POST GAME: OILER KIDS DOMINATE

The outcome in rookie games aren’t that important, except when you’re an Oiler fan who has had to suffer through back-to-back 30th place finishes. Then you celebrate any win that involves Oiler colours. Hell, if a team in division 7 in the EMHL won, and they had Oiler colours, fans would high-five each other, so tonight Oiler fans can feel confident that their prospects are infinitely better than Vancouver’s after a 7-2 Oiler spanking.

I’m sure Wanye is currently outside "Ghost-Riding the Whip", and even though it is a rookie win, it was against the beloved deeply-hated Canucks organization, so it is likely that many of you are partying like it was a May victory.

I say go for it. You never know when you’ll get another chance to chirp Canuck fans or celebrate a dominating victory.

I was more concerned about who played well, which was almost every player considering it was 7-1 after 40 minutes, but here’s what I saw from certain individuals.

Anton Lander: He is clearly much better than CHL/NCAA players. He had a big hit in the first period, then two PP goals in the 2nd. He was exceptional away from the puck, and on numerous occasions he made the right decision with and without the puck in the defensive zone. I’m looking forward to seeing him at main camp.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Could have had five points in the first two periods if his linemates, err, Curtis Hamilton, could finish. His vision and pin-point passing was impressive. He looked much fresher tonight than he did at the WJC camp in Edmonton and Fort McMurray. He even threw a few hits and separated guys from the puck.

Taylor Fedun: Was the best D-man on the ice. He was physical and jumped up into the rush often. He looked much more poised and mature. I liked his timing on when to jump in the rush, and also how he was able to read the Canuck’s rush when they were attacking him. Fedun likes to join the rush and Todd Nelson gave him the green light tonight and he took advantage of it. 

Curtis Hamilton: Had a goal, but could have had four. Had good instincts to slide into holes in the offensive zone and create scoring chances. Used his size to protect the puck and looks like he might be a half-step quicker. I’ll be interested to see how he progresses in OKC this year. He showed very good offensive instincts tonight.

Martin Marincin: Quietly I thought he was very good, especially with his stick. He made the right read at the blueline and stood up the rush, broke it up with good stick placement and turned the puck up ice. Also read the play nicely in his own zone and used his long reach to intercept a few passes.

Ryan Martindale: Eerily similar first period to last year’s first game of rookie tourney. He looked disinterested that entire game, but tonight he did get a bit better in 2nd and 3rd. This camp and main camp will be huge for him to see if he gets a contract for this year, or if he’ll have to go back to junior. I’m betting he plays one more year in Ottawa, or in the ECHL because the Oilers have lots of centres who are AHL ready.

Antti Tyrvainen: I knew nothing about him prior to the game other than he supposedly had a physical side to his game. The pesky Finn proved that. He took a few runs at guys, never shied away from a check and he was strong along the boards. He signed a two-year two-way deal this summer, mainly because the Oilers don’t have any players in the organization who play the way he does. He has decent size, listed at 6’0, 196 pounds, but I’m guessing he is closer to 5’10, but he is strong. Physical size doesn’t mean much if you won’t use it, and Tyrvainen lived up to his reputation tonight. Don’t be surprised to see him get two or maybe three preseason games strictly due to his style of play. He also showed some hands scoring a goal and adding an assist. The Oilers are so lacking in gritty players that I found myself watching him much closer as the game wore on and I liked what I saw.

Tyler Schmidt: He was noticeable. His fight was a bonus, but prior to that I liked how he battled and competed. He could be a guy that gets and AHL/ECHL deal, but it was only one game. The key for any unsigned player is to get noticed and I think he accomplished that quite nicely.

Colten Tuebert: They gave him the "C" because he has really tried to take a leadership role dating back to the rookie camp in July, and it has been noticeable. He needs another year, or half year at least, of seasoning in the AHL. I suspect he will get a few preseason games, but I don’t see him being a real contender to make the team. Next year should be a different story. He did take a direct shot to the beak in his fight, and that can happen when the punches are coming that fast. He was fine after the game, and I get a sense the organization really likes his attitude right now. If he continues to show leadership and a willingness to compete, I suspect Todd Nelson will play him a lot in OKC this year.

Colin Smith: Another free agent who got noticed. He took an early aggressive penalty, then added two assists later in the 2nd frame. He had good jump all night, and you could tell the Edmonton product was stoked to be wearing an Oiler jersey. I’m going to keep an eye on him in Kamloops this season and see how he progresses. He scored 21 goals and 50 points last year, so I’d expect him to jump up to 30 goals this year.

These were the guys I noticed. Did anyone catch your eye positively or negatively?

LOOKING AHEAD

The rookies have a skate booked tomorrow and they will also be going on a mountain bike ride. They play again on Tuesday at 8:30 MDT.

Tyler Pitlick will play centre on Tuesday. The organization wants to see him down the middle and he feels more comfortable there than on the wing. I could see him switching between wing and centre in OKC this season. 

  • fuzzy muppet

    Musil is the type of guy that you just wont notice very often, and that’s a good thing.

    Very poised and smooth, always in position and smart with the puck.

    If you’re hearing his name on the broadcast, it likely is because he made a mistake. He’s steady as a rock (at least against kids) and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes he team as soon as next year.

    He looks like he could be a true shut down defenseman.

    Stu, you magnificent bastard…

  • Chris.

    Predictions: Lander will be the last forward cut at camp. RNH will get at least 9 games with the big club (no matter how he performs)and there is finally some real legit internal competition for playing time at center.

