Training camp rosters have all kinds of value for fans. Today’s gives us clues about the team we’ll be watching (young up front, and small!) in the next 9 months (or longer) and we can check off in our own minds the “sure things” and “the maybe’s” along with the “yeah, right” groups.
As time marches on, we can look back on these rosters and see the young men who attended camp when no one knew them, when the town belonged to older men, a time when they had no past to build on.
There are no Esa Tikkanen’s, no Bill Ranford’s, no Anson Carter’s. This is a young roster bent on having young forwards get most of the at-bats, and not only are there no well known veterans like Tikkanen to ease the load there aren’t many Toby Petersen’s to offer insurance should these kids fall flat again.
It’s going to be an interesting winter.
- Nikolai Khabibulin, 36: A .919SP last season and he’s averaged 50 games per season in the last three NHL campaigns. His health and level of play is central to any success.
- Jeff Deslauriers, 25: A .901SP in 10 NHL games a year ago is the extent of his big league experience, leaving the club vulnerable in the most important position on the ice.
- Devan Dubnyk, 23: 6.06 goalie had a .906SP that was a match for JDD`s number during his time in Springfield a year ago. Has stated he will be coming to this camp with the idea that he’s going to make the big club and some of us think he has a chance.
- Andrew Perugini, 21: .908SP in Stockton and passed some drafted men on the depth chart during last season, he doesn’t have the pedigree but performance is the thing at the pro level.
- Bryan Pitton, 21: A pencil (6.02, 168 according to Oilers site) and a young man whose pro numbers (.886 this past season in Stockton) are at the bottom of this goalie group. It could be a painful training camp for him despite the contract.
- Aaron Sorochan, 25: Age and a .937SP in the CIS make him an interesting non-roster invitee this fall. Whispers have him as the backup in Springfield in 2009-10.
- Olivier Roy, 18: Young goalie had a .905SP in the QMJHL last season and impressed enough in rookie camp to get an invite. This is a crowded position for training camp.
- Kurtis Mucha, 20: The biggest surprise invite of this training camp, Mucha’s junior numbers (.891SP) came playing in front of a poor team and the brass liked him enough at rookie week to bring him to main camp.
- Lubomir Visnovsky, 33: A very important part of this hockey club, I think he’ll be Quinn’s Kaberle and spend monster minutes on the PP this season.
- Sheldon Souray, 33: His size and grit along with the rocket launcher make him a unique and important talent on this team.
- Tom Gilbert, 26: Despite the quality seasons I think he’s a tad underrated in some quarters. Gilbert has impressive numbers and is also a bigger body (6.03, 206) and is the ideal defender for the new NHL: mobile, confident and intelligent.
- Denis Grebeskov, 25: The light turned on and he supplied quality minutes for this team down the stretch. A strong season would mean a big payday.
- Steve Staios, 36: 2.7M is an overypay but he has value. Staios could post better numbers if he played the same minutes with a more experienced partner and that is possible this season.
- Ladislav Smid, 23: Still the youngest by plenty among the blue, he showed several positive signs a year ago and would give the club a huge boost if he can take another step this year.
- Jason Strudwick, 34: Veteran played 71 games a year ago, if things break right for the Oilers this year that number could be halved. He’s a depth player and any number of things could end his NHL career.
- Theo Peckham, 21: On the verge of making the show, the Oilers would probably be content sending him down if the names above him hold serve in training camp. He’ll be the first call-up this year and should triple his 15 games from last season. Note: apparently beginning training camp injured, this could certainly impact how quickly he’s sent down.
- Taylor Chorney, 22: He had a good training camp a year ago as MacT paired him with a veteran in pre-season which allowed him to show his foot speed and puck moving ability. It’s anyone guess as to how much time he’ll get this fall, a new coaching staff might take a shine to him or move on quickly in order to get a better look at the incumbents. Chorney is certainly a dividing line between the group we’ll see (1-8) and the also-rans. Anyone who jumps Chorney will in my opinion have had an impact two weeks.
- Dean Arsene, 29: He’s an interesting player. A veteran AHL hand who has signed a contract that is very reasonable ($500,000) should he be called up to the big club. Should injuries hit and Quinn prefers battle-hardened men from the minors then Arsene could see his first NHL action at age 29.
