Oilers prospects fall 5-2 to Calgary

Jonathan Willis
September 05 2013 07:24PM

The first Edmonton game of the season was an ugly affair, with the “Oilers” losing to the “Flames” by a 5-2 score. There were a few high points for the Oilers’ prospects in attendance, but there was also a lot not to like - and a number of high profile prospects struggled in their 2013-14 debuts.

Forwards

Cameron Abney. Took two minor penalties and was otherwise a non-factor.

Greg Chase. Aside from Marco Roy, Chase was the only Oilers forward to generate a real chance in the first period with a nice 2-on-1 rush that was stopped by Laurent Brossoit. His hard work also led to the Oilers’ first goal, as he won a battle in the corner and set Gernat up in the high slot. Also took Laurent Brossoit out by going hard to the front of the net and getting pushed into him, then triggered a third period scrum by doing much the same in the crease again. Looked like a lot more than seventh round pick.

Travis Ewanyk. Was awarded a goal after Calgary scored on their own net. He didn’t look bad – he didn’t shy from contact, always seemed aware of what was going on defensively and had the puck a fair bit – but he didn’t generate a lot in the way of results either.

Jackson Houck. Energetic forward took an elbowing penalty for kind of a mean hit in the first period. Didn’t generate a lot on a line with Ewanyk and Abney but did look tenacious; almost scored on a 5-on-3 power play but was robbed at the side of the net.

Kale Kessy. He’s big, but he didn’t spend a lot of time in proximity to the puck (and didn’t look that good when he did). A non-factor on a line that got hammered by the opposition.

Jujhar Khaira. Played a physical game and scored the Oilers’ first goal by going to the front of the net, redirecting Martin Gernat’s point shot. The results weren’t incredible but he has a great combination of speed, skill and size – and the fact that he’s a little on the mean side just adds to the appeal.

Andrew Miller. Miller should have been leading the team offensively, but he wasn’t even close. Got caught a few times on chances against and looked defensively suspect, couldn’t find the range with his passes and did almost nothing in the offensive zone. An extremely disappointing debut for a highly rated college free agent.

Marco Roy. Had Edmonton’s first real scoring chance of the game, getting stopped on a breakaway, and as basically the only forward on the team consistently generating offence. Finished the night minus-3 and looked like the only guy on his line with a pulse.

The other guys. Ty Bilcke did a decent job in a tilt with Keegan Kanzig, and Austin Fyten had some nice moments both offensively and on the penalty kill. Neither Bradnon Baddock or Chase Schaber were particularly impressive.

Defence and Goaltending

Ben Betker. My first thought was, ‘wow, that’s a big guy.’ He’s listed at 6’6”, 216 pounds on Everett’s website and he looks it. He had a bit of an advantage, being paired with Martin Marincin, but seemed to play a safe, simple game. His footspeed wasn’t exposed but it wasn’t a strength either.

Martin Gernat. An interesting mix of good and bad. His point shot was redirected for the Oilers’ first goal and he played a pretty smart physical game defensively. However, he also got beat in his own end of the ice.

Oscar Klefbom. He calmed down a little as the game went on, but he didn’t look like a guy on the verge of cracking the NHL lineup. It could well have been rust but Klefbom had one really brutal giveaway and looked accident-prone in his own end. He and Nurse had a rough night against the Flames.

Martin Marincin. Edmonton’s only experienced AHL defenceman looked a lot like Edmonton’s only experienced AHL defenceman. He made smart pinches, recovered quickly when the puck went the other way and just looked like he had ice in his veins – a rarity among Oilers defencemen in this game. Took a penalty in the third trying to cover for a blue line turnover.

David Musil. Even by the standards of Edmonton’s defence in this game, Musil looked rough. Made a terrible play on Calgary’s third goal, biting on a fake and leaving Martin Gernat facing a 2-on-1, and followed that up a little later by going for the big hit and leaving Gernat facing another 2-on-1.

Darnell Nurse. Probably the guy I was looking forward to seeing the most, Nurse had an inauspicious start, taking a boarding penalty on his first shift and adding another penalty before the end of the opening period. Had a few nice defensive moments and quite a few weaker ones, sometimes just getting beat by the opposition and sometimes helping matters along by missing on a hit attempt. The good news is that he has lots of time to polish down the rough edges.

