Take A Picture (It Lasts Longer)

This morning, Edmonton Oiler players and fans begin their annual journey through training camp and pre-season. It is a bonding ritual that dates back decades and includes some of the very best players in the history of the game. Today, eyes that have followed great players, also rans and never-were’s will follow Taylor Hall, Magnus Pääjärvi, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Pitlick and others. This year is believed to be more important than recent seasons. Why? 

For the generation of Oilers fan who followed the team during the time of Mike Rogers or Wayne Gretzky, this period of the rebuild (outstanding young prospects just getting started) reminds us of two or three pre-seasons. Maybe 1979, or 1980, or maybe 1994. We know there are good times ahead, great memories to come. For the Oiler fan who became a member of OilersNation with the Marchant goal, this experience might be a little unique. For someone who came to the Oilers as a fan in 2006, this is going to be fun.

And in  a very real way, it all begins this morning. Here’s a quick list of some of the players who are worth following:

  • #4 Taylor Hall: It’ll be interesting to see how quickly he adjusts to the increased size and speed of the NHL game. He’s a very confident young man, and a productive pre-season could set the tone for his entire season. Sam Gagner went through the fall 2007 pre-season 4gp, 2-0-2; Andrew Cogliano went 7gp, 4-3-7 the same year.
  • #14 Jordan Eberle: I think he’ll be the most complete rookie this season. He’s the oldest of the group, has a lot of experience against older competition and thinks the game so well. I bet he becomes a PK option–maybe not this season–and his passing ability is splendid. Went 4gp, 0-0-0 -1 last pre-season.
  • #23 Linus Omark: You have to hand it to the procurement department. They lose a puck wizard like Schremp and find a replacement the following TC. Another youtube sensation, this one has more experience and foot speed. I think he’s going to be a fan favorite by noon today.
  • #30 Olivier Roy: The kid is building a nice resume and may end up eating everyone’s lunch down the line. For now, a solid training camp will serve as a reminder to management about his abilities. A strong WJ performance could put him in the conversation for NHL employment as early as 2011 fall.
  • #48 Alex Plante: This is an important year for the young defender. He’s at an age where the organization should be considering him for callup, and last season was impressive (despite the horrible team he played on in Springfield). I don’t think he’ll make the roster, but a solid camp may mean a quick recall.
  • #54 Chris Vande Velde: Big college center should stand out from the rookie crowd based solely on age. This training camp is very important for him, he’ll need to make a good impression.
  • #56 Teemu Hartikainen: Big Finn (yeah!) is a more mature player than many rookies at this year’s camp. His size and grit should mean he stands out in the crowd.
  • #58 Jeff Petry: I’d like to find out where he is in terms of progress compared to someone like Plante (or Chorney). If Petry can handle the big wingers and has an idea about positioning, we might see him in Edmonton later this season.
  • #68 Tyler Pitlick: Looked like a really good young player in rookie camp, now we’ll get to see him against older, more mature talent. The early buzz on him is loud.
  • #91 Magnus Pääjärvi: The man has wheels and an impressive touch around the net. You get the feeling he won’t take long to adjust. Appears fearless, and he can fly.

Those are the names I’ll be watching closely over the next couple of weeks. Some of these kids are going to be here a decade from now. The 10-11 Oilers training camp really is hockey’s future on display.

  • knee deep in it

    motorFIST makes some awesome clothing

    the kids will be OK, it is Plante and Petry that need to progress in order for us to be the next Chicago, not Islanders.

  • Do we know which group is first… would assuming that since A comes before B & C be too simple? What about tomorrow @ Millenium? Gotta get ready for a wedding shortly, but I was thinking of sneaking in a quick trip to Rexall for an hour. Priorities, man… priorities.

    Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey! Hockey!

  • Jerk Store

    Lowetide, I am wracking my shriveled brain to think of a recent – even within the last 25 years – NHL team that had 3 rookie forwards make any kind of significant impresion on a team, let alone the NHL. If you or anyone has an example, I would love to hear it. Duschene and O’Reilly were both pretty good last year – but that was only 2 and THAT was an abberation. My point is history does not give us any type of precedent to be as giddy as we are about Ebpaahall. It would be great to see, but a far more likely scenario is a Gagner or Brule take the next step. I know others have said it before and have said it better, but I am hopeful Oil fans don’t become crazed if we don’t have 3 Calder finalists this year.

    I am not a pessimist, just an optimist with experience.

    • Jason Gregor

      The Avs also had rookie TJ Galiardi. Granted Galiardi was 22, but he was still a rookie and he outscored O’Reilly.

      I think many forget that O’Reilly only had eight goals and 26 points. He wasn’t an offensive juggernaut.

      Anyone fan who thinks all three kids will be 40 point guys needs to realize that is highly unlikely. Possible I guess, but very doubtful.

      So the Avs had Duchene with 24 goals and 55 points, Galiardi with 15 goals and 39 points and O’Reilly.

      So 55, 39 and 26 points from three rookies. Granted only Duchene was a first rounder, but if the Oilers could get 55, 41 and 35 points from the three then fans should be very satisfied.

    • C-DOG

      Penner ,Perry, and Getzlaf were impactfull rookies at the same time, but they came up in the second half of that season from the minors, and helped Anaheim advance to the west finals. That’s when I first recognized Penner as a beast on the cycle, he actually gave Pronger some problems in the west final.

      Chicago had Kane , Toews, and Bolland, although Bolland only played half the year and might not be recognized as a pure skill guy , his last year junior he almost matched Schremp point for point and had a better year than eberle at the same age (I know Londan Knights, but still impressive). Chicago finished 3 points out of the playoffs that year and would of made it had Toews not missed 17 games or so in the 3rd quarter of the season.

