The exhibition season gets underway for real tonight, as Todd McLellan and his coaching staff begin the process of identifying the best 23-man roster for opening night in October. I have been pegging the chances of each player through summer, but the first days of TC give us perhaps a few new contenders for available jobs.
- Cam Talbot, 29. He is going to get more work than Ginger Baker in Toad. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- Jonas Gustavsson, 31. Strong start to training camp in Calgary, I think the backup job will be decided in training camp and the Swede could lose it. Chances of Making the Oilers: 60%.
- Laurent Brossoit, 23. Also looked good in Calgary, organization believes in him and I think there was some thought in the organization that he was NHL-ready mid-season 15-16. Chances of Making the Oilers: 40%.
- LD Oscar Klefbom, 23. That 2011 draft gave this team two gems, I would love to see both men play all 82 games. Klefbom has the potential to impact the season in a big way. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Andrej Sekera, 30. Strong play at WCOH reminds us of how well he can play. If the Oilers can use him as second pair anchor, that is a very nice top 4D. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Brandon Davidson, 24. He played almost 23 minutes the other night, a terrific sign for the Oilers. A massive season for him, can he repeat the brilliance of 2015-16? Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Darnell Nurse, 21. Played a ton on Monday, had poor possession stats but grew raves from the press box. That is about what happened last season. Can he improve his possession numbers this season? Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- LD Jordan Oesterle, 24. Fast defender with offensive bent made some defensive adjustments in the NHL a year ago. Still miles to go, he could make this team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 35%.
- LD Griffin Reinhart, 22. He is a PC acquisition and should get a push at some point during the year. Important to find out about him before the expansion draft—some believe his NHL role is already established. Chances of Making the Oilers: 25%.
- LD David Musil, 23. He has one big advantage—because he requires waivers, Edmonton may keep him if the club values him in a big way. Did not receive an early push (Davidson appeared in four games last TC) but we are still in early days. Chances of Making the Oilers: 15%.
- LD Mark Fraser, 29. He could see NHL time, unlikely to break camp with the big team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
- LD Dillon Simpson, 23. Remains a long shot for an NHL career, but his steady progress makes Simpson an interesting prospect. No chance.
- LD Andrew Ference—LTIR. No chance.
- LD Joey Laleggia—A big season in Bakersfield could get him a cup of coffee. No chance.
- LD Ben Betker—End of the roster in terms of LD, he is a giant stay-at-home blue. No chance.
- RD Adam Larsson, 23. Steady first outing with Klefbom, despite losing his stick on a GA. I think we need 40 games to get a feel for his style and effectiveness. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Mark Fayne, 29. Oilers badly need him to be an effective defender. From the Terry Harper family of blue liners, had a difficult transition to the Todd McLellan Oilers. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- RD Eric Gryba, 28. He is an effective defender, but not a good puck mover. I think he is fine as a 6-7D and would consider his signing a recognition of the need for further defensive depth. Chances of Making the Oilers: 29%.
- RD Matt Benning, 23. He has a lot of things going for him and a strong training camp might get him in the conversation. Chances of Making the Oilers: 15%.
- C Connor McDavid, 19. Cannot wait to see him play live again, the young man is worth the price of admission all by his lonesome. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 23. It does my heart good to see people acknowledge his considerable gifts after his strong play at WCOH. He is a fine player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 20. He could play a utility (C-R) role but the team sets up currently with Leon as the soft minutes pivot. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Mark Letestu, 31. Underrated 4C, mostly because he had to play too high on the depth chart one year ago. Call it Horcoff syndrome. I think he could still get PP minutes this year, at least until JP is established. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Anton Lander, 25. Early in camp, it is clear Edmonton is looking for a substantial option at center, Lander is in a spot of bother as camp opens. He is a player with range, needs to show it at camp—something most incumbents are not required to do. Chances of Making the Oilers: 55%.
- C Jujhar Khaira, 22. Looked impressive in his first game, showing good speed and some offensive ability. I think he is close. Chances of Making the Oilers: 30%.
