January 12 2013 06:16AM
Oiler fans have been following the team's players all season long, and now they finally come together for the sprint that is the 2012-13 season. This month is going to fly by, with "news by the minute" that will include callups, injury news, trades and talk of the next captain. Lets begin with what might happen this week.
Jason Gregor tweeted out last night the expected list (Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris VandeVelde and Colten Teubert) and I'd pay attention to Yann Danis as well; Nikolai Khabibulin is close but the club will need able bodies from the start this week and Danis is a phone call away.
If the callups are as Jason describes, this will be the TC roster:
- Goal (2): Devan Dubnyk, Nikolai Khabibulin
- Defense (8): Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Theo Peckham, Colten Teubert
- Center (5): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger, Chris VandeVelde
- Left W (5): Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk
- Right W (5): Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, Teemu Hartikainen, Lennart Petrell, Magnus Paajarvi
This fits the 15-8-2 verbal from coach Ralph Krueger earlier this week, and with the club looking at a 23-man roster to start the season there may be only 2 players sent back to OKC. I'd guess those players would be Colten Teubert and Chris VandeVelde, but again injury and readiness will have a lot to do with it.
Encouraging so far; as Jason, Robin Brownlee and recently Jason Strudwick have reported to Oilers Nation over the last many months, Ryan Whitney has been able to do a lot of training that was previously impossible and arrives at TC ready as a game rooster to play in the NHL this season. This could be placed in the category of "manna from heaven" for Oiler fans, as a 20-25 minute defender who can play in all situations is badly needed by the club.
Khabibulin's readiness is a slight issue, and one would guess that Andy Sutton's injury (he's done for the year) will impact the way management approaches the week. The OKC Barons have been adding D via PTO by the half dozen this winter, so there is an organization-wide need for defensemen.
Based on the reports we're getting so far from the gathered media, it looks like these young men have no need to hear about the evils of the "Gerry Cheevers Training Camp Template" (On the eve of camp, he'd cut a hole in a garbage bag, slip it over his head, jump in a car and drive around town with the heat turned up).
A youthful group like this one should have fewer injury problems, and of course most of the Oilers roster players were in action at some point during the lockout. At a high level.
There are teams like Buffalo who appear to have some blue to trade, and the Oilers/Barons are no doubt going to be making some phone calls this week. If not for major league jobs, then for additional AHL help for coach Todd Nelson who may be feeling a little exposed at this point in time.
The waiver wire may also be interesting as the league drives toward Saturday and the beginning of the season. Free agent signings are also available, and the Oilers might have a look in the cupboard for help from the likes of Jim Vandermeer or Brett Clark.
No hurry on this, but I do believe that Shawn Horcoff will be passing the torch in the next twelve months. We talked about it here during the late summer and with a possible buyout looming this summer (I still don't know how they buyout Horcoff with the current C depth chart, but we'll see) it might be better to get this thing transitioned sometime before June.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Even the grumpiest among us can see there's reason to get excited, as the Oilers land in YEG and the city dons the local apparel. YOUR EDMONTON OILERS are a week away.
What a lovely day.