I got an update from Todd Nelson on some of the Oiler prospects. We chatted about Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander, Martin Marincin as well as the Jordan Eberle and Taylor’s quest to take on more of a leadership role. Nelson had some great insight into his young players.

Gregor: Jordan Eberle doesn’t shoot the puck very often, but he’s very accurate. Do you care that he doesn’t shoot a lot, or do you encourage him to shoot the puck more?

Nelson: I think as a team, as a whole, we want our team to shoot the puck a lot more. I think we’re a better hockey team when we do that. Sometimes we get into a situation where, we don’t shoot the puck- we’re trying to be too cute- and then once again, it’s funny how it works, if we’re not shooting the puck we’re not generating anything. But in the case of Jordan, obviously, he’s very accurate with his shot and he usually makes the right decision- when to pass, when to shoot. So in his case, it’s maybe a bit difference just because he’s able to pick his spot. But as for some other guys that have to shoot a lot more to generate goals, we encourage them just to shoot a lot.

Gregor: With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gone to the World Juniors, what do you need to see more of from your remaining centres, at least offensively, now that he’s gone?

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Nelson: Well, I think one of the things we’re looking at is who’s going to fill that void? A player that we put there with Jordan and Taylor, if we have them together, is Mark Arcobello. I think he’s done a fantastic job since Nuge has been away. There was some chemistry in training camp with Arco and Jordan. The thing is that it’s been a pretty good fit, the only problem with that is that you’re taking a creative guy off a different line. So then other guys are going to have to ante up and try to produce in those areas. But Arcobello has been pretty good. Obviously losing Nugent-Hopkins is a big void to fill but I think Arcobello has done a fantastic job of that.

Gregor: Is Arcobello a player that you see potentially as an NHLer in the future?

Nelson: I think we’d have to see if he was given the opportunity he would handle it. It’s one thing to put up numbers in the American Hockey League. That’s one thing we’ve seen over the years, many players that have had fantastic careers in the American Hockey League, but when they get called up they can’t perform the same way. I’m kind of curious to see how he’d do.

He’s definitely smart enough, he’s a very smart hockey player and he’s creative enough. But for Arcobello to get that opportunity and produce, he’s going to have to play probably within the top six. It would be pretty hard for him to crack that, but once again I’m pretty curious because he’s doing some fantastic things for us, but it still remains to be seen if he’s capable of playing up there.

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Gregor: Does he have the hockey acumen necessary to be a top-six player in the NHL, and will you get a better gauge of that when he’s playing with guys like Hall and Eberle?

Nelson: He’s fit in pretty well with those guys, so from that perspective, ya. He could play some games up top and we’d have to see. Obviously he’d have to be playing with some creative guys like he is now. I would like to hope that he’d be able to play up there. Obviously we’d like to see all of our players graduate to the NHL. If it doesn’t work out in the National Hockey League, he certainly can be a very good hockey player at this level. He’s a guy that has the potential to go over to Europe and make a lot of money, if the NHL doesn’t work out for him.


Gregor: We’ve talked before about Tyler Pitlick. There are a lot of things you like about his game. One of them was you wanted him to be more consistent physically, just engaging, not necessarily running everybody over. I noticed last week where you challenged him to be better. What does he have to do, in the physical department, to be a better player?

Nelson: You touched on it. I think consistency is first and foremost. You see flashes in a game where one shift he’d be playing physical, creating scoring opportunities and then two shifts later, he was invisible- you don’t notice him.  That’s one of the things that every player has to deal with, is just consistency at this level.

Right now, he’s going through a tough time, let’s face it. He hasn’t scored a goal yet, I know it’s weighing on his mind. We sat him out on Saturday night and I talked to him after Friday’s game and said, ‘We have to see more out of you.’ He knows he’s just going through a tough time, where he’s waiting to get that first goal. I think once he does, things will fall into place. Everybody knows that when you score goals, sometimes you get really hot and you’re very confident and other times you go through slumps. Tyler’s just having a hard time this year.

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Gregor: Have you contemplated trying him at the middle?

