CAMP PRIMER: THE WAY I SEE IT

Robin Brownlee
September 09 2013 08:06PM

Aside from when, exactly, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be ready to return to action from shoulder surgery, there isn’t a whole of intrigue to contemplate going into 2013 edition of training camp for the Edmonton Oilers, is there?

Really, aside from the exact date RNH is ready to roll, be it in the pre-season or once the Oilers start playing for points, Edmonton's roster looks pretty set from where I sit, give or take a few spots on the line-up card of new coach Dallas Eakins.

For me, the questions aren't so much about who the pieces will be on the 2013-14 edition of the Oilers, but how Eakins will put those pieces together in the form of forward lines, defense pairings and special teams.

We'll see about that through the pre-season schedule, of course, but as far as the roster goes, I think I can pretty much pick it right now – and so can you. Please tell me if I'm wrong. I'm sure you will.

HOW IT LOOKS TO ME

Assuming Eakins chooses to open with 13 forwards, I see 11 of those spots already filled by Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, David Perron, Ryan Smyth, Boyd Gordon and Mike Brown.

The last two spots will be contested by Ben Eager, Will Acton, who has a bit of an inside track because he's familiar to Eakins and associate coach Keith Acton, his father, Anton Lander and Jesse Joensuu. There's another spot there to start the season, of course, if RNH isn’t ready to go.

If Eakins goes with eight defensemen, I expect the first six – stop the presses – to be Andrew Ference, Ladislav Smid, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz and reclamation project Denis Grebeshkov. Oscar Klefbom, given his SEL experience, is the best bet to grab the seventh spot and could push for a spot in the third pairing, platooning with Grebeshkov.

Beyond Klefbom, I think it's a stretch to expect Anton Belov, who'll miss the start of camp because of visa problems, or Taylor Fedun to push for a roster spot for opening night Oct. 1. Corey Potter is the most likely insurance policy, and the most experienced, outside the top six.

Goal? There is nobody in camp capable of pushing Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera for the starting and cheerleading (aside from 15-17 games) spots.

FROM THE INSIDE (OR NOT)

For what it's worth, the Oilers website staff has the following depth chart posted (with a caveat at the top the chart is unofficial) as of right now. By position and in order, it reads as follows:

  • LW – Hall, Perron, Jones, Smyth.
  • C – RNH, Gagner, Gordon, Lander.
  • RW – Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky, Brown.
  • LD – Smid, Ference, N. Schultz, Belov.
  • RD – Petry, J. Schultz, Potter, Philip Larsen, Grebeshkov.
  • G – Dubnyk, LaBarbera.

A FEW QUESTIONS

Jason Gregor posed seven questions in an item he posted earlier today. I have a few of my own, although they're a bit more frivolous than his.

  • 1. On what date will Eakins expose Wanye to untold ridicule for his story that Gagner will be named the next captain by announcing that Ference will wear the C this season?
  • 2. Will Yakupov begin this season on the same torrid pace he ended his rookie campaign? More important, which team will be the first to piss and moan about one of this 25 goal celebrations this season?
  • 3. How many minutes into his first game will Grebeshkov have a monumental brain fart in his own end that has fans recalling the reasons the Oilers bid farewell to him in the first place?
  • 4. Ken Hitchcock had his hands full with the talented Perron in St. Louis in terms of getting him to play within the system he wanted. If Hitch couldn’t do it, what makes Eakins think he can?
  • 5. Will Hemsky script an epic SIUTBOHC in a third-line role to start the season or will reporters be scribbling "Hemsky Wants Out" pieces six weeks into the season? Both?
  • 6. How many points for Justin Schultz this season? And, after running out of gas during his rookie campaign, can he play the point on both power play units this season?
  • 7. Playoffs this season? After last season's spasm of optimism, mark me down for a definite "no."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Quicksilver ballet
September 09 2013, 10:16PM
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I'll also have some of what Woodguy is on.

C'mon big guy, don't be holding out on us now.

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#52 Butters
September 09 2013, 10:31PM
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"I'll also have some of what Woodguy is on." Quick, you're the Shea Weber can be an Oiler guy, sheesh. Same stuff, different pipe ;-)

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I'll take your sarcastic refusal to straighten out after I warned you as an indication you no longer care to post comments here. Done.

