Training Camp!

Fall is in the air, in a few hours it’ll be the Eskimos and Stamps in the Labor Day classic and the two dailies have the “will the kid make it?” articles this morning (this time it’s Jordan Eberle, in the recent past we’ve seen the same type of article at this time of year about Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Rob Schremp, Jani Rita, etc). It’s a fun time of year, a chance to see kids you’ve only read about and to watch the youngsters who didn’t make it a year ago and compare their progress to our own collective memory.

Here are 12 things I’m wondering:

  1. Dubnyk versus Deslauriers: Not much has been made about this potential battle, but if the big western kid performs well in training camp then this could be an issue. Dubnyk played only 20 minutes in pre-season a year ago (without allowing a goal) and JDD had a 92.1 SP in 2 contests. If we can agree that a new coach can sometimes see things a different way then this battle has the potential to be very interesting at TC.
  2. Will they find room for Peckham? This young man brings some strong assets to every game. A willing fighter and a physical player, he’s also learning his position at pace. Last season the Oilers had a look in 3 pre-season games (-3, 10pims) and he should get at least that many this fall. It’ll be very difficult for him to make the big club without injury or trade but he could force the issue.
  3. What to do about LW: Not so long ago this was a position of extreme strength for this organization, but Smyth and Torres and even Glencross are long gone. It seems as though the Oilers have all kinds of candidates, from incumbents Dustin Penner, Patrick O’Sullivan, Ethan Moreau and Robert Nilsson to possible transplanted centers like Andrew Cogliano and Jordan Eberle. Liam Reddox never gets a lot of mention but seems to rise through the depth chart annually and JF Jacques appears healthy and should fit Quinn’s 4line template.
  4. Who will win the 1line LW job? My money is on Penner, the club has had success with that line in the past and despite some warts the guy can do some things. We know Cogliano will get a look, Nilsson might get a shot and Eberle might get a game if he shows well. I also wouldn’t discount Moreau here or even Fernando Pisani. This is a new coach and if they’re going to run power v. power then a responsible LWer is vital.
  5. Will Pat Quinn hire Steve MacIntyre? He can’t play a lot of minutes but his is a defined role. Quinn doesn’t roll 4 lines all of the time so a specialty player like this can be slotted onto the roster but will they risk waivers on some of these forwards in order to keep him?
  6. Is Stortini the insurance for a Pisani injury? Currently the Oilers are Hemsky, Nilsson, Pisani and Stortini on RW with people like O’Sullivan and Penner also available. Should Pisani get hurt (and this is certainly possible) then the Oilers are going to need a tough minutes RW (Pisani led the club in that category a year ago). The current candidates for the slot appear to be Dustin Penner and Zack Stortini.
  7. How good can this PP be? One of MacT’s real weaknesses was the powerplay. I think the new coaching staff has a plethora of quality talent and should be able to run two solid units. However, Pat Quinn didn’t really do that in his last season in Toronto, he run the first unit ragged. In 2005-06, Kaberle and McCabe played 7.5 minutes a night on the powerplay and forward TOI totals included Allison (5.5), Sundin (5.5), Tucker (5.0) and Lindros (4.5).
  8. Will Gagner step forward? If this is to be Sam Gagner’s team (and he’s got the talent) then at some point he’s going to begin stealing ice from Horcoff and eventually swap wingers with #10. Will we see signs he’s maturing at TC?
  9. Can Cogliano be a 25-goal man? We’re at a point now where Cogliano needs to show us what he is: a Todd Marchant checker who can pop 15-goals a year or a fleet winger who can score 25. If he can score 25, this team is in good shape.
  10. What about center ice? They must have a plan. After Horcoff and Gagner, the Oilers can try Penner, Pisani, O’Sullivan among the more proven men and Pouliot, Brule, Schremp, Cogliano from the less established group up front. I think we need to conclude that the Oilers don’t believe losing faceoffs is as harmful as math suggests, otherwise this would have been addressed over the summer. How they traded Kyle Brodziak and brought nothing back is addled.
  11. Will they make a trade before opening night? I’m hoping so, we’ll see. I also think we should watch the waiver wire closely, maybe they believe someone good will shake loose from the tree.
  12. Who will be the surprise TC invite? Nothing so far, no Anson Carter or Esa Tikkanen. I thought Jussi Markkanen might be invited after he played in that London tournament but he’s probably already under contract.