Nelson: Not quite yet. We have guys that can fill that void. I used him there last year at the start of the year and he did alright. Centre is a position that if you don’t play it quite a bit, it takes you awhile to get back in the groove. As of right now, I think it’d be too much on his plate. I think having him playing wing the right move. He’s comfortable there, and he’ll have less to think about. If he get’s going and feels good about his game, and we’re all comfortable with it, that’s something that we could explore. But as of right now, I think we’ll just keep him on wing.

Gregor: A lot of people in Edmonton have wondered about, at least as a trial experiment, using Taylor Hall in the middle. Hall told me that he’d be open to the experiment as long as he had a long time to do it- not just for a game here or there or at practice. Is it something you’ve talked about or will explore?

Nelson: I talked to him at the start of the year and asked, ‘How do you feel about playing Centre, because everybody’s been asking that question.’ He told me, ‘I want to feel comfortable with my game. It’s been awhile since I’ve played, so right now I’d rather play wing.’ He’s up front and honest with us. We don’t want to put a player in a situation where they don’t feel comfortable. That’s not to say we can’t explore that as the season goes on, but we have quite a few centres and right now it’s not really a need that we have to look at.

Gregor: Martin Marincin had a great start to the season. It obviously helped when he was playing with Justin Schultz, but lately he’s struggled. What has Marincin not done lately?

Nelson: Well, just the growing pains. I think that’s the biggest thing. Marty’s been victimized the last three weeks or so, where he’s maybe coughed up the puck in key parts of the game. You’re going to get that with young defencemen. One thing that he’s battling with is that Marty’s the type of player that goes all in. I was kind of joking with the players and the staff about; he’s like Tin Cup’s Roy McAvoy, where he wants to go all in all the time.

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Sometimes you have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. If we’re up by one goal and there is five minutes left that’s a situation where you think defence first, and we have enough goals to win. But he’s learning those things and it’s cost him a few times where in that situation, he’d do something high risk and all of a sudden it ends up in the back of our net. He’s just a young player that’s learning these things. You like the fact that he’s very confident, but he has to learn the game and recognize you do certain things at different times of the game. .

Gregor: What about Magnus Paajarvi? Obviously you like more than three goals from him. Is he a guy who’s never going to be a finisher? Is he more of a playmaker?

Nelson: I think he’s probably, pretty much, a playmaker. He gets opportunities in the game. Scoring goals doesn’t come natural, like maybe it would with Jordan Eberle. He has to work for everything he gets. He may have to generate six or seven chances to have an opportunity to score, where in the case of Jordan he’ll get one opportunity and bury it. I think moving forward he’s a player that obviously wants to score goals, but right now they’re not coming like he wants them to be. I think he just has to stick with it and just focus on the task at hand, keep on driving the net, taking pucks to the net, getting dirty in those areas. He’s better at that, but there’s always room for improvement

Gregor: What about Anton Lander? Offensively he hasn’t put up a lot of numbers. Has he been creating enough offense for your liking, or does he need to do more?

Nelson: He’s been playing some good hockey for us. I think it was kind of weird, he got sick one weekend and he came back after that and it was like he was a different player. I don’t know if it was just a situation where he needed a break and had to refocus, but he’s been playing some really good hockey for us lately. He’s been responsible in both ends of the rink. He’s been doing some things offensively that we never saw at the start of the year, so it’s getting better and better. He got off to a slow start, but I like where his game is at right now and hopefully that continues.

Gregor: What about the leadership of Hall and Eberle? Have you seen it? Both of them told me that was something they wanted to improve. They wanted to take on a bigger leadership role. Have you seen it develop?

Nelson: Ya, I’ve seen that develop. With both those guys, just by the way they play, guys follow. In the room I’ve started to hear them be a bit more vocal. I think they’re very comfortable with it. But based on their play, they lead by example in a lot areas and they take the bull by the horns in a lot of areas. If the game’s on the line, they’ll do something to create a goal. I’ve seen that and I think from the leadership quality inside the room, they’re starting to get more vocal and starting to really be part of something here and the guys are following.


When the lockout ends in January, yes I believe that will happen, it sounds like outside of the obvious four choices, 4, 14, 19 and 93, the only other player who will come up is Teemu Hartikainen. Paajarvi is having a decent season, but unless he really turns it up in the next few weeks he will stay in the AHL.

