The first time we see these kids is usually training camp, and the excitement of this camp suggests ‘expectations’ are higher than they’ve been in forever. I think the on-ice Oilers are going to be a treat and they could push into the playoffs. Those men will require better effort from the off ice Oilers both during training camp and at the deadline.
- G Devan Dubnyk: The big payday came last summer and now its time for Dubnyk to stand and deliver. Didn’t play for much of the lockout but looked good at the Spengler. Seems like a calmer player now, more veteran. Hopefully the results from Jan+ 2012 continue or improve.
- G Nikolai Khabibulin: Happy 40th to NK, he celebrates by being listed among the injured players entering camp. I’m not certain the Oilers could ever rely on him and now it would seem folly. Suspect ST has one eye on the waiver wire this week, with Danis a phone call away.
- D Ryan Whitney: Early returns on injury are positive, we’ll know a lot more this time next week. If he can play 22+ minutes and in all disciplines, the Oilers defense improves smartly.
- D Justin Schultz: Important to remember he’s a rookie and mistakes will happen. Schultz had a dream AHL debut, but expecting identical results in the NHL is unfair and unrealistic. A period of defensive transition could certainly be accompanied by some struggles on the powerplay.
- D Ladislav Smid: Healthy after an injury took him away from his lockout job, Smid is a vital cog in the Oilers machine again this season. Calm feet and lessons learned means he’ll play heavy ev minutes and be a part of the 1PK.
- D Jeff Petry: With all of the hoopla about Schultz, it might be easy to forget the impressive development of Petry as an NHL player. He will be relied on even more this season, and could add some PP minutes to his even and PK duties. The best candidate on the club for an extreme value contract.
- D Nick Schultz: Veteran well suited to a third pairing, low event slot on the roster. Schultz is a solid veteran who should become a big part of this team’s penalty kill and the first option to step up into the top 4D when needed.
- D Corey Potter: Oilers need him to be more like the ‘early Potter’ and less like the post-injury edition. A great success story from the Renney era, Potter is the one regular who employment is week to week or month to month.
- D Theo Peckham: Enters camp as the final member of the blue, and 7D’s need to take advantage of opportunity. His TC story will be about conditioning and be able to play at speed. There is no question about his toughness or willingness to battle.
- D Colten Teubert: Having some troubles in OKC, Teubert is probably closer to losing his position as “first callup” to Taylor Fedun than he is to making this team. A strong week in Edmonton in front of management’s eyes would be a very good thing for his immediate career.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Should be well rested after the early season Barons experience and the early January WJ contests. The Nuge is Edmonton’s special teams savant, a PP killer with the face of a child. Huge part of the team, role increases by the day.
- C Sam Gagner: A big season for Samwise, he should spend the entire year with skill and at center and (hopefully) healthy. A key element for the Oilers in their efforts to become an effectve 5×5 team.
- C Shawn Horcoff: A step slower and with miles and miles of miles and miles, Horcoff remains an important part of the team in several areas. I think his PP time will continue to fade but he’ll be relied on for EV and PK minutes. Horcoff may end up serving a mentor role again this season, with Nail Yakupov an obvious candidate.
- C Eric Belanger: Last chance Texaco for a player who should have been better than the results delivered, Belanger needs to get off to a good start and keep it going. I don’t think the Oilers will be patient with him this season.
- C Chris VandeVelde: Oilers have liked him forever despite Mendoza line worries. VV will probably spend some time in the NHL this season unless Anton Lander takes a giant leap forward in the next few weeks.
- L Taylor Hall: Wonderful hockey player, healthy and full of pep. Hall’s status as one of the bright young lights in the league may be replaced by ‘impact player’ as soon as this shortened season. Hall will get mega-minutes under Krueger and should hit 20 goals despite the season being only 48 games.
- L Nail Yakupov: Listed here, he might get R minutes too. Yakupov’s rookie season isn’t likely to involve as much playing time as Hall’s, simply because the team is better this season than they were in 2010 fall. Still, quality rises to the top and this young man is top quality.
- L Ryan Smyth: Veteran winger is an important part of the team because he can do it all. PP,EV,PK and he can play on a dedicated checking line, a mentor role or step up into a 1line role should it be required. Wish the Oilers had 5 more.
- L Teemu Hartikainen: 2008 draft pick gets his chance in a short season to show what he can do, and it looks like the push from the organization is real. Needs to be on the fast train out of the gate to have sustain.
- L Ben Eager: Like Belanger, Eager needs to be better from the opening whistle. Eager never got into the swing of things in Edmonton and one hopes his ability to keep offensive plays moving will be much improved this season. Motor skills like passing/taking a pass were greatly reduced a year ago.
- L Darcy Hordichuk: I have no issue with the player, but do question the effectiveness of any player in this role. It will be fascinating to see how Krueger uses him.
- R Ales Hemsky: Healthy and brilliant as ever, Hemsky has hung around long enough to see the good times again and he won’t turn 30 until August. Many miles to go for Hemsky, hopegully he’ll spend them here.
- R Jordan Eberle: Brilliant 11-12 season was followed by league leading totals in the AHL and now we’re arguing about levels of greatness. I am the banner carrier for the Magnificent Bastard, and Eberle keeps hitting home runs for the cause. Here’s hoping it continues.
- R Lennart Petrell: PK man and aggressive forechecker, his advanced numbers read like Evil Dead 1, so the Oilers may be trying for Evil Dead 2. He certainly looked like a hockey player, maybe the results will improve with better linemates.
- R Magnus Paajarvi: Oilers Nation is divided but there’s a player here. An effective 5×5 player who can chip in offensively and sometimes run with the thoroughbreds when everything clicks. The question: is it in Edmonton?
Yann Danis was reported to be in camp by the Edmonton Oilers, but in fact is in OKC (but apparently a healthy scratch). We might conclude that Danis will be in Edmonton soon as Khabibulin insurance but will wait for further notice from the Oilers and then confirmation from an independent source.
Ryan Jones and Andy Sutton are not on the TC roster because of injury.