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50 Responses to "Training Camp!"

  1. hunter1909 says:

    How do you manage to write such a plethora of interesting articles on the Oilers?

    Seriously, this blog makes the mainstream media pale by comparison.

    I hope you never get an offer to sell this out, although of course you will, and shall probably accept.

  2. DangerMan says:

    #1 – It will be an interesting battle for backup G. But I think Deslauriers has a leg up due to waivers, so Dubnyk will have to play out of his mind to win this gig.

    #2 – Peckham like Dubnyk will have to play out of his mind. But if he does, then what, waiver Steady Steve? Maybe Smid struggles? Peckham brings a little bit of crazy to his game, something the oilers need a hint of.

    #3- LW is wide open, especially on the top 2 lines and to just simply hand the jobs to the incumbants to me would be a bad idea. Although if Penner even shows moderate interest he probably gets one of the gigs.

    #4 – If I was GM I would be addressing Hemsky's wing man immediately. Judging from the roster there isn't much to pick from, so its almost as if we have to hope and pray one of Brule or Eberle pull through.

    #5 – To me it all depends on whether Jacques will engage in enough fights and if Peckham makes the club. If we have Jacques, Stortini and Peckham all in the lineup it will make MacIntyre a little redundant.

    #6 – I think Reddox is the Pisani insurance although it would be a good story if Stortini can round out his game enough to fill a Pisani type role in the future.

    #7 – The PP should be better than it has in the past. Cannons from the point, good playmaking, all they need is a good down low play, then they'll be like a pitcher with a great changeup.

    #8 – I believe a Penner-Gagner-O'Sullivan line would be a solid 2nd scoring line with a potential to become a 1st scoring line. I believe that when Gagner is ready he will be the offensive catalyst for this team.

    #9 – It all depends on what line Cogs is playing on. If is he playing with Moreau and Pisani, probably not, if he is playing with Hemsky, I see no reason why he can't hit 25 G.

    #10 – Center ice depth is a weakness of this team. Obviously Horcoff is on the the center PKers, who's the other? Pouliot? I cringe.

    #11 – I'm with LT on this. I have been waiting all summer for a deal to happen, and patiently I still wait.

    #12 – Surprises, I'm still holding a candle out for Brule to play with Hemsky and I think Peckham will force the coaching staff to make a tough decision with the D.

  3. FlamingPavelBure says:

    Yes, Hope you do pop out like the vlogger Steve Dangle (Received a pass for the Marlies because of his youtube videos).

    Well yeah, training camp, it's fun, it's full of hope, going to pre-season games let you look at who are the baddies and the goddies.

    Question for Lowetide: Do you think Reddox, would be more suitable than Stortini to eventually replace Pisani? LW-RW switch is usually easier to do than C-W

  4. Julian says:

    You forgot to ask whether Shremp would take Horcoff's spot as the #1c.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Reddox is a complete flier at this point imo. He earned playing time from the previous coach but you can see why the new guy might prefer (on paper) other options.

    Reddox was still swinging through major league curveballs last year but he's getting better and he's here so there's every chance he gets another opportunity with the new man given time.

    But he's a long way from covering Pisani's minutes. I like him a ton though, partly because he was drafted the same season as Schremp and passed him without ever looking back. If you're looking for someone for your child to emulate, Reddox is the choice between the two. I don't know if it means he'll have a career though, MacT's firing didn't help him.

