January 13 2013 09:13AM
The Edmonton Oiler players are up and at it early this morning as medicals started at 7:30 a.m. The usual eye test, VO2 max and overall checkups will take close to 90 minutes. Then the players will do a plethora of photo shoots and promo campaigns before they hit the ice tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. at Rexall Place.
Usually the players loathe medicals, but after being locked out for four months all of them were smiling as they made their way from station to station. The players are just as excited, maybe even more, than the fans to get the season started.
The Oilers open up on the road on next Sunday in Vancouver, and then their home opener is on Tuesday January 22nd v. the San Jose Sharks. You can see the entire schedule here.
The big difference about medicals this year is that the Oilers need to be out of here by noon due to the Edmonton Rush home opener at 2 p.m when they host the Toronto Rock. It will make for a hectic day for those administrating the tests, because usually they'd have all day to tear down their stations, but they have a mucher shorter deadline.
- Lost in all the hype surrounding Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall's offensive numbers in OKC and the KHL is how healthy Ales Hemsky is. Hemsky hasn't been 100% healthy in almost two years, but he feels great and was tearing up the Czech league with 14 goals and 32 points in 27 games. The kids need to be solid, but if the Oilers are going to compete for the playoffs I think Ales Hemsky and Ryan Whitney need to be the players they've shown they can be in the past. Hemsky is still an incredibly skilled player, and now that he's healthy I expect him to have a solid campaign.
- Nikolai Khabibulin is injured and Yann Danis will be here according to camp roster. Oilers are saying it is precautionary, but with Khaibulin's recent injuries it has to be a bit of a concern.
- With Hall, RNH and Eberle likely to start the season together, Hemsky won't have to face the best defender every night, and he should flourish against 2nd and sometimes 3rd pairing defenders.
- Interesting decision by the Canadiens. They have told Scott Gomez to stay home and they will buy him out next summer. The Habs will pay him $5.5 million to sit at home while he takes $7.35 million off their cap hit. Ouch.
- Tim Thomas is not reporting to Bruins camp and will be suspended. Thomas' $5 million cap hit will count against the Bruins' cap unless they trade him. The Bruins only have $1.3 million in cap space right now and Thomas' decision not to report could impact what they do at the trade deadline.
- Jamie Benn and P.K Subban didn't report to camps this morning. The Stars and Habs need them in camp soon, but right now Kypreos reported they aren't close to a deal.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looks like he's put on five pounds of muscle. His upper body is a thicker and he said his shoulder feels fine. He's only played six games since Dec 3rd, so he will be rested and ready to go when the season starts.
- If you are itching to see some action at Rexall Place I'd recommend watching the Edmonton Rush today at 2 p.m. First overall draft pick Mark Matthews makes his Rush debut, and the 6'4", 225 pounder sniper is the first superstar forward the Rush have ever had. He'll be worth the price of admission.
- The Oiler practices on Monday- Wednesday will be open to the public. Doors open at 10 a.m and practice starts at 11 a.m.
Justin Schultz will be paired with Nick Schultz to start camp said Krueger.
- Contrary to earlier reports Yann Danis is not in attendance at camp. Khabibulin and Dubnyk will be the only goalies in camp, to start at least. Interesting that Danis was on camp roster early in morning but not now.
- Krueger said he will start season with 14 forwards and 7 D-men. I wonder if that changes before Sunday. The Oilers choose 2nd on the waiver wire behind Columbus and the Blue Jackets don't need any D-men. I think the Oilers will want to add another veteran D-man, and might look at the waiver wire.
- Cam Barker has signed a one-year deal with Vancouver. Many teams are desperate for some depth on the blueline, and the Oilers and Red Wings are at the top of that list. Things are dire when Barker lands a contract. I'm happy for any guy who gets a contract, but I will be surprised if he plays more than 15 games for Van. They signed him as depth guy. Oilers need to find some depth for their blueline, because none of their defenders in OKC are ready to step in and play if the injury bug bites the Oilers.