TC DAY 1: NEWS AND NOTES

The winner from the minor league job fair is Teemu Hartikainen. Matty has an article up in which coach Krueger has him on the 1st PP unit with Hall & Ebs, the Nuge and Schultz the younger. Article is here, nice stuff on Horcoff that backs up Bruce’s defense of him in the previous thread.

Jason Gregor has a nice piece up on Ryan Whitney that offers some insight into Ralph Krueger and his relationships with these players. You can read the respect for Krueger in the Whitney quotes, and any man worth his salt knows those words aren’t thrown around without reason. Krueger may just be what he appears to be–a straight-shooter with the courage of his convictions and a large brain. Krueger is perhaps an overlooked addition to the team but I suspect we’re going to be talking about him all year long.

Based on what we’re hearing (Robin Brownlee has most of it here) the lines today might be:

  • Nuge-Hall-Eberle
  • Gagner-Yakupov-Hemsky
  • Horcoff-Smyth-Hartikainen
  • Belanger-Eager-Petrell
  • VandeVelde-Hordichuk-Paajarvi

And a guess at the pairings based on what’s in the ether:

  • Smid-Petry
  • Schultz-Schultz
  • Whitney-Potter
  • Peckham-Teubert

And of course Dubnyk and Khabibulin are the two goalies unless Yann Danis was called up today instead of yesterday.

I can’t make it to practice today, if you’re going I would consider it a huge favor if you took a few minutes and gave your impressions. Suspect the group would think well of you too. :-)

(photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

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51 Responses to "TC DAY 1: NEWS AND NOTES"

  1. sliderule says:

    A little bird spoke in my ear last July and said the oiler coaches really like Hartikainen.Unless he stinks up the joint he is here for the season.
    Same bird said Paajarvi not liked so much.Doesn’t use his speed properly and not tough enough.From what I have seen he has improved a lot in both areas but it takes a while to change minds once they are made up.

  2. blackdog says:

    So unless someone in the top nine gets hurt or they are happy to use him on the fourth line then Paajarvi gets shipped out, right?

    Would think Teubert does as well. So that’s the roster barring injury or a trade/waiver pickup.

    Best team in years but even with a full camp I would think there would be little competition for spots. The kids remaining in OKC are nowhere near ready. Good to see they are being smart with Lander. They should have sent him out last year.

  3. regwald says:

    Corey Pronman ‏@coreypronman

    Missed this yesterday, but looks like Islanders not bringing Nino to camp. Seems like they’re going to be patient with him.

    Corey Pronman ‏@coreypronman

    Both Nino and Connolly, top picks from the same draft, being left in the AHL at 20. What a novel idea. If only that could be done at 19…..

    Interesting, but probably good for both players.

  4. nelson88 says:

    Great article on Whitney. Cap pressures will start to bite in the next couple of years and i’m leary of spending $4M+ on any player with that injury history but I hope they can find a way to keep Whitney around. Very likeable character and has become one of my favourite Oilers in his short tenure.

  5. Henry says:

    Paajarvi is a much better defensive player than Hartikainen. He also would add needed speed to an aged third line. It makes more sense to put MPS with Horc and Smyth if they are to have a shutdown role. Maybe he’ll learn board work playing with Smyth. Hartikainen on the PP and fourth line makes sense to me. He can slot up when the injuries come.

  6. hunter1909 says:

    I didn’t need Kreuger to tell me that Horcoff’s a goodish player, but honestly it made me stop and think again, after reading Bruce and you analyzing Horcoff the other day.

    The bottom line is, Horcoff’s problem with fans like me is, that he was falsely pimped as being a first line centre to long suffering fans desperate at that point for anyone from Nedved, Jason Alison, Nylander or even a clapped out Eric Lindros. Add Kevin Lowe + co’s kamikaze/gong show management style, and Horcoff turns into that bug under the magnifying glass on a summer day.

    As for Kreuger himself, he comes across as knowing exactly what he wants, and again, this is a sea change from the last generation of Oiler coaches. He’s also fortunate to find himself in a position to mentor the young guys in a similar way that Sather did with the dynasty. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen, but he certainly talks the talk.

