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 a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 djc
September 05 2013, 07:28PM
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How long before DSF claims the Flames won because of the brilliance of Burke?

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#3 master of my domain
September 05 2013, 08:01PM
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Dave wrote:

I don't where to begin, after watching the game, I do not understand how Darnel Nurse has a future in the NHL. He hung his D- partner out to dry, Package and send him for somebody that is more of a team player.

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?

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#4 hallsyoilerforever5
September 05 2013, 08:12PM
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@Dave

Congrats, you just won the stupid comment of the day. Something I thought DSF would get everytime he comments.

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#5 Jay Gray
September 05 2013, 08:13PM
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Bad game, but c'mon. 1st game of the rookie tourney. I can't believe someone would trash an 18 year old dman in his first taste of pro. Get real

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#6 ...All out of Bubblegum...
September 05 2013, 08:23PM
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Dave wrote:

I don't where to begin, after watching the game, I do not understand how Darnel Nurse has a future in the NHL. He hung his D- partner out to dry, Package and send him for somebody that is more of a team player.

Clearly, this was a Seguin over Hall guy.

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#7 freelancer
September 05 2013, 08:29PM
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Really? There are people complaining and ready to write off players from one bloody prospect game? Welcome fair weather fans.

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#8 David S
September 05 2013, 09:56PM
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Man. Am I ever glad people don't take these games too seriously because of the extremely low probability of ANY of these kids seeing NHL ice for at least a couple of years.

I mean, who in their right mind would think a prospects game would have any bearing on how the big team will do this season?

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#9 hallsyoilerforever5
September 05 2013, 07:37PM
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@djc

As fast as flames fans acting like their team is so much better than the oilers because of one prospect game win.

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#10 dougtheslug
September 05 2013, 09:46PM
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madjam wrote:

Poirier and Monohan ate up our defence as did Granlund , Ferland and Baartchi . Bunz was able to hold us in a game we were never in , and helped by Calgary scoring an own goal on themselves . They have been together as long as we have , so that is no excuse . Only Gernat and Musil were respectfull this evening defensively .Ewanyk probably only acceptable forward , the rest were much worse . Roy had one rush -big deal and did nothing rest of game like so many others this nite . We looked pathetic - plain and simple .

Is this serious? OUR defense? WE looked pathetic? Nobody on the Oilers prospect team is even considered to be on the opening day roster. That's because their prospects are named Hall, Eberle, Nugent -Hopkyns, Yakupov, and Schulz. This was a preseason leg-stretcher - come on, folks, get serious.

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#11 **
September 05 2013, 08:13PM
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@hallsyoilerforever5

I just visited the flames nation and read the article about the win. Boy those flames fans sure know how to pump their own tires. Kudos all around, they feel ready to challenge for the Stanley cup. lmao

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#12 Quintana
September 05 2013, 09:36PM
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clyde wrote:

Not entirely true. After years of being told the cupboard was bare, Flames fans are a little excited especially since 5 of their top 11 prospects weren't playing.

I remember a couple years ago The Oilers beat the Flames and the best player on ice was Anton Lander...........don't get too excited Flames fans!!!

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#13 Czar
September 05 2013, 09:48PM
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joejoetheidiotcircusboy wrote:

Burke has people scouting the Red Deer area.

Burke's people aren't welcome in Red Deer!

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#14 Oilerz4life
September 05 2013, 09:52PM
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A bit of nervous play in one prospect game. Wow, and people are ready to throw these young players under the bus?! Crazy. Must be flames fans.

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#16 **
September 05 2013, 08:11PM
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That was a brutal game. Marincin and Khaira looked really good though. I got to see first hand why the media has all but written off Tyler Bunz. Nurse looked too eager but the effort was there. I think Klefbom was over thinking the game a bit, but again, the skill and effort were there. Miller was the biggest disappointment. I'm overjoyed that Betker showed composure and smart play.

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#17 Todd
September 05 2013, 11:37PM
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Hopefully Flames fans enjoyed this meaningless prospect exhibition game, cause it might be the highlight of their entire season.

I'm not going to shed one tear this year after the ridicule they've hurled our way for 4 years and I truly hope Burke runs your team into the sewer ou belong in (but hopefully stay good enough to continue to miss out on drafting true impact players). Enjoy the rebuild Flamers.

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#18 oilers2k10
September 05 2013, 07:37PM
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Marco Roy was the most impressive Oiler to me, he looks like a great skater who plays with a ton of energy. There were a few moments where Nurse displayed his skating as well, looks like a prospect with great physical tools.

Klefbom looked like a guy that hadn't played a game in a year.

Lookin forward to Saturday's game vs Jets.

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#19 joejoetheidiotcircusboy
September 05 2013, 08:13PM
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Someone once choose Cam Barker with a 3rd and Colten Tuebert with a 10th. Nurse flopping at 7 is not out of the question.

