A TRICK OF THE TAIL

Lowetide
September 28 2013 11:09AM

In 2009 fall, Jean-Francois Jacques rode an impressive pre-season (5, 3-1-4 +1) into an opening night spot on the 1line for the Edmonton Oilers. He would get only 4 goals during the regular season, but the TC (and Pat Quinn's endorsement) gave his career a push and he played 100 NHL games 2009-11. How much does pre-season scoring mean?

PERFORMANCE MARRIED TO OPPORTUNITY

I think the key component for TC hopefuls is opportunity. Pat Quinn's hiring meant that every guy with some size (Jacques, Ryan Stone) and a reasonable skill level had an excellent--excellent--shot at making the Edmonton Oilers. However, doing something with said opportunity is vital, because momentum can only be sustained by getting precious pre-season minutes, and hopefully, a push on a major line.

Entering this training camp, I listed 9 "rookies" we could watch through the pre-season and see what kind of traction was made available and how they performed in the spotlight. The post is here. Let's have another look at these gents.

  1. D Oscar Klefbom: Entering camp, I ranked him as the strongest candidate because of his impressive performance in front of Craig MacTavish a year ago in the SEL. As it turned out, Klefbom wasn't impressive during rookie camp, got his bell rung at the U of A game and then didn't stand out during his one pre-season game with the big club (no boxcars, no crooked numbers). He'll begin his NA pro career in Oklahoma City.
  2. D Anton Belov: I described him as a fascinating signing by the Oilers, and felt he'd push for employment. It didn't look good for him 10 days ago, but a late flight from Russia and some sleep were all he needed to impress. An under the radar signing that may turn into some significance, Belov played a lot once he got here (4, 0-1-1 -1 10 shots) and impressed every game. He's still a player with some adjustments to make, but is certainly a strong candidate for a roster spot. (Note: not technically a rookie, I put him here because he's new to the NHL).
  3. D Martin Marincin: I felt he had an outside shot at the team based on a solid AHL debut one season ago. Marincin was impressive during pre-season (2, 2-1-3 +2) but received a surprisingly early ticket out of town. I'm not certain the Oilers gave him a full look, but he's certainly on track as a legit NHL prospect.
  4. C Andrew Miller: I described him as a bit of a mystery, and the song remains the same one month later.
  5. D Taylor Fedun: I felt he'd been passed by too many defenders to win a job, and that turned out to be the case. However, Fedun did everything he could during pre-season, posting a very impressive 4, 0-4-4 +3 and is very likely a top option for recall.
  6. C Mark Arcobello: 6, 1-3-4 +1 and with 12 shots, Arcobello got some good luck with the Gagner injury and appears poised to get his first extended time in the NHL. He can play with skill, if that translates to NHL points he could have a career.
  7. L Ryan Hamilton: Began the pre-season well and then tailed off, but the people I spoke to before TC (Noah Love, James Mirtle) felt their was a chance and he won the day. Hamilton (6, 0-3-3 -3) will need to show well early in the season to maintain his roster spot.
  8. C Will Acton: Faceoffs, some grit, trust of the coach. His offense in pre-season (6, 2-0-2 7 shots) and penalty killing/faceoff ability probably won him the job over Anton Lander. Like Hamilton, he'll need to perform well early.
  9. R Tyler Pitlick: In August, I wrote "it's a long shot and this is a pivotal season" and Pitlick showed very well during the pre-season (4, 0-1-1 +1) with his hard work and positioning. A much brighter outlook for him.

RESULTS?

As it turns out, all of Belov, Arcobello, Hamilton and Acton made the team, and my guess is that all but Miller could end up seeing NHL action during the 2013-14 season. A hat tip to the pro scouts, as all but Arcobello were procured during the off-season.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

In the original article, I concluded that we wouldn't see an Oiler rookie past 30 games this season. As it stands now, with injury and the TC performances in the books, one suspects Anton Belov, Mark Arcobello, Ryan Hamilton and Will Acton will clear 30 games--at the expense of Denis Grebeshkov, Sam Gagner, Ryan Jones and Anton Lander, respectively.

