Sekera, Puljujarvi, Caggiula and a BIG thank you

Jason Gregor
December 28 2016 02:01PM


The Oilers were back on the ice after a four-day Christmas break, but Andrej Sekera was noticeably absent. Sekera blocked a shot on his foot late in the San Jose game, and if he's out any period of time it would be a huge blow.

The Oilers defence has been able to play well despite injuries to Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Mark Fayne, Kris Russell and Eric Gryba and various times, but Sekera has been their best D-man all season and he'll be very hard to replace. After practice, Todd McLellan said Sekera reported back from the Christmas break feeling under the weather and they will see how he feels tomorrow.

Kris Russell moved to the left side in practice and was paired with Matt Benning. Benning also replaced Sekera on the top PP unit. He has excellent vision and puck skills in the offensive zone and gives the Oilers a second right-handed shot on the first unit PP, if Sekera can't play.

Sekera has 11 points in his last 13 games and he's been their best D-man by a large margin the past few weeks. Even if he is out only one game it would be a big loss.

We will find out tomorrow how he feels, but I do wonder if he also has a tender foot after blocking that shot late in the game.

YOUNG PLAYERS

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Jesse Puljujarvi skated with Drake Caggiula and Zack Kassian this morning and it looks like he'll play in the next few games. His parents and younger sister are here and were watching practice this morning, and like any 18-year-old who has moved away from home, he was pretty excited to have his family around.

Puljujarvi hasn't played much recently and I asked McLellan about his progress and development.

"We will keep him going here for now, obviously losing Tyler (Pitlick) is a big blow to our team, a right-handed shot who could score and create on the forecheck, we are on thin ice as forwards as it is, so Jesse may get some more playing time over the next little bit, but ultimately we want to win games and secondarily we want young players to develop," said McLellan.

He feels Puljujarvi was playing his best earlier in the season, and hinted he'd like to get him so more playing time, but much of it comes down to the coaches confidence with lines and players in specific situations.

If they keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Draisaitl's right wing, then Puljujarvi is likely going to be on the fourth line with Caggiula unless they can get going. Mark Letestu has played excellent recently and Caggiula/Puljujarvi will be battling his line for ice time.

Caggiula

"In my opinion his play has fallen off a little bit, and that can happen to a young player," said McLellan on Caggiula. "The game has gone to another level now, and he's got to graduate and make that next step. I think there are opportunities for him to be much more assertive with the puck and attacking and making plays. We talked to him about it, and we'll give him a chance and see where he is in a couple of weeks," continued McLellan.

With two homes games Thursday and Saturday, McLellan has last change and he could put those young line in more favourable positions, but they will need to make the most of their opportunities.

Good teams don't have to force feed young players minutes, and while a stint in the AHL could be a possibility down the road, if they can play 10-12 minutes a night then they will still learn a lot playing in the NHL.

PARTING SHOTS

Shots

  • Benning, Caggiula, Letestu, Kassian, Puljujarvi and Davidson were the only players to score in the end-of-practice shootout. Right now I think Letestu, Draisaitl, Eberle and McDavid are the top four guys, and whatever rotation McLellan chooses for a specific game, but how the others do in practice will determine who goes if the Oilers get past the first four shooters.

  • McLellan made a great point about Klefbom. "I think sometimes Klef gets unfairly put up with the elite, but he's only played 140 games, but he probably was elite on our team, but he needs more time and experience. On many other teams everyone would be happy with him coming in and where he is at. I don't see much difference in Benning and Klefbom, except Benning gets to come in at a much better time for the organization and expectations on him are lower."

    He wasn't comparing Benning straight across to Klefbom, just how different they are perceived, and how much they had to play as rookies.

    Klefbom has had an up and down season, which is expected considering his lack of games played at the NHL level. Sekera is their top left defender, and with Davidson rounding into form, on nights when Klefbom is struggling the Oilers can look at other options, without worrying there will be a massive drop off.

THANK YOU...

Our 6th annual Month of Giving was extremely successful again. We set a new record, $100,359.00, despite the economic downturn, which shows just how generous Edmonton and the surrounding area is. Thank you very much to all the TSN 1260 listeners, sponsors and readers here at the Nation who helped make it a great 17 days.

