The Edmonton Oilers are trumpeting their department of youth, seeding the future with “Evan Bouchard looks ready” and “Tyler Benson has impressed” in the last few days. One thing we can absolutely mark as a good arrow: There are several stories of this type. Aside from Bouchard and Benson, young Ryan McLeod has turned heads and Caleb Jones looks like he has taken a giant step forward. Early days? Sure. It’s also true there are more youngsters pushing than a year ago. We’re so early in training camp that none of this means a thing, but little arrows are big steps. You can’t fast forward to opening night and we are here. What are the important stories in this Oilers training camp? There are a few indications of what is to come.
The Athletic made some big additions last week, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman joining the Edmonton staff. Daniel, Jonathan Willis, Minnia Feng, Pat McLean and me will deliver prose all winter long and there will be tons via the national desk from Tyler Dellow, Corey Pronman and Dom Luszczysyn. Special offer is here, less than $4 a month! Also, don’t forget to join us later this month (September 24, The Rec Room south side) for a get together and general merriment. I’m thrilled to be part of this group, hope you join us.
- New Lowetide: How do you replace a lost draft summer?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Even with more goaltending depth the Oilers are counting on return to form from Cam Talbot.
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: Ryan Strome and the Oilers long journey to competent third and fourth lines
- Jonathan Willis: If the Oilers fail in 2018-19, it will probably be the same reason they failed in 2017-18.
- Eric Duhatschek: Connor McDavid knows what ails the Oilers and how to improve it.
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: Leon Draisaitl and the pursuit of a second outscoring line in ’18-19
- Jonathan Willis: If the Oilers improve in ’18-19, they’ll do it on the back of special teams
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Ethan Bear is providing inspiration for Indigenous youth through his hockey camp.
- Jonathan Willis: The arrival of Alex Chiasson gives the Oilers a crowd up front
- The Athletic Cross Canada Tour Will hit Edmonton!
- Lowetide: RE 18-19 Can the McDavid line lead the 2018-19 Oilers to the playoffs?
- Corey Pronman: The most intriguing prospect to watch at camp for every NHL team.
- Jonathan Willis: Three different KHL stars, three different paths to NHL success.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Bringing something different to the Oilers beat.
OILERS PROSPECTS, CURRENT LEAGUE SCORING
- Patrik Siikanen, Blues (Jr. Sm-Liiga) 6, 3-4-7
- Anton Slepyshev, CSKA Moscow (KHL) 6, 1-1-2
- Nail Yakupov, St. Petersburg (KHL) 3, 1-1-2
- Filip Berglund, Skelleftea (SHL) 1, 1-1-2
- Bogdan Yakimov, Neftekhimik (KHL) 6, 0-0-0
- Markus Niemelainen, HPK (Sm-Liiga) 2, 0-0-0
I included Nail Yakupov here, might include scoring of prospects every Sunday through the season. It’s something I like to track during the season, gives me a feel for what’s going on and individual player spikes. Swedish Poster had some kind words about Filip Berglund yesterday in the comments section, the young Swedish blue is off to a nice start. A brief Joel Persson interview (requiring google translate) offers a few gems, as in how many teams pursued him.
- Chiarelli on vacancies on the blue line and trusting the farm: Well yes and you have to when you’re building this thing and you know I’ve said the last couple of days about not really excluding anyone but the three young guys, and I put Bouchard in that group. But Jones and Bear, their physical conditioning testing was leaps and bounds over what it has been historically, so they’ve really put in the work, and we’ll see where it takes them. But those are two guys that are gonna be pushing. Three guys in Bouch, I mean Bouch is Bouch.
It seems impossible. If the team gets their RFA signed, the starting depth chart (Edmonton and Bakersfield) on blue should be Klefbom—Larsson, Nurse—Benning, Russell—Jerabek, then someone like Gravel as 7D and Evan Bouchard making the team as No. 8 defender. Condors pairings might be Lowe—Bear, Jones—Lagesson, followed by the rest. If Jones and Bear are in the conversation, guys like Jerabek and Gravel will have failed miserably.
- Chiarelli on the Nurse contract situation: There’s no real update, yeah I know he traveled home the other night, but I don’t have an update for you. We obviously couldn’t come into agreement but we’ll hope we can get him in camp at some point here shortly. Don’t want to comment on specifics but I mean we’ve had a lot of negotiations so we’ll see where it goes here shortly, but I mean there’s a gap, I can tell you there’s a gap.
There’s no update and they aren’t in contact but that could change at any time. Edmonton plays two games early this week, if we see wobbly blue suspect the phone will ring. I remain surprised the Oilers are proceeding in this manner with a player we all thought was part of the inner circle McDavid cluster. Have to adjust the thinking there.
- Chiarelli on if he has a backup plan: Yes I do, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
It’s unclear to me if this backup plan arrives only if Nurse is lost for the start of the season, or if this is a plan in place to address defense if things don’t come together full stop. Either way, PC has dropped hints all over hell’s half acre on this, so I expect it is indeed Kassian or Khaira plus a second-round pick for Justin Faulk or other. Not sure it’s a wise move.
- Chiarelli on Jesse Puljujarvi: He’s a big raw kid, he’s rounding out his game a little bit, he’s getting more comfortable in this environment. Just talking to him before the camp started he’s in a good spot, I mean you can’t judge it by one game but he’s making plays out there. He looks more confident. Shorter stick, you’re right, he’s shooting the puck better. So you just got to be patient with him and he’s going to be a very good contributor in this league in due time.
I’ve made the point before about Chiarelli clearing the decks a little for JP this season, I remain convinced the general manager is officially stubborn on this player (in a good way). Puljujarvi is 20, has all kinds of tools, over 90 games in the NHL and something less than a murderer’s row in terms of competition on right wing. There’s a sweet spot somewhere in this batting order for him, I think he finds it this season. A guess would be Rieder-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi by Christmas.
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) September 16, 2018
Bruce McCurdy was at yesterday’s scrimmage and offered his usual astute observations. I especially enjoyed his prose on the new giant in goal. Excellent Sunday reading.