14 More Sleeps!

There was a time in this fair land when the World Juniors did not run. The annual post-Christmas tournament is in Buffalo this year and Oiler fans will be rewarded once again with prospects present and future.

Team Canada begins its camp today. The roster is here. There are two Oiler prospects in the mix:

  • G Olivier Roy looked good at the summer camp and would have to be considered a favorite to at least make the team. Calvin Pickard’s strong WHL season may give him the edge for the starting job.
  • Big winger Curtis Hamilton is in the top 10 in WHL scoring and stands a good chance at making this year’s tournament. There aren’t many returning forwards and Hamilton’s size/skill combination should get him a long look from the coaches.

Once again the Canadian squad will have two or three exceptional draft eligibles at the camp. Several of these kids are can’t miss prospects and all of them are on the Oilers radar:

  • C Sean Couturier. 6.03, 192. Big winger is very likely #1 on the Oilers list for 2011. Ranks 3rd in QMJHL scoring (32gp, 16-35-51) and looks like that big C the Oilers have been searching for since trading Jason Arnott. If there’s one player at this tournament we should get to know it’s Couturier. At this point he’s probably headed to the Islanders (better there than Calgary) but you never know.
  • C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 6.0, 166. 31gp, 8-33-41 is good enough for 11th in WHL scoring. Ridiculous puck skills make him a lottery pick and scouts have been doing the same thing all season: going in worrying over his lack of size and coming out dazzled by his wizardry. This could be a big tournament for RNH. If he posts a strong number, it could carry him to the #2 pick.
  • D Ryan Murphy 5.11, 176. 28gp, 13-31-44 in the OHL (good enough for a 9th place tie in league scoring, he leads all defensemen). This is a player Oiler fans should watch closely. Quality puck moving defender, if he makes the team it’ll be an upset (Canada is stacked along the blue) but he looks like a game breaker.

There are some terrific Oiler prospects from other countries who we may see in Buffalo. Here are three:

  • C Anton Lander (Sweden): He went 6gp, 5-3-8 at last year’s WJs and is having a fine season in the SEL (30gp, 7-7-14 E) with Timra. He is a strong candidate for center on the Oilers moving forward.
  • D Martin Marincin (Slovakia): 6gp, 0-2-2 -3 a year ago; he turned heads at the tournament and should be even better with a year’s experience. I’ll be interested to see how much offense he brings considering his breakout season in the WHL.
  • R Toni Rajala (Finland) Scored 6gp, 1-2-3 last season and impressed with his speed. Rajala’s SM-Liiga season is only average so far (20gp, 5-5-10) but he has tremendous talent and should impact the WJ’s.

NOTE: Selections haven’t been made for these countries (and others), so this is a select list. There are other names who may be included by the time the WJ’s arrive, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of Oiler prospects who’ll play at the World Juniors this season.

There are about three times a year when I say "this is my favorite time of year": trade deadline, draft day and the world junior’s. They’re all like Christmas for hockey fans, with the WJ having the added advantage of sliding into a holiday period for many of us. Oiler fans have much to look forward to this season, at the NHL level and below. The world junior championships should be no exception.

  • “There was a time in this fair land that the World Juniors did not run”

    Canadian Railroad Trilogy Lowetide?? Nice. Now pay Mr. Lightfoot a looney or 2 for that :).

    Looking forward to the tournament, hope to see the Oilers’ prospects shine.

  • Petr's Jofa

    My Grandmother died a couple of years ago. She’d been sick and and things had gotten worse. We were all called into her bedside and told she had hours and likely wouldn’t make it through the night. It wasn’t horribly sad, she’d lived a good long life and it was her time. We waited next to her as she slipped in and out of consciousness we turned on the WJC. She was pretty deaf and didn’t stir once the entire game.

    Hours later, Grandma finally awoke, spoke her final words “who won the game?”, and passed away.

    Thanks to Jordan Eberle, we answered Canada.

    I love this time of year too.

    • O.C.

      Nice story.

