GDB MINUS ONE: LAST CHANCE

 It’s last chanceville for Richard Petiot, Theo Peckham and Shawn Belle as they will battle the Flames and each other for the final slot on the blueline. Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Kurtis Foster, Ladislav Smid, Jim Vandermeer and Jason Strudwick have the other six spots.

While Petiot has played very well in his first two games, he will need to be just as good, if not better, tonight if he wants to complete the Cinderella hometown-guy-makes-Oilers scenario. The harsh reality is that if Petiot stumbles a bit tonight, that will open the door for the Oilers to keep Peckham and send Petiot to the minors.

The Oilers are leery that if they make Peckham available someone will claim him on waivers. They thought the same thing last year with Liam Reddox, and it didn’t happen. I’m not saying it won’t this year, and I have invested nothing in Peckham, but if Petiot deserves to be here I’d like to see him stick.

Peckham was okay against the Flames on Friday, but we’ve yet to see much of his physical side. I’m not talking just fighting, but he needs to lean into a few Flames tonight and get noticed. I don’t think Belle has much of a chance. He’s only played one game so far, and was okay at best in that game. He is an incredible skater, but his decisions with the puck aren’t great. He is a good depth guy, and we will probably see him in Edmonton at some point this season, just not to start the year.

Even when you look at the pairings tonight, you wonder if Peckham is not still slighty ahead of Petiot.

OILERS LINEUP

Penner/Cogliano/Eberle
Giroux/Gagner/Brule
Omark/Fraser/Jones
MacIntrye/O’Marra/Ondrus

Smid/Peckham
Strudwick/Gilbert
Petiot/Belle

Deslauriers
Dubnyk

I will be curious to see how they distribute the minutes on the blueline tonight. Petiot has played well when he has played a lot, but when the regular season starts he’ll be in the 3rd pairing and be playing less. It is hard to be as effective when you play fewer minutes. It is hard to stay in the game when you sit on the bench for longer stretches, so watch for how much icetime Petiot gets tonight. If he shows he can be just as effective with reduced minutes, he might just make the team. But if Peckham plays well tonight, I think he will be sticking with the big club.

I’m not sure who will start in goal, because yesterday Dubnyk mentioned to me that he thought he was starting. At this point, I don’t think it really matters. No one within the organization has told me this, but I think Dubnyk will be the backup.

Up front I don’t see any surprises.

Jones was okay his first game, despite being -3, and they like that he is a thick body, but I’m guessing he starts the season in the pressbox. I’ll bet that MacIntyre starts opening night, and then Reddox plays against the Panthers on Sunday. I think Reddox and Jones will be the two extra forwards.

O’Marra has gotten better every game, but if Jones didn’t have a one-way deal at $975,000 he might stay just because he can play centre. He and Chris Vande Velde will battle to be the first centre called up once the season starts. O’Marra’s problem is that he is big, but doesn’t use his size often enough. He needs to lean on some guys a bit more often. I just haven’t seen enough "I want to really be here" from him during camp.

Omark has really impressed people with his offensive skill, but he’ll most likely start the season in OKC. If he gets off to a great start down there, I think we will see him in Edmonton by December at the latest. They want him to be less of a freelancer in his own zone, and if he can show that in 15 or 20 games in the AHL he will get the call. Renney loves his determination to battle for lose pucks.

Cogliano was 50% in the dot on Wednesday, but he had Brule take the draws on the right side of the ice. Tonight he will probably take all of them, and we’ll see if all his off-season work will start to pay off. If he is around 50%, he and the coaches will be happy.

WAIVERS

Some are worried that JDD could get claimed on waivers, but I don’t see that happening. The Sharks will waive Thomas Greiss and the Kings will expose Erik Ersberg. Ersberg makes $750,000 while Greiss is a $550,000 cap hit. Deslauriers makes a cool $1,050,000 and I don’t think he has shown much more than either Ersberg or Greiss at this point.

The Wild signed Jose Theodore this weekend, so that one less team that might be interested in grabbing a goalie. The Nashville Predators seem the most likely to grab someone.  I don’t see them taking Deslauriers when he is the most expensive.

Some fans wondered if Shane O’Brien would have been an upgrade. If he was a better puck mover they might have put in a claim, but they have enough rugged guys in Vandermeer, Peckham and Strudwick that they didn’t need another. If a team exposes a puck mover this week, then Oilers might think about it. If they get an injury to one of their top-four D-men they will be in trouble. 

  • DK0

    “If you can get that many in the AHL, you can get at least half that in the NHL”

    Ohhhhhhh. so Giroux is a 30 goal scorer and every team has just been too dumb to put him on their roster?

  • Dutchscooter

    O’Marra hasn’t looked bad. Taking the body, some good defensive plays. Hasn’t looked out of place. Eberle has pretty much erased any doubt that he’s ready.

    • Eddie Shore

      I can’t wait until Smid and Peckham never see powerplay time again. Ever. I’m ready for the real season to start where players play where and when they should….

      • Shaun Doe

        Don’t get me wrong, those two HELD the line well. But with no shot comming from the point the forwards were forced to play the puck through the seam which the larger Flames players just plugged up. Not to mention that none of the forwards appeared ready to fire in a one timer on those cross crease passes. But I agree, lets get it on for real now.

      • Shaun Doe

        Ohhh ok, I didn’t see Smid run into bourque I thought Bourque ran into him… ok.. weird.

        So that new NHL rule which was substantially enacted through GM vote stating,

        “whether a player has or does not have the site of a player coming, ANY direct impact with the players head is ruled a head shot.”

        does not matter in this case, because Smid ran into him, right?

  • Shaun Doe

    the game tonite was so hit and miss for so many players. jones was really noticable. he was all over the ice and one of the oilers best players all nite. he should be a lock for the forth line. omark had flashes of brillance and should be good once he gets used to the smaller rinks. gags and penner def looked a step faster, gags still gets knocked down but not as easy as last year imo. gilbert and belle were just plain out awful. if it was my choice i would wave gilbert. if they had the games worst star he would get it. turning over the puck like crazy, i think olny once he was able to hold the blue line. he better get his act together fast. im gettin jacked for this season, should be a real exciting team, and hopefully bad enough for larssen

  • Shaun Doe

    oh ya and smid look amazing. he had alot more composure with the puck. still playing the nice rugged style but finally making nice crisp passes and was able to hold onto the puck, unlike gilbert

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I think the Oilers signed JDD to the cool Million+ just so he would be less attractive and clear waivers. With the cap being no issue and wanting good goaltenders in OK it also makes sense. Also a good season of training down in OK for JDD will be good for him. They have I think found a way to keep him. I think they are just waiting to let other teams rosters settle a bit so he is even less likely to be taken. Its a good move if you ask me. In the long run I am getting more sold on DD for the Show but JDD could end up as the 30 game backup in a couple of years.