’s nice to get it from someone who knows what he’s talking about. The only thing I saw that I’d have any inkling of disagreeing with (keeping in mind that I wasn’t there ;)) would be calling Grebeshkov a minor leaguer, given his one-way contract.

    Secondly, if, based on today (and trust me, I don’t believe on saw him good either), you had to pick 7 D for this team – who would it be?

    Ideally I’d love to see Gilbert force a trade and Roy be sent to the AHL, but I believe Roy is also on a one-way contract for some reason?

    Also, would you read anything at all into Hemsky being put on D over anyone else other than there’s no real point in evaluating Hemsky? And (again, I know it’s just one day), what do you think of Gagner making this team based on how he fit in today?

  14. Lowetide says:

    PDO: Yeah I put Grebeshkov in the second tier by mistake. Unless he’s traded I suspect he’s on the team.

    Based on today, 7D? Hmmm:

    Pitkanen-Staios
    Souray-Smid
    Tarnstrom-Gilbert
    Grebeshkov

    With Greene traded and Roy probably lost on waivers. That’s just on today though (well yesterday) and they need to make a trade before opening night.

    I certainly wouldn’t put any importsnce on Hemsky playing D. Souray was hurt (read it after posting) and may not play today either.

    Honestly? Hemsky was playing so well yesterday one is tempted to say they put him on D to make it fair for the scrimmage. He was ridiculous yesterday.

  15. gary b says:

    great first day analysis, Mr. LT.

    i was able to catch the Grey/Red matchup, and came away impressed with a number of players. Moreau/Stoll/Nilsson looked very good. Stoll and Chopper buzzed around and looked like… themselves, and very happy to be playing and skating. Both had more chances than what they were able to convert (a couple of goals likely died on Moreau’s stick) – man, i’d love to see Moreau rebound with an 18-20 goal year. Nilsson seemed pretty quick, creative… although more than a couple of mistakes defensively, and he got creamed by Matt ‘The Wall’ Greene in the 2nd half. Forward-wise, it was a real dropoff after the top ‘line’ for Grey, no one really caught my eye at all, apart from Karamnov, whom we now learn is going back in to the draft anyway. Garon seemed fine, he played both halves for Team Grey. and Pitkanen looked good, too.

    Brodziak and P-Thor were hands above the rest for the Red Team. Seriously, Thoresen seems to have only one setting – all out, all the time. Surely that much effort and desire results in more than 4G this year. Brodziak surprised the heck outta me, tho – he’s bigger than i recall, and he played bigger. Reasoner looked good, Sanderson was… meh. Tarnstrom good, Greene alright, a couple of BIG hits. as for Tom Gilbert, man, that guy’s a player somewhere, i sure hope it’s here. he continues to show tons of talent and hockey-sense, and his offensive instincts are top-notch ( i recall his involvment on a 2-on-1 with Thoresen i think, he jumped right up).

    i can never get over how QUIET early training camp scrimmages are – other than an occasional shout of “MAN ON!” or “HIGH!” or “HEY!”, all you hear is puck on stick, and skates on ice going ‘skritch skritch’. I’m so glad hockey is back. :)

  16. Black Dog says:

    Heh, here’s a laugh for everyone – I’m at Tampa airport getting ready to fly out and surfing about – SI’s Allan Muir claims the Oilers will likely move a Dman for some top six forward – the man on the move in his eyes – Joni Pitkanen.

    Right ….

  17. Bank Shot says:

    It’s a good thing you didn’t notice a few of those guys, because there were some cuts after the Bears game.

    Including all the D besides Bisallion and Peckham from the Bears game. Which is too bad because I wanted to see McGinnis play some more. Those are the breaks when a team already has 18 defensemen under contract I guess.

  18. Dennis says:

    In looking at LT’s seven D, I think that it’s coming down to crunch time for Matt Greene. Or at least in terms of getting some real value for him.

    I know it takes dmen longer to mature and it’s not like he’s had a tonne of AB’s but if greene has one more year of being a pylon, then a lot of GM’s might start thinking the same way about him as some of us fans do. And that will drive down his value.

    And the same can be said of JFJ too.

    I always go back to perceived depth via actual depth, for instance, this much talked about quanity for quality deal to upgrade the forward corps would be done long ago if the Oilers had serious pieces that made other GM’s fall out of their chairs. So while I’m saying on one hand that this isn’t the farm system of the 70′s Habs, on the other hand there’s probably enough there that we shouldn’t waste too much time on a Greene or JFJ. If Grebs looks at all ready, and Greene doesn’t project beyond the top six, then I don’t want to see Greene playing above Grebs, for instance.

    And if a kid like RS can sorta hold his own at ES and can make the PP hum, then I don’t want to see JFJ eating his roster spot either.

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