      The Bruins will be looking for a big goal scorer. The islanders defense. The flames a forward, or 8… If oil continue to play .450 hockey or better, they will have to look a trading up to draft an offensive D or franchise center

      These three teams wouldn’t want our expendables.

    • jadeddog

      my father died early this year, and the last game we ever watched together was the canada v usa WJC final… when canada was down by 2 with a few minutes to play i joked to dad “watch, eberle will score twice”, we both laughed

      even though we lost that game, i’ll remember it for the rest of my life… probably a lot more fondly than most canadians will

      • Lowetide

        Beauty. My Dad and I shared sports too, which is probably one of the reasons it has remained close to me all these years. Sorry to hear of your father’s passing, jadeddog.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I remember my first hockey game with my dad, went to see Andy Brown (last goalie to play without a mask) and the Indianapolis Racers. My father got me a job with Northlands and never had to pay to get into the building again. He passed away a week before the Grey Cup, sports was pretty much the only thing that brought us together, CFL was always a bridge to the next hockey season.

  • Skidplate

    I’m with you LT on the 3 favorite times of the year. I am old enough to remember the playoffs as another favorite time of the year, unfortunatley that has not been the case for far too long. Lets hope that in the not too distant future, we Oiler fans can have a 4rth favorite time of year.

  • m_kennedy13

    I’m the late one this time Lowetide. What on earth had you up and writing by 6 AM, that must be some strong coffee today.

    If the Oilers aren’t a top five pick this year, which I dont think they are, they better look very closely at Duncan Siemens. 6 foot 3, 200 pounds, and mean as can be. Guy is a perfect fit for us. He is going to be a Chris Pronger.

    • Lowetide

      I worked early mornings for years (about 15 of them) and from time to time (especially leading up to Christmas) get into a really early morning routine. Which means I’ll be nodding off about 9 tonight. πŸ™‚

      I used to worry about my kids getting their days and nights mixed up for sleeping, but it looks like they should worry about me. πŸ™‚

    • MikeH

      I’m biased but I have to agree. It’d be great to see Duncan (from Sherwood Park) in Oiler silks. Plus it’ll save me the cost of buying another team’s jersey

  • Gabriel Landeskog is who I’m looking forward to watching the most.

    RNH isn’t an option and Couturier will be out of reach.

    The rebuild needs to happen fast so drafting a defenseman isn’t an option either.

    Best Winger Available = Landeskog

    Campbell v Roy is still on my wishlist.

  • m_kennedy13

    An early morning routine is the best. Best time of the day is nice and early. Just as long as somebody gives you a wake up call whenever Linus is shooting it’s worth the early bedtime.

    Off topic question here. I know it’s a long shot, but what are the odds you could break through the barrier and get full access to the Oilers like Gregor. I know it’s been discussed before and seems like a never ending struggle, but in Calgary Flames Nation has been getting a lot of talk on the radio as of late. Can’t help but think that helps your case. I do believe I remember you saying you really weren’t gunning for those kinds of things, but you still deserve it.

    I would love to see the damage you could do with those kinds of privileges.

    • Lowetide

      I’ve never really felt a need to have access to the organization. Guy Flaming had that role awhile back (info on prospects) and did a better job than I ever could of it.

      I think the actual reporting on prospects, etc would be cool IF you could get access AND frank responses. However, I’m not sure the Oilers would be (or should be) forthcoming.

      It’s an interesting thought, though.

        • Lowetide

          speeds: My top 6 would probably look like this:

          1. Couturier
          2. Adam Larsson
          3. RNH
          4. Landeskog
          5. Murphy
          6. Saad

          I liked Rattie early but he’s really fallen off the pace. How about you?

          • SumOil

            I would replace RNH with Landeskog and Murphy with Saad.
            Sean Couturier started out a little slow, but last few games he was on fire. Now currently sitting 3rd in Qmjhl scoring, I will be surprised if he doesnt go 1st overall

            I think we will see an all-WHl line as the shutdown line involving Hamilton Howden and Vey

  • m_kennedy13

    Guy Flaming is a smart hockey guy and a great read most the time. The Pipeline Show is almost always very captivating. I believe he started off by doing some work for the ISS right? Is that how he got in that inner circle with the Oilers?