And the wrath of Bronte is felt by a noob poster once again.

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#54 Puritania
September 09 2013, 10:34PM
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OilClog wrote:

Well, then I'll take your view of the team as I would a Canucks fan then, thanks for clearing that up.

So sorry sir, cheer for who you wish

You don't like disagreements much do you?

Reuben and Willis aren't Oiler fans, they are professional writers. I'll take their objectivity over rose coloured goggle wearing, cheer leading any day. To equate their pieces with Nuck fan homers is laughable.

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#55 Serious Gord
September 09 2013, 10:40PM
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Looking at the roster prediction I wonder if there is another team less physically imposing?

Could be a very long season.

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#56 Mj
September 09 2013, 10:47PM
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Mr brownlee I totally understand the need for respect when posting but through oil cogs disrespect he did still have a point. The team is trending up and have made significant changes why such a low expectation? They were in 8 th at the deadline and lost 10 straight that's hard to repeat...

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#57 Bucknuck
September 09 2013, 11:13PM
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I don't see Klefbom making the team out of camp, I put Grebeskhov, Belov and Potter ahead of him on the chart right now. I think they send him to the AHL to prime his game, then when the inevitable injury happens he will get a look.

I hope that they try Hall for a few games, but if it doesn't work that they just call up Arcobello for second line duty. I daydream that Hall will be amazing at centre, but I suspect he's more a winger.

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#58 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
September 09 2013, 11:57PM
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I understand booting NewAgeSys, the guy was a windbag. But I've seen people get away with posting a lot worse than this OilClog fella.

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#59 Hammers
September 10 2013, 12:20AM
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Sorry but your way off so keep this for reference . On your forwards Brown is out and Lander , Joensuu and Omark make the cut . If he carries 14 add Acton . Re the "D" Belov in & Klefbom to AHL .Potter & Larsen go on injury list . Ference & Petry ,J Schultz & Smid ; N.Schultz & Belov with Grebs the #7 . If there is a chance for a decent return N.Schultz is traded .

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#60 striker777
September 10 2013, 12:22AM
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Klefbom will rightfully start on the farm, with Belov starting the season in Edmonton. Where these 2 players end up in February is up to them. Oilers will finish somewhere between 16-20 this season, if Dubnik has the same or better save%.

I think most people underestimate Ferrence's influence from Player Development stand point. I would pair him up with J.Schultz and watch this kid flourish.

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#61 justDOit
September 10 2013, 12:28AM
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David S wrote:

Is it just me or does Dallas Eakins look perpetually pissed off?

He looks okay here:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BKG9d7NCEAA11mW.jpg:large

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#62 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 10 2013, 12:47AM
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Haven't had a season with this many variables and wild cards for as long as I can remember. With so many unknown factors playing a role, it's easy to lean on either end of the spectrum of optimism and pesimism when in all probability, like every thing else, the season will probably fall some where in the middle. Optimistic view: Oilers grab that eight spot. Pessimistic view: They go back to the lottery. My middle ground is an improvement on last year with important and meaningful games played right to the end of the year.

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#63 Devolution
September 10 2013, 01:43AM
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justDOit wrote:

He looks okay here:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BKG9d7NCEAA11mW.jpg:large

If he can still look angry with her on him then he is an angry, angry man.

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#64 Oilerz4life
September 10 2013, 02:25AM
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Bit of a soap opera today on Oilersnation.

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#65 TOM//MTL
September 10 2013, 05:56AM
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Klefbom ahead of Belov? You're dreaming in Technicolour, Brownlee. The kid needs some seasoning in OKC before throwing him into the deep end. Guess you didn't catch the Rookie Tournament...

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#66 Woodguy
September 10 2013, 06:58AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I'll also have some of what Woodguy is on.

C'mon big guy, don't be holding out on us now.

What did I write that indicated I was on glue?

The 8th-11th prediction is Western Conference standings, not overall.

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#67 SeriousGord
September 10 2013, 07:07AM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Haven't had a season with this many variables and wild cards for as long as I can remember. With so many unknown factors playing a role, it's easy to lean on either end of the spectrum of optimism and pesimism when in all probability, like every thing else, the season will probably fall some where in the middle. Optimistic view: Oilers grab that eight spot. Pessimistic view: They go back to the lottery. My middle ground is an improvement on last year with important and meaningful games played right to the end of the year.