Tyler Bunz. Bunz got peppered in the early going and briefly looked quite good, but only briefly. He allowed one really weak goal (along with four others) in a night where he didn’t get a lot of support. The good news is that he can clearly handle the puck, and presumably he looks better when the play occasionally moves to the other end of the ice. 

Summary

Four Oilers impressed me with really solid play. On the blue line, Martin Marincin looked like a veteran. Up front, Marco Roy was the Oilers’ most dynamic forward, Greg Chase consistently did things to get noticed, and Jujhar Khaira showcased a nice skillset.

There were a few other pleasant surprises. Travis Ewanyk looked like a solid two-way player, and Jackson Houck was always involved. ECHL’er Austin Fyten was the best of the invites. It might have just been playing with Marincin, but Ben Betker also looked better than I expected, given his age and draft pedigree.

The pairing of Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom got hammered, and the Martin Gernat/David Musil duo were almost as rough. Andrew Miller should be a dominant player at this level and looked anything but in his first game, while Cameron Abney continued to look like a player who won’t be getting re-signed when his entry-level deal ends.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 Czar
September 06 2013, 09:25AM
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Nice write up by Bruce McCurdy in the Journal today. Once again Bruce has a good take on the game and excellent analysis of the individual players. Must be his "old goalie" view point that makes him one of the better reporters out there. Must be nice to sit around and shoot the sh!t about hockey with a guy like that Mr. Willis.

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#52 coco crisp
September 06 2013, 09:31AM
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I love reading Willis' uneducated opinion of Tyler Bunz performance. It is quite clear you have no idea at all about goaltending.

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#53 pkam
September 06 2013, 09:46AM
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Czar wrote:

"presumably he looks better when the play occasionally moves to the other end of the ice."

OUCH! Why do you hate Bunz so much?

I agree Bunz didn't have a great game but he was the best Oilers on ice last night IMO.

And goaltending was the only position that the Oilers outperformed the Flames last night.

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#54 coco crisp
September 06 2013, 09:49AM
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Czar wrote:

"presumably he looks better when the play occasionally moves to the other end of the ice."

OUCH! Why do you hate Bunz so much?

Because Willis is a goaltending expert

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#55 KennyZoobs
September 06 2013, 10:00AM
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1st Period was a disaster. Nurse and Kbom settled down eventually. Marincin looked really good too.

Good to see Jujar and Roy play well.

Im not reading into too much into this 1st ROOKIE game.

Ill let the Flames fans enjoy this one - the NHL story will be different.

Bring on the NHL CAMPS!

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#56 Greg Steinke
September 06 2013, 10:16AM
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From what I understand there was no preparation for this game by Todd Nelson. There were no practices and no opportunities for the players to really work together prior to the game. Hockey is a team game. Individual players can't excel unless they have time to find chemistry as a team and understand how each other work. It's within that setting that you see the true hockey skills of each player. Otherwise it's really hard to work together having no idea what each other is thinking whether its defensively or offensively. The Calgary team looked more practiced in that regard. They seemed to have a plan on the powerplay whereas the Oiler prospects looked lost. I am disappointed that Todd Nelson didn't give any practice time to his players for a few days before the game. They would have had a much better debut and a much better opportunity to put their best foot forward. Instead Todd Nelson made his rookie prospects look worse and less accomplished than they are. This is especially disappointing because of all the hard work many of the players put in during the summer to be in good shape.

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#57 Harry
September 06 2013, 10:23AM
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I was at this game and am in agreement on most of what you wrote except for Musil. I think he looked shaky just like everyone on the Oilers in the first but after that he was solid. In the second he was in great position to break up a few of Calgarys rushes.

Nurse and Klefbom looked very shaky. However what impressed me from the two were their outlet passes and their quick feet. Im not worried with these two they'll bounce just fine im sure.

Marincin looked great!! Gernat and Bunz were awful.

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#58 Harry
September 06 2013, 10:23AM
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I was at this game and am in agreement on most of what you wrote except for Musil. I think he looked shaky just like everyone on the Oilers in the first but after that he was solid. In the second he was in great position to break up a few of Calgarys rushes.