As they say, that's why they play the games.

(Arcobello photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Prof. peabody
September 28 2013, 01:28PM
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Lets be real here. This isn't a playoff team by any stretch.

Starting with the 1st line. Smytty is a ghost of an nhl player, and hemsky will soon be one himself. Hallsy is a godsend but he can't carry this team on his back. That top line contains a star, has been, a second liner AT Best.

We only have one NHL centre man, and it's career 3rd liner Gordon.

new year, gm and coach, same old weaknesses since 2007.

Smid and petry top pairing dmen? Please. This is an 3rd line pairing on a actual nhl team.

We will again be out chanced, out shot, out hit, and beaten to death in the face off circle. 5x5 play will be awful again.

I'm sorry, but it's true,

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#2 nunyour
September 28 2013, 12:44PM
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Goal is still a huge ? for me,to many soft one's.

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#3 Jeff
September 28 2013, 01:04PM
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Could someone figure out how to incorporate an alarm clock inti Dubies equipment. It would be nice if he could be awake for the game.

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#4 Jason Gregor
September 28 2013, 11:16AM
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I'll be very surprised if Hamilton or Arcobello play that many games. Once RNH returns I don't see a spot for Arcobello.

Hamilton's game tailed off as preseason went along. I know Eakins likes him, but we'll see if he has the speed to make an impact in regular season. Should be interesting.

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#5 Spydyr
September 28 2013, 02:01PM
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@Lowetide

"A hat tip to the pro scouts"

IMO Edmonton has the worse pro scouts in hockey.What they have done this year has not changed that.

The only one pulling his weight is the Finnish scout that found Belov.Other then that they found some AHL players.

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#6 Team Omark
September 28 2013, 12:10PM
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A trick of the tail.. I love that album. Not as much as I love the albums with Gabriel instead, though.. Wooo Genesis!

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#8 oilbaron
September 28 2013, 11:14AM
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Anyone know why Perron was out of the lineup last night?

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#9 a lg dubl dubl
September 28 2013, 11:24AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I'll be very surprised if Hamilton or Arcobello play that many games. Once RNH returns I don't see a spot for Arcobello.

Hamilton's game tailed off as preseason went along. I know Eakins likes him, but we'll see if he has the speed to make an impact in regular season. Should be interesting.

I'd rather have Arcobello with the team than Acton imo, a bit of skill on the 4th line could help more than just grit on that line.

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#10 michael
September 28 2013, 11:53AM
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I see by January at least 3 changes that could be made on this roster. By trade dead line day it could be up to 5 players.

Who believes that the Oilers retain Nick Shultz at 4 million a year next season? Free agent after this season.

Ryan Whitney once again looking for employment. Good luck with that.

Tom Gilbert in Florida. From Edm-Minny-Florida. How far has he fallen off the map?

Where is Ilya Bryzgalov? Pluto?

TSN 1260. All the splash and dash of TSN with the concrete reporting of Lowetide and Jason Gregor. How does the Edmonton sports fan lose in this arrangement? Hopefully we'll see more local content on the weekends. Less US talk shows. I'd rather hear a Jet game broadcast on a Friday night than listen to some wag from LA who only talks about some sad sack like Arod or some cracked out 3rd stringer who got arrested for DUi.Look forward to the programming changes.

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#11 Muji
September 28 2013, 01:46PM
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In hindsight, JFJ on the first line was insane. But, it was probably "intriguing" at the time. Just as "intriguing" as a 1st line of a 37-year-old Smyth, out-of-position Hall, and Hemsky...

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#12 Prof. Peabody
September 28 2013, 02:28PM
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@Lowetide

There's a hell of a lot of praise for this guy who's never played an nhl game in our silks. Let's wait till Xmas before we hail him a hero. not even Garth snow wanted to take another chance with him.

