I’ve never been in a rush to pick the opening night roster for the Edmonton Oilers in the middle of the summer — and I’ve poked fun at those who do — because I’m of the mind that there’s generally a decision or two, maybe three, that actually hinge on what happens in training camp and pre-season.

That said, some years are easier than others when it comes to making an educated guess about the organizational depth chart scrawled on the board in the coach’s office and scratching out what looks like a common sense 23-man roster. Or, you take a peek inside Tom Renney’s door (I keed, I keed).

You chart the veterans and the prospects, take a glance at the contract and waiver status of each candidate and throw together a list of names you expect to see on the roster for opening night.

Despite an influx of new players and the departure of several familiar faces, taking a swing at Edmonton’s opening-night roster for the 2011-12 season looks like one of those easy years to me.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. Please feel free to tell me where you think I have it wrong and, as always, don’t hesitate to submit your own lists to show us all how smart you are.


Taylor Hall

Ryan Smyth

Magnus Paajarvi

Ben Eager


Sam Gagner

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Shawn Horcoff

Eric Belanger


Ales Hemsky

Jordan Eberle

Linus Omark

Ryan Jones

OF NOTE: If Renney goes with 14 forwards, I expect Darcy Hordichuk and Gilbert Brule to get those two spots. Hordichuk fits a specific need, so he is safe. Brule much less so. He’ll need to get his head and his body right to put off the NHL debut of Anton Lander.


Ryan Whitney

Tom Gilbert

Cam Barker

Ladislav Smid

Theo Peckham

Andy Sutton


Nikolai Khabibulin

Devan Dubnyk

OF NOTE: Assuming Whitney’s surgically repaired ankle is 100 per cent for the start of the season and holds up, and it’s up to question on both counts, the next five spots look straightforward.

If Renney goes with seven defensemen, I’m thinking it’ll come down to Taylor Chorney and Jeff Petry, which is hardly a revelation. If it’s too close to call, keep in mind that Chorney needs to clear waivers to go to the AHL while Petry does not.

One wildcard will be former Michigan State product and free agent Corey Potter, who signed a one-year, two-way deal July 1. Renney knows Potter, 27, from his days with the New York Rangers. He likes him a lot.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.


    Given the rash of injuries that have done them in the last 4 years, the Oilers this year have more depths than ever. Better keep Brule around. Hopefully he wouldn’t say he’s still haven’t found what he’s looking for. Brule’s shot will become the sweetest thing. The Oilers backends are well stocked with depths (not superstars) but enough to have reliable experience. We should be prepared by being well stocked in all postions because you never know if we will have lots of bloody sundays.

  • Helmethead

    I’m going to go on record and say RNH WILL NOT BE HERE when the on The Oilers open up the 2011/12 campaign. I don’t think there’s a need to have him play 30+ games with sporadic ice time. Send him to Ok City where he can play fulltime and endure the rigors of Professional hockey. Let him grow, mature and develop.

    Having said that, Renney and The Oilers brain trust should take a look at the team and asses things after 30-35 games. By then, the team should have a pretty good idea of where they are in the standings, how they have progressed/digressed from last season and then they can decide whether or not bringing up RNH would prove beneficial to his long term development. Having RNH play the last 30 games of the season with “useful” minutes is far better than having him on the opening night roster, with limited ice time.

    My line combos are this:


    The Taylor Hall @ Center experiment last season worked well I thought. He skates well, can drive the net to open up lanes for Eberle/Paarjarvi coming off the wall and he’s an excellent passer.

    The back end will obviously be as good or bad depending on how Whitneys ankle holds up. If he goes downn, I don’t think the Oilers have enough depth ‘yet’ to fill the void.(as we saw last season) I would like to see Tuebert with Peckham during the pre-season just to see if Tuebert can make the jump. Good pairing I think…


    • Thought #1: RNH cannot play in OKC. He is not eligible. It is NHL or WHL, that’s it.

      Thought #2: Once he is sent down RNH is not eligible to return to Professional hockey until his Jr season is done. Considering the Red Deer Rebels are a strong team with Mem Cup aspirations I dont think we will see him at all if he is returned to Jr.

      Thought #3: Who doesnt know this?

      • Helmethead

        Uhm I did know that and obviously had a 20 minute brain fart. duh me

        *smashes his head on the keyboard like the pianist on Sesame Street an eternity ago..crying out ” I’ll never get it, never!!”…*

        Gulp* wow I just dated myself! Uhm, Anyword on an Eddie Mio comeback to replace Khabbi?

        cheers! 🙂

  • Clyde Frog

    Didn’t we just cover 40-55 points is a decent to great second line production.

    That would be tremendous 3rd line production lol..

    If Omark is pushing 50 points he will be fighting for top line minutes..