- Jake Taylor, 26: Like Arsene, Taylor has plenty of AHL experience and despite not having played an NHL game he might be an option this winter. He’s 6.04, 225.
- Cody Wild, 22: We got to hear a little of why the Oilers aren’t as bullish on him as the math implies when Rob Daum mentioned the fact that some of the college hires were a little hesitant in the AHL a year ago. Wild should certainly be better prepared this year but that alone probably keeps him down the depth chart in 2009-10.
- Matt Nickerson, 24: Big enforcer with pro experience. You never know with these guys, if he can find a role that fits the big club he might have a chance.
- Johan Motin, 19: He’s gained some attention during rookie week with physical style and confident play. Worth watching closely this camp because he could make the big club down the line.
- Alex Plante, 20: He apparently has a minor injury entering camp (missed last night’s U. of A. game) so we’ll have to wait and see how much action he sees this camp.
- Bryan Young, 23: 2004 selection who played for the Oilers in two different seasons (06-07, 07-08) but is now signed to an AHL contract. Depth player.
- Jesse Dudas, 21: He was brought back this season as a favor (Guy Flaming reporting that his season was derailed a year ago partly because of a TC injury) and it could turn into a pro contract. Mobile player, good size.
- Jordan Bendfeld, 21: Oilers don’t have too many big, physical players so any enforcers who can play at all are getting the green light for camp. Has he ever played forward?
- Dalton Prout, 19: Oilers clearly like him, this is the second TC in a row he’s been here. I believe he’s still draft eligible and he does have some skill as a fighter. Interesting player.
- R Ales Hemsky, 26: Wonderful player poised for a breakout season. Quinn’s early comments aside, all of his arrows are pointing in the right direction. If the Oilers load up a soft minutes line with #83 as the key element we should see some crooked numbers all season long.
- C Shawn Horcoff, 30: Key player on a roster with very few complete players. Horcoff’s ability to win faceoffs and help in all situations means he is going to be very busy.
- C Sam Gagner, 20: This is probably the season Samwise passes #10 on the PP and in terms of linemates, and because of it we should expect superior offense.
- R Fernando Pisani, 32: Last season he faced tough opposition with less than stellar help. Should the Oilers move Horcoff onto his line we’ll see quality numbers.
- L Andrew Cogliano, 22: If he can score 25 goals he’ll own Edmonton and become the toast of the town. Already a part of Oiler lore (he’s been traded but it didn’t take) if he starts well I suspect he’ll get a push from an organization looking for progress from the young skilled forwards.
- C/L/R Patrick O’Sullivan, 24: Has a wider range of skills and can play multiple positions up front, so he’s a key component. I have a suspicion they’ll take a long look at O’Sullivan on the top line this fall, or move him to the middle. He’s going to be an important player.
- L Dustin Penner, 26: He’ll be standing at the back on picture day but that has to be the last time he brings up the rear. A lightning rod player on this roster, he needs to deliver.
- L Mike Comrie, 29: Crazy, man, crazy. Comrie has scored well on the big stage and arrives in good health and with his NHL career in a spot of bother. This signing has some nice arrows for 2009-10.
- L Ethan Moreau, 33: The captain needs to lead this young group and he can help tremendously by staying out of the penalty box a helluva lot more than he did a year ago. Mixed messages through the media should also be verboten this winter.
- R Robert Nilsson, 24: Heads the list of 2003 draftees facing yet another crossroads and in many ways for Nilsson the deck does not favor him. Has some nice things.
- C Marc Pouliot, 24: His is a subtle game and there’s certainly a chance the Oilers will send him away this fall. One of these seasons he’s going to need to establish himself, maybe this is the one.
- R Zack Stortini, 24: Aside from being a good agitator and an improving fighter, Stortini is adept at being on the ice when nothing is happening offensively at either end. It has value, and if he can improve even a little the Oilers will have a useful player.
- L JF Jacques, 24: The important numbers have remained the same for a long time: 6.04, 217. He says he’s healthy and has been able to train extensively in getting ready for the season. Should he establish himself as an actual NHL player, the problems begin to solve themselves in waves on this roster.
