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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37 Responses to "Does Pre-Season Action Mean Anything?"

  1. bookie says:

    I remember once when I was young and foolish (this was early 90's for me) that the Oilers won something like 7/7 preseason games. I was already planning my spot on the Stanley Cup parade. They then won something like 7 out of their next 40 games or something horrible like that.

    That is when I learned that win/loss in the preseason matters not. I know LT is talking about individual players here and I think that can matter.

    Did anyone else fall for that early 1990's Oilers team?

  2. shepso says:

    I was a young fool in that era too, with my dad and I having a season ticket package (not all 40, but like 18 and first crack at concerts and playoff tickets that never actually happened). I believe I was also planning some sort of SC related riot in my then-teenaged pre-marxist but post discovering punk-rock head. And it was gonna be sweet…

    The pre-season w/l records mean nothing. The NFL's Detroit lions went 4-0 in the preseason last year and we all know how that went for them… Lets see if any of the youth can make a difference, win, lose or otherwise. At least we can start planning for a riot in like 2012 (if the world is still in existence) if these kids are alright.

  3. Smytty777 says:

    I don't know that pre-season record means nothing. I think teams that are playing well toward the end of preseason generally start better than teams that are still out of sync in the preseason.

    While those early points don't mean much to the Detroits of the world, they could be the difference between 6th and 12th to the Oilers.

  4. Doogie2K says:

    I ran the stats last summer, and while I can't access the post right now, I can tell you that there is literally zero correlation between pre-season and regular season record. I've seen teams go 7-0 in the preseason and miss the playoffs, and teams go 2-6 and win their division. It makes sense: you're never playing a full lineup, save for maybe the last game, and the coaching is less concerned with winning than finding out what you've got in certain players. It's really quite irrelevant.

  5. flamingpavelbure says:

    Yep, preseason doesn't mean anything, it's just for showing off the rooks, most of the time when a top 6 forward plays in the game, he's having fun dangling around the AHL dmans.

  6. bookie says:

    Anyone watching the Football game – I haven't been, but I am as sure that the Esks are clobbering the Stamps as I am the Oilers will Kick Ass this year!

  7. Lowetide says:

    Horrible game. Eskimos looked indifferent tonight on offense and flat out awful on D. Calgary looks like they've straightened out a few things and those fricking Roughriders are back in a first place tie.

    Do you know what that means at my house? One full week of chatterbox from the significant other. Fuck.

  8. bookie says:

    LT – Doesn't the winner of the LD Classic always end up sucking and losing to the loser in the playoffs. Don't the two teams almost always split the two games?

    If either of those things is true, than its all irrelevant anyway (or perhaps even good that they lost)

    There may be forces at work that we don't understand (momentum cycles or something).

  9. docweb says:


    The Stamps won the Labour Day Classic,went on a tear for the rest of the regular season and won the Grey Cup.

    The only good Calgary result is a loss…ever.

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    I watched a bit of the Esks game, but once the NFL begins on Thursday, I will have negligible interest in the CFL until playoffs.

    Adrian Peterson going 1 on 1 against Ray Lewis makes the hair under my armpits stand right up.

  11. PDO says:


    Esks ran all over the Stamps in the LDC last year. Literally. CMC had a monster game, as did Stamps, and we won by 14+.

    I made the trek there ;)

  12. docweb says:


    Right you are…won they next game in Edmonton and lost only once the rest of the season.

    I get a bit mental when Calgay wins I must say.

  13. doritogrande says:

    Nobody can bitch about their team's showing in the Labour Day Classics unless you're a Bombers fan.

    5 INTs? Christ.

    If there was a team that deserved to be blown up (again!) it's those damn Bombers.

  14. Vince says:

    I'd have to agree pre-season likely means nothing when gauging how a team will compete for real…however I doubt my Oilers fanaticism will ever allow me to really feel that way about it while it's happening.

  15. NBOilerFan says:

    Well, I'm most excited to see how Brule and JFJ perform in camp, those are my two hopefuls to shine, but I also have them penciled into the lineup. I'm also actually (strangely) looking forward to seeing how Reddox does in camp and if he continues to prove why MacT liked him so much and if he can win over the new coaching staff as well.

    However, outside of those three, given three choices, mine are:

    Ryan Potulny
    Ryan Stone
    Slava Trukhno

  16. oil dude says:

    Did anyone else fall for that early 1990's Oilers team?

    Yes, those were the early years for me also. I was so excited after preseason, that was the year that Miro Satan and Peter White were PPG players the 5-7 exhibtion games they played in, and Dennis Bonvie was auditioning for tough guy.

  17. bookie says:

    Oh man, the brings back memories, Peter White & Dennis Bonvie, how can we lose? I was pretty excited.

    I soon learned to ignore all of the hype in the press about the 'next greatest' and to totally disregard pre-season (other than watching the bubble players as LT said).

  18. Coach pb9617 says:

    I think that preseason gives a brief look at a young player's ability to handle NHL play. It's one reason why I think that lower-tier teams should take preseason a bit more seriously.

  19. NBOilerFan says:

    OT – With Burke threatening an offer sheet to Kessel, does that open up an oppurtunity for another team to sweep in and make a deal with Boston for Kessel?

    With both Edmonton and Boston up tight against the cap, is there a deal that we could offer them for Kessel?

  20. geowal says:

    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).