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#20 **
September 05 2013, 08:38PM
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@joejoetheidiotcircusboy

While we're on this subject, is anyone getting the barn ready?

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Thanks for the report, JW!. It's great for those of us who can't watch to have a player by player details of the game.

Lots of time for Klefbomb and Nurse to find their game. So far (minuscule sample size) it sounds like Marincin is the best demonstration of why Klfbomb should start in OKC.

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#22 wheelerjets
September 05 2013, 07:51PM
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Flames prospects better than Oiler prospects? My bet is Flames complete the rebuild before Oilers and make playoffs with Burke steering the ship.

Book it.

PS.. Are 'Book it' (when making a statement) and 'Good grief' (when refuting one) the two catchphrases here on OilersNation? Seems like it.

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#24 clyde
September 05 2013, 10:03PM
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Oilerz4life wrote:

A bit of nervous play in one prospect game. Wow, and people are ready to throw these young players under the bus?! Crazy. Must be flames fans.

The Oilers put out a huge def corp tonight. You have to be patient with young def, especially these big young guys who are still growing into their bodies. I think some Oiler fans are probably a little nervous since they were led to believe the Flames had nothing coming up. To see a third rounder, second rounder and 3- 18 year olds play that well against them was an eye opener for many. Consider that Gaudreau, Gillies, Arnold, etc weren't playing too. But, as someone said on here, Hall, Nuge, Yakupov could be playing if they hadn't made the team at such a young age. This is good stuff as there is nothing better than a BOA. We need to promote a Lowe vs Burke cage match to get the season rolling.

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#25 Quintana
September 05 2013, 10:21PM
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clyde wrote:

The Oilers put out a huge def corp tonight. You have to be patient with young def, especially these big young guys who are still growing into their bodies. I think some Oiler fans are probably a little nervous since they were led to believe the Flames had nothing coming up. To see a third rounder, second rounder and 3- 18 year olds play that well against them was an eye opener for many. Consider that Gaudreau, Gillies, Arnold, etc weren't playing too. But, as someone said on here, Hall, Nuge, Yakupov could be playing if they hadn't made the team at such a young age. This is good stuff as there is nothing better than a BOA. We need to promote a Lowe vs Burke cage match to get the season rolling.

Is that Gaudreau the 5.7 ft, 155 lb player?

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#26 geoilersgist
September 06 2013, 01:12AM
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David S wrote:

Man. Am I ever glad people don't take these games too seriously because of the extremely low probability of ANY of these kids seeing NHL ice for at least a couple of years.

I mean, who in their right mind would think a prospects game would have any bearing on how the big team will do this season?

These are players that are going to be on the Flames opening night roster...

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#27 HardBoiledOil
September 06 2013, 07:21AM
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can't believe the comments about Nurse after *ONE* game! yup, shoulda picked someone else...he's never gonna be a top pairing d-man, maybe 5 or 6....should package him for a different player...yadda yadda....classic knee-jerk over reaction...

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#28 Dave
September 05 2013, 07:52PM
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I don't where to begin, after watching the game, I do not understand how Darnel Nurse has a future in the NHL. He hung his D- partner out to dry, Package and send him for somebody that is more of a team player.

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#29 Jay Gray
September 05 2013, 08:13PM
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Bad game, but c'mon. 1st game of the rookie tourney. I can't believe someone would trash an 18 year old dman in his first taste of pro. Get real

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#30 joejoetheidiotcircusboy
September 05 2013, 08:33PM
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wheelerjets wrote:

Flames prospects better than Oiler prospects? My bet is Flames complete the rebuild before Oilers and make playoffs with Burke steering the ship.

Book it.

PS.. Are 'Book it' (when making a statement) and 'Good grief' (when refuting one) the two catchphrases here on OilersNation? Seems like it.

Burke has a much more proven record then KLowe. I wouldn't be surprised to see him fire feaster before the Olympics and take the reins himself. IMHO he's the best man for the job.

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#31 Tayranchula
September 05 2013, 11:21PM
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Was in Pentitcon and was able to catch the game and my god that was a terrible outing by the Oilers youngsters.

Khaira looked good on the forcheck and with the puck he made some good plays. Goes to the net rather effectively

Chase was litterally the only other forward I noticed out there. Skates well and has the grit everyone is talking about.

Kessy impressed me with his physical play on the forcheck and in the open ice, other than that he was a non factor.

Abney is literally the worst hockey player. Doesnt fight Kanzig after telling him repedetely during the first that they would go later. The Oil would get just the smallest amount of momentum and he would kill it by taking brutal penatlies. The guy didnt play like an enforcer and costed his team on two different occasions.

Bilcke had a good scrap and it actually woke the Oilers up. They played better for about 10 mins after that and were able to get a goal from some hard work downlow. Other than that he isnt the best skater and was lost all night in his own zone.

Houck made some awful plays in his deffensive end and doesnt handle the puck very well.