- L Steve MacIntyre, 29: Even if Quinn believes rolling 4 lines is important, MacIntyre can be slotted as the 14F and play road games in Calgary, Minnesota and Shawshank.
- L Ryan Potulny, 25: If he can establish himself as a role player with some offensive ability, Potulny might see his role expand over the season. Player to watch.
- C Gilbert Brule, 22: It’s time for him to make a move but the math suggests there may not be another gear. Brule may end up being a 4th line crash-and-bang player from the lottery seat. Big, big camp for this player.
- C Chris Minard, 27: Solid AHL player who brings some offense and NHL experience. Although he’s not a favorite to make the grade, I don’t think we should be surprised if Minard spends extended time with the Oilers this season.
- L Liam Reddox, 23: Reddox is easy to overlook but has some serious advantages over some of these men. He’s played over half a season in the show and his minor league numbers show he’s capable of playing a more complete game than some of the fancy boys.
- L Ryan Stone, 24: Dark horse could make the roster based on rugged style and minor league experience. Foot speed is a concern.
- R Colin McDonald, 24: Two-way winger showed some life after Rob Daum took over in Springfield, McDonald has seen enough training camp time to know he’ll need to make a quick and good impression. I think he gets the first extended look of his pro career this fall.
- C Rob Schremp, 23: His F-bomb interview has already made this an impact camp. All possible events are in play: he could make the team, he could be traded, he could be cut and be claimed on waivers, he could clear waivers and play in Springfield or clear waivers and bolt to Europe. As much fun as it is to watch this roll out, I think we’ll all be glad when this is finally over and our long national nightmare ends.
- L Slava Trukhno, 22: The Slava Trukhno marching-and-chowder society is down to his Mom and speeds now; I still get the newsletter and send in the annual fees but will need to be convinced he’s got another gear before driving to another meeting.
- R Jordan Eberle, 19: I would have placed him a little higher, but he’s apparently beginning camp with a slight injury and (like Plante) that can impact your at-bats in training camp and the day they send you out. Soft hands, could surprise.
- C Geoff Paukovich, 23: Anyone with size who plays with an edge has a chance to last longer in this camp and Paukovich is such a player. He ran over a Flame early in pre-season a year ago, one suspects he’ll arrive in the same kind of humor for the new coach.
- L Kip Brennan, 29: Another knuckle-dragger in case one of them gets carried off on his shield, this one has some NHL experience and should be considered a possible call-up.
- L Bryan Lerg, 23: At 5.10, 175 he’s at the bottom of the jean pile when it comes to the Oilers’ Minute (read: mine-yute) men. Had some nice things in Springfield that he might be able to build on, but they gave him a mountain to climb this time.
- C Ryan O’Marra, 22: Wishes he was in Rob Schremp’s situation. O’Marra is a pick with pedigree who no one is even talking about, but based on the last several months there just isn’t much to get excited about with this player.
- R Colton Fretter, 27: 24 goals in the AHL is a nice total.
- L Charles Linglet, 27: Minor league veteran caught fire after coming over to Springfield late last season.
- R Miroslav Lazo, 31: The Ubaldo Heredia of hockey comes out of nowhere and throws strikes on a diet of beer and beans.
- R Jamie Bates, 24: He showed well in rookie camp and has enough experience to be a legit option for the Falcons. I think he’ll get a contract.
- L Philippe Cornet, 19: I’d say there’s zero chance he makes the grade, but each time we see him this fellow does more to impress. The Oilers might have a live one here and I’d bet he sees some playing time in pre-season.
- C Milan Kytnar, 20: This camp has less tension for him because the Oilers have already suggested he’ll play in Saskatoon in 2009-10. Things could change, and it’s very unusual for an “Orest Kindrachuk” to have a serious NHL career but it appears all involved believe this is the best move.
- L Riley Emmerson, 23: Enforcer for Springfield, 6.08 and 248. Lordy.
- R Ryan MacMurchy, 26: Former St. Louis draft pick, he’s been in Stockton for the last two seasons.
- L Kelly Czuy, 26: Listed as a LW although he shoots right, he spent most of last season with Las Vegas (ECHL) but did play for Springfield 3 times a year ago and has been to Oilers camp before
Any mistakes let me know.