To Every Thing There is A Season

Judging by the leaves on the ground and the slow growing lawn the surrounds my house, we are entering the early stages of fall. Good weather remains in the distance, but it’s probably time to find the fall coats. Oh, and hockey’s back! 



This is Martin Gernat. There’s some buzz about him already, as the Edmonton Oiler draft pick prepares for his season with the Oil Kings in the WHL. Oiler and Oil King fans have a chance to see some hockey this weekend in St. Albert as the Oil Kings hold their 5th annual pre-season invitational starting Sunday in St. Albert at Servus Place (details are here). I’m not certain of the rosters, but the WHL teams include the Oil Kings, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Calgary, Swift Current and Prince George. I do know that Gernat, Kristians Pelss and Travis Ewanyk are on the Oil King roster for the tournament.

This is Anton Lander. He’s one of the featured players who will be at the Oilers rookie camp. A week from now we’ll be talking about the rookie tournament and the kids who will follow in the footsteps of last season’s historic group and then join regular camp the following week.

Among the prospects of interest at the rookie camp:

  • Goalies Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz. A new "JDD versus DD" challenge is set to roll out over the next couple of seasons and this might be a good chance to gauge the race.
  • Defensemen Colten Tuebert and David Musil look to have good camps, and Martin Marincin begins a season in which he’ll want to be more consistent. College man Taylor Fedun is a defender to keep your eye on, he’s an older prospect who could emerge quickly in an organization that could use some good news at the position.
  • Forwards provide tons of star appeal again this season. Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander and Ryan Martindale will be the feature centers, and the wingmen can boast Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick, Toni Rajala (possibly the only chance to see him all year for Oiler fans) and a Finn with grit named Antti Tyrvainen.

Can’t wait.


Nation Radio is back today at noon and it’s a jam packed episode. Scheduled to appear:

  • Julian from Pension Plan Puppets. We’ll discuss Wade Belak’s career and his impact on teammates, fans and the communities he played in. We’ll try to discuss the issue of depression without getting ahead of the story (as it is still developing).
  • Ted Wyman from the Winnipeg Sun. We’ll discuss the Dustin Byfuglien’s boating career, the city of Winnipeg and building excitement there and ask about Zack Bogosian’s availability.
  • Cam Moon from the Red Deer Rebels. We’ll talk about RNH and his chances of making the Oilers, and I’ll also ask about rookie camp invite Brett Ferguson.
  • Corey Graham from the Edmonton Oil Kings: PBP man will give us an update on the Oil Kings and specifically young Oiler pick Martin Gernat. There’s a buzz about him and Corey will fill us in.
  • Rob Soria from Oil Drop. During the first 26 or show Nation Radio shows I’ve tried to feature many of the established Oiler blogs. Rob is the first of the "newer" blogs we’ll profile and if we have time (Rob’s a busy guy) we’ll talk about Oil Drop.

Questions and comments welcome at and the show goes noon to 2pm Edmonton Time on Team 1260 radio.

  • Lowetide

    MMM….Byrds music for five-brained hippies

    nice work LT …peace

    is Lander a lock to start in OKC or is he going to make the club out of camp if there is an unforeseen injury at camp…best guess?

      • John Chambers

        Kevin Lowe has pretty much outright said that the Nuge is not physically ready for the NHL. He’ll have to channel all of his inner Gretzky to make the team.

        All I’m saying is that the deck is stacked against him and I’m okay with that.

        Also, Steve Tambellini needs to grow a pair and trade for either Ryan Suter, Shea Weber or at worst Zack Bogosian this winter. I doubt that statement will encourage much debate.

        • John Chambers

          1) Maybe ST does have a very big pair already and that’s why he’s OK to go the whole season with this D squad and G pairing. I think that he’s braced himself for another year of carnage and fan venting to get one more top pick.
          2) why give up assets to sign Suter? Isn’t he UFA next year? Of the 3 D you mention, Weber seems to be the sexiest choice, but he’s got an unfriendly cap hit now and further to that, (correct or not) I recall Stauffer claiming that Suter’s the guy that stirs the drink on that backend.