    LT, when (where?) did Bodie play in the NHL? I assume it's after 05-06 but he never gets italicized…

    Was at the Labour Day game yesterday, sad state of affairs when you can hear the stamps fans at a stamps game. Better get them Friday.

  21. Bank Shot says:

    Bodie played a game or two for the Anaheim Ducks.

  22. godot10 says:

    //With both Edmonton and Boston up tight against the cap, is there a deal that we could offer them for Kessel?//

    The Oilers may already have Phil Kessel. His name is Andrew Cogliano.

  23. Bruce says:

    Digger lives up to his name yet again. Glad that cat is now out of the bag, I've been biting my vortual tongue for a couple weeks already.

    Add my congrats to the pile, JW. The Score just struck gold.

  24. Jfry says:

    cogs is not kessel!

  25. godot10 says:

    //cogs is not kessel!//

    Cogs scored more goals in his first two seasons than Kessel, and Cogs played with much worse players, in a tougher division and conference.

    Kessel has had one big year in a contract expiration year. i.e. Kessel has done it once.

  26. flamingpavelbure says:

    //With both Edmonton and Boston up tight against the cap, is there a deal that we could offer them for Kessel?//

    Boston possess 4 Million in Bonuses they can delay to the next year, and then Recchi, Savard and others see theyr contract come to an end (Recchi signed a 1 year deal right? correct me if wrong)

    //Cogs scored more goals in his first two seasons than Kessel, and Cogs played with much worse players, in a tougher division and conference.

    Kessel has had one big year in a contract expiration year. i.e. Kessel has done it once.//

    Kessel, on the year before this, was often benched, or playing with bums, his first year being the worst. Last year's east was soft, but that's about it.


    Buffalo 1st Eastern Conference Final
    Ottawa 4th Cup Final
    Montreal 10th 2 point short
    Toronto 9th 1 point short


    Montreal 1st Of Conference
    Ottawa 7th (Monster year debut)
    Buffalo on the verge.

    Last year was soft, must admit it, but not the 2 first years.

  27. Traktor says:

    Why go after Kessel when Dubinsky is sitting on the sidelines?

    Sather has been lowballing him to the tune of 1 million per.

    Send him 1 year offer for 2.6 and surrender a 2nd round pick.

    I'd even toss a Dustin Penner contract at him. He's the next Mike Richards.

  28. Coach pb9617 says:

    Cogs scored more goals in his first two seasons than Kessel, and Cogs played with much worse players, in a tougher division and conference.

    Come on you know better – Kessel was 19 and 20. Cogliano was 20 and 21.

    Kessel's light went on when he was 21. Cogliano's hasn't yet.

    Why go after Kessel when Dubinsky is sitting on the sidelines?

    I'd even toss a Dustin Penner contract at him. He's the next Mike Richards.

    That's about the only thing we've always agreed on.

    I'm stunned that Dubinsky doesn't have multiple sheets at 2.6

  29. hunter1909 says:

    Unless Quinn shoves Horcoff on the third line, you really have to wonder where the team's dependable, 3rd line responsible center is coming from.

  30. Jfry says:

    last year, kessel was +23, played first line minutes on a team that was arguably the best in the eastern conference

    cogs (at the same age) was -6 with the 13th worst Qual Comp among oilers forwards with more than 4 games.

    kessel was a lottery draft pick and cogs was drafted late in the first round. we're talking about different players in a very large capacity. i really like cogs, but c'mon. kessel lit up his one year of college and went straight to the NHL. and kessel, even though he was moved out of the faceoff circle this year, at least average 48% in his 100 sorties.

    there is no pedigree or year over year improvement to suggest that we should expect Kessel-like numbers from from cogs next year. 25 goals, playing the wing with an even plus-minus would be a huge season, even in his contract year. cogs would have to prove to be a PP1 option, at least doubling his points/60 on the PP to even be close to the same numbers. non of this is likely.

    kessel's improvement is in keeping with break out years by other similar players in their third year…by similar, i mean lottery picks.

  31. Jfry says:

    in that sense, you'd be much more realistic in hoping gagne could show incredible improvement a la kessel, rather than unrealistically hoping that cogs can.

    which brings up a question…is there anyone on the oilers who can score 30? or are we hoping for 8, 20 goal scorers?

  32. shep says:

    new tryouts:

    betts -> philadelphia
    bäckman -> florida
    skoula -> florida
    hinote -> sharks

  33. Ribs says:

    Jfry- Souray!

  34. flamingpavelbure says:

    Florida is probably only going to take one of them, and let the final spot to Keaton Ellerby, Florida is shaping up nicely, if their core can continue to produce regularly, and be great defensive players, i think they got a shot at the division. Little help from a Repik or a Dadonov would surely give them a hand.

  35. flamingpavelbure says:

    On the french TSN, there is a lunatic that thinks

    1: Smid ressembles to Jason Smith and fights quite often

    2: Robbie Shremp figures in the most important young players, but not Robert Nilsson

    3: Ales Hemsky declared he wanted to play with Heatley

    4: The Oilers would switch Cogliano for Gagner and a 1st round pick

    And he's a featured blogger!

  36. speeds says:


    Maybe there's a deal, but how much does it help if you aren't paying Kessel a bunch? Presumably he's talked money with Burke, and won't sign for less than Burke's offering with anyone.

    I doubt Burke waits as long to offer sheet Kessel if he's EDM property vs. BOS property.

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