Nurse and Klefbom looked very shaky. However what impressed me from the two were their outlet passes and their quick feet. Im not worried with these two they'll bounce just fine im sure.

Marincin looked great!! Gernat and Bunz were awful.

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#59 Harry
September 06 2013, 10:23AM
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I was at this game and am in agreement on most of what you wrote except for Musil. I think he looked shaky just like everyone on the Oilers in the first but after that he was solid. In the second he was in great position to break up a few of Calgarys rushes.

Nurse and Klefbom looked very shaky. However what impressed me from the two were their outlet passes and their quick feet. Im not worried with these two they'll bounce just fine im sure.

Marincin looked great!! Gernat and Bunz were awful.

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#62 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
September 06 2013, 11:43AM
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@coco crisp

Wow.Ballsy callout, Coco. Since the author of the article is 'uneducated' and his write-up shows he has 'no idea" I'd love to hear an expert analysis.

At least when DSF tells somebody they're wrong, he backs it up with stats, examples or Charlie Brown quotes. You're not even as good at trolling as DSF.

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#63 WhattaMike
September 06 2013, 01:10PM
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Time for my 2 cents on the 1st rookies game last night...

1. No practice aqnd 1st game of seaqson for many kids who are just starting to knopw the others' first names at the same time makes for an obvious ugly preseason game.

Those who have been bashing the kids for idiocy sakes have no understanding about game shape, rust, chemistry buiding, etc.

Did you (the idiots) not hear nor read of that Nelson said there was no such actual practicing... just drills... for a quick on ice warm-up????

I saw there is very good appropriate related talent and skills from the obvious top prospect kids such as Nurse, Klefbom, Roy, Marancin, Ewanyk, Gernat, Chase, Khaira, as also such brutal plays and positioning.

I can see great progress coming forward from most of these named kids as the season goes forward....be it where (league???) they each to all play.

I saw Bunz make a few outstanding saves but he leaked a couple and was shaky with giving rebounds the whole game also. Saw bad games too from those not expected to go far up the team system ladder.

Finally...to say the Flames prospects are much more high ended than the Oilers kids because of one game....is asinine.... as they got their goals at the right time with the right Oiler kid breakdowns, with PP time included.

All in all, I expect a much better game against the Jets' rookies as the team has a full day today to review and bond from the opening game of th year.

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#64 Rob...
September 06 2013, 01:51PM
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Not saying he had a good game, but Nurse's first penalty was a joke. Baertschi had been blatently holding his stick for a good 5 seconds, somehow without taking a penalty, before Nurse finally reacted.

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#65 The Last Big Bear
September 06 2013, 02:12PM
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coco crisp wrote:

I love reading Willis' uneducated opinion of Tyler Bunz performance. It is quite clear you have no idea at all about goaltending.

Goalie evaluation is 90% bull**** and voodoo.

For reference, see every NHL draft, ever.

And I'm not even just talking about projecting their future development. In '03-04 Kiprusoff was best goalie in the entire world, and SJ had him as their 3rd string behind Toskala. They ditched him to Calgary for a 2nd rounder, where he had a record-breaking season, followed by carrying his team to the Cup finals.

It doesnt matter if you went to some clinics in goalie coaching. The absolute top-tier guys in the world can have the absolute best goalie in the world on the ice right in front of them every day, in their own building, and still not have a clue.

So forgive me if Iaugh when some dude on the Internet calls out some other dude on the Internet for his inability to evaluate goaltender talent by watching a rookie tournament game on the Internet.

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#66 Clyde
September 06 2013, 04:59PM
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Quintana wrote:

On the flames site he is listed at 5.6 ft 147 lb.The oilers just get rid of one of those almost a point per game in the Ahl. Just saying..

Last years height and weight. Oilers didn't get rid of someone doing what this kid is doing. And didn't the guy just up and leave so Mac t could get even smaller by signing Omark?

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#67 Uks Ya
September 07 2013, 12:47PM
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master of my domain wrote:

because evaluating someone based on their first game of the season while playing with players they've never played with before is a good idea?

let alone forgetting the fact that they never even had a on ice praky before this game...

why would we want Nurse to come in and dominate rite now? so we can sign him to & mill a season in 3 years?

let him grow, mature and bring him in when were a PURE playoff S.C contender

Eh!

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