  7. ashley says:

    I can’t help but think of Quinn when I hear about a big, rough-around-the edges rookie playing with elite scorers on the powerplay. Is he still on the payroll?

    I’m not saying Harski is JFJ, but I’m just saying….

  8. wheatnoil says:

    Since the hire, there’s been a few buzz-words surrounding Krueger. One of those phrases: “effective communicator”. The thing is, there’s many ways to be an “effective communicator”, so I didn’t pay much attention to whether that particular attribute had validity. Saying you’re an effective communicator is like saying you “work well in groups” or “are a leader”. They’re nice sounding descriptors, but they’re vague enough that they’re hard to quantify so get thrown around a lot.

    Krueger, though, has done some impressive things in the communication department.

    When I’ve seen/heard/read his interviews, he’s come across extremely well. His answers are intelligent, to the point, safe yet don’t sound ‘canned’ or cliched, and interesting. So that’s ONE type of effective communication.

    We know he can give speeches to ‘fire up’ a hockey player. Justin Schultz specifically named Krueger has having been an impressive part of the presentation that attracted him to signing in Edmonton. I think he even used the phrase “fired up”. Check two for another type of effective communication.

    However, tearing someone apart for having a bad attitude, yet somehow doing it in a way that the person walks away and actually desires to change that attitude and win back your respect… well that’s actually pretty impressive. In my opinion, that’s one of the harder parts of being a boss / coach / leader. That, perhaps, is the most striking evidence of the “effective communication” we’ve been sold about Krueger.

    I know nothing of his in-game strategies, but if nothing else, Krueger seems to have the communication aspect of being a coach down pat… which is not an easy part of the job.

  9. OilClog says:

    Teemu on a 3rd line checking role and MPS playing along side Hordichuk… THIS MAKES NO SENSE.

    MPS is a 3rd line two way winger.. we all see this, he’s a 1st round pick that people seem to be annoyed with because he isn’t a top 6 on this team. We have 3 #1′s, Eberle, Hemsky, and Gags.. good luck to anyone trying to break into that group.

    MPS has too much hockey sense and skill to be left on the outside looking in, Teemu isn’t a 3rd line winger and if he can’t break into the top 6 his skill set isn’t being used properly. Smyth infront of the net on the PP seems much more ideal to me then a guy that hasn’t proven it yet.

    I’m a fan of the Finn I just don’t see him as a shut down checking winger, or the Brahma Bull in the china shop. Let’s end all the debate and ship them both out for Clowe.

  10. Max Powers says:

    Agree whole heartedly with hunter and wheatnoil. Dead on observations.

  11. pboy says:

    OilClog,

    If the plan is to have MPS play on the 1st line in Oklahoma for the rest of the season, I don’t have a problem with that. There isn’t much room for him in the Top 6 on the big team but he won’t be able to progress if he’s stuck on the 4th line playing with the Ben Eager’s and Dary Hordichuk’s on the roster. Ideally, MPS would be the left wing on the 3rd line but that’s where Smyth slots in and Harti is bringing a different skill set than MPS has. If Lander and MPS get big minutes in the A, I think that bodes well for the Oiler’s for the future. Going forward, a 3rd line of MPS-Lander-Harti could be a really productive line for the Oilers. Just my 2 cents.

  12. jp says:

    ashley:
    I can’t help but think of Quinn when I hear about a big, rough-around-the edges rookie playing with elite scorers on the powerplay.Is he still on the payroll?

    I’m not saying Harski is JFJ, but I’m just saying….

    There are certainly some similarities here, but I think it comes down to keeping the AHLs #1 PP together (26% success rate I think!). Harti isn’t just being thrown there because he’s a big body, those guys tore up the AHL all season.

    pboy:
    OilClog,

    If the plan is to have MPS play on the 1st line in Oklahoma for the rest of the season, I don’t have a problem with that. There isn’t much room for him in the Top 6 on the big team but he won’t be able to progress if he’s stuck on the 4th line playing with the Ben Eager’s and Dary Hordichuk’s on the roster. Ideally, MPS would be the left wing on the 3rd line but that’s where Smyth slots in and Harti is bringing a different skill set than MPS has. If Lander and MPS get big minutes in the A, I think that bodes well for the Oiler’s for the future. Going forward, a 3rd line of MPS-Lander-Harti could be a really productive line for the Oilers. Just my 2 cents.