  6. flamingpavelbure says:

    Maybe if his last year in the juniors, instead of going down from 80 to 60 points, went up to 100, he would have received bigger consideration. (It's not a critic, just that coming up, as a league elite, like Robbie, but with better attitude, would have probably made him even higher on the Depth Chart)

  7. Mr DeBakey says:

    Will they find room for Peckham?
    Let's hope not
    Use the Gilbert model, not the Smid

    Is Stortini the insurance for a Pisani injury?
    I've seen no evidence of that.
    Stortini just needs to hold onto his 4th line spot

    Will Gagner step forward?
    Yes
    He's lucky in that he can run in Horcoff's slipsream for a couple more years.
    I think he'll have decent stats this year

    What about center ice?
    D-o-m-i-n-i-c M-o-o-r-e

    Who will be the surprise TC invite?
    Miroslav Lazo of curse

  8. Lowetide says:

    pavel: Yeah, I think everyone on the planet felt that Schremp was the better player,from draft year through the end of their first season in pro hockey.

    But since then? Crazy stuff.

  9. flamingpavelbure says:

    Hmmm, yeah i was looking at that, and heh, maybe Reddox can pull off a ''Kris Versteeg'' with little history of scoring in the Juniors, then having great points in the AHL, and now he got it's first semi-season with the Oil. Heh who knows, maybe Reddox will have 50 points by the end of the season. That would be fun lol!

  10. Black Dog says:

    Oh my head hurts.

    Holes everywhere.

    Camp is always fun, wait until Eberle scores a hattrick early on or Schremp has a three point night, then cue the gnashing of teeth when they get cut.

    I'm firmly onside with them needing to make a move, actually two but I have a feeling that they are going to roll with what they have. I think that guys are going to come out flying, nearly every player is coming off a poor year, and on top of that some guys are at or near their last chance – Pouliot, Nilsson, Schremp, Jacques

    Add to that the fact that there is a real disconnect between the roster guys and the hopefuls and i think we will see few surprises. If a Dman gets hurt then Peckham makes it, otherwise he's the last cut, as it should be. As for the rest of the hopefuls Eberle will show well and get shipped out, as it should be, and the rest of them will end up in the minors except for maybe Potulny or Schremp, the latter if a couple of the soft minute smurfs get hurt.

    No surpirses this year though, no Thoresens or Gilberts or MacIntyres coming out of nowhere or leaping up the depth chart.

  11. B.C.B. says:

    I am a big fan of Zorg, only Bruce out ranks me in this hockey crush. So my opinion might be clouded.

    If we want Zorg to become a more complete player, he needs to get some PK time in the pre-season games, and he needs a lot of it. This would allow him to work on his positioning against AHLers and a few NHLers, so through out the regular season he can be brought slowly along on the PK. I am not thinking that he will be a 2 minute guy on the PK this season, but an average of 30 seconds per game is reasonable and attainable. This means he will need a very good PK partner (maybe Horcoff or Pisani) in those 30 seconds. We all know that Zorg has the effort on the back check, and his skating has improved; now he needs to block more shots, further punish the opponent wingers on the half boards, and slowly start taking up some PK time.

    On a related not, I hope Quinn starts to lengthen his PKer list. Last year, after the Pisani injury, it seemed that Pisani's replacements didn't know the system very well (and they didn't, since they had not played PK in a game until the injury). I think having PK depth is important this year, and an issue the coaching staff needs to address.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Well that's not quite true, Reddox did score in junior. Here's a year by year comparison between the two:

    Age 17
    Schremp 63gp, 30-45-75 1.19 (OHL)
    Reddox 68gp, 31-33-64 .941 (OHL)

    Age 18
    Schremp 62gp, 41-49-90 1.45 (OHL)
    Reddox 68gp, 36-46-82 1.21 (OHL)

    Age 19
    Schremp 57gp, 57-88-145 2.54 (OHL)
    Reddox 68gp, 19-45-64 .941 (OHL)

    Age 20
    Schremp 69gp, 17-36-53 .768 (AHL)
    Reddox 70gp, 8-18-26 .371 (ECHL)

    Age 21
    Schremp 78gp, 23-53-76 .974 (AHL)
    Reddox 65gp, 16-28-44 .677 (AHL)

    Age 22
    Schremp 69gp, 7-35-42 .608 (AHL)
    Reddox 14gp, 5-4-9 .643 (AHL)

    So we see they were pretty close pre-draft offensively and even at age 18 they're in the same ballpark (Schremp ahead both times).

