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.
DOWN THE MIDDLE
THE RIGHT SIDE
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.
ON THE BLUELINE
IN THE PAINT
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.