A dozen days ago we looked at the Oilers depth chart and made some bets. These 12 days later, how many of those bets look like they’ll pay off? How many are still up in the air? How many have gone south?
The answers may surprise you.
Lets begin by listing the "sure things" to see if there has been any movement there:
- Nikolai Khabibulin: Playing, but looks rusty.
- Tom Gilbert: Healthy and effective.
- Ryan Whitney: Looks good. Calm feet.
- Kurtis Foster: Some chaos, some strong offensive play.
- Ladislav Smid: He’s had a nice camp.
- Jim Vandermeer: Tough individual, big hitter.
- Dustin Penner: Quality veteran looks faster.
- Ales Hemsky: Mr. Excitement.
- Sam Gagner: Faster, stronger.
- Shawn Horcoff: Looks like a new man.
- Taylor Hall: Ridiculous skill. Very young.
- Gilbert Brule: Solid offensive player.
- Andrew Cogliano: Fast as lightning.
- Ryan Jones: Injuries have placed his spot in jeopardy.
- Colin Fraser: Hasn’t played especially well.
- Zack Stortini: Solid camp.
- Steve MacIntyre: He’s done the job required with aplomb.
Of the 17 "safe" jobs there’s just one that looks wonky. Ryan Jones got a late start, and that allowed Liam Reddox a window of opportunity. The ginger is certainly in the conversation. Here are my original 6 "bubble" winners:
- Devan Dubnyk: Appears to have the inside track on the 2G job.
- Jason Strudwick: Veteran has delivered and his job looks safe.
- Theo Peckham: Chaos reigns and his job is in doubt.
- Magnus Pääjärvi: Has delivered an outstanding performance.
- Jordan Eberle: Impressive young player solidified his position.
- Ryan O’Marra: Hasn’t done enough to win the day despite outstanding opportunity.
I count Peckham as being the disappointment here. His skills are a perfect match for the team’s needs at the 5-7D position, he has some things going for him (waiver eligible) and yet he’s lost ground over these 12 days. O’Marra’s position on this list was perhaps untenable, but I felt his skills (faceoffs, penalty kill) would give him an enormous advantage over the competition.
However, early reports from TC had his conditioning as a point of interest, and I don’t think he’s delivered enough to hold on to that job. Both players in bold have to be considered disappointments at this point in time.
Now for the contenders and how they’ve fared:
- Jeff Deslauriers: Has been outplayed by Dubnyk.
- Martin Gerber: Sent down after an impressive TC. He could be back.
- Olivier Roy: Sent down early, as expected.
- Shawn Belle: Has played well enough to be in the conversation.
- Taylor Chorney: Sent down 10 days into camp. He needs time in the minors.
- Alex Plante: Had a solid camp, the organization seems pleased with his progress.
- Jeff Petry: Impressed many, he’s moving up the depth chart.
- Richard Petiot: A very pleasant surprise, he has a strong chance.
- Johan Motin: Cut one week into camp, he’s at the end of the prospect list at the pro level.
- Linus Omark: An impressive camp has him in the mix.
- Alex Giroux: Caught fire later in camp, has a very slight chance of making the roster.
- Liam Reddox: All out effort every shift. Why would we be surprised?
- Brad Moran: Sent down early (7 days in).
- Greg Stewart: Was among the early cuts.
- Ben Ondrus: A strong performance has him in the mix.
- Chris Vande Velde: Young man has impressed with wide range of skills.
- Teemu Hartikainen: Sent down early, he has talent.
- Tyler Pitlick: The early talk of TC, he’ll be back to stay in the next couple of years.
- Cameron Abney: Did some nice things before being sent back to junior.
A quick note on Colin McDonald: I didn’t list him because he had no chance to make the team. He did however play very well and I think he might get a call sometime this season.
Assuming JF Jacques begins the season on the IR, we’re down to four battles:
- Dubnyk versus JDD: It looks like the big man has won the day.
- Peckham fighting Belle and Petiot: I think Petiot may win this contest.
- Ryan Jones versus Liam Reddox: I don’t know how they send Reddox away.
- O’Marra versus the world: I really felt O’Marra would have the advantage here. He can PK, win faceoffs and if he spends some nights in the pressbox it wouldn’t hurt his development (as it might with someone new to the pro game, like Vande Velde). However, Omark, Giroux, Ondrus and Vande Velde are all in the mix here, and the question is no longer "what center can win the extra job" its about spending the last roster spot on an energy forward. The loser of the Jones/Reddox match could also grab this job.
I wonder if Peckham and O’Marra will ever get another chance like this one. Arriving in training camp with a team in dire need of your skill set and without a lot of competition. At a time in your career when you could catch on and have a nice run if things break right. Remember a few years ago when Kyle Brodziak arrived in camp and pushed aside all the first rounders (Schremp, Pouliot, etc)?
Well it looks like Liam Reddox is doing the exact same thing. "Undersized ginger eats everyone’s lunch" wasn’t the headline expected, but its the story this morning.