Not making the playoffs this year should be a firing offense.

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#68 Ivan Drago
September 10 2013, 07:18AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I understand booting NewAgeSys, the guy was a windbag. But I've seen people get away with posting a lot worse than this OilClog fella.

I don't understand the problem with his comments either. Seems everytime Robin writes an article, later in the comments he's threatening to ban someone.

I don't notice that with Gregor, Lowetide, or Willis articles. Posters disagree with their opinions, and they always get a classy response, stating their case. Robin gets huffy and bans ppl. Not very professional imo.

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#71 Ivan Drago
September 10 2013, 07:53AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

One and all: disagree with the points and opinions raised in any given item. Find flaws in the logic. Take an opposing view. Disagree.

But save the personal remarks and sarcasm. If I feel that line has been crossed and ask you to back off, then back off. You don't have to like it, but that's how it works. It's very straightforward.

I absolutely agree personal remarks shouldn't be allowed. However, I have personally seen you dish a cpl out. As for sarcasm, it's done between posters on here all the time, shouldn't be an issue. Sarcasm is also easy to misinterpret in text format.

As a newspaper columnist, people couldn't reply to you personally if they disagreed with your column. On a blog they can, imo you don't handle it well. However this is simply my opinion, if you ban me or erase my post for expressing it, then that's all the proof needed.

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#72 Batfink
September 10 2013, 07:56AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

One and all: disagree with the points and opinions raised in any given item. Find flaws in the logic. Take an opposing view. Disagree.

But save the personal remarks and sarcasm. If I feel that line has been crossed and ask you to back off, then back off. You don't have to like it, but that's how it works. It's very straightforward.

Personal remarks, yes I agree with, and we don't get to see the posts you moderate. You have the right to not have what you deem as hurtful remarks put your way. But......I have noticed you have used sarcasm more than once to put down guys with ridiculous trade speculations/unlikley line combos/ just plain nut jobs. What's good for the goose...

And your above post.....well, a side of humble pie would seem to be in order. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So, if you disagree with this post, am I banned? The next guy? That's why one-upmanship is a dangerous game. You have used the threat.

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#73 Woodguy
September 10 2013, 08:00AM
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MacTavish on Belov the day he signed him:

“I expect him to make the team. We’re planning on starting the season with him with us next season.”

6'4" 220lbs hits hard and can score.

Good bet to make the team.

Link to article: http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/05/30/edmonton-oilers-gm-craid-mactavish-signs-russian-national-team-and-khl-defenceman-anton-belov

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#75 j
September 10 2013, 08:26AM
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Every year over the past 7 we have seen the training camp line up and salivated over the 'potential' to succeed. I agree with Brownlee that we aren't quite there yet. I hope we can gel very quickly and we can overcome our deficits (i.e. depth at centre, size on the boards) but just can't quite squint hard enough to see this team getting into the post season. Maybe a move or two early in the season will change the makeup enough but it is impossible to predict. Sometimes the smallest changes can make tremendous impact but usually it is dependent upon having a stable/efficient core. We don't have that just yet.

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#76 David S
September 10 2013, 08:33AM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

I absolutely agree personal remarks shouldn't be allowed. However, I have personally seen you dish a cpl out. As for sarcasm, it's done between posters on here all the time, shouldn't be an issue. Sarcasm is also easy to misinterpret in text format.

As a newspaper columnist, people couldn't reply to you personally if they disagreed with your column. On a blog they can, imo you don't handle it well. However this is simply my opinion, if you ban me or erase my post for expressing it, then that's all the proof needed.

You can always try Hockeybuzz or HF Boards. ~I hear those are quality reads.~

*puts finger in mouth*

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#77 CaptainLander
September 10 2013, 08:35AM
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I think the the D-man that can work well on the powerplay will find himself with a permanent roster spot. I know the Oil ran 4 forwards last year on the first line but there was a lack on the back end from the D on the second line. For my money I quess this as being Grebs and/or Belov. Depending on Schultz "can he play the point on both power play units this season?" I this case I still see Belov as the player on the opposite wing. A couple youtube videos show he has a decent point shot.

