Oilers Send Out Six; Battles Remain

VANCOUVER, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 19: Johan Motin #29 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on during a stoppage in play in a preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks on September 19, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

We had been told to expect cuts today, and the Oilers didn’t disappoint, releasing one player and ticketing five others for Oklahoma City.

The player released was Jared Aulin, while the five sent to the minors are as follow:

  • Teemu Hartikainen
  • Jake Taylor
  • Johan Motin
  • Greg Stewart
  • Brad Moran

None of this is especially shocking, although the release of Aulin surprised me a little. He played some NHL hockey back in 2002-03, and last season was a solid player with Syracuse of the AHL. Still, he would have taken up one of the Oilers’ veteran spots in Oklahoma. 

Speaking of veteran spots, both Stewart and Moran need to clear waivers before they arrive in the AHL, but the probability of either being claimed is really close to the “none” side of the slim-to-none spectrum. Stewart adds muscle to the line-up while Moran may be the top scorer in Oklahoma this season; he’s been a minor league impact player stretching back to before the NHL lockout.

Taylor played for the Oilers down in Springfield last season, and it’s no surprise to see him returned. The two legitimate prospects – Hartikainen and Motin – are still a year or more away and need time to develop on the farm, but the fact they’ve been sent down relatively early doesn’t say good things about their training camp, particularly given some of the names still at Oilers camp.

The real surprise today comes from looking at those names. At the top of the list is Colin McDonald, who isn’t even on an NHL contract, but somehow remains in camp.  28 year-old Ben Ondrus, who has spent most of his professional career in the Leafs’ AHL system, also remains in camp, although he is expected to start the season in Oklahoma. Those two players are both guys that Hartikainen might have expected to outlast. On defence, the fact that Motin was demoted while Alex Plante, Jeff Petry and Taylor Chorney remain tells us that he’s a bit behind that cluster of prospects.

As for the key battles, today’s cuts don’t tell us much because the players sent out weren’t really expected to compete for those spots. As I read it (assuming that Steve MacIntyre is a sure thing and Ryan Jones isn’t), there are two available spots up front and two available spots on the back end, with heavy competition for both. Here’s how I expect the battles to play out:

Forward

  • *Ryan Jones
  • *Liam Reddox
  • Ryan O’Marra
  • Linus Omark
  • Alexandre Giroux
  • Chris Vande Velde
  • Ben Ondrus

Defence

  • *Theo Peckham
  • *Jason Strudwick
  • Shawn Belle
  • Richard Petiot
  • Jeff Petry
  • Alex Plante
  • Taylor Chorney

Naturally, that also assumes the NHL guys from last season are joined by the three star forward prospects, that Colin McDonald’s AHL contract puts him out of the running for a job (though given the role available there’s a temptation to think he has an outside shot) and that the Oilers carry 14 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders. How does everyone else see training camp turning out?

  • Milli

    Omark should and will go to OKC for some grooming, and I’m sure he will get some games with the big club this season. But, there is nothing wrong with letting him develop for a time in the A.

    As for the Smac or no Smac debate, anyone remember Raffi Torres with Big George and raffi torres without? This year we gotta have a destroyer, we have way to many young and talented kids to protect. And I’m pretty sure he will put the fear into anyone he needs to, may not fight them, but he will let them no what’s not allowed!

  • book¡e

    Stop being silly – Omark is waiver exempt and Cogs is not, so its such a non-issue that I am stunned that anyone is taking the conversation seriously.

    Unless Cogs gets traded or injured, he is on the NHL club. It is basic asset management. If they don’t want him on the NHL club – trade him!

  • Chris.

    @ Bookie:

    Props Sir, for sheer, basic, common sence!

    I think it’s funny how the general concensus on this site is that the pre-season doesn’t matter too much, and don’t raise your expectations for this team based on a few pre-season games… yet out of the same mouth, much of the same group honestly believe that camp performance should be the end all, be all for the distribution of roster spots. Most of these guys are jockying for the right to be first call up… and that is just fine.