- C-L Drake Caggiula, 22. He got a big push in game 1 of the pre-season and I think there is an increased chance he makes the big team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 30%.
- F Jere Sallinen, 25. He played well in the Calgary game, showing some range and offensive acumen. Remains a long shot at this point in time. Chances of Making the Oilers: 2%.
- RC Ryan Vesce, 34. He was a rather late add and I don’t think he makes the team, but Vesce checks off a lot of boxes: RHC, good in the dot, excellent shot, terrific power-play resume. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
- RC Kyle Platzer—He has showed well again this TC. No chance.
- LC Josh Currie—The fact he is still in camp is a good arrow. No chance.
- L Milan Lucic, 28. His first game as an Oiler was uneventful, but you can see the impact he can have on the offensive game. Much attention paid to his style, plenty of substance with this player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Benoit Pouliot, 29. He didn’t play opening night of pre-season, so one expects he will get the call tonight. An important player on this team, very effective. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Patrick Maroon, 28. Faster and quicker this camp, he has a chance to carve out a nice spot on this roster during 2016-17. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Matt Hendricks, 35. Role players who survive in the NHL until 35 are damned hard workers who have sacrificed. Hendricks is such a player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 85%.
- R Anton Slepyshev, 22. Showed well in the Calgary game (scoring a goal) and the coach says good things about him. After that, it is up to him and the increasingly difficult depth chart. Chances of Making the Oilers: 11%.
- R Taylor Beck, 25. Productive in game one, he has good offensive instincts but we don’t know much about his checking game yet. Chances of Making the Oilers: 7%.
- L Mitch Moroz—Turned some heads opening night, first good sign in some time. Hope he keeps it up. No chance.
- L Braden Christoffer—Got into a fight in Calgary, rugged winger headed for the minors. No chance.
- L Ryan Hamilton—He is still in camp, a good sign for any AHLer at this point.
- L Tyler Benson—Healthy enough for full practice, could he play tonight? Seems a stretch.
- R Jordan Eberle, 26. Seems destined to play on the McDavid line, where he could score 35 goals in my opinion. He had an injury last year, still scored 25. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Zack Kassian, 25. A sure starter opening night, the only question is what line he plays on. He can make plays with the puck, it will be interesting to see where he lands. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Nail Yakupov, 22. He had reasonable possession numbers in Calgary (considering the opponent and situation), I hope he gets a push on a strong line this week. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- R Kris Versteeg, 30. He was terrific in his first game, and that accounts for the spike in his chances. He can play a utility forward role, and is willing to do it. An extremely valuable addition via PTO, Edmonton did not get this in the before time (pre-McDavid). Chances of Making the Oilers: 70%.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, 24. Utility forward for the Oilers a year ago, his chances of making the team took a hit with the addition of Versteeg. Chances of Making the Oilers: 50%.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 18. He is big (6.04, 203), fast and skilled—and impressed at rookie camp while not getting much done in G1 of the pre-season. Probably wise to get him out there soon with a chance to redeem himself. Chances of Making the Oilers: 60%.
- R Tyler Pitlick, 24. Impressive opener slightly increases his chances of making the team, that pass to Versteeg was pretty damn sweet. Chances of Making the Oilers: 10%.
- R Patrick Russell, 23. A real long shot—new pro, speed a concern—but he has size and is physical. No chance.
- R Greg Chase—A quiet rookie camp and a quiet opening night. He seems to be less sure of himself at this camp, needs to get that swagger back—and to stop taking penalties. No chance.
PROJECTED ROSTER FOR TONIGHT (MY GUESS)
- Brossoit, Gustavsson
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show on the way, with a hockey focus. 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. A look at tonight’s game, some of the early battles, and Bruce’s top five NHL players of all-time.
- J.D. Burke, Canucks Army. Vancouver isn’t getting a lot of respect this fall, but any team with the piss-cutter Sedins should be feared.
- Don Landry, CFL.ca. Where is this blasted season heading? Eskimos crossover could be beneficial!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!