    Schremp gets huge minutes on an historically good team and kicks out the jams at age 19, and holds serve at 20 while Reddox is humbled in the low minors.

    Which may have been a good thing, because since that season Reddox has been credited with playing a more complete game and has now played 40 more NHL games than Schremp.

    I don't think many of us saw this coming and don't know what the odds are that this will continue. I would certainly put my money on Reddox, though.

  13. Ducey says:

    The biggest thing I will be looking at is whether the Oilers start putting some guys in front of the net, and working on deflections, rebounds and screens.

    This is a staple for most teams but the Oilers have one guy (Penner) who did it last year. Even Penner just looked to screen and didn't look to deflect. Teams like Detroit generate a large portion of their offence from garbage goals. Calgary's whole PP is usually getting it to the point and setting a screen or looking for deflections.

    If the Oilers can add this to their strategy, there should be less concern about their size. The question is whether the smurfs can post up in front of the other teams net.

    I am hoping that this is what was meant by Tambi when he said they needed to get more determined and tougher.

  14. Hockey Noob says:

    LT, I believe that Jonathan Willis, among others have also pointed out that Schremp's high point totals have been driven by a high % of points on the powerplay.

  15. flamingpavelbure says:

    Ducey: Calgary's powerplay was one of the worst last year, even with all the talent they had, and it was because they had only screen and deflection as theyr whole strategy. Screen and Shot, sometimes isn't suitable for smaller, more skilled team, but still, if you can find someone to go in front of Souray's shot, you go boy.

  16. hunter1909 says:

    Look guys, everyone knows Schremp's going to make the team.

    People who don't know this are simply deluding themselves.

  17. Doogie2K says:

    You forgot to ask whether Shremp would take Horcoff's spot as the #1c.

    It's not even a question. I mean, of course he will, right?

  18. markmac says:

    Just to second hunter1909's praise, this is one of the few sites on the Internet I'd definitely pay to keep alive and out of the hands of Big Media (an entity I have some passing acquaintance with…).

    The recent increase in the frequency of posting, however, has led me to dismiss the old assumption that this "Lowetide" is just some guy named Allan.

    Whoever started this blog has clearly outsourced and hired a sweatshop full of hockey savvy Vietnamese to produce copy day and night. They're paid in used pucks and Grasshopper beer, but even Human Rights Watch doesn't care.

    They're Oilers fans too, you see.

  19. hunter1909 says:

    If it weren't for his anti-Schremp rants, I'd have been even more obsequious.

    : p

  20. flamingpavelbure says:

    Whatever your side is, one fact stays true:

    Robbie Shremp, you hate or love him, you just can't ignore him. I've seen no one, just not care about him yet lol. He makes everyone reacts, Liam Reddox, is like the opposite, it seems no one really cares about Liam Reddox lol.

  21. Lowetide says:

    Some of us cheer for Reddox because of what he's turned himself into:

    http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2008/12/6-prospect-2008-liam-reddox.html

  22. hunter1909 says:

    I just hope Eberle doens't make the team, I'm fed up to the back teeth of watching junior aged players getting their heads handed to them on a plate by grown men.

    On this topic, will Gilbert Brule be physically up to the challenge this year?

  23. Lowetide says:

    "I wasn't displeased with his AHL season, but I think he could have been a lot better."

    Steve Tambellini on Brule's season. I think he might get sent out unless he kicks out the jams in tc.