  • I am curious as to how many out there think Stevie Mac should not have been signed. I am not one of them. What I don`t get is why anyone cares if our number 14 forward is a knuckledraggingmeatheat who plays 20 games and 3 minutes a night. Who else should we have there….I think we can agree that were thankful we paid nearly league minumum for a guy who is popular with his teamates, rather than the Goliath of both a contract and person in the Boogieman. 500k, 20 games, and a great interview, what is seriously wrong with this signing. If Jacque comes back healthy there will be very few nights Macs in the lineup, and if Mac intemidates one guy from hitting Hemsky, Hall, Ebs, Brule, Co, MPS then he signing has value. Its called an old school insurance policy, and I`ll bet a bottle of scotch to anyone who thinks otherwise.

    Stevie Mac is pure class, great cheep signing for a heart and sole guy…

  • Flyers goalie Michale Leighton is out at least a month with a bulging disc in his back.

    With Minny losing Josh Harding and now this, I wonder if the Oilers tender’s come into play. If JDD wasn’t getting $1M, he might be attractive to teams via trade. (Potentially) too bad they gave him the money to make him unattractive so that they could slide him thru waivers.

    I imagine Jose Theodore’s phone will start ringing, if it hasn’t already.

  • Rogue

    Is anyone else getting tired of the overuse of the word Pedigree in describing hockey players talents.

    The word is usually used to refer to decribe a persons ancestory, their genetic makeup, and is more commonly used for dogs or race horses. Now it is used to explain a hockey players skill set development.

    If Player A went to this great high school, played in the world juniors, and was highly touted he has more pedigree then player B who played Junior A, played college hockey, and spent two years in the AHL.

    I have been bothered by this since Pierre MacGuire (I refuse to look up his name on the net, for fear I might convulse if I see a picture of the guy, his voice is like squeaky chalk on a chalkboard)used the word to decribe why the Canadians made the choice to keep Carey Price over Huet a few years ago, stating that although Huet was carrying Montreal, Price had Pedigree. Since then the word is being overused, and misused by commentators who want to explain a players development.

    Hopefully I am not misremembering…

    • I sometimes use the word “pedigree” in hockey to describe the difference between players. Examples…

      Matt Pelech (1st rounder) v. Adam Pardy (6th rounder)

      Devan Dubnyk (1st rounder) v. JDD (2nd rounder)

      Sometimes, the word is used in relation to what teams will do…

      ie: In theory, the Flames/Oilers will keep Pelech/Dubnyk because he’s a 1st rounder, and they don’t want their scouts to look bad, or they give the benefit of the doubt to player the scouts drafted higher.

      So no… I’m not tired of hearing it 😉

  • Rogue

    Omark should be here someday. But I think he needs to go down and get some playing time in OKC. But dont forget, Omark has played in pro hockey already,albeit not North American. What we can agree on is that they are two flywieghts. Who knows, maybe Omark turns into another Schremp and everyone is happy. Maybe he is too small, too arrogant, too individual. All I know is that he has sick puck handling skills, close to Hemsky, which the Oilers have missed for soooo long. Let Cogs play and put up some numbers, hopefully. Then you can move him. The Oil have tried to trade him twice, so if there is potential for a trade, I feel he will be the first forward to move. Yes he had suspect linemates last year, but so did Comrie, and look how Brule produced with his linemates and limited ice time. Potulny as well, look what he did with his opportunity.

    In reality, what the Oil need is a Dustin Brown or a Nathan Horton type player. I think they really missed the boat when Horton got moved to Boston. So even if Cogs or Omark are good for the Oil, longterm they need a different type player.

  • Rogue

    RossCreekNation: good point. Ive also heard in regards to say a player like Sam Gagne, and Hall who dad`s played pro sports. In that context it works as well.