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#13 Spydyr
September 28 2013, 03:38PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Joensuu would be considered a NA pro scouting find, no?

Sure, I thought of him after my post.Even if Both Belov and Joensuu work out that's two in how many years. At least things are looking up if they do work out.

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#15 Cynic
September 28 2013, 03:52PM
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Pre-season scoring doesn't count for anything. Ask Paul Comrie.

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#16 Reg Dunlop
September 28 2013, 09:41PM
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Hey LT, A Trick of the Tail is only surpassed by Selling England by the Pound.

Where else but Edmonton would you see so many fans getting so constipated over a pre-season road loss. Still, my gut says having Smyth and Hemsky in the top 6 equals lottery.

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#18 Dyckster
September 28 2013, 11:19AM
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oilbaron wrote:

Anyone know why Perron was out of the lineup last night?

I coulda swore I read on Twitter he was "under the weather". So I'm guessing flu or whatever.

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#20 Andy P
September 28 2013, 12:16PM
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After last night's stinkaroo I think a waiver pickup to compete for a bottom 6 slot would be a good thing.

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#21 Rama Lama
September 28 2013, 12:53PM
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Depth, we finally have some, the question now becomes how and when will we use it?

I will be watching Eakins closely to see how he utilizes Ryan Hamilton and Will Acton........his favourites. Every coach has them so why not Eakins? If Acrebello can keep going, we should be fine until RNH gets back........something tells me he is coming back two week early. I remember watching Arcebello last year when he played the one game.......he looked so dazed and confused at that time I wondered how he could ever play in the NHL. Seems that he has gotten rid of all those nerves and should be a good replacement for a while.

I think it's good that we got clubbed last night, hopefully this should spur the team for Tuesday.

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#22 Craig1981
September 28 2013, 12:56PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Likely to keep 5 centers though. As for Hamilton, he certainly did plateau but the Oilers don't have a lot of options. this waiver weekend could be very interesting.

Do you think if Hall shows the ability to get rotated to center they will need a reserve center though?

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#23 Dog Train
September 28 2013, 01:40PM
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I really think this Belov guy is the key. Acton will hopefully be reliable but with Eakins leaning more heavily on his top forwards to kill penalties, I'm not sure how significant of an impact a fourth line centre will have on this team unless he really screws things up. Hopefully Arcobello shows well but he is almost certainly the first guy out the door when RNH gets healthy. I didn't see anything from Ryan Hamilton to suggest he made this team as much as nobody else stepped up. He is an intriguing player but my expectations are tempered.

Belov will likely start the season on the fourth line but as this guys adjusts, he has the tools to be a top 4 guy. Somebody like a Jeff Petry had better play well because Belov could push for more minutes as the season goes along.

Pitlick was the pleasant surprise of the pre-season. His offense still looks nonexistent but I would rather have somebody like him who can skate and forecheck like a mad man then some goon who is too slow to make a hit on anybody with the puck.

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#24 Ari Gold
September 28 2013, 02:43PM
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Any update on the timeline for Gags recovery? Likely most of the inflammation has subsided and a clear x-ray can be taken. Did he need it wired shut?

I seem to be under the impression that they'll both be back some time in November. Hopefully by then the playoffs are still a possibility.

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#25 oilbaron
September 28 2013, 02:54PM
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@Lowetide, @Dickster

Thanks for the info. The loss makes a little more sense with Perron and Ference out, and Eakins deciding not to shorten the bench. Dug the goalie pull, though maybe just a minute or two too early?

Come on Mac-T and work some waiver wire magic, we believe in you!

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#26 BeeKayDub
September 29 2013, 08:03AM
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I still don't get keeping Hamilton over Jones. A mediocre TC aside, Jones is a proven 15-20 goal scorer, no?

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