PP Hall Nuge Yak EBS Schultz

Perron Gags Smyth Grebs Belov

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#78 michael
September 10 2013, 08:42AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Looking at the roster prediction I wonder if there is another team less physically imposing?

Could be a very long season.

Absolutely. Its my biggest concern. I fear that teams like LA and San Jose will just run the cycle and dominate us down low and just put the skates to us. My concern is that our defence does not have one guy who can handle the bigger players on LA ,Anaheim or San Jose.

If? If Jesse Jonessu can prove to be that guy up front I would be pleased as pinch. But really who will match up against guys like Thornton,Mareau and Getzlaf. Kopitar?

I really think we need to look at a dman with size who can play a defensive role. Not a Justin Shultz/Jeff Petry kind of guy. More of a brick craphouse kinda guy who can punish the opposing teams big men down low on the cycle.

For me MacT's been leaning way to far one way without looking at what we'll need to compete in the Pacific Division. Colburn would have been the guy I would have wanted. He has the size and grit to shut down the cycle and he has the shutzpah to handle guys like Thornton and Marleau.

Hopefully we'll see something give before end of camp.

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#79 Ivan Drago
September 10 2013, 08:56AM
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David S wrote:

You can always try Hockeybuzz or HF Boards. ~I hear those are quality reads.~

*puts finger in mouth*

That better not be sarcasm I'm detecting lol

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#80 WhattaMike
September 10 2013, 09:09AM
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Today is the day before the start of main caqmp and yet, there are still some of the pessimistic ones advising there's no hope for the Oilers...

IMO, I believe that the 4th line won't be too bad and over-all, this team will find its way under Eakins faster and a bit better...than under what Krueger tried to do last year.

I can see the following type forwards'line-up starting the reg season (based on no trades or TC injuries):

1st: Hall-RNH-Yakupov. 2nd: Perron-Gagner-Eberle. 3rd: Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky. 4th: Hamilton-Lander-Jones. Extras: Joensuu, Brown. Waived: Eager, Omark.

Note that if RNH misses the 1st month, then I see Omark staying for the 3rd line with Hall trying centre, Hemsky moving up and Yak switching wings on top line. Omark should get a good look too because the kid can score pts but, against him for now.... the Oilers like Jones for his extra PK skills/duties and that he can put up to 18-20 goals per year in a good season...and that Smyth deserves that warrio respect for his years of service.

IMO, the 7 man Oilers' defence will be :

Ference-J.Schultz...Smid-Petry...N.Schultz-Belov....with the extra guy being either Potter or Klefbom. Potter stays if Klefbom goes down to OKC.

Belov is more valuable by being a very good skater, offensive & defensive minded, he is bigger and rugged/loves to hit, etc, and because of this I see Grebeshkov, Larsen, to even Potter being waived/let go.

I believe the biggest issue for defence thru TC - will be whether Klefbom can stay up with the big club and ...who is clearly better of the two: Grebs or Belov. The only way Grebeshkov stays is that maybe N.Schultz is traded. Schultz is a UFA this coming summer and he should be moved soon.

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#81 tileguy
September 10 2013, 09:11AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Yes, I recall the item you linked to. Every other skill aside, he brings a dimension the Oilers are short of on the back end -- physicality.

Now, about that paperwork . . .

Nothing a million rubles can't fix, comrade.

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#82 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 10 2013, 09:24AM
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I think MacT has stacked the left side with players with actual NHL experience in order to force the team to not fall in love with Klefbom out of camp.

MacT has repeatedly said: AHL is good for you. Eat your AHL.

Also, I think Potter and Larson have a better shot here than is indicated to make the roster in the 7 or 8 spot. Both are RD, which the team is short of.

Unless the visa issue drags on well into the camp, I can't see it affecting Belov. But if he's like a month late... yes... for sure he'll have to sit and wait probably.

Any word on why there is an issue. The team has had all summer to sort it out, right?

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#83 TigerUnderGlass
September 10 2013, 09:25AM
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@Robin Brownlee

@woodguy

This is it exactly in my mind. I think it all comes down to when he gets here.

