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?
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.