    • Based on

      …his draft pedigree? First Overalls dont play extra years in Jr.

      …his play in training camp? Hasnt even happened yet.

      …his physical maturity? Note Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Ennis, and Jeff Skinner. Maturity issue is as lame as the argument that they should hold players back for contract reasons.

      …the team’s overall depth at C? There is clearly an opening at C on this team with Gagner, Belanger, and Horcoff the only 3 NHL centermen signed.

      …the possibility that he might not play 18 mins a game? Boston kept Seguin all year playing those minutes and werent too concerned about ruining his development. That’s the team that just won the Cup. I think it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing.

      …nothing? That’s what I thought.

      • John Chambers

        Ha. I knew you would get into it. Thanks for taking me up on my offer to spar. You’ve even come out with some excellent salvos, and you’ve almost convinced me to keep RNH with the big club provided he earns it in TC.

        But here’s why I’m glad Oilers management seems intent on keeping him down:

        1. RNH will hardly make the Oilers a better team in ’11-’12. It’s a stretch to assume he’ll put up more than 40 points or come close to Hall and Eberle’s point totals. The Oilers have 3 centers who are already better at this moment in time, so if we keep him we either sacrifice competitiveness or RNH’s ice time. Neither of those are attractive options to me.

        2. Physical maturity. If you could go back in time and have Gagner play another year or two of Junior, you would be crazy not to. I mean, you could give RNH all kinds of favourable linemates, matchups, etc, but once he gets thrown in with the lions his confidence will suffer. Better to let him dominate Junior, play in the WJC’s, and enjoy a run in the WHL playoffs. He’ll come to camp next year more physically and mentally able to endure the rigors of professional hockey. There is a chance Nugent gets gooned by Souray some night in Dallas this year … Although it could happen any year, wouldn’t you rather let the guy begin playing in the NHL at a time when he’s not as physically overmatched?

        3. Short- and Long-term team management. If Lander doesn’t make the big club this year, when will he? Gags, Horc, and Belanger are all Oilers property for quite some time. Lander is more mature and has a couple seasons of pro hockey under his belt. Long term the Oilers get another year before Nugent’s ELC runs out.

        • 1) We have no idea how much better RNH makes the Oilers until he’s had a chance to play. You are making an assumption on point totals. If I told you that Skinner would top 60 points and Hall wouldnt break 50 would you have believed me?If he does make the club then how Renney uses Horc and Belanger might change dramatically. There’s no telling what kind of minutes he plays and with whom.

          2) There’s no telling if Gagner would be better after another year in London. He could have gotten lazier due to the continued success. It’s another guess. I dont see how playing yet another season in the CHL will help prepare him for the rigors of the NHL. Playing in the NHL will show him what he needs to do play in the NHL. He is 20 pounds heavier than Kane or Ennis were in their 1st seasons and unlikely to play against top tier opposition. As far as feeling the positives of playing on a WJHC and a playoff contender, he will also feel the weight of being the only forward in more than 20 years taken 1st overall to fail at making his last placed NHL squad for performance reasons. It would make him the lone man in this generation of hockey players to fail at reaching this goal.

          3) I’ve never bought this argument about ELCs. If a player is held back for artificial reasons (read ELC management) then it sends a terrible message to the team and all the players in the NHL. Lander is a good talent and will play on he team at some point this year, no doubt, but what do the Oilers do next year when they have 3 defense first centers in Belanger, Horc, and Lander and they need to find room for RNH? I’d rather take RNH now and see what we can do with Horc or Belanger. They both cant be here on a team that has Lander at 3C and RNH.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            You took the words right outta my mouth Arch, and IMO Gagner was ready to play in the NHL after he lit up the WJCs it just happend on a team where he was thrust into a spotlight situation because the Oilers couldnt score if they paid for goals and he didn’t really excel at it, He is comin around, if Gagner was out on the 3rd/4th line for the first couple years he was in the NHL he’d be better for it now.