Belov has a lot to take in when he arrives, and if he gets here to late it makes a lot of sense to send him down until he gets his bearings. Something similar in theory to a conditioning stint.

If he doesn't miss much or adjusts quickly then things could change.

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#84 G Money
September 10 2013, 09:30AM
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Point-counterpoint:

- Can't agree with putting Klefbom ahead of Potter. I know it's fun to hate on Harry, but for the most part he held his own last year as a 3rd pairing guy - he may not have been the solution, but he wasn't the problem either. Klefbom hasn't played a game of N American pro hockey, and his rust was practically littering the ice in the Rookie Tourney.

- Isn't the "Perron is a problem" just a continuation of the "Perron's attitude sucks because he wore white skates to practice" concept. i.e. almost certainly bullcrap? "White skates" has become a meme over at C&B.

- Playoffs? In order for that to happen: Joensuu has be to be a capable 3L (pushing Jones/Smyth down to fourth line where they will also be capable), Lander has to be a capable 4C i.e. can hold his own defensively and even put up a few points now and then, and RNH has to be healthy when he comes back and the Oilers can't lose too many games with him gone. Too much to ask for all that to happen. No playoffs this year.

- Bar sarcasm? The only thing that would make the entire interwebs blog world crash faster than that would be requiring a grammar and/or intelligence test before posting.

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#85 StHenriOilBomb
September 10 2013, 09:31AM
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I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I love seeing RB put posters in their place. He may go overboard kicking people off for minor infractions, but he's pretty damn witty and I find it quite funny when he slams posters for idiotic ideas and/or specious information.

Keep it up, RB!

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#86 Dan 1919
September 10 2013, 09:46AM
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The Oilers LOST 9 of 10 games near the end of last season and still finished 12th in the West (10pts out).

If they turned that loosing streak into .500 hockey, they battle for the 8th spot until the last game.

I've said every year thus far in the rebuild the Oilers will not make the playoffs and are a weak team, largely because Tambi refused to help the team in any way.

Oilers make the playoffs... or just loose out in late season dog-fight.

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#87 Rob...
September 10 2013, 09:58AM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I love seeing RB put posters in their place. He may go overboard kicking people off for minor infractions, but he's pretty damn witty and I find it quite funny when he slams posters for idiotic ideas and/or specious information.

Keep it up, RB!

I think the only reason Robin banned him from posting was that he couldn't ban him from drinking Red Bull. The dude was more wired than intentionally obstinate.

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#89 Gordie Wayne
September 10 2013, 10:15AM
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Woodguy wrote:

MacTavish on Belov the day he signed him:

“I expect him to make the team. We’re planning on starting the season with him with us next season.”

6'4" 220lbs hits hard and can score.

Good bet to make the team.

Link to article: http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/05/30/edmonton-oilers-gm-craid-mactavish-signs-russian-national-team-and-khl-defenceman-anton-belov

I thought I heard Belov was this big as well, but any idea why in the H-E double hockey sticks does the official Oilers website list him as 6'3 185 lbs.?

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#90 Spydyr
September 10 2013, 10:18AM
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My two cents:

The Hall's point total drops a bit this year but he becomes a more complete player.

Nuge has a slow start when he gets back.

Yak scores even more points but struggles without the puck and in his own end.

Smyth starts good but burns out after a couple months.

Gagner still cannot play in his own end.

Dubnyk provides the adequate goaltending his concentration level still falters and the bad goals continue.

Hemsky hates being 3RH but he wants an Olympic spot so he competes.

Eberle has a better year point wise still playing a sound game.

Smid continues along steady Smid.

Ference is named captain and provides leadership. Showing what it takes to win.

Schultz the younger starts great but hits a wall late in the season.

Petry picks it up a bit.

That's not everyone just some main players.

The Oil fight down to the last few games but sadly just miss out on the playoffs.Hope I'm wrong but there are to many holes in the bottom six and no true top pairing on defense,

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#91 French Toast Mafia
September 10 2013, 10:32AM
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We are now bashing writers for not spinning everything positively?

I am just as big a Oil fan as anyone but I'm not going to go the Flames fan route and say my favourite team is one player away from hoisting the cup.