  • SurfacetoAirMissile

    I never thought I would be saying this but Liam Redox should make the team. He does not have the same offensive skill as the others competing for one of the few remaining roster spots but he has other attributes that can help the oilers club this year. He is a younger and cheaper version of Pissani and Moreau. The Red Ox may not win many popularity contests with the Oil but I think he can stake a claim on a roster spot if he can continue his tenacious forchecking and solid play in his own end. Who knows maybe he can be make his way to the number one PK unit.

  • Golden Seals

    Cogliano or Omark makes very little difference in the grand scheme of things. Until the Oilers find more grit and size up front to supplement the young skill players this is a team closer to the bottom of the standings than the top.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about the potential on this team but when the regular season starts the same problems excist. Big, strong teams will cycle the puck, playing keepaway.

    • Chris.

      It’s kind of hard for some fans to maintain a balanced perspective when the Oilers Organization (and certain memebers of the MSM) spent nearly two seasons (a few years back) pumping up Gagner and Cogliano like they were near equivalents of Kane and Toews… Fact is, neither player has yet to develop into a consistant * differencemaker…

      It’s amusing to watch Lowe and Tambellini walk the tightrope promoting the improved overall quality and depth of our new young players without back peddaling too much on the false hope they regularly sold fans up to just one season ago.

      * I said consistant.

  • Ender

    If people will humour me for a second, I’m going to go on an off-topic rant.

    Why, for the love of all that good and right, can the NHL not allow people to tell the difference between pre-season and regular season games in the schedule?

    I know that the regular season starts on October 7th. I get that our first game is against Calgary that night. Props to the good folk at Oilersnation for posting that information on the calendar box at the top of this page, right underneath that abomination of a reminder for the 7-2 thrashing that will be forever seared into my brain after this summer.

    My point, though, is where I did NOT get the information for the start of the regular season. I didn’t get it from the Oilers website; their little calendar used to have the preseason games in two different colors for away and home and then two completely different colors for regular season away and home. No longer; now it’s all the same. Ditto on their main calendar link. (In fairness, you can find the information on the schedule tab if you know where to look, but they don’t make it easy.)

    NHL.com is just as bad or worse. Click on schedules there and they make no attempt to differentiate a game played in Latvia on October 6th VS one played in Toronto on the 7th.

    Even TSN, seemingly with nothing to gain from being obscure, appears to have the preseason schedule merge seamlessly with the regular season; finding where one ends and the other begins is like trying to find the end on an old roll of clear packing tape.

    Are the teams so scared that you might stay at home because it’s only the pre-season that they’re reluctant now to even let people know which games matter and which ones don’t? Sheesh! Take off the tin-foil hats, put away the cloak and dagger, and just come right out and tell people ‘The regular season starts here. This is where it all begins.

    It’s not like it’s a state secret. People are going to find out. Why not just be up front about it?

    /end rant

  • Rogue

    Nope. 23 games for Pisani. Hey, I have always been a fan of Cogs and he may turn into a 25-30 goal guy. Or, redo his game and be a “Marchant” type player. If we did not have the 3 kids, or if 2 were minor bound, Cogs might be second line material, as a winger, not a center. I thought he had a great rookie year, went thru a bit of a sophmore slump and was lost last year. But this is a” what have you done for me lately” league. Will he continue to improve, or flounder? No way Omark deserves a roster spot over Andrew. As another poster put it, Cogs, Omark, these type of players are not what we need moving forward. Size and grit is what we lack.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    So I take it from today/yesterdays conversations that the new crop of rookies have three years to establish themselves as borderline stars or better.

    Take note Eberle/MSP/Hall and whomever else may make the team. You better figure this league out… fast or we’ll be busy looking to replace you with the next big thing (or at least the guy that had 2 good pre-season games).

    • Rogue

      Time will tell. If cogs grows 3 inches and 30 lbs. and scores 25 goals he can stay. Otherwise, move him for a stay at home dman or a basher. He wont be the last fan favorite to be moved if we are to contend in 3-5 years. And ~Omark is our savior~