    Exactly, Harti on the 3rd line and Paajarvi on the 5th makes sense only if they’re going to keep Hordichuk and VV as the 13/14 forwards. I assume that’s the rationale here. Refreshing to see (assuming that’s what’s happening), and great to see them keep Lander on the farm too.

  13. justDOit says:

    regwald:
    Corey Pronman ‏@coreypronman

    Missed this yesterday, but looks like Islanders not bringing Nino to camp. Seems like they’re going to be patient with him.

    Corey Pronman ‏@coreypronman

    Both Nino and Connolly, top picks from the same draft, being left in the AHL at 20. What a novel idea. If only that could be done at 19…..

    Interesting, but probably good for both players.

    I don’t know much about those two players, but with the short TC and only 48 games to the season, it doesn’t offer a lot of time for teams to work rookies into the lineup. The Islanders are improved over last year, and probably don’t want to risk their playoff hopes by bringing in young players.

  14. LMHF#1 says:

    ashley:
    I can’t help but think of Quinn when I hear about a big, rough-around-the edges rookie playing with elite scorers on the powerplay.Is he still on the payroll?

    I’m not saying Harski is JFJ, but I’m just saying….

    You take that back. #56 can take a pass and do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yoArOoXsfQ

  15. Professor Q says:

    I really hope Gagner can improve with Yak and Hemsky this year!

  16. Dipstick says:

    LMHF#1,

    Anyone who does that to the Flames is on the team, automatic.

  17. speeds says:

    I’m curious about playing Hartikainen on the 1st PP unit – why him instead of Smyth? In the Matheson article, Krueger says:

    “We want to avoid situations where players are playing multi-roles, power play, penalty-kill and five-on-five too often. We will have some minor overlaps (guys on both special teams), but only early in the season,” he said.

    So maybe the idea is they’d prefer to have Smyth play more PK minutes, and shift his PP time to Hartikainen, who they probably view as a roughly equivalent PP performer – I suppose if it turns out that, after watching Hartikainen for a few games, they’d prefer Smyth in that role, then maybe they shift things around.

    That would leave a 2nd PP of something like : Gagner, Hemsky, Yakupov (keeps that line together), and then maybe 2D (Whitney&Petry/Potter*) or possibly Horcoff instead of one of the D, and then move Gagner or Hemsky back to the point?

    * Keeping with that sharing special teams minutes theme, probably Potter on the PP to let Petry play PK.

  18. plsco says:

    I’m at the open practice they’re having, they haven’t taken the ice yet but their roster sheet that they handed out includes Fedun. I didnKt know he was called up

  19. Traktor says:

    Does Edmonton claim Thomas Hickey? 4th overall in 2007

  20. denny33 says:

    Henry,

    I truly don’t understand MPS game. Nor do i understand some oiler fans rational for him being on the team. This guy is SOFT as butter. Is he fast? Of course but the fact he can’t score or generate scoring chances with that incredible speeed, is frightening!

    Ladies and Gentlemen, he played 37 games in the MINORS and registered 4 goals. Josh Green played way way less games and scored the same amount.

    He is putting up enforcer like numbers offensively…

    Good defensively – He was -7 in the MINORS !!

    He turns 22 this April. What would be the thought process to have him on the team?

    If he can’t do it in the minors what would be a logical, rational argument for him performing in the big league?

  21. Clay says:

    So, the second PP unit will have Hemsky, Yak, Gagner, Whitney, and Petry or Smyth? That’s a pretty damn good second unit.

  22. Clay says:

    Traktor:
    Does Edmonton claim Thomas Hickey? 4th overall in 2007

    Hickey is basically Chorney only he’s smaller and scores less, no?