This team still has big question marks on left wing, top 2d, and absolutely zero center depth. Because RB sees these holes and thinks the Oil won't make the playoffs he is a Nucks fan or a bad writer? cmon now, what happened to all these knowledgable Oilers fans?

I definitely like the Perron move and bringing in multiple guys on the back end to compete for jobs but I just don't see the Oil having a good enough forward group to compete with Anaheim, San Jose, LA, and Vancouver.

These statements, by the way, don't make me any less of an Oilers fan........

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#92 DieHard
September 10 2013, 10:47AM
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I agree with RB. Ending a snide comment with a "good grief" is pushing the envelop. Way too DSFish which just stinks.

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#93 RexLibris
September 10 2013, 10:51AM
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@Robin Brownlee

I'm really curious to see more on Belov's immigration delay issue.

Certainly there was enough lead up time to get papers straightened out, but I know enough to know that I don't know very much about immigration and work visas.

I'm left wondering what factors are at play here in this delay: agent, player dragging his feet, fallout from previous suspensions, KHL paperwork "technicalities", etc.

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#95 Dan 1919
September 10 2013, 10:58AM
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My favourite over-hype of this offseason is how big and invincible Ana, SJ, and Van are. They Oilers team is pretty much hovering around 6' in the front.

That's plenty enough size to compete with these teams if the Oilers can gel their game (speed, possession, and skill). Useable size is always a great thing, but it's certainly not as big of a concern as it's being made out to be.

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#96 Woodguy
September 10 2013, 11:06AM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

I thought I heard Belov was this big as well, but any idea why in the H-E double hockey sticks does the official Oilers website list him as 6'3 185 lbs.?

The article I linked to has him as 6'4" 219lbs

Elite prospects has him at 6'4 216lbs http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=20523

Hockeydb has him at 6'3" 185lbs

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=80671

My guess is Elite prospects has it the closest.

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#97 Spydyr
September 10 2013, 11:11AM
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RexLibris wrote:

I'm really curious to see more on Belov's immigration delay issue.

Certainly there was enough lead up time to get papers straightened out, but I know enough to know that I don't know very much about immigration and work visas.

I'm left wondering what factors are at play here in this delay: agent, player dragging his feet, fallout from previous suspensions, KHL paperwork "technicalities", etc.

This is just a guess nothing more. I bet his immigration delay is fixed by main camp. Perhaps something to do with not wanting to go through rookie camp. Again 100% conjecture.

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#98 Serious Gord
September 10 2013, 11:26AM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

My favourite over-hype of this offseason is how big and invincible Ana, SJ, and Van are. They Oilers team is pretty much hovering around 6' in the front.

That's plenty enough size to compete with these teams if the Oilers can gel their game (speed, possession, and skill). Useable size is always a great thing, but it's certainly not as big of a concern as it's being made out to be.

its not the size of the dog...

and the oil is very much the underdog physically.

maybe eakins conditioning demands will alleviate some of the teams weakness in this regard, but it likely wont eliminate it and i wonder if a side effect could be burn out late in the season.

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#99 tileguy
September 10 2013, 12:03PM
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Was it Charlie Brown who would say "Good Grief"?

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#100 916oiler
September 10 2013, 12:28PM
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Not sure how you have Grebs above Belov. Sure Mac T LOVES Grebs, but he's also the reason Belov is coming over and it's no secret who has been better recently. The visa issues are going to hurt Belov, true. However, Grebs is going to need to have a magical transformation to slot above the “…best defenseman in the KHL last year…”.

Also, after that rookie tourney how do you have Klefbom anywhere but OKC to start the season? Seriously?? Ya he hasn’t played in a long time, but that’s just it – he hasn’t played in a LONG time. Let him work out the kinks in his game where it won’t hurt the Oilers! When he proves himself, trade N. Shultz and bring him on up!

With RNH on the shelf for at least a decent chunk of games, I’d speculate Omark could pencil in at 2L LW with Perron up top. It’s going to be tricky with Omark and waivers, as far as if he gets returned to OKC sooner or later. I’m personally rooting for him – undeniable skill, sounds like he’s going to listen to the coaches this time around. If he sucks, throw him to the dogs. What’s not to like?

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