The Oilers wrapped up their rookie tournament with a 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks, and now we will turn our focus to main camp and see if any of the rookies can make an impact.
Taylor Hall scored his first goal in an Oiler uniform, although it won’t count in the history books, it still caused quite a stir in the rink. Hall hadn’t done much in the first two periods last night, but he point shot made the final frame more exciting.
Hall is a quick learner. In the first period on a three-on-two rush, he was the trailer, took a drop pass from Magnus Paajarvi, and rather than one-time it, he hesitated for a moment and had his shot blocked. Two shifts later and virtually the exact same spot on the ice, he took another pass from Paajarvi on a three-on-two and one-timed it. He didn’t score, but Hall realized that he won’t have as much time as he did in junior.
After the game he talked about how the pace in this tourney was quicker than the OHL, and he expects the preseason to be even faster. It’s a learning process for him, but the kid is smart and I’m looking forward to see him play against NHL players.
Paajarvi scored his third of the tournament when he purposely banked it off a Shark defender and into the goal. Paajarvi looked the most NHL-ready of the big three. He is strong on the wall, and his speed is world class. I’ll be curious to see who Tom Renney plays him with. I’d try him with Ales Hemsky.
The best Oiler player in the tournament was Tyler Pitlick. He moved to RW last night and he still dominated. He isn’t afraid to deliver a check, and he rocked two Sharks on the same shift early in the first period. He kept the play alive on James Livingston’s goal, and he was a force all night. When the Medicine Hat Tigers come to Rexall Place to play the Oil Kings you can bet there will be a spike in attendance from curious Oiler fans.
Alex Plante left the game in the first period after taking a punch to the back of the head in a fight, but after the game he said he left because of back spasms. He grabbed the back of his head right after the fight, and I don’t doubt he had back spasms, but on the ice he looked like he’d had his bell rung. Plante was very good in tournament, and the Oilers will need a young D-man to emerge at some point in this re-build. He’ll play in the AHL this year, but he needs to become a regular next season.
Pre-season action starts on Monday and right now the NHL and their referees don’t have an agreement in place. The NHL has offered the refs a 17% raise spread out over the next four seasons. That seems like a reasonable offer, but the refs have countered with a ridiculous 39% increase over the same time frame.
I’m not sure why they feel they are worthy of an average 9.75% increase over the next four years? The NHL has had talks with some ECHL officials just in case they can’t come to an agreement by Monday. As of today, no officials have booked any travel plans for the preseason so the posturing will continue right up until Monday.
There are lots of young officials in the AHL who won’t become replacement officials, because they don’t want to risk being blackballed in the future.
The NHL can’t start the regular season with ECHL officials, but there is no way they will agree to a 39% increase. I’d expect an agreement to happen soon, but with teams finally showing a little fiscal restraint, I don’t see the NHL giving in to the referee’s demands.