Nurse looked extremely raw but he does have the athletic ability to be good. Very good skater with the puck.

Marincin and Klefbom were the only other dman that looked alright. With the edge going to Marincin. He had rather calm feet all night and was the best passer from his own zone on the backend.

Gernat has alot of chaos in his game but has a very good shot from the point with wristers (ala J SChultz)

The passing was terrible for the Oil. Could not make tape to tape passes and if they did it typically died on the players stick or bounced off their stick.

The Flames literally walked into the Oilers zone almost everytime they had the puck due to bad neautral zone coverage and the defencemen playing to deep.

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#32 madjam
September 05 2013, 08:09PM
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File 13 -garbage bin for Oilers rookies this game.Score flattered us . They were all bad in comparison to Flames . Our top 3 (Klefbom, Nurse and Marincin ) were our worst defensive players . Ewanyk and Bunz were only players that stood out for Oilers . Even Flame fans shocked at how bad Nurse looks (Flames Nation). Let's just forget this game , and hope next few games we see something from our players worth while .

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#33 **
September 05 2013, 08:18PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I sense sarcasm, but I can not be sure.

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#34 Quicksilver ballet
September 06 2013, 03:23AM
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Game looked like it was a little in slow motion the whole evening. Tough night but not unexpected for this groups first day on skates together. Should be better come the weekend.

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#35 **
September 05 2013, 08:39PM
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joejoetheidiotcircusboy wrote:

Burke has a much more proven record then KLowe. I wouldn't be surprised to see him fire feaster before the Olympics and take the reins himself. IMHO he's the best man for the job.

While we're on this subject, is anyone getting the barn ready?

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#36 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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@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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#38 clyde
September 05 2013, 09:15PM
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** wrote:

I just visited the flames nation and read the article about the win. Boy those flames fans sure know how to pump their own tires. Kudos all around, they feel ready to challenge for the Stanley cup. lmao

Not entirely true. After years of being told the cupboard was bare, Flames fans are a little excited especially since 5 of their top 11 prospects weren't playing.

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#39 madjam
September 05 2013, 09:32PM
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Poirier and Monohan ate up our defence as did Granlund , Ferland and Baartchi . Bunz was able to hold us in a game we were never in , and helped by Calgary scoring an own goal on themselves . They have been together as long as we have , so that is no excuse . Only Gernat and Musil were respectfull this evening defensively .Ewanyk probably only acceptable forward , the rest were much worse . Roy had one rush -big deal and did nothing rest of game like so many others this nite . We looked pathetic - plain and simple .

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#40 beloch
September 05 2013, 10:55PM
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clyde wrote:

5'8 now. Did pretty good versus Canada in The World Junior semi last year. His team did ok too.

Gaudreau was in the top 5 for points at the world juniors. Nuge was #1, which he bloody well should have been since he'd been in the NHL for a season and a half by that point! Another top 5 player from that tournament who played in today's prospect game is Markus Granlund.

All three players are of an age, so the Nuge is clearly the most accomplished, which he should be given he was picked 1st overall. Granlund was a second rounder and Gaudreau was a fourth rounder. It's a win for the Flames if either of them ever play in the NHL at all!

Gaudreau is an obscenely smart hockey player. He thinks the game at an elite level. Of course, he has to in order to play at a college level against a lot of fully grown guys. Will his brains make up for his lack of brawn at the NHL level though?

You have to forgive Flames fans for liking this kid. He's a real underdog. A lot of Flames fans remember the team passing on Martin St. Louis (dumb!) and, of course, one of the all-time greatest Flames was just 5'6", although substantially more robust with enough attitude and heart to take on guys twice his size. Ty Bilcke may have held his own against Kanzig, but if he met Fleury in a bar I know who I'd put money on. Gaudreau is probably no Fleury since, as good as Gaudreau's record is, Fleury's was obscene! Still, he is a bit reminiscent of Fleury, and that's enough to get fans excited.

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#42 joejoetheidiotcircusboy
September 05 2013, 08:23PM
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Would have gotten more trading the pick than drafting Nurse. Should traded the pick for Schneider and traded Dubby for another proven D man, or a blood and guts third line winger.

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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 Cam Charron
September 05 2013, 08:13PM
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Dave wrote:

I don't where to begin, after watching the game, I do not understand how Darnel Nurse has a future in the NHL. He hung his D- partner out to dry, Package and send him for somebody that is more of a team player.

oh no not darnel

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#47 clyde
September 05 2013, 09:49PM
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Quintana wrote:

I remember a couple years ago The Oilers beat the Flames and the best player on ice was Anton Lander...........don't get too excited Flames fans!!!

Lander did play well in that game but the Flames actually beat the Oilers 4-3 so...

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#48 Quintana
September 06 2013, 08:05AM
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clyde wrote:

5'8 now. Did pretty good versus Canada in The World Junior semi last year. His team did ok too.

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..

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#49 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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#50 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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