Three straight days of just drills, neutral zone coverage, skating, shooting, skating, defensive zone coverage, three-on-twos, time at the whiteboard, two-on-ones, skating and more neutral zone coverage make it difficult to evaluate who has had a good camp. Hell it’s day three and I had to talk about haircuts just to break up the monotony.

I understand why Tom Renney is doing this. The Oilers were a disaster in every aspect last season, and they spent way too much in their own zone. They didn’t battle hard enough, but mostly they rarely had the puck in the neutral zone, which led to them having to play defence way too much.

Not one player has complained, and in fact, most have embraced Renney’s hand-on-approach and his teach-first attitude.

Tomorrow night in front of an expected crowd of 15,000+ the players, those you aren’t cut after today’s sessions, will get a chance to strut their stuff in a "game-situation" during the Joey Moss Cup. You can tell the players are exctied to show the coach they were paying attention, as many came off the ice wondering what the rosters for tomorrow will be.

The rosters will be posted later today, or more likely tomorrow morning. Look for Renney to make about 21 cuts today. There are lots of rookies, and even some ECHL guys who aren’t close to being NHL ready so they will be gone. From the 29 players who were at rookie camp, I’d expect Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Alex Plante, Jeff Petry, Tyler Pitlick, Jordan Eberle, Chris Vande Velde and Milan Kytnar to see some exhibition action. Maybe one or two more, but that’s it.

It does sound like the top-three lines that we’ve seen in camp will get a game or two together in the preseason, but Renney wants to interchange them and to try and see who has chemistry. Linus Omark has been skating with Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones, but he will get some offensive linemates at some point in the preseason.


  • JF Jacques skated for the entire two hours with group two, but don’t expect to see him in the preseason. He needs to get in better conditioning and they don’t want to rush his back. He says he is ready for contact, but they will be very cautious with him. He realizes he needs to stay healthy this season if he expects another contract with the Oilers or any other NHL team.
  • Omark continues to impress with his speed and offensive flair. He will make things interesting once the preseason starts.
  • Alex Giroux isn’t blessed with great speed, and his first step isn’t that explosive, but he can finish and at 6’3′ he possesses size that will get him a long look. Right now I see Giroux, Omark, Paajarvi and Eberle battling for the final two spots in the top-nine.
  • Zack Stortini, Fraser, Steve MacIntyre and Jones should have a spot so that leaves one more forward spot. Giroux could be the 14th forward to start the year, but I don’t see anyway they keep one of the three young kids as the 14th to start the year. They’d rather let them play a lot in the minors.
  • Petry looks pretty smooth in practice, but I want to see how he can handle the size and strength of NHL players. The organization needs a young puck moving D-man to emerge in the next few years, and Petry is the most likely candidate at this point. If I had to choose, I’d take him over Taylor Chorney. I’m not sure Chorney can be effective in the NHL at his size.
  • Devan Dubnyk has looked solid, while JDD has struggled a bit, but they both know they will only get two starts each to win the back up job. That is the most competitive battle in camp. Other guys will get four or five games to showcase themselves, but these two will probably only get two starts each. I suspect Khabibulin will want three starts in the preseason, so that only leaves one other game.
  • Renney wasn’t on the ice today, he was in the backroom making cuts as the guys came off the ice after practice. It sounds like all but four of the guys remaining with the team will dress for the Joey Moss Cup. That would suggest they will have 44 guys left after today, maybe 45 if you include Jacques.
  • Tom Gilbert was in mid-season form ripping on Jason Strudwick’s haircut. Strudwick is sporting a very short salad right now, in fact most Oilers have it pretty short. "I think Strudy is actually losing his hair, so he is just trying to look younger. There is a different kind of energy in the room, and whether guys are cutting their hair to feel younger and fit in is fine. These young guys are coming every day, and they are pushing the older guys to go out there and compete hard and that’s what we need in the lockerroom."
  • Strudwick replied with."If you followed my career closely, you would know that I always get it cut short at the beginning of the season so it looks sharp for the pictures. You want to look good. That’s what the fans, and my mom, are looking at when they open up the player profiles early in the year. As for Gibby he’s ten years younger than I am and he’s going bald. He should worry about his own hair (laughs)."
  • Jodes

    Gregor, do you think Roy will get an exhibition game in? I see he wasn’t on your list of rookies to stick. Just curious. I’d like to see what the future holds in goal.

    And what about Foster? How has he looked?

    Keep up the great work.

  • Gregor if Omark keeps pushing could that lead to Tambo having options for a trade say with Souray to get something back? Could Omark be a replacement for say Cogs? I just can’t see after all the hype one of MPS or Eberle beeing sent down.

    • Jason Gregor

      I need to see him in the preseason first. He doesn’t play centre, so unless they move Brule to the middle, I’m not sure if Omark’s success means Cogliano is gone. And while the hype has been big for MP and Eberle, if they aren’t ready I don’t see the Oilers keeping them. 20 games in the AHL wouldn’t hurt either of them in my mind, if is needed.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Hey Gregor,

    Love reading all of your posts, very informative! Keep of the good work! Just a question based on your comments of Giroux and what I read about him in an article from Jim Matheson. Sounds fairly similar to Poultny, do you think this is correct? Is he an upgrade then? Based on his AHL numbers I would figure he is a true sniper, I believe Poultny had decent numbers in the AHL as well though, just not to the same extent.

    • Jason Gregor

      Giroux is a better pure offensive guy. Potulny was more reliable in his own zone. I like Giroux better, and he is pretty excited about the chance here. He would be a bit of surprise to beat out MP and Eberle, but if he can produce he might at least be 14th forward. His foot speed is the big question mark.