I started the Month of Giving in December of 2011 with the hopes of raising $25,000 for various charities who help less fortunate people in Edmonton. I was blown away when we raised $50,400.

We raised $55,600 in 2012, $77,150 in 2013, $92,765 in 2014, $85,250 in 2015 and an amazing $100,359 this year.

In six years we have raised $458,524.00.

You have helped us make a difference in many people's lives, for simple necessities like food. We should never take for granted how lucky some of us are, and I believe we need to look out for others and I'm so grateful that the listeners of TSN 1260 and the readers of Oilersnation feel the same way.

I want to thank all the sponsors who donated auction items:

Realtor Michelle Derk
Pro Am Sports
Mr. Derks
Todd McLellan
The Ranch Golf and Country Club
River Valley Health
A-1 Heating
Auto Details
Taylor Hall
Mr.Lube
West Edmonton Mall
On the Rocks
Urban Tavern
Auto City Edmonton
The Edmonton Oil Kings
Barrie Stafford and the Edmonton Oilers Alumni
Hughes Petroleum
Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Ruth's Chris
The Brick
Blackhawk Golf Course and Al Prokop
XIX (Nineteen)
Michael Anthony Jewellers
Vivo Ristorante, Ryan Smyth and Mark Letestu
Chop Steakhouse, Brad German and Jason Strudwick

I would also like to thank those who bid so generously on all the packages, if you didn't win but still bid thank you for increasing the prices. It allowed us to raise more money.

Thank you Bryan, Chris, Miles, Bryce, Bryan, Joe, Sheldon, Arnold, Ryan, Gregg, Jim, Blair, Patrick, Derek Ty, Dustin, Derek, Mark, Shane, Jeremy, Scott, Marc, Mike, Emil, Damon, Jeff, Bruce and Mike.

Also to those who helped in our Pyramids of Hope. I asked 10 people for $100, then I donated $500 and asked eight to match the $500 and one for $1000. Another day we asked 10 people of $100, I would donate $1000 and then asked three others to match the $1000. We ended up raising $5400 one day and $7200 the other day. Both times it took less than 30 minutes. We helped the Holiday Hamper and Adopt-A-Teen this way. I believe I can't just ask people to donate without donating myself. It worked out incredibly well, and I think we will do those pyramids again next year.

We helped out a variety of different charities. Your donations and bids helped many who really needed it: The Christmas Bureau, The Holiday Hamper, M.E Lazerte high school breakfast program, The MS Society, Operation Friendship Senior Society, Alzheimers, Rotary Breakfast program, Santas Anonymous and Adopt-A-Teen.

Thank you Edmonton and surrounding areas. We live in a wonderfully generous community and I'm proud to call Edmonton home.

Thank you once again, and please know you made Christmas and the next few weeks much more enjoyable for many people in need.

God bless you.

Recently by Jason Gregor:    

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    One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
    Avatar
    #1 @Hallsy4
    December 28 2016, 02:10PM
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    BeeLOCK

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    #2 @Hallsy4
    December 28 2016, 02:16PM
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    One of my concerns with McLellan is that he doesn't hesitate to call out players, but doesn't seem to take any blame on himself. Having Lucic out in the recent OT loss was a huge blunder by McLellan. I'm not convinced by his work thus far, on in San Jose. Generally the players deserve it... Like Jultz, Ebs, Pouliot etc. However, McLellan has been average, with an above average ego IMO.

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    #3 kormega
    December 28 2016, 02:28PM
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    Jultz is 22 pts this season and TML tells he got no quarterback D. Somehow in Pittsburgh they squeezing the best out of the guy.

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    #4 Señor Frijoles
    December 28 2016, 02:33PM
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    @Hallsy4 wrote:

    One of my concerns with McLellan is that he doesn't hesitate to call out players, but doesn't seem to take any blame on himself. Having Lucic out in the recent OT loss was a huge blunder by McLellan. I'm not convinced by his work thus far, on in San Jose. Generally the players deserve it... Like Jultz, Ebs, Pouliot etc. However, McLellan has been average, with an above average ego IMO.