  24. godot10 says:

    //#8 – I believe a Penner-Gagner-O'Sullivan line would be a solid 2nd scoring line with a potential to become a 1st scoring line. I believe that when Gagner is ready he will be the offensive catalyst for this te//

    I want this line too, but O'Sullivan should be the LW (Penner on RW) because Gagner is a right shot, and it would be better to have O'Sullivan on left wing receiving passes from Gagner's forehand (and vice versa). Penner is a down low player. It doesn't matter which wing he is on.

    I don't get this Pisani-as-injury-prone thing. The colitis wasn't hockey related, and last year's injury was one of those bad luck things. Are there rumours about Pisani's colitis condition that aren't public?

    With the cap going down next year, there are going to be all sorts of players available for trade at bargain prices or on the waiver wire. I hope Tambellini doesn't spend his what cap room he has too soon.

  25. Lowetide says:

    godot: There hasn't been any mention of his condition in quite some time. However, Pisani is 33 later this calendar year and injuries are certainly a factor. He is a key element on this team and there is no safety net.

    A responsible UFA signing or trade gives the club solid insurance.

  26. Mr DeBakey says:

    A responsible UFA signing or trade gives the club solid insurance.

    As if
    We've been saying that every damn year.

  27. FlamingPavelBure says:

    We're not really far from the roof, without a UFA, i doubt a contract would do any good, exept if it's a 1 year deal, and only a 1 year deal. With the cap going down, and Grebeshkov and others to resign, it may look ugly next summer, if we lock up someone for more than 1 year. We alrady saw the rage that the Khabibulin signing ensued.

  28. bookie says:

    We're at a point now where Cogliano needs to show us what he is: a Todd Marchant checker who can pop 15-goals a year or a fleet winger who can score 25. If he can score 25, this team is in good shape.

    Glad to see that you are buying into the 'uncertainty theory' LT. This team is a bunch of IF's with huge unknown's.

    Now, to get off the fence, I actually think they will come together in the new coaching regime and prosper (playoffs and perhaps better). I wouldn't bet my house on it though cause I am wise enough to know that it could be the Kool Aid speaking…

  29. Lord Bob says:

    If anybody on this team could play until he's 45, it's Fernando Pisani. He's plays a low-impact style, keeps himself in good shape, has a decent injury history, hasn't got too many miles on the odometer for his age, and the colitis thing seems to be in his rear-view mirror.

    He and Horcoff are the only two players on this roster I don't worry about at all.

  30. Lowetide says:

    bookie: Whenever you have young players there is uncertainty. I completely understand your "sitting on the fence" stance someone mentioned last night.

    If we go back to the summer of 1996 and look at all of those young Oilers forwards, there were some who developed beyond expectations and others who did not.

    As fans, we can try to identify them but it's a guess. We don't know which players worked like dogs and which ones screwed the pooch.

    For instance, I was flabbergasted to read Schremp wasn't in top condition a year ago. That's a crime for him BY him.

    But it happens.

  31. flamingpavelbure says:

    Looking at the 1996 stats… where the hell did Zdeno Ciger go? 70 points at 25, in the prime, then just flew off the charts? Hope something like this doesn't happen to a current edition guy. Or is there something extra that i don't know about that story?

  32. Steve says:

    Robbie Shremp, you hate or love him, you just can't ignore him.

    I'm fairly indifferent to Belgium, and I generally ignore it. But if a bunch of commenters at my favourite political/economic blogs started talking non-stop about how Belgium was poised to be the next great economic superpower and would probably overtake the United States in GDP if only the international trade regime would give it a chance, I'd probably have to stop ignoring it.

  33. bookie says:

    Norway, on the other hand, is very very difficult to ignore.

  34. Black Dog says:

    Norwegian women anyway.

    I neither love nor hate Rob Schremp. Steve puts it pretty well the way I feel about it. Your man has had one good year as a pro and still managed to come to camp out of shape by his own admission.

