The Oilers hit the road tonight for their contest at Rexall against the Maple Leafs. From here on in, Oiler fans have just a few things to look forward to: RNH’s return and drive to the Calder, perhaps an additional bullet for Stu (although I don’t think they need it) and most importantly a few more kids graduating to NHL player status.
YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE IT AFTER ALL!
Among the young men who have clearly established themselves as part of the present and future, I’d count:
- Taylor Hall
- Jordan Eberle
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Sam Gagner
- Jeff Petry
That’s a fine list, and added to the veterans we assume to around for a few years (Gilbert, Smid, Smyth, Horcoff, Belanger, Eager) the Oilers have about one half of a roster for 12-13. The key element now is establishing which of the following can show enough in the final stretch to be written in pen for next season’s lineup:
- Goalie Devan Dubnyk: I like him, but he still gives kevlar rebounds and people who know more than me about goalies suggest he’s slow side to side.
- Defenseman Corey Potter: Showed well early and earned a contract, but since the injury looks like chaos with a stick.
- Winger Magnus Paajarvi: If they fail to make a player out of this guy then there’s clearly something wrong. A little shy on the offense, but he has great tools and a aptitude for the defensive side of the ball.
- Center Anton Lander: Everyone, and I mean everyone, I talk to raves about this guy’s leadership ability and desire. He’s got a little crust too. I sincerely wish we were talking about him doing excellent things in the AHL but that wasn’t to be this season.
- Defenseman Theo Peckham: It’s not too late but he needs to be better. There was an extended stretch a year ago when Teddy played alongside Gilbert and survived. That’s the high water mark for this player, and if the club can’t find a way to get him to the next level then I think they’ll move him down the road.
- Defenseman Colten Teubert: The organization has played him for 20 games and I’d suggest the young man has passed Alex Plante on the depth chart. He’ll likely be the “first callup-8th defenseman” next season which (for the Oilers) should be good for 40-50 games.
- Winger Linus Omark: The modern David Vyborny may have to go back to Europe in order to get noticed by another team, but there’s still time for the Oilers to give him a nice long run in the majors. If Edmonton trades Hemsky for bullets from broadway and doesn’t callup Omark then we’re really looking at an addled organization.
That’s what I’ll be looking for.