            My point is RNH despite his “lack” of size is ready even if he does play on the 3rd line right now RNH needs the likes of Smytty, Horcoff, and Belanger to show him the ropes and to play with players like Hall and Eberle. I dont think another yr in the WHL would be of any real purpose.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      If the kid can’t crack the lineup on the worst hockey team by a country mile by last years standard , then he is not that good to begin with . If he is half the player they claim , he should make the team this year . Landers , Belanger , Gagner and Horc are not exactly world beaters either . If the kid is the hype they claim he should easily fit in . Otherwise , they should have drafted someone else first overall that could have made the jump .

  • John Chambers

    the Nuge will make the team and stick. He knows he has to play his way on, and it’s never been that he doesn’t have the talent to play in the NHL, just that he’s not big enough…Tyler Ennis played at 155 pounds last year…and believes RNH will make it. While going back to junior might let him put on pounds, I don’t believe it will add to his development. Maybe the WJC will add to it a bit, but I think putting the best prospect out there in the toughest spot will challenge him to make the jump. Mark my words, he’s ready.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I really want the Nuge to go to the WJC. That tournament seems like a great sampling of some of the things that come with being an NHL player (intense media coverage, world-class opponents, etc). Hell, if they let Nuge go for it this year, he won’t even have to leave the province. Plus, assuming Nuge makes it out of camp, they can give Lander a call and maybe he gets some time in the show while Nuge is away?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m not sure the Oilers are anxious to embarrass Hopkins just yet. On a last place club with this many holes down the middle, we could see the appearance the “B” word. He has to get that first season out of the way at some point. The Oilers will let that happen this season. If Rick Rypien can have success in this league at 5’11 and 175lbs, just imagine the damage Hopkins can do at almost 6’1 and 180lbs. Size and strength are only issues if there’s not enough fight (compete level) in the dog to begin with. Hopkins may show a level of compete that could surprise us all.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Most of the time have we differing opinions on what is the best way to build this team.

      I don’t think you have ever made a truer comment though. How can Ennis play at 5’9″ 160lbs and Nu-Ho not play at 6′ 175lbs? Or Rypien play at 5’11 175lbs and be an enforcer- type(actually played between 180 – 195 … but still, Hopkins is supposed to be the more talented player, and if he isn’t more talented and skilled than Rypien, then we were ripped off at the draft).

      Is Ennis better than Nu-Ho? Maybe today he is, but give Nu-Ho 50 games and see who the better player is. I don’t think his size will be an issue if it wasn’t for Ennis or Kane.

      So much speculation. I speculate he stays. I wouldn’t mind him going back to Red Deer to save a year of contract, be relied on heavily at ES, and go to the WJC, etc… but his training camp and pre-season will speak for itself.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        The sooner he has the chance to start meshing with Hall and Eberle etc, the better. I’m sure not all of them will be deserving of mega raises when those ELC’s expire.

        I’d continue and sell the farm to get a few more kids to add to this group. Netting 6 lottery picks while the Oilers are in this 4 yr valley should net the Oilers 3 impact players hopefully. Those other 3 should still be solid NHL’ers as well. I think Tambellini’s fallen of the pace on this a little. After 3 lottery seasons we’re sitting at 3 premium players in that group going forward.

      • John Chambers

        I just don’t see how it benefits us to rush the guy. In fact, having him fail, having him get knocked around, and having him starve for ice time a la Seguin are all huge drawbacks that lead me to think the risk may be greater than the reward.

        And what’s the reward exactly? Horcoff, Gagner, and Belanger are all accomplished centres. If we were having a debate on whether to trot out Nugent or Colin Fraser as a 3rd line C I would argue the opposite way, but under the current format I think RNH’s development is better served playing 22 mins a night in all situations in the dub than he is playing an irregular shift alongside Ben Eager.