  • Thanks for the update. I wonder if you can devote a post to the topic of “what roles do each of the 11 (+/-) coaches/support staff appear to have so far”. For example, has the video guy been involved. Or, has the equipment been even better than usual. And is anyone translating for Paajarvi? Does Bucky appear to be the drill sergeant? Etc.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Please tell me that there is no one at camp like a hair do that kid has.

    Gregor any chance Pitlick ends up in OKC? With that slide rule that was talked about last week it wouldn’t burn a year of his contract, so maybe a good pre-season and Pitlick to the AHL?

    • D-Man

      From my understanding, Pitlick is too young to play in the AHL being only 18-19. I believe his plan regardless was to leave the NCAA and play for Medicine Hat this year…

      For argument’s sake – why would you have him in OKC?? To me – let him play 80+ games in junior to get adjusted to a longer season. In the NCAA – they play 30 games/year tops…

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Him playing in the NCAA should make him eligible for the AHL. If the organzation thinks he’s talented enough I don’t see a problem with him playing tougher competition.

    • Jason Gregor

      No chance Pitlick doesn’t go to Medicine Hat it sounds like. I don’t see the reason to put him in the minors right now. Let him develop in the WHL. He needs to physically mature and it might stunt his growth to play him against men, when he needs to be getting stronger.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Fair enough. I mentioned it before, that it wouldn’t be a decision I made yet, but something you look at after training camp and some pre-season games.

  • book¡e

    Good to hear about the improved dressing room attitude – I suppose not being in last place at the moment helps that as well.

    How does Khabibulin look? We have had little insight as to whether he will be one of the goalies to start the season – but it sounds like he now is going to be. No border problems? Some of the articles had suggested that he would face border problems once he was charged (even with the appeal of his conviction ongoing), but he seems to be in Edmonton (which means he crossed the border.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Also to note, Wednesday against the Nucks is on Sportsnet-1 and Thursday against the Bolts is on TSN.

    The past couple years I’ve really gotten into the whole pre-season. Gives a good idea of some of the prospects that are rarely on TV.

    • According to the intrepid reporter Theo M Enacer, Bell has no plans to start showing Sportsnet 1.

      He suggests calling them & showing our discust.

      1877SKYDISH, many automated prompts then option 3. Sit on hold for what seems like forever, then talk to someone who has no clue what you are talking about.

      I hate Bell, even if it is the official phone of the oilers…

  • danjo1

    Quick question for you Jason: Has Tom Gilbert lost some weight too or is it just me? When I saw the pictures of him delivering the season tickets his face looked a lot thinner than I remember.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I am partly rooting for Eberle or MPS to not make the opening roster this year. There’s a bit of a bottleneck with the young players coming in and I have no problem with either of them spending the time in the AHL. If one of them does get sent to the AHL, I’d like to see them called up permanently by Christmas. You know with the Oilers’ luck someone’s going to have a season-ending injury by then anyway. (knocks on wood).

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    Good story, I like hearing how Struds and Gibby are going at it…hilarious!

    I think Cogliano is going to have to earn his roster spot still. I have heard you say you think he is going to be in the top-9 for sure, but I don’t agree. It will be interesting to see, though…

  • Wax Man Riley

    After seeing both MP and Eberle at the world championships, I don’t see either of them being sent down to OKC. MP has the experience playing against men, and the only way Eberle gets sent down is if he is still not physically ready to play in the Big Show, but his compete level is definitely there.

  • Wax Man Riley

    And as much as I’m pulling for the speedy little guy, and as much as I would love to see him light it up with the rest of the kids, I think Cogliano is really just playing to audition for his next team

  • Oilers cuts are in…

    OKC bound: Jordan Bendfeld (D), Philippe Cornet (LW), Milan Kytnar (C), Matt Marquardt (LW), Bryan Pitton (G)

    Jr. bound: Jeremie Blain (D) assigned to Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL), Tyler Bunz (G) assigned to Medicine Hat (WHL), Drew Czerwonka (LW) assigned to Kootenay (WHL), Brandon Davidson (D) assigned to Regina (WHL), Curtis Hamilton (LW) assigned to Saskatoon (WHL), Martin Marincin (D) assigned to Prince George (WHL), Ryan Martindale (C) assigned to Ottawa (OHL), Kristians Pelss (LW) assigned to Edmonton (WHL)

    Released: Dallas Ehrardt (D) assigned to Moose Jaw (WHL), Chase Schaber (C) assigned to Kamloops (WHL), Dominik Schlumpf (D) assigned to Shawinigan (QMJHL), Nolan Toigo (D) to UBC (CIS)

    Released & invited to OKC on tryout: Jesse Gimblett (LW), James Livingston (LW), Mike Thomas (RW)

  • Jeff

    Jason, good times at Off The Rocks on Saturday night!

    What’s the mood like around the team? Excited? Cautiously optimistic? Or resigned to another long season of losing? We’ve heard so much about the “change in culture” over the past four months, but have you noticed any differences so far?

  • Adam D

    Great article JG. The thing I really like about your style is your humility, you speak to the fans, not down to them like Dan “I’m a celebrity” Tencer. Arrogant little…anyways, I would favour keeping Giroux up in the popcorn box instead of Eberle, but thats just me. AHL.

  • Adam D

    So let me get this straight…

    Strudwick and Gilbert aren’t getting along? Uhhh… let’s ship Strudwick on the first flight out of town. Someone is a little lost.