The Oilers announced some cuts to their training camp roster yesterday afternoon. The players sent out weren’t terribly surprising, but some of those remaining with the team were. First, the departed:
F – Hans Benson
F – Justin Chwedoruk
F – Jordan Eberle
F – Garet Hunt
F – Bryan Lerg
F – Colin McDonald
F – Sean McMorrow
F – Ryan O’Marra
F – Geoff Paukovich
D – Sebastien Bisaillon
D – Josef Hrabal
D – Jake Taylor
D – Cody Wild
D – Bryan Young
G – Andrew Perugini
A lot of these players can be happy with their performances, or at the very least don’t need to be disappointed. Andrew Perugini earned a contract (the report that he had signed a deal was refuted by Sarnia’s GM a day later, but it’s now been made official), albeit a two-way minor league deal rather than an NHL Entry-Level pact. Geoff Paukovich scored 26 points and had a -21 rating in the ECHL last year, so making it to the second round of cuts was something of an achievement, while long-shots like Taylor, Benson, Chwedoruk, Hunt and McMorrow did well to survive the first cut as well.
Jordan Eberle showed well in his first professional camp and earned some praise from Craig MacTavish:
“Definite blue-chipper. I’ve liked everything I’ve seen about his game. We, as coaches, talk extensively to the scouts about drafting guys who have hockey sense. The big, strong skater who can’t think his way around the ice is a dinosaur in today’s game … There’s a real transition to get guys who can think the game and he’s shown me an elite ability to do that. He’s a smaller player but he’s not that far away.”
Dark-horse candidates to make the team, such as Hrabal, Lerg, McDonald and O’Marra are probably extremely disappointed right now, but all are call-up candidates for later in the year, provided that they can show some strong play at the AHL level. Josef Hrabal was injured in camp, while Ryan O’Marra lost 10 pounds to illness, so for those players in particular this cut can’t be too surprising.
Eliminating roster players from last year, NHL veterans acquired through trade, and the injured, we get the following list of NHL hopefuls:
F – Gilbert Brule
F – Stephane Goulet
F – Adam Huxley
F – Guillaume Lefebvre?
F – Ryan Potulny
F – Marc Pouliot
F – Liam Reddox
F – Rob Schremp
F – Tim Sestito
F – Tyler Spurgeon
F – Viacheslav Trukhno
D – Taylor Chorney
D – Theo Peckham
D – Alex Plante
D – Matheiu Roy
D – Jason Strudwick
G – Jeff Deslauriers
G – Devan Dubnyk
We can further divide thee guys into categories:
Won’t Make the Cut
Stephane Goulet, Adam Huxley, Tim Sestito, Tyler Spurgeon, Taylor Chorney, Alex Plante and Devan Dubnyk all fit into this category. Plante will probably stay in camp until either the season starts or the Calgary Hitmen are nice enough to trade him somewhere else in the WHL. For some reason, Adam Huxley is still with the team, but he’s spent the last four years as an ECHL-level enforcer and may end up there again. As for the rest (Goulet, Sestito, Spurgeon, Chorney, Dubnyk), staying this late says nice things about what the organization thinks of them, but they really don’t have a shot at cracking the roster.
Almost Certainly Won’t Make the Cut
Guillaume Lefebvre, Liam Reddox, Viacheslav Trukhno and Theo Peckham fit into this category. Lefebvre stalled what seemed like an almost certain relegation to the minors with some inspired play against Florida the other night, even prompting Craig MacTavish to make some favourable comments:
“I know who he is now, after seeing that. It was pretty impressive. He handled the puck well, he can skate and he knows when to get involved. And when he drops the gloves he knows what he’s doing. He’s worked his way into the mix somewhere.”
Reddox and Peckham both had cameo appearances last season after strong AHL campaigns. Peckham is certainly in the Oilers future, while Reddox may eventually work his way into a bottom-six role.
Viacheslav Trukhno had a disappointing debut as a professional last season, but the 2005 4th round pick has looked excellent in camp (with some bloggers even saying that he’s now ahead of Rob Schremp). He can use this coming season as a springboard to NHL duty in 2008-09.
In the Mix
After counting all of the veterans on the Oilers this season, four spots on the 23-man roster remain. In my opinion, the contenders stack up like this:
- Marc Pouliot – waiver eligible
- Gilbert Brule
- Jason Strudwick – waiver eligible
- Jeff Deslauriers – waiver eligible
- Rob Schremp
- Ryan Potulny – waiver eligible
- Mathieu Roy – waiver eligible
If I’d done that same list at the start of camp, Rob Schremp would have ranked 3rd, and Gilbert Brule 5th. It isn’t that Schremp hasn’t shown up for the exhibition matches, but right now Gilbert Brule seems like a natural fit on the 4th line; far more so than Schremp.
The Oilers just announced the assignment of Stephane Goulet to Springfield as I was writing this. After a year split between the AHL and the ECHL, he needs a solid season in Springfield if he’s going to stay in the organization.
—Jonathan Willis is the force behind Copper and Blue, and a frequent contributor of OilersNation.