One of my favourite times of year is training camp. It’s the one time all year when the coach is thinking of the season in broad strokes. You could hear it from Dave Tippett yesterday, Evan Bouchard is going to be a key, Tyler Benson is looking good, the men he envisioned competing for jobs all showed up in great shape.
By the first period of the first game of the regular season, it’ll be all out war and a shortened bench and that’s the way the world goes round. I can’t wait.
- New Lowetide: Why Colton Sceviour could be an important addition for the Oilers
- DNB: Derek Ryan Q&A
- Jonathan Willis: How can the Oilers find a long-term solution in net?
- Lowetide: What will three outscoring lines do for the Oilers and Connor McDavid?
- DNB: Oilers training camp questions
- Jonathan Willis: Darnell Nurse, in context
- DNB: The Oilers’ plan for prospect Philip Broberg
- Lowetide: Examining Ken Holland’s Oilers plan and how it could impact the future
- Lowetide: Filip Berglund, sleeper option for Edmonton’s defense
- DNB: Cooper Marody Q&A
- Lowetide: Oilers preseason stories of the past, from Tony Hand to Leon Draisaitl
- Lowetide: The Oilers and the Cooper Marody experiment are at a crossroads
- DNB: Oilers voice their frustration over top prospect Dylan Holloway’s injury setback
- Lowetide: A set roster? Oilers training camp gone wild? Expect the unexpected
- Lowetide: Xavier Bourgault and his ETA with the Edmonton Oilers
- DNB: Warren Foegele Q&A
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway’s season and why patience is vital for Oilers’ prospect
- Lowetide: Oilers reasonable expectations for 2021-22: Goal differential
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2021-22: Goal scoring
- New DNB: Mailbag.
- Lowetide: What should the Oilers expect from Cody Ceci in his first season?
- Lowetide: Projecting the 2021-22 Edmonton Oilers opening night lineup
- Lowetide: What should Oilers expect from Duncan Keith in his first season?
- Jonathan Willis: Tyler Benson, Devin Shore and the 4-year difference between a prospect and a has-been
- Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Zach Hyman in his first season?
- Lowetide: How much playing time will Evan Bouchard get with the Oilers this coming season?
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
In the late summer of 2007, then Oilers coach Craig MacTavish gave his view of the season ahead. It’s fascinating to look back on his words and how things turned out.
- “I’d like to see (goalie) Mathieu Garon play possibly 40% of the games ideally, maybe a little less than that. You’re looking at maybe 2 out of every 5 games I think is a good balance for a very capable backup. We’re pretty optimistic about our goaltending, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game or two out of Deslauriers or Dubnyk at the NHL level.” He would play 47 games (Roloson 43) and post a strong season, with a 26-18-1 record and a save percentage of .913 (Roloson .901). He would struggle the following season and get dealt to Pittsburgh at the deadline. DD and JDD did not play.
- “JFJ has always been fit and strong and powerful, he has to get a little composure in his game.” Jean-Francois Jacques was big and could skate, and that’s important in hockey. For some reason, many other things evaded him. He scored 24 goals as an AHL rookie, but he didn’t score in three NHL auditions (53 games) and by score I mean any points. MacT knew something. He played nine games in 2007-08, never pissed a drop.
- “Marc-Antoine Pouliot is almost the polar opposite of JFJ, he’s got lots of composure and lots of hockey sense but he’s got to train himself as a pro. This is his 4th camp coming up and he’s been behind physically through each of his previous camps. He’s exhibited the work ethic to start to train like an NHL player, he’s been to California with Chad Moreau to train. We have three of the best conditioned guys in the game in Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll and Ethan Moreau, and when you see these guys train it has to be an eye opener for these players to realize the depth of the commitment physically that you have to have to play at this elite level. Pouliot is at the wheel, if he comes and is anywhere near as fit as the average NHL player he’ll be a big help for us.” I was all-in on MP, he was an excellent passer and smart enough to play center if he made it. MacT had concerns, as above. Scored a penalty shot goal in Toronto, that would have been his career highlight. Disappointing he didn’t make it, lots of usefull skills. He would play 24 games (1-6-7) in 2007-08.