    Off topic: I wonder why there is no discussion about playing Gagner on the wing. During his single best offensive campaign Gagner played on the right side with Cogliano at center and Nilsson on the left. The club is stacked on the left. Horcoff and Belanger bring a vetran presence down the middle; Lander and RNH are clearly knocking on the door; and Brule is still under contract and may win a regular spot on the fourth line (physical and +50% FO)… The forward corps is thinnest on the right side IMO. The minute, and I mean the minute Hemsky goes down: why not slot Gagner on the right and elevate RNH to second line minutes?

    • Or if you think Lowetide (from his own blog) is right and Hemsky wont last the season as an Oiler before he’s traded, there’s another opportunity on the right side for Gagner.

      I kind of figured that long term he would end up being a winger anyway. Especially if his F/O percentage doesnt climb. Less defensive pressure and better taking advantage of his natural abilities.

      EDIT: That said, this year Gagner will likely be playing with higher end offensive talents, so there’s a very good chance he performs well enough to be considered a key part of the solution down the middle. Lander has always been touted as the 3C of the future and RNH is 1C material. The future can still have Gagner at 2C with RNH and Lander on the team. Now it’s a choice between Horc and Belanger.

      • Chris.

        I never agreed with you about possibly moving Cogliano to the wing… but IMO Gagner played his best hockey there. After over 200 NHL outings at center, Gagner’s defensive zone coverage is still poor at best and the added pressure/responsibilty may be limiting his offensive output. Renny speakes of Gagner’s D zone play with a similar level of polite-speak caution as when he speaks of Khabibulin’s goal tending.

    • BryGuy

      We have still got lots of others in system we have yet to see this year that might crack lineup . Hartekainen , Pitluck , Hunter Tremblay , Rayala ,etc.. Tremblay is my darkhorse until he plays himself out of knocking off a newbie or incumbent . Hopkins added weight looks good on him and so far is in running to make team . Klefbom unfortunetely we won’t see this season probably . Maybe as high as 5 with defence taking up to 3 of those spots .

  • TKB2677

    What surprised and amazed me was watching all the forward backchecking. This is an art that the amin squad seems to have lost so it warmed my heart to see the kids doing it.

    Nelson for head coach!

  • BryGuy

    Fedun was amazing out there. He assisted on the first two goals (brilliant play on the second goal) but the amateur score keepers called both goals unassisted for some dumb reason! GO FEDUN!!!! Oiler this year for sure.

  • BryGuy

    BryGuy…..

    You either are related to Fedun or in fact are Fedun with your comments. Everyone has a right to an opinion but like the last guy leave the re***rd comment out.

    It does not support your position at all.

  • I also noticed Musil looking pretty good out there. Very calm. Depends what kind of dman you like? Depends what bugs you?

    Fedun is also 4 years older, Musil in 4 years? …..Well, he won’t be at rookie camp.

    Musil didn’t hurt himself by any means. But to each their own. One is 18, one is 22. But that’s just me?

    • Jason Gregor

      I agree. The point wasn’t who is better long term. I don’t think it is close. Musil will be better.

      I just felt that Fedun was more noticeable last night. I never said Musil wasn’t good, just didn’t list every player.

      If we talked about who has best chance to be a regular NHLer from last night’s roster…I’d say in order…

      Nugent-Hopkins
      Anton Lander
      David Musil
      Curtis Hamilton
      Martin Marincin…

      Other maybes…Tyrvainen and Roy..

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Gregor, I may have missed the boat, but why was Oscar Klefbloom (not sure on spelling) not playing?

    I heard nothing but good things about him when the Oil picked him, saying he may have been one of the most underated Dmen in the 1st round.

    Sorry, didn’t read a few articles below before reading yours. Any idea when he’s ready to play?

    • Jason Gregor

      He is currently injured and not here. He is committed to playing out his contract, two years, in Sweden so he likely won’t be in Edmonton camp until 2013…

        • Jason Gregor

          He told me at the draft that he wanted to honour his deal, so I don’t think it would be an option even. Also I don’t think he is NHL ready at this point. Like most D-men he needs some seasoning, so I think it will be better for him and the Oilers for him to develop in the SEL for a few years. The only concern, like Lowetide wrote about, is if he becomes injury prone.

          • Jason Gregor

            Would the Oilers be able to sign him to an ELC this year or next?

            I wouldnt want to leave it till the last minute and be like Calgary and have to ship him off for nothing or just lose him back to the draft.

  • Jason Gregor

    Nice to see that even without the big 3 from last year the prospects can put the puck in the net.

    Personally, the main thing I take away from these rookie tourneys is that if the Oilers’ prospects are head and shoulders above the other teams’ prospects then they have some valuable chips to trade away. The reality is that most of these picks will never become reliable NHLers. However, as long as MBS can continue to stock the system with decent 2nd through 6th round prospects then the GM (Tambi or his successor) can add them in as deal sweeteners for a roster player or flip them for new picks going forward. This is where the value will really be for a lot of them.

    • Jason Gregor

      Well I thought after last nights game that there would be an abundance of articles to get into discussions about but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      So the value of these guys is going to be very important and I think that will start this year. The team does have an abundance of bodies and easily afford to use them in trades to get certian players. Having said that I don’t see there being a whole lot the team needs at the moment. #1 dman and another starting quality netminder. I think all the other gaps can be filled by players in the system as the teams grows and matures. Good days ahead that is for certain. Even if its not winning games at least they should be exciting to watch.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I just liked the way that we played. Most of our goals were a product of driving the net hard and getting pucks low and on net. Solid efforts all around.