    I understand the Oilers point of view. They write off all blogs because of what the average blog represents. However, I don’t understand why they can’t make a case by case decision on whether or not a guy should get access to the players. Maybe have some sort of nomination system. If a guy, like say Gregor, were to come to the Oilers with a writer such as yourself I don’t see why they shouldn’t give it a look.

    Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you have some sort of writing backround right? So it’s not like you lack the ability, as you’ve proven time and time again, to write quality pieces.

    But hey, I’m just another crazy fan looking for all the possible information on our beloved Oilers.

    • Lowetide

      I think there’s probably an opportunity there for someone in a prospect capacity. But a lot of the prospects are hither and yawn, so the only real authorties would be the scouts.

      Scouts don’t talk to the media, although MBS does a few updates a year on their site. I suspect that’s part of it too, the Oilers would like to drive as many eyeballs as possible to their website.

      I’d do the same thing. πŸ™‚

  • Lowetide

    I like your list at this point, seems pretty reasonable, though I think I like Strome better than Saad at this point.

    I’m not generally a big believer in taking D early, and I haven’t seen him play, but statistically there’s a lot to like in Doug Hamilton. His offensive numbers don’t pop out as compared to Murphy, but they are still very good for an 18 year old, coupled with a towering +/- among Niagara’s D.

    Rattie is interesting, he’s a guy you’d really like to hear from the scouts on. I haven’t checked out the box scores, but could it be that his stats have dipped due to a reduction in ice time, espec PP time, after the return of Niederreiter and Johansen? I don’t know, but I’d certainly be asking my scouts if I were a head scout.

    • SumOil

      That is exactly what has happened in the case of Rattie. Since Neiderreiter has come back, his numbers have gone down more than a fair bit.

      Also at this point, I would rate Saad and Strome about the same, even though Strome has more points than Saad. Strome is more of a finesse player. Saad is more of a power forward and very responsible in his own end. Saad is a regular on the PK and has even gotten a lot of points SH.

      I will not be surprised at all If Hamilton is chosen before Murphy. He is big and a very mobile D-man. It is very close though as of right now.

  • m_kennedy13

    Rattie is a small town boy (my small town) who is offensively gifted but leaves a lot to be desired in his own half of the rink. He probably won’t go top 10 this year. If he pulled his all round game together he could become a hell of a player. Great talent.

    Strome is turning it on as of late. With 11 points in 6 December games, and also has 19 points in his last 12 if you go back a bit further.

    Larsson is still my number one overall, and should put himself ahead of the competion at the WJC.

    If we can’t draft one of Larsson, Couturier, or RNH then I really hope we get Duncan Siemens. Big mean defender from the Edmonton area. Not sure how many opportunities you’ve all had to watch the Saskatoon Blades but watching Siemens and Hamilton is really worth it.

    Whoever drafts that Curtis Hamilton kid is going to be really lucky. He’s a diamond in the rough. πŸ˜‰

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Never really learned to appreciate the World juniors like some have, always looked to the NHL for my hockey high. I may watch if there’s nothing else going on but junior hockey to me has always been just a step above womens hockey. There are only so many personal hours in a day, NHL is all i need.

    • positivebrontefan

      A step above womens hockey?
      No offense ladies, but the best womens teams are on par with good AAA midget teams.
      WJC is way, way, above that. Take a look at some of the best from last year. A name you might recognize, HALL!
      You get to see the future of the NHL playing with no inhibitions and their reputation on the line, in some cases deciding where they will be drafted into the NHL.
      This tournament ranks right up there with anticipation with the Olympics in my books. The only thing that puts the Olympics over is the fact it only happens once every four years, oh and you get to see kids try things like Omark did last game because they haven’t had the old boys of the NHL tell them what is deemed “respectful”.