- “We’re still going to be preaching responsibility to Robert Nilsson, Rob Schremp and Andrew Cogliano. It’s all a game of what you create minus what you give up. If you’re creating a lot you’re going to get more latitude to try and create offense, but if you’re not productive then the balance is out of whack. We want to win hockey games. We need one of those guys to develop.” Cogliano turned into a fine two-way player, his speed was such an asset for him. Nilsson had great puck skills, but he cheated like hell for offense, even the next gen kids who came to Edmonton would have been embarrassed but his lingering at the center line. Cogliano scored 18, Nilsson 11 and Schremp played in two games, having hurt himself training in California summer 2007 and getting injured.
- “My initial hope is that Dustin Penner can come in and fill in some of the strengths because of the Ryan Smyth departure. Maybe it’s a bit of a gamble but a calculated one, and one that we had to make in my mind.” I don’t think MacT ever really warmed to him, Penner was fairly passive despite his size. I saw several games that season live, and Penner’s hands were good. He wasn’t Smyth but he had some real talent. He would score 23 goals in 2007-08.
FIRST DAY LINES AND PAIRS
- Hyman-McDavid-Puljujarvi. The smart move is to get these three together and play them from the start of training camp through much of the preseason and (if there’s chem) into the year. This line might produce a 40+ goal man and two more who hit 20+ tallies. That’s a monster.
- RNH-Draisaitl-Yamamoto. The logical second line, although names like Warren Foegele and Zack Kassian may find their way into the conversation. Can the wingers score 20? Does Leon have another 50-goal season in him? Incredible talent on the top two lines.
- Foegele-Ryan-Kassian. The obvious third line currently, Josh Archibald being unavailable. Foegele is the best player on the line, but Ryan is a player no one should overlook. Kassian is looking for redemption and I hope he finds it. More talent on this third line than we’ve seen in several years.
- Perlini-Shore-Turris. This is one of two units that could reasonably be called the fourth line. Perlini impressed with his size and speed, but so did J-F Jacques at every training camp before his back started giving him trouble. Shore is not a strong five on five performer, but is golden on the PK and Tippett holds that game state as being vital. Turris has arrived ready and fit, we’ll see how this plays out. Archibald’s absence, should it continue, would benefit him. Not as a replacement in style, but in terms of a roster spot being available.
- Benson-McLeod-Marody. The new ‘Bulldog’ line is going to get a look, Godspeed to all. Benson is fitter and faster, looks like he’ll get a long look and that’s good. I will say the entire summer was devoted to his position, so things didn’t get any better. McLeod is as close to a lock as a rookie can get in my opinion, he is a speedster and can grow with the group. Marody has strong competition even if Archibald stays away, all one can do is cheer him on. He is the most purely talented forward to come through the system in some time but he arrives in an era where the Oilers have elite talent at the top and suddenly a substantial support group.
- Esposito-Malone-Sceviour. Sceviour begins on an AHL line.
- Nurse-Barrie. They’ll play a ton. I think some believe Bouchard will eventually take over from Barrie on this pairing, but imo that’s a next year option. Huge minutes from these two expected. Like 25+ a night.
- Koekkoek-Bouchard. Tippett is hyping Bouchard in a big way, and that does signal to me that the bottom two pairs are going to be equal in playing time at the end of the season, if not sooner. The coach said this pairing asked for the McDavid minutes, which is kind of like joining the penal system in French Guiana one hundred years ago.
- Lagesson-Ceci. Lagesson is the Duncan Keith marker, he’ll be looking for a No. 7 role on this team that may not come. Ceci is probably the third or fourth most important defenseman on the team, depending on how much of a role you expect Bouchard to play this season.
- Broberg-Berglund. This is the sport where miracles come from. Tippett and Holland can’t expect it, can’t say they need it, but they surely do.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, our slicks hit the blacktop with the engine floored and headed for the weekend on the Lowdown. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will talk Ryder Cup, Jays and the Oilers as training camp gets underway. Matthew Iwanyk will talk CFL weekend, the NFL and Ryder Cup. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Friday!!