  23. Cobbler says:

    Traktor,

    Hard to say. Offence isn’t bad in the AHL with Hickey at 0.37 ppg but not quite at the level of Corey Potter’s AHL stats at 0.43 ppg.

    Might be worth a flyer to see how he looks with the group. Has the pedigree but you have to wonder why he has been in the A for 4 years. Defensive depth of the Kings?

    He did have some early injuries (ankle) that reduced his time in his first two years. He seems to be beyond that now.

    Not sure what his deal is and why they would waive an AHL player?

  24. commonfan14 says:

    denny33,

    We’ve talked about nicknames for the kids a fair bit on this site without landing on a really strong consensus for any of them. I think that’s going to change in the near future in the case of Paajarvi.

    When the team moves on without him, he’ll be slapped with a nickname that will stick to the poor guy forever:

    Pete Best

  25. misfit says:

    Matheson’s article mentions Paajarvi’s PK work getting noticed, and that’ll help his chances of making the opening night roster in Jones’ place, but I also think his ability to draw penalties would be a major boon to this Oiler team, especially considering the powerplay is expected to be its biggest weapon.

    I don’t see him making the team (Hartikainen is getting the push and they won’t want to lose the depth Petrell/Eager/Hordichuk gives by exposing them to waivers), but he should be the 1st callup for sure.

  26. Cobbler says:

    Clay,
    A good comparable, but I see that Chorney has been recalled to St. Louis and the Oilers did like this player, just couldn’t keep him.

    I would claim Hickey if the price is right given the need for defensive depth in the system.

  27. FrankenOil says:

    Does anyone know the Contract limit under the new CBA? Is it still at 50?

  28. commonfan14 says:

    “Hartikainen is getting the push”

    Hartikainen = Ringo

  29. dessert1111 says:

    misfit:

    I don’t see him making the team (Hartikainen is getting the push and they won’t want to lose the depth Petrell/Eager/Hordichuk gives by exposing them to waivers), but he should be the 1st callup for sure.

    Unless VandeVelde is kept, Paajarvi makes the team. They only need to send down 1 forward and 1 D. The smart money is them sending down Vandevelde and Teubert, but I guess I could foresee a situation where they want to keep VandeVelde as 13F.

  30. FrankenOil says:

    And if I’m reading the Reserve list correct (as per capgeek), the Oilers have 4 open spots for this year?

  31. Captain Happy says:

    misfit:
    Matheson’s article mentions Paajarvi’s PK work getting noticed, and that’ll help his chances of making the opening night roster in Jones’ place, but I also think his ability to draw penalties would be a major boon to this Oiler team, especially considering the powerplay is expected to be its biggest weapon.

    I don’t see him making the team (Hartikainen is getting the push and they won’t want to lose the depth Petrell/Eager/Hordichuk gives by exposing them to waivers), but he should be the 1st callup for sure.

    The notion that Paajarvi draws a lot of penalties is pretty much a myth.

    Last season he drew 1.0 penalties/60…tied for 91st with about 25 other players.

    In his rookie season (a much larger sample size), he drew 0.6 penalties/60…tied for 302nd in the league.

    As a point of reference…for players with more than 50 games, Jeff Skinner drew 2.6/60 and 2.5/60 in those respective seasons.

    Taylor Hall is by far the best Oiler, as you might expect.

    1.6/60 in 2011/12 and 2.3/60 in 10/11.

  32. Нинтендо⁶⁴ says:

    @ChrisMcCluskey Best fans in the NHL? Winnipeg fills lower bowl at MTS Centre for first open practice of the season: http://goo.gl/XuWQi

    Worst fan relations in the NHL?

    ‏@sunterryjones Fans all up in upper deck for Oilers camp practice with one stand open for free pop and popcorn. Long lineup. Folks not happy. Backfire

    @Ade780 Totally jealous of @sunterryjones prime VIP seating here at Rexall. Looks lonely though. Was going to take a pic, but feel stalker’ish. #YEG

    http://twitter.com/TSNRyanRishaug/status/290878616936538114/photo/1

  33. Clay says:

    Cobbler,

    Couldn’t keep him or didn’t want to keep him? They just let him walk after the season.

