Does Pre-Season Action Mean Anything?

This is Jordan Eberle. He sounds pretty serious about making the big club this fall, or at least he is saying all of the right things.

How does one go about making the Edmonton Oilers when not considered one of the favorites? Fortunately for Eberle there are some fairly recent examples of success.

First, get noticed early. Second, find your way into a few pre-season games and third–showcase whatever skills God gave you.

Since the lockout ended, the Oilers have given long looks to the kids they’re seriously thinking about keeping. In the fall of 2005, Jani Rita got 7 games to show what he could do and did indeed make the big club (traded later in the season).

Fall 2005
  1. Zack Stortini 3gp, 1-0-1, 20pims +1
  2. Marc Pouliot 4gp, 1-0-1 -4
  3. Rob Schremp 6gp, 1-0-1 -2
  4. Dan Smith 5gp, 0-1-1 -1
  5. Kyle Brodziak 4gp, 0-1-1 E
  6. Danny Syvret 4gp, 0-1-1 E
  7. Jani Rita 7gp, 0-1-1 -4
  8. Brad Winchester 6gp, 0-0-0 -3
  9. Matt Greene 4gp, 0-0-0 -4
  10. JF Jacques 3gp, 0-0-0 -1
  11. Yan Stastny 3gp, 0-0-0 -5
  12. Mike Morrison 2gp, 0.48 .978
  13. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-0-0 +1
  14. Mathieu Roy 2gp, 0-0-0 -3

Men who broke camp with the big club in bold and the ones who got at least a cup of coffee with the Oilers are in italics. Of the 14 rookies who played more than one pre-season game, 11 (or 79%) would eventually spend some time in the NHL in 2005-06. Ironically, two of three kids who scored a goal didn’t make the team and were not recalled (Schremp and Stortini). All three of the players who didn’t play for the Oilers in 05-06 on this list eventually played in an NHL game (Stortini, Schremp, Bodie).

Fall 2006

  1. Patrick Thoresen 6gp, 1-4-5 +2
  2. Alexei Mikhnov 5gp, 2-2-4 +1
  3. Rob Schremp 5gp, 2-2-4 -2
  4. Marc Pouliot 6gp, 2-0-2 +1
  5. Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-1-1 +1
  6. Sebastien Bisaillon 2gp, 0-1-1 +2
  7. Ladislav Smid 6gp, 0-0-0 +3
  8. Jan Hejda 6gp, 0-0-0 +1
  9. Mathieu Roy 4gp, 0-0-0 +1
  10. JF Jacques 4gp, 0-0-0 E
  11. Tyler Spurgeon 3gp, 0-0-0 +1
  12. Zack Stortini 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  13. Slava Trukhno 2gp, 0-0-0 +1
  14. Bryan Young 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  15. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  16. Danny Syvret 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  17. Kyle Brodziak 2gp, 0-0-0 E

Players who made the roster in bold, and it is clear each of them got a long look in training camp. If we see Peckham or Motin getting 6 games then it probably means they’re close or the coaching staff is considering them as first callups. Of the 17 players listed, 14 (or 82.3 %) got at least a cup of coffee in the show during the 06-07 season. Slava Trukhno, Jonas Almtorp and Tyler Spurgeon have been shutout and all three are in danger of ruining my wonderful 2 pre-season game theory. Bastages.

Fall 2007

  1. Andrew Cogliano 5gp, 4-3-7 +3
  2. Kyle Brodziak 5gp, 3-2-5 +1
  3. Slava Trukhno 3gp, 1-2-3 E
  4. Sam Gagner 4gp, 2-0-2 +1
  5. Tim Sestito 2gp, 1-0-1 E
  6. Rob Schremp 3gp, 0-1-1 +1
  7. Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-1-1 +2
  8. Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-0-0 E
  9. Ryan O’Marra 2gp, 0-0-0 -2

Three forwards make the grade in the fall of 2007, and give us the most likely scenario for Eberle. Gagner had that summer tournament that gave him some momentum and I remember MacT gushing over both Cogliano and Brodziak during training camp. They really did force the issue. Schremp was the only cup of coffee from this season, so only 4 of 9 (44.4%) turned the trick and although Sestito and Bodie have appeared in the NHL, the trio of Trukhno, Almtorp and O’Marra remain outside looking in.

Fall 2008

  1. Rob Schremp 4gp, 0-2-2 -2
  2. Liam Reddox 2gp, 1-0-1 -1
  3. Tyler Spurgeon 3gp, 1-0-1 +1
  4. Taylor Chorney 4gp, 0-1-1 -4
  5. Slava Turkhno 2gp, 0-1-1 -1
  6. Tim Sestito 2gp, 0-1-1 +1
  7. Theo Peckham 3gp, 0-0-0 -3
  8. Jeff Deslauriers 2gp, 2.81 .921
  9. Colin McDonald 2gp, 0-0-0 E
  10. Steve MacIntyre 2gp, 0-0-0 -1
  11. Guillaume Lefebvre 2gp, 0-0-0 -1
  12. Mathieu Roy 2gp, 0-0-0 -1

Men who made it in bold and the callups in italics. 7 of 12 (58.3%) made the NHL during the 2008-09 season. Eberle by the way played in 1 pre-season game a year ago and did get on the scoresheet. Interesting that Spurgeon and Trukhno once again make the list, I wonder if Slava will get 2 games this fall.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the top it looks like MacT and the coaching staff devoted playing time to those who were on the bubble and remembered their names when the injuries hit. A good rule of them then (all things being equal and Pat Quinn following a logical path) is that if your favorite prospect plays quite a few pre-season games there’s a very good chance they will spend some time with the big club in 2009-10.

Given only 3 choices, I’d like Devan Dubnyk, Johan Motin and Jordan Eberle as the likely rookies to see a surprising amount of playing time in pre-season.

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