Barring anything else happening to him–there’s always a chance security at Rexall will turn him away tonight–Anton Belov will finally make his Oilers debut. It’s a pretty big deal, as the current hopefuls haven’t done enough to establish themselves in the #6 or #7 role on the roster. There’s a very large opportunity here, and Belov is likely to get a long look this week.
Belov’s signing can be directly attributed to Matti Virmanen, the Finnish scout Edmonton hired during the Tambellini administration. Since he arrived, Edmonton has drafted several players from Virmanen’s region: Samu Perhonen, Frans Tuohimaa, Erik Gustafsson, Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev (as I understand it, Virmanen covers Sweden, Finland, WHC’s, Russia, pretty much everywhere over there).
He’s also being credited for two pro hires this summer: Anton Belov and Jesse Joensuu. Joensuu has impressed enough to be considered by some as a lock for the roster, and tonight we see Belov.
- MacT: “I describe him as a guy who really makes good purposeful quick decisions with the puck. He really moves the puck up ice quickly. He doesn’t look for too many more options. That’s what stood out about him. He’s strong and physical on the boards. He battles hard … shoots the puck well so he’s got a chance. The game is a little quicker here on the smaller ice. That will be an adjustment for him, but a really impressive guy.”
Joanne Ireland’s article includes that quote and more, and it is here.
He will play with Denis Grebeshkov if the lineups released yesterday hold. It’s exciting, reminds me of the old days when Slats would bring in some guy we’d never heard of and take him for a spin. Sometimes the guy would turn out to be Kari Makkonen, but other times they’d end up being Jaroslav Pouzar.