      If Hall gets 1st p.p time he will do better than Dushene, but there are 9 skilled positons, and only 6 p.p spots, I don’t see any forwards playing the point on the p.p.

  • Lowetide

    Jerk Store: That’s the point I was trying to get across in my NHL equivalency post. Each rookie hurts the other rookie’s chances of getting a full season in a really good situation (top 6 minutes, PP time, etc).

    There have been 3 rookies emerge in one season (actually quite common) but it is very unusual to have three OFFENSIVE FORWARDS with terrific pedigree in the same year.

    More typical is the Oilers 02-03 group that included Ales Hemsky, Jason Chimera and Fernando Pisani. One was a skill player, the other an energy guy with size, and the third had a complete skill set.

    The closest example in recent Oiler history was 07-08 when Gagner, Cogliano and Brodziak emerged. I don’t think the nhl counts Brodziak as a rookie that season, but he was. Tom Gilbert was a rookie that season, Oilers had a nice group in 2007-08.

    Anyway, I think the answer is “yes, there are many examples of three rookies in the same season.”

    BUT, they are unlikely to play the full year on a skill line, and your point is very accurate if we change the sentence to ”

    think of a recent – even within the last 25 years – NHL team that had 3 PURE SKILL rookie forwards make any kind of significant impresion on a team, let alone the NHL.

  • Jerk Store

    Sorry, LT that is certainly what I meant but was not clear on. No way to get enough “sugar” time for 3 offensive rookies to make huge point contibutions without demoralizing the Hemskys / Penners / gagners / etc.

  • Lowetide

    Jerk Store: Yeah, plus the fact that prospects don’t develop in a straight line.

    Last year, near the end of the season. Oilers are in their own zone, chorney makes a physical play and removes the PHX forward from the puck. Winger slides a pass to the now moving Chorney and they hit their own blueline in numbers.

    ALL of the veterans on the ice have their sticks down waiting for a pass, but once it is established that the kid (Chorney) has a clear lane they jail break for the blueline.

    The entire team is confident of two things: Chorney will shoot the puck in and the numbers favor EDM winning the battle along the wall.

    Except Chorney sends a weak attempt across the blueline, it is gobbled up by the PHX D and now its jailbreak the other way. Chorney arrives in time to be in the photo after the puck is in the net.

    A team with a full, healthy roster probably sits Chorney for a time, maybe he doesn’t dress for the next two games. Give him a reminder that playing time comes from the coach and that crap plays have their own reward.

    I’ll bet money Tom Renney does that with every rookie on the club this season (unless there are a ton of injuries–Quinn didn’t have that luxury last year).

    IF one of those three gifted rookies stays out of the doghouse all year, he’ll win the Calder.

  • BArmstrong

    My FIST post ever!!

    STOKED about the future.

    I agree that a Calder winner will probably not emerge out of the three – although possible. Even if they develop in a wide ranging group, that won’t leave much for the front runner.

    What I think I’m most excited about, is the possibility of a Hall/Horcoff/Eberle line commanding 1st pairing attention leaving the opponent’s 2nd pairing to handle Hemsky/Gagner/Penner (or vice versa). And, the opponent’s 3rd pairing to handle Brule/Cogliano/Paajarvi. It will be goals galore. What I’m least excited about is; it will be goals galore (plus a few more) coming back the other way.

    And I’m still more than a little concerned that the top 9’s speed will be enough to overcome their lack of size and physicality.

    But did I mention I’m stoked!!

    Oh, and LT, great stuff all summer.

    • Bawlf

      I agree with you here. There is no question that his three clutch goals in the past two world junoirs have generated quite an exitment about this kid nationwide. I wonder if he can show the type of poise,heart, and determination that he showed in those two finals on a day in day out basis wearing the copper and blue

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Took in the early session, Pitlick looks like a keeper. Jacques, don’t know what’s going on with him, looks like a fat cat with a gauranteed roster spot. He looks disinterested and looks like he’s just going through the motions. Stevie Smith should get out his cattle prod.

    • Jason Gregor

      I got an update from medical staff. Jacques was out for about 20 min…very cautious after surgery…so not disinterested per say, but just went for a test drive. You weren’t seeing things.

  • LT: I’m surprised you missed Theo Peckham in your players to watch section. He’s the guy with the most to lose in the coming TC. If he starts off slowly, or suffers another injury he’s going to get passed for good this time. This is also the time to watch Shawn Belle closely, as he could be the guy eating Peckham’s lunch.

  • Renney’s system shall be known as the “left wing unlock”.

    @LT,

    How did Olivier Roy look?

    I’m a big fan of Matt Duchene’s but expect the Avs to drop back this year based on their inactivity during the off season.

    Duchene will be the Avs #1C by the end of next year.

  • Jodes

    Damn I love that pic of Jill!

    Isn’t it great to have excitement and confidence back in this franchise instead of the same old same old?

    And I know I’m not realy into wild rumours (I can’t stand Ecklund) but this made sense:

    •Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch: If the Columbus Blue Jackets defensive corps has some struggles during training camp/pre-season, don’t be surprised if Sheldon Souray talks heat up. The Oilers want a defenseman or 2 in return, and have cap space to take on more contract.

    Does this have legs? Lets put aside the Howson/Lowe relationship, does Columbus have anything we need? Do they have any bad contracts? Could this be the dark horse?

  • BArmstrong

    LT: is this a slightly different picture of the lovely Jill Hennessey? I seem to rememeber more emphasis on the gams in the last one.

    Are you hoarding a whole set like this? 😉