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Yesterday we raised another $3,000 due to the generous bids of Carmelo and Kyle. Thanks guys and thanks to all the sponsors who donated for our Ski Package.

Today we will repeat what we did last Wednesday and have three packages on the auction block.


Item One.. A pub party for 10 at On The Rocks...Dr. Wang and the staff will ensure you have a great night out. Food and bevvies included. Trust me, only bid on this if you have a fun group of friends. They will treat you very well at OTR.


Item Two... A stainless steel Big Rock fridge and 12 cases of Big Rock Beer! Awesome…


Item Three: Pamper your Pooch Package from Posh Pooch Hotel & Daycare.

  • 12 medium bags of dog food. (Acana or Origin)
  • Ten days of daycare for one dog.
  • Ten nights of boarding for one dog.(This includes all day as well)
  • An assessment for one dog.

All the proceeds from today will go towards Operation Friendship Seniors Society and the Christmas Bureau. Bidding starts at 2 p.m thru to 5:55 p.m. You can bid by calling 780.426.8326 or 1.800.243.1945. You can also text in a bid to 101260.

Thanks in advance for your bids.


  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    FIST, of course!

    Seriously though, I really want Pitlick to succeed. And that’s an interesting question you asked, JG. I think it’s a great idea to try him back at center.

    The guy isn’t producing. Telling him to get going or be more consistent isn’t going to help his obvious issue – confidence. Put the guy at center and let him focus on other aspects of the game. Hopefully those little victories (face-offs, more defensive coverage, etc.) will revive his game.

    He strikes as Ryan Kesler type of player. I hope he rebounds.

    • Jason Gregor

      I understand Nelson’s point though. When you have no confidence the last thing you need it more responsibility…which is what would happen if he moved to centre.

      • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

        So put him at center on the 4th line? Give him soft minutes. How important of a prospect is he to the Oilers?

        You wouldn’t be surprised to know I’m not a coach, yet one that has a legitimate shot at NHL duty, but I do understand dealing with people and managing confidence.

        He’s either going to find his game or dwindle away, so to speak. And leaving it up to him, is leaving it to chance, IMO.

        • Jason Gregor

          You think playing him less minutes in a new position will bolster his confidence? Interesting. I thought confidence came from within, and in sports it can appear and disappear very quickly.

          Coach can’t massage all 20 players confidence at once. If he did, he’d fail. He talks to them, encourages them, but ultimately it is up to the player.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            At the end of the day, if an important prospect never developed, as a coach or a manager, you can ask yourself – did I do everything I could? If your answer is yes and all you did is have a bunch of useless conversations with him, you both failed.

  • Jason Gregor

    Another great read. Nice to hear about Lander. I do hope he turns into the two way third line center we’re all hoping he can be.

    I like that Hartikinen is tracking to make the jump as that will fill some of our size, grit, and forechecking issues in the top six.

    I also hope Magnus can continue to develop into a decent third line winger that can PK and shut down top line competition. I also like that he draws penalties. Drawing penalties is going to be clutch for a team like the Oilers to win. We will live and die on our Power Play. This is another reason I can’t see our current make up going deep in the playoffs until we get a little grittier.

    I am so excited to see other assets get put into the mix with the OKC kids. Will Hall on the LW and Nail on the RW be too much for defenders to handle? If Hemsky and Whitney have returned to form, what does our team look like with that much offensive capability?

    As for development, as long as one of Harti, Magnus, Lander, or Klefbomb develops the way everyone is hoping they will, I think the big club has enough pieces to build a winning team around through trade and free agency.

  • Jason Gregor

    It would be interesting to see Paajarvi get a shot on a line with Gagner & Hemsky for an extended period of time (say 40 games)! I think that’s when we would be able to make a legitimate assessment of his skills & abilities! I truly believe he’s a point/game player but needs to play ! To date Paajarvi’s playing time has been sporadic at the NHL level with many different linemates!

  • Jason Gregor

    Good to hear that Anton Lander is playing better. Tyler Pitlick…sometimes it takes these bigger bodied players a couple of extra years to figure things out. Their body is still growing and they need to learn to how use it to their advantage. A quick word about playing centre vs wing. My personal experience is that I’m a way better centre than winger. Playing center usually forces me to keep my feet moving, no matter what zone I’m in. Playing wing, you do stand around a bit more, for me, I don’t feel quite as engaged and my numbers reflect that. I don’t know if Pitlick could get it going by moving to centre, but it’s something that should be considered.