        And I completely don’t buy the 20 consecutive 1st overalls played right after being drafted. Joe Thornton had a miserable rookie year, so too did Lecavalier, Stefan, Daigle, etc. A bad start to a players pro career can be calamitous.

        The only scenario I foresee RNH being successful as an NHL centre next year is if Renney commits to giving him plenty of ice time and supporting him with vets, as he wisely did for the rookies last year. Problem is that there are so few vets to go around … How will this adversely hurt our sophomores?

        • Wax Man Riley

          If he can play in the league I believe he stays. If he ends up starving for ice time because he is not contributing offensively or defensively, then he goes back after nine games and some pre-seasons. They will know if he is ready or not.

          If he isn’t ready, and does need time in junior, then what does that say about the quality of that #1 when Landeskog and/or Larsson, and/or Sheifele is playing in the bigs?

          I know he is the consensus #1 pick and I’m looking forward to training camp or even the rookie camp to see why. If he is good enough to play, then why not keep him up? I’m not talking about rushing him if he isn’t ready; you give very good points about why to send him back. If he is able to help the team though, you have to look at keeping him up.

          Consensus #1 pick….but #3, 4, and 5 will play before he does?

          • John Chambers

            Hey I agree, if he’s good enough to play and contribute why wait.

            Nugent was born in April and turned 18 right before the draft. Meanwhile Landeskog and Larsson were born a full 6 or 7 months before him. Taylor Hall was also 6 months older than RNH when drafted. Nugent was the most compelling pick not only because of his skill but his ability to perform relative to his age and size. That’s why many believe that he’ll be a much more effective NHL player when he’s a bit older and a bit more filled out. Landeskog is widely believed to be ready for the pro’s now, but his ceiling isn’t as high as Nugent’s.

  • 50 in 39

    As an Oiler fan I would like more than anything to think RNH can make the team and have an impact like Kane did as a rookie but it just all seems so unreasonable.

    RNH got cut from the World Juniors last year why would he be a fulltime NHL player this year? I always thought the best way to develop players was in the minors. Lets give him a proper chance to succeed as an elite player. We knew this was the path when we drafted him.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Lets keep in mind that “making the team” doesn’t mean you are actually ready to play/suceed in the NHL, that it’s best for the player or the team. Also, the best guy over a 3 week camp may not be the best guy over a 6 month season.

  • Wax Man Riley

    And lets not forget he has the best vision of any prospect since Gretzky.


    Did you hear that?? He is going to score 92 goals and have 120 assists a year for us!!!

    Best since Wayne-Freaking-Gretzky…. would you send Gretzky back to juniors??…… I think not!

  • John Chambers

    And before you howl at me about Lecavalier and Thornton, there was all kinds of talk surrounding the Lightning trading Lecavalier in his 3rd year bc he didn’t yet achieve superstardom. Thornton meanwhile got off to a difficult start with the Bruins. Both of these guys would’ve been better off coming into the league with more shelter, rather than get off to a rough start in the deep end.

  • John Chambers

    Let me respond to two awful things I have read above:

    1. Sam Gagner never lit up the WJC. He had zero points in 6 games. That should have been an indication that he wasn’t ready. He still isn’t ready to many any meaningful contribution.

    2. Comparing RNH to Tyler Ennis is setting a very low bar for a player that needs to be our franchise center. Ennis is all dazzle, no substance. If Tambo measures players like Gagner, Omark and Gilbert against such low standards then these guys will stick around and this team will be destined for perpetual lottery picking.

    • 1. The WJC is not the only place for prospects to prove themselves and many would disagree with your take on Gagner. I believe it was a Russian Series that Gagner had dominated right before his first campaign. He is the best offensive weapon that the Oil have down the middle and still just 22. He’s tracking just fine although I do think this is a pivotal year for him.

      2. Ennis outscored both Hall and Eberle last year, and while I doubt his ceiling is as high as the most recent 1st overall’s, I think it’s fair to say that playing under average weight and height didnt hold him back too much. Or perhaps you missed the point of noting a player like Ennis in the “physically mature” argument.