    It's not really possible, in the scenario above, to take the blame on yourself (as coach) for having Lucic on the ice during OT and saying that was a mistake without strongly implying that the player (one who is highly paid and with high team expectations) isn't good enough to play in big situations. Sounds a lot like calling out your player.

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    #5 @Hallsy4
    December 28 2016, 02:41PM
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    Señor Frijoles wrote:

    It's not really possible, in the scenario above, to take the blame on yourself (as coach) for having Lucic on the ice during OT and saying that was a mistake without strongly implying that the player (one who is highly paid and with high team expectations) isn't good enough to play in big situations. Sounds a lot like calling out your player.

    You are correct. Although it's mind boggling how he did that. I'd imagine even Lucic knows that he's not suited for 3 on 3. This season is very fragile, if they lost the 3 games before the break it would have started to look like another lotto pick. Those were a huge 5 or 6 points. However, my concern is that it's been somewhat of a mirage, with Talbot McDavid and Drai carrying the team. That's a heck of a core to build around, especially adding in the Young good Blue liners in the show now and coming soon in the system. There's been a lot of passengers, however. Eberle, Nuge, and Pouliot have all had a bad first half.... It's difficult when your entire 2nd line isn't producing. I think Chia Pete will slowly move all of those 3 out, it just sucks waiting after these last 10 years. Continue the purge PETE. Need ya brother.

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    #6 @Hallsy4
    December 28 2016, 02:49PM
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    Still a lot of smartest guys in the room running things. I like Pete, but to my eye, his downfall is failing admitting his mistakes and/or sticking to promises (at the expense of the rest of the team). I'd like the Griffin situation rectified somehow, either a trade for picks, or maybe vegas saves Pete and grab him. The Lucic signing I'm still fine with, but I'm not fine with him being on McDavid's line. It doesn't work, and it's not going to get magically better. He'd be great as a 2nd or 3rd liner, no shame in that. All of Peter's guys have basically been given NHL jobs (Drake, could use so AHL probably). Seems like Pete is fine questioning other's moves (Jultz and Hall for example, which I agree with his decisions), but don't think he's one to admit that he was wrong. Mix him with the other smartest guys in the room who are now his (colleagues, Boss? Direct Superiors?), and that's a whole lot of bull crap. McDavid is covering a lot of holes......

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    #7 bazmagoo
    December 28 2016, 02:54PM
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    I like how he qualified the expectation on Klefbom, realistically he's equivalent to a 2nd year nhl player. The expectation on him is too high currently. Losing Sekera for any time would be a huge blow for the Oilers.

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    #8 Jay (not J)
    December 28 2016, 02:57PM
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    Going nuts watching the Flame, Ducks, Kings, Sharks EVERYBODY playing hockey right now while the Oilers are sitting and waiting patiently for their next dance. After a layoff like this for the Oilers the Kings are going to be well served by commingled in hot after tonight's game. Hopefully Sek's ready to go and the rest of the team's ready to have a second half to match the first.

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    #9 @Hallsy4
    December 28 2016, 03:01PM
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    Last year the Oil, on paper, "lost" a One for One trade with Hall for Larsson. CBJ also "lost" a one for one with Johansen for Jones. The Oilers and CBJ are both way waaay better teams than they have been in a long time. Think it's time for Chia to make a few more tough decisions and get this team ready to rock in the playoffs. Pouliot at the deadline, Ebs in this offseason, Nuge Either this offseason or next. Lots of players will be moving around with the expansion, and Vegas will have a tonne of ways to wheel and deal, creating huge opportunity for other GM's. This offseason is huge for Peter. He could legitimately make the Oilers into a CUP contender in the offseason, or he could keep the team basically as is and waste the unreal new core of the sqaud. Time to part with the Old core and move on from 2010. Bless you Peter.