      Just my opinion though…

    • Lowetide

      This tournament is the best (besides Olympics or your team in the NHL playoffs)! Excellent hockey is normally played – If you like the ‘game’ itself, you really should spend time watching as these kids are playing to get somewhere & play their hearts out.

      I don’t follow Jr hockey a lot through the year as I don’t have oodles of time to kill and my main focus is on the Oilers & that takes up too much time as it is, but this is a tournament that my eyes are glued to. LOL

      I am female & the world stops for Jr hockey during the holidays.

  • Bob Cobb

    Lets say the Oilers finish with the 6th pick cause right now that is where they sit and I think NYI has first all but sown up. My idea would be to offer NYI the 6th pick plus a player or prospect maybe both, likely a defenceman, for John Tavaras. It helps the Oilers get a top line centre if they cant get Couturier or Nugent-Hopkins, gives the Islanders help on the backend and the possibility to add 2 high level prospects, one being a franchise centre.

    • Lowetide

      I think the Islanders will keep Tavares, he’s basically their Taylor Hall. Their owner isn’t doing much to appease the fanbase, trading their franchise player would be a disaster imo.

        • Lowetide

          That’s a good question. IF the Oilers wanted Couturier and the Islanders owned the 1st pick, you’d think the Oilers 1st plus something might get it done.

          The only problem is that Wang is sulking about the Lighthouse project and one wonders if he’d be willing to pick up a contract. Of course the 1st overall comes with a dear pricetag as well.

          So, in answer to your question: I don’t know. πŸ™‚ Worth having the conversation, though.

          • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

            I agree.it’ll be hard to see them picking up a contract when they are clear cut basement dwellers this year and doesn’t seem they’ll work there way out for another year or two. I see them using there pick and loading up for the future with another solid number 1 pick to go along with nino and travares as a solid group of young players.

        • John Chambers

          This is the only scenario in which I see us moving a player like Sam Gagner. If we try to make a deal for Tavares or the 1st or 2nd pick in the draft, we’d have to exchange a C in return and obviously have to package our 1st rounder which will be 4th – 9th overall.

          The re-build is still a long ways away on the Island … they might try something desperate to expedite it by trading their pick for 2 young players. Tavares might be asking to be out behind the scenes, but that’s just me speculating.

          Otherwise there’s no way we’re drafting in the top 3 this year.

  • John Chambers

    Hypothetically would you trade Gagner + Paajarvi for the Isles pick?

    Some people really believe we need a top line Centre to become an elite team. How do people feel about that steep price?

    • Lowetide

      I wouldn’t do it. You’re sending away two outstanding talents and have suffered through some growing pains with them.

      Unless Couturier is a “once in a generation” talent I can’t see the Oilers coming out ahead of the game.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I’d put Paaravi in the untouchable category still, along with Eberle and Hall, so no, non starter on that possibility. Hemsky and Gagner, two value priced players that could do well for the Islanders for years to come.

      Middle ground group Dubnyk, Peckham and Whitney and possibly even Linus Omark, hoping he dosen’t fall into the Robert Nilsson category.

      The rest of the roster would be available for the possibility of that first pick. I’d keep bugging Chiarelli as well, that Tor/Bos pick is a wild card, if we have something to help push the Bruins over the top, maybe Penner and Gilbert for that pick and take back enough salary so it works for the Bruins, there’s always that angle as well.

      Was hoping the Oilers would be neck and neck with the Islanders, the possibility of having two of the top four seems to be fading. If we want to be in the top 5 now we’re going to have to trade our way there. Horcoffs going to be back a week after Hemsky is.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          This is a better hockey club with Horcoff in the lineup. The next 4 weeks will show how much Shawn really means to Taylor and Jordans game. It’s a little unfair to measure their production over the next 25 games and measure that against their first 25 games, they’re both more confident players now as compared to the beginning of the season. I feel their offensive numbers will increase over the next 25 games, could just be a confidence thing rather than my Horcoffless theory.