    Regardless, Hickey doesn’t make sense as a short-term solution for the team, as they need a veteran or two to help this year so that they don’t need to rely so heavily on the likes of Tuebert and Pekham when injuries hit, and Hickey has yet to make his NHL debut.

    As a long-term solution, he doesn’t fit either. Taking on a project like Hickey might make sense if they didn’t have guys like Klefbom, Gernat, and Musil on the verge of taking up a spot on the 50 man list, or if there was evidence to suggest Hickey’s upside was higher than those three (or Marincin or any other of the AHL prospects).

  34. Traktor says:

    Clay: Hickey is basically Chorney only he’s smaller and scores less, no?

    Probably. I haven’t really seen him play.. but Edmonton usually likes reclamation projects (Barker) and Sutton is basically done for the year and it sounds like Peckham isn’t even skating.

  35. FrankenOil says:

    Picking up Hickey may be a good idea at the end of TC if that’s all there is but I’d rather wait till Friday and see what shakes loose and save some of those contract spots for better players and/or depth options

  36. hunter1909 says:

    Нинтендо⁶⁴: Fans all up in upper deck for Oilers camp practice with one stand open for free pop and popcorn. Long lineup. Folks not happy.

    I went to a wedding reception just like that. The “host” made sure there were exactly two bottles showing on the table all night long, leaving people such as myself worried that the drink was just about to run out at all times.

    I feel the unseen hand of Katz here: “Free!?? Okay okay, but just open one fucking stand!”

  37. FrankenOil says:

    If I’m Tambo, I’m on the phone with Brett Clarke’s agent and Campoli’s and trying to get them signed ASAP to fill out the blueline especially if Pecks issue as to why he isn’t practising is conditioning. If it is cnditioning, I’d waive him immediately.

  38. wordbird says:

    Ryan Rishaug ‏@TSNRyanRishaug
    No word from Oilers on Peckhams absence but told Krueger will address it post practice. He was at physicals yesterday, no word of injury.

  39. BlacqueJacque says:

    I really wanted Jon Cooper as coach and was disappointed the Oilers didn’t even try to reach him.

    On the other hand, I’d always credited Krueger with how well the Swiss team played internationally, especially against Canada. He clearly knows his stuff. Having the young core vouch for him certainly doesn’t hurt.

    I think Krueger faces more pressure as a new head coach than most. Most fans are expecting a significant leap in the standings – to at least be challenging for a playoff spot through March. That’s a huge leap in the standings, even though a year with Dubnyk and more, better, older kids should make things easier. If things falter, however, I think Krueger will see a lot more criticism. “Is the the right coach for the kids” kind of talk, straight out of the gate.

  40. digdeepnbleedblue says:

    This could be a God sent for Horcoff and lets be honest things can change rather quickly. But, if this is the way the PP starts and the old work horse focuses on eating up tough minutes against the opponents best and has regular PK sorties it, imo, is going to keep him fairly fresh and effective and the team competitive. It’s playing itself out. We’ll see what the word is.

    I’m curious as to why Teddy is not skating today and have also been curious as to why he only played 4 games in the ECHL with never a whisper as to why he left.

    hunter1909,

    If Poti is allergic to beer, we have issues.

  41. wheatnoil says:

    Canucks sign Vandermeer. So, here’s a question… obviously the Canucks can’t keep all these D they’re signing. Some of them are going to go to the minors. So if Vandermeer doesn’t make the team, won’t he have to go through waivers? Which means the Oilers or someone else could pick him up if they needed a number 7 defenseman and keep, say, Teubert down in the AHL.

  42. speeds says:

    LT gets his wish, Oilers acquire a D. Mark Fistric for a 2013 3rd, he’s a UFA after this season.

  43. Clay says:

    That’s a good trade.

  44. DeadmanWaking says:

    jp: There are certainly some similarities here, but I think it comes down to keeping the AHLs #1 PP together (26% success rate I think!). Harti isn’t just being thrown there because he’s a big body, those guys tore up the AHL all season.