    He's quality alright.

    As for Liam Reddox well I wish he was a little bigger but I can certainly cheer for a guy who, like Stortini, has overcome some long odds to make the show. I hope he becomes a quality player because if he does then the Oilers have one more of what they lack.

  35. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    @ Steve.

    You should likely start your own blog Steve.

    "I'm Fairly Indifferent to Belgium"

    I'm sure John Cleese would drop by often.

  36. Lowetide says:

    Leave Steve alone. Anyone who has a blog that talks specifically about St. Albert politics is a wonderful person. The fact that it is 5 years old means nothing, the issues and players are identical today.

  37. flamingpavelbure says:

    Steve: Well, if i can draft belgium in the first round of any entry draft, you call me :P .

  38. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    LT.

    I can assure you if there were a blog called "I'm Fairly Indifferent to Belgium" it would be on one of my RSS feeds in a heartbeat.

    5 year old content would likely make it even more enjoyable.

  39. Black Dog says:

    fpb – yeah you go with Belgium, pal, I'll take Germany or the British Empire.

    We'll see how that works out.

    We can take this analogy a long way.

  40. Lord Bob says:

    The British Empire got most of its colonies on the power play, though.

  41. Black Dog says:

    No, Lord Bob, that was definitely Belgium.

  42. flamingpavelbure says:

    Black Dog: But France shows real maturity at this age, and is already responsible in its own zone. In between the pipes, Switzerland seems like the right call.

  43. Coach pb9617 says:

    Black Dog: But France shows real maturity at this age, and is already responsible in its own zone. In between the pipes, Switzerland seems like the right call.

    That makes zero sense in a historical context.

  44. flamingpavelbure says:

    Coach: France did have a lot of bad teamates, often trading the allies for next to nothing, or loosing them as UFA in the offseason, GM Napoléon saw his team depleated, as the British Empire got the money bags out.

  45. Lowetide says:

    Icecastles: OMG, that's beautiful! France has already surrendered.

  46. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    As promised, I'm the first follower.

    Now we need some Waloons.

  47. Bill Needle says:

    I cannot wait for another autumn display of complete ineptitude from J.F. Jacques.
    At the NHL level, and he's received many chances to unveil his talent, he has:
    1) never shown he can check an NHLer.
    2) never shown he is willing to play tough.
    3) never shown any offensive ability.
    4) proven he can touch the puck slightly more often than Steve MacIntyre.
    — Which, inexplicably, makes him a cinch to be on the Oilers' third line.
    Ship him away quickly and chalk up his one-way contract to another brilliant management decision by Lowe and MacTavish.

  48. SkinnyD says:

    I managed to get down to watch the rookies yesterday – they had Eberle on the right side the whole time…so maybe not so much on the top line LW?

    I do like this kid a lot now. Skates like Mike Modano, slippery like Patrick Kane. Of course, that is against other rookies…main camp should be interesting.

  49. uni says:

    Coach: France did have a lot of bad teamates, often trading the allies for next to nothing, or loosing them as UFA in the offseason, GM Napoléon saw his team depleated, as the British Empire got the money bags out.

    FPB: I think you're a bit confused. and your analogies are incorrect. Historical analogies are something I can run with for some time even with copious alcohol in my system.

    GM/Coach Napolean was from a previous era and often reverted to micro-coaching to try to offset the lack of experienced bodies in his lineup. In the end it wasn't the British Empire spending to the cap so much as little Ceasar just not having enough bodies to put out in a game, and assistant coaches that couldn't execute the game plan properly that did him in at the Waterloo match which marked his downfall and he would never really GM/coach again.

    I have no idea what you're talking about with France trading and losing partners as UFAs. France got beat up because they had a horrible defence, not unlike the Maple Leafs. They used archaic systems and they didn't counter the new tactics used by the Germans who picked them apart. France actually had a lot of help with loaned out bodies from the powerhouse British Empire.

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