          2 of the top 4 picks thing. Figured we’d be neck and neck with the Islanders by this time, was hoping to aquire that other pick via trade. The Islander pick or the Tor/Bos pick to go with our own, having 2 of the top 4/5 slots stacks the deck in favour of landing that 1st overall pick. I certainly appears greedy, nobody said it was going to be easy to get something like this done with one of those two teams, i just thought the Oilers had the means/players to do it with another difficult/injury riddled season……. Gagner will be a fine player in a few more years, probably even a Marc Savard type player. I’m not belittling Sam Gagner, he’s just part of the price you have to pay to land a pick like that possible first overall pick. My vision of The rebuild includes Hall, Eberle,Paaravi,Couturier,Larsson and maybe Dubnyks continued progress, but it’s starting to look as though this years players want no part of this scenario and trading for a pick is our only shot at getting just 1 of those in the top 5.

          • Crash

            I’m sure trading for a lottery pick is possible but you aren’t going to get a lottery pick for Penner and Gilbert and the Isles are definitely not going to trade a lottery pick for a player who is UFA in a year and a half and another player who was a 6th overall.

            You’re not getting that extra lottery pick for vets that don’t break the 60 point barrier. More than likely the only way you obtain a lottery pick is to grossly overpay for it IMO. Not sure that would be a good idea.

      • Crash

        You guys that don’t value Gagner seem to think that he is worth lots in a trade…if he truly is only a top end 60 point 2nd line center, then why in hell would a team that’s rebuilding every bit as much as the Oilers trade the 1st overall pick for Gagner (supposedly only a 2nd line center) and Hemsky who would most certainly bolt out of Long Island just like Ryan Smyth did at the end of next year? Answer is they wouldn’t and won’t.

        Also, who trades 1st overall picks? Who?

        Get off it already. If Gagner and Hemsky are two value priced players that could do well for the Islanders for years (although I guarantee you Hemsky wouldn’t stay there), then why couldn’t they be two value priced players that do well for the Oilers for years?

        Where do you get this idea that the Oilers could end up with two of the top 4 picks?

        ….give it a rest already…it’s NOT happening.

        • John Chambers

          Hmmm, I don’t think it’s fair that you belittle the guy for suggesting trade ideas, whether you think they’re wildly unrealistic or not.

          As a matter of fact, top-5 draft picks have been traded before in recent history – Burke jockeyed to draft both Sedins.

          It’s entirely reasonable that another team would trade a lottery pick if the return suited their needs. The Islanders won’t have an interst in Hemsky, I agree, but if you disagree with someone’s right to propose the idea on this site then you’ve lost the point of why it exists.

  • Oilertown

    I would say that Gagner Eberle Hall and Pajjarrvi are untouchables. Was wondering though if anyone would trade Hall for Tavares straight up. I don’t think I would do that deal myself

    • Jamie B.

      I wouldn’t, but that’s only because of the way Hall skates. I think Tavares is a great player too, he’s just in an awful situation right now. Gretzky in his prime couldn’t help that team, and most of it isn’t the players’ faults.

      Even if the Islanders somehow become mediocre in the future instead of god awful, I wonder if Tavares becomes the next Rick Nash, by which I mean a great player that everyone forgets about because he plays for a crappy team. Then suddenly you see him on Team Canada and think, “Hot damn, I really like the way that guy plays.”

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    hour before puck drop and no GDB???

    wanye must be locked in a basement and is being forced into the dirty underground world of midget gay porn…

  • Crash

    JC…on belittling people … you haven’t lived until you’ve been belittled here…or how ’bout being called a troll…my goodness that was certainly something that made me wanna come back…i’ve heard it called lobbing dirtlumps.

    …all shapes and sizes of egos here John
    what…y’just noticed?


    there’s a ShootOut tonite
    but Omark won’t be called…our goalie does and pretends to offer Guido Luongo a shot[of vodka]as he approaches and pokes one behind him for the win.