Stuart Skinner is just getting started and has many miles to go but his first game in an Edmonton Oilers’ uniform was outstanding. He stopped all 26 shots that got through and one of those saves was among the best I’ve seen. As debuts in rookie tournaments go, this was a home run for the young goalie. A fine first impression.
LAST NIGHT’S ROSTER
- Joe Gambardella-Chad Butcher-Kirill Maksimov
Once again these three men were all around the puck and getting results. Gambardella (1-1-2) had about six fantastic chances in the two games, finally getting an empty net goal to close out the scoring. Chad Butcher scored again and is now 2gp, 3-1-4 for the tournament. He is signed to an AHL deal and pushing for more. Kirill Maksimov had an assist and is now 2gp, 1-2-3 for this rookie series. All three men have helped their cause this weekend.
- Evan Polei-Ethan Szypula-Trey Fix-Wolansky
Polei continues to impress, played a little center and showed some grit. He and Butcher are going to be interesting follows in Bakersfield. Szypula has speed, skill and he’s a game rooster, liked him. Trey Fix-Wolansky has been quiet through the first two games and my guess is he gets the college game back in Edmonton before heading to the Oil Kings.
- Grayson Pawlenchuk-Davis Koch-Brandon Saigeon
Pawlenchuk has good wheels, damned near scored on a breakaway and made himself useful. Koch has really impressed me (2gp, 0-3-3) in the tournament so far. Brandon Saigeon has also shown well, I like his speed and passing.
- Luke Coleman-Lane Bauer-Steve Owre
Coleman scored the opening (and winning) goal on the night, he showed well. Bauer has been useful without getting a lot done offensively, Owre can be given the same grade. This line did a lot of hard work, skated miles to cut off passing lanes and interrupt progress.
- William Lagesson-Ethan Bear
Impressive pairing, both men played a lot in prominent roles and looked good to my eye. Bear looked looser and more mobile, while retaining the passing ability. Power play needs work but these guys are all new to each other. Lagesson, as I said Friday night at ON, can play defense.
- Dmitri Samorukov-Sahvan Khaira
I’m really impressed with Samorukov, the only thing lacking is age and experience. Nice wheels, he makes good decisions and recovers quickly. Khaira handled the physical side of the game well and moved the puck capably.
- Liam Schioler-Austin Strand
They played quite a lot, Schioler had a quiet game (that’s good) and Strand was solid to spectacular (made an outstanding recovery on a partial breakaway). Neither man is a strong puck passer but they got by.
- Stuart Skinner (Shane Starrett)
Skinner was the star of the game, with several impressive saves and one all world stop I’ll remember a long time. If that’s it for him at this camp, he has announced his presence with authority.
TRAINING CAMP CHECK IN
We’ll get the training camp roster in the next few days, most of the kids playing at the rookie camp will be heading back to their junior or (Canadian college) teams. Here’s a quick glance at the potential list as I see it.
THE CERTAIN OILERS
- The lines have been changed up since our last look, but it’s for discussion purposes only. Peter Chiarelli’s words with Bob McKenzie, while interesting, should not be interpreted as being gospel. Chemistry: It’s the real thing.
- Anton Slepyshev’s status is a little up in the air but I included him this time around because of the conflicting information. Media reports have him missing the entirety of training camp, the general manager says he’ll be ready.
- Eric Gryba is a little vulnerable for the No. 6 spot but I don’t think there’s any doubt he makes the team as a third pairing option of No. 7D.
THE UNCERTAIN OILERS
- Chris Kelly has been invited according to John Shannon (who also reported Kelly accepted). I don’t think it’s reasonable to call Kelly a sure thing, but will tell you it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the veteran make the team. Oilers coaching and management is probably (rightly) worried about penalty killing and Kelly has been utilized in that role.
- Last season, Kelly played 2:06 a night on the penalty kill for Ottawa (JP Pageau led with 2:11, but Kelly was one of four man forwards along with Tom Pyatt and Zack Smith). Source: Natural Stat Trick.
- SA/60 for the four main Senators PK forwards: Pageau (48.3); Kelly (50.14); Pyatt (51.07); Smith (57.62).
- SA/60 for the four man Oilers PK forwards: Benoit Pouliot (38.33); Matt Hendricks (49.11); Mark Letestu (59.41); Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (59.89). Source: Natural Stat Trick.
- Half of the Oilers top PF force is gone (You need six PF forwards) plus Anton Lander is gone and he was good at the job as well. Chris Kelly has a chance here, and that’s a fact.
THE DISTANT BELLS
- I’ll add to this once we see the entire training camp list. Extremely likely all of the names added now will be on this list.
- Distant bells rarely make the opening night roster. I had Anton Slepyshev as a distant bell August 2015 and he made the big club straightaway. That’s a helluva thing.
- Tyler Benson skated with the scratches yesterday, that’s a good sign.
- Andrej Sekera (if he’s healthier than we expect) and Ziyat Paigin (if he shows well in main camp) have an outside chance of moving up. Otherwise, I think we have them surrounded.
WAITING FOR THE SKY TO FALL
There are other players who could get an invite to main camp depending on injury issues and other considerations. Here’s a list.
- G Stuart Skinner. Oilers have six goalies coming to camp, that seems to be more than enough. Skinner could spend a few days in camp but I don’t think he’d see action beyond the college game.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. I suspect he heads back to junior.
- RC Josh Currie. Back on an AHL deal, he has skill and two-way ability. He could get an invite.
- L Ryan Hamilton. AHL only deal, he’ll get some time with the big club in camp.
- L Evan Polei. Size and skill (6.02, 227 and 33 WHL goals) performed well enough to get a camp in main camp in my opinion.
- L Kirill Maksimov. He has shown well, perhaps he gets a game in preseason.