  • Jason Gregor

    Of all the young players we have, MPS has been the most mis-managed player.

    We can all see his strengths and shortcomings but he has never been put inot a situation over a long period of time where he can fit in and just play his game.

    I think the only way he will succeed is giving him the opportunity to play with quality young players…….not on the third and fourth lines!

    If I were coaching him all I would have him do is practice on his off wing taking one-timers and then driving to the net. After he masters this concept and does it naturally, then maybe consider making some alternate plays.

    • DSF

      Paajarvi now has played 60 games in the AHL playing in the top 6 with “skilled players” not 3rd and 4th lines.

      In that 60 games, he has managed to score all of 11 goals and 42 points while sporting a shooting percentage that would embarrass a defenseman.

      For example, this season, Paajarvi has a shooting percentage of 6.5% while Martin Marincin, a rookie defenseman has a shooting percentage of 7.5%.

      I’m not sure what else you need to see.

      If he needs special coaching to know that driving the net results in goals at the age of 21, I expect the problem lies with the player and that neither opportunity or coaching is the problem.

  • A-Mc

    Damn, i have to side with DSF on this one too. I think Paajarvi has lost his grip. He has been given a great opportunity at the AHL level and he still can’t produce.

    Maybe a scoring line isn’t for him. If he wants to make the NHL, perhaps a different focus is in order; ie working on 3rd and 4th line ‘skills’ primarily.

  • 24% body fat

    mps was struggling last year and his numbers were fine. We will see what happens after lock out. No need to worry he is 21. Two more years minimum before we shut the door on this.

  • 24% body fat

    What would have happened if the canucks gave up on the sedins at 23. In fact DSF, if gagner played all 82 games last year in his 22 year old season his numbers would be better than Daniels 23 year old season. And Daniel has had the comfort of always having his sister with him,

    So instead of having to prove your points through the worst negativity ever that makes the lock out look positive you can try to support a team that you seem to say you care so much about.

    MPS is 21.

    We get it, you hate Gagner, MPS is a bust, Hall is not as good as granlund, etc.. etc.. etc..

    • DSF

      What a load of codswallop.

      If you take a second you’ll find a detailed post about why Gagner and the Sedins are not at all comparable because Gagner was handed huge amounts of ice time starting in his rookie season while the Sedins were playing far fewer minutes.

      Daniel scored 20 goals in his rookie season while playing 3rd line minutes.

      How many 20 goal seasons does Gagner have to his credit?


      Paajarvi has plywood hands…always has and no amount of huffing and puffing is going to change that.

      • 24% body fat

        I did not compare them, i compared daniel and sams 22 and 23 year old SEASON. Gagner has never had the talent that the sedins have had to play with except this year,.

        my point is the canucks didnt bitch and complain about how soft they were and they held on abd didnt trade them.

        GO look at there stats. Also Gagner started the year coming back from a big injury and on the third line. So get your biased head out of your ass. He played the year with hemsky who had a terrible year so he did not help gagners scoring. Also Daniel is a goal scorer and gagner is not. So comparing goals is stupid.

        sedin 23 – 82 18 36 54

        gagner 22 – 75 18 29 47

        sedins play may not get the softest minutes in the league but they get cherry starts. Have you ever seen any other player start that much in the offensive zone.

        I dont care if he has plywood hands, doesnt mean he cant be a useful nhl player in a role.

        • DSF

          Young Luke…go take a look at TOI/G.

          Gagner got the equivalent of 10 extra games per season in his rookie year and the Sedins went nova as soon as they got first line minutes.

          Gagner will never get first line minutes unless Hopkins gets hit by a bus.

          What role?

  • Cervantes

    I would love to see MPS moved back to D to see how it goes. With his speed and smarts I think it’d be very interesting, and he’d have a bit more time to make his decisions, which would help a lot.

    That said, I also think he’s still got plenty of promise on wing. He’s young, and big bodies take extra time to sort out. I still believe that another year or two will see him as a comfortable 20g guy.

    We spent 7 years working on Samwise, we can spend more than 1 working on MPS.