    Yes, you keep this group together for as long as it works, and by then Krueger has his mind made up on how Yak fits into the mix. Even if they struggle for the first week or two, many veteran units on other teams will be shaking off the rust during this interval. Likely a wash. Meanwhile, you’ve managed to slot in a group of your younger players right out of the blocks without having to worry about drop passes to nowhere due to the curtailed training camp.

    Plus, you can have Smyth out there as part of the 2nd unit when the PP expires–supposing the PP doesn’t end early with a center ice face-off. I mentioned that K thinks this way in the thread yesterday.

    All Harski needs to do is tie up one of the defensemen, so the rest of the PP functions as a 4 on 3 around the margins of two dancing gorillas. It’s a tough job, but it’s not asking a lot. Oh, and a few puck retrievals out of the corners and some skillful and quick redirections into the half-vacant cage. When he was first drafted, he was referred to on some hockey board (mired in negativity) as a “Dr Pepper Machine”. So I guess the dancing gorillas will foxtrot rather than waltz.

    Can the kid line work the foxtrot? I think so.

  45. Clay says:

    If they can extend him past this year at a reasonable number, that’s a great trade. IMO, Fistric is what the Oilers are hoping guys like Plante and Peckham become.

  46. Downright Fierce says:

    Instant trade analysis: Canucks sign Oil castoffs Barker and Vandermeer partly due to losing Rome to Stars in free agency, Rome took Fistric’s job so Dallas trades the Oilers a better Peckham.

    Works for me.

  47. digdeepnbleedblue says:

    I think that’s a good trade. 26yrs old, 6’2″, 232lbs, Shoots left, 1.475 cap hit, 235 hits last year per Stauffer and he’s in the last of his contract. UFA this summer.

    Source: Hockey DB, Cap Geek, Oilers Now

  48. digdeepnbleedblue says:

    Fedun in camp. With Fistric coming I wonder what’s the thought process. Teddy hurt or something? Potter not cutting it? Oh, the freaking suspense!

  49. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Just back from the practice. I won’t comment on the popcorn or seating…

    It started with some skating and passing warmups. They went on to do the quick-passes and single breakout plays. They slowly built to doing an entire line breakout and full line defending. Nothing special for the fans, but then again with 7 days till opening night I wouldn’t expect that.

    Overall the drills were quick paced with a heavy dose of passing. I’d say most the players showed a fair bit of vigor (as they should).

    Individual impressions from the practice:

    Whitney was someone I keyed in on. Most importantly he appeared to be striding and positioning with both feet. He looked limber and active the entire practice. Best sign of the day.

    N Schultz looked ready. On one-on-one races he blew by Eberle to notch a goal and then beat Eberle with some nice stick-work the same drill. Definitely looked like he wasn’t taking the winter off.

    Belanger looked out of place on pretty much every drill. Might be getting back into game-form but he just didn’t seem to drive hard for anything.

    As the drills became full line-on-line, the golden three stood out. Chances flying all over the place for them. Clearly in game-form and ready for the puck to drop. I missed a few but Eberle raised a few cheers with his finishes.

    Yakupov was naturally a standout. Didn’t see much chemistry with Hemsky or Gagner yet, but he did connect on a few drills with some beauties. I think he got the crowd bustling on 3 different goals. Tremendous hands receiving and releasing the puck. At the end of practice Belanger and him were doing a release drill from the hashmarks around a glove. Belanger looked reasonable right up until Yak came up. Just a sick release that was more often than not right up in the glove corner – basically combines the best of Nuge and Hall’s shots into one… quick release, bullet hard, and lethally accurate. Can’t wait to see him in action.

    J Schultz didn’t stand out much. Looked like more of a forward out there in the drills.

    Everyone else looked about as you’d expect. I’m more excited for the season after seeing Whitney look smooth and then hearing the trade. There’s still holes all over, but there’s also some hope this team isn’t broken to start the season.

  50. jp says:

    till_horcoff_is_coach,

    Thanks for the report!

  51. Lowetide says:

    Thanks thic, excellent update!

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