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    #10 freelancer
    December 28 2016, 03:28PM
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    Hoping Sekera is okay. Losing him would be a huge blow to this team

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    #11 TheBirdOfAnger
    December 28 2016, 03:45PM
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    Thank you Gregor for the Month of giving. Hopefully one day I can be stable enough to give back to something like that

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    #12 Jehu23
    December 28 2016, 03:48PM
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    I think the ship has sailed on Griffin to Vegas. And yeah, that trade is looking like a major loss - especially with Barzal scoring at 1.5/gm in the W, and being front and center at the WJHC. That said, Chia isn't the only one to swing and miss here... the '10-'13 drafts are littered with 1st Rd D that haven't panned out: Tinordi, Siemens, Percy, Pouliot, Koekkoek, Schmaltz, Morin, Pulock, McIlrath (maybe the best comp to #8) and Gormley.

    Draft + 5 years, it comes down to "you are who you are", and unfortunately Reinhart is probably a quad-A professional defender. That's still miles better than any of us watching the game as fans, but not the best return for the assets given up.

    No one is going to bail out the Oilers at this point... You don't hear chatter about people bailing out the other organisations regarding the players listed above. You've made your bed, now sleep in it and move on. I think it's time to stop talking about the Reinhart deal - he is a depth piece at this point, nothing more. He's not sweetener, magic beans or a golden ticket to NHL-calibre help. He is who he is: a fine, but not NHL ready, defender.

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    #13 Wanye
    December 28 2016, 06:14PM
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    Good on you Gregor.

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    #14 OilCan2
    December 28 2016, 06:19PM
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    kormega wrote:

    Jultz is 22 pts this season and TML tells he got no quarterback D. Somehow in Pittsburgh they squeezing the best out of the guy.

    He went straight onto the last pairing and stayed there right to the Cup.

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    #15 OilCan2
    December 28 2016, 06:27PM
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    Got tix for the Kings. I hope Sekera is OK. Keep Nuge for the playoff run.

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    #16 ROil Family
    December 28 2016, 07:06PM
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    It goes without saying that Jason and his Month of Giving have been a phenomenal success. Kudos Jason for using your reach and exposure to raise so much money for such worthy causes! It would be a lot easier to breeze through the Christmas season worrying only about your personal holiday plans (as most of us did).

    Well done sir! Keep up the great work!

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    #17 Rocklobzter
    December 28 2016, 08:06PM
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    @Hallsy4 wrote:

    One of my concerns with McLellan is that he doesn't hesitate to call out players, but doesn't seem to take any blame on himself. Having Lucic out in the recent OT loss was a huge blunder by McLellan. I'm not convinced by his work thus far, on in San Jose. Generally the players deserve it... Like Jultz, Ebs, Pouliot etc. However, McLellan has been average, with an above average ego IMO.

    Not sure which post-game avails you were watching, but I've seen many interviews where he addresses that he and the coaching staff made mistakes, and need to be better. Nitpicking one example of player deployment is easy when you know the result. (That 3 on 3 loss was a result of McDavid losing his man after a Sekera turnover iirc)

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    #18 Bubba Train
    December 28 2016, 11:42PM
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    Canucks do us a favour tonight!

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    #19 slats-west
    December 29 2016, 12:18AM
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    @Hallsy4 wrote:

    One of my concerns with McLellan is that he doesn't hesitate to call out players, but doesn't seem to take any blame on himself. Having Lucic out in the recent OT loss was a huge blunder by McLellan. I'm not convinced by his work thus far, on in San Jose. Generally the players deserve it... Like Jultz, Ebs, Pouliot etc. However, McLellan has been average, with an above average ego IMO.

    I disagree..

    The blunder was not on the Coach if you watch the play in its entirety. It was a bad decision by Klefbom (which I agree with Gregor we are a bit early calling this guy a #1 pairing with only 140 games he's good but needs more games)

    Oilers had tired players and they put the puck into their own zone for a change while Klefbom went back to retrieve the puck - on comes MCD first, then Lucic. MCD is winding up in the zone unchecked as San Jose is also changing but instead of an easy passto MCD in full flight (in 3 on 3!!!) Klefbom elects to do a long stretch pass to Lucic by the bench with I think Burns on him ... it's a terrible play and decision and no forward will make that play from standstill (Lucic or anyone) with Burns on them. Better decision was to MCD and have Lucic drive to net.

    Bad Dman decision when much better options were there..

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