Two nights after showing the Vancouver Canucks their offensive firepower, the Oilers elected to show they have the best goaltending in the tournament as well. Tyler Bunz faced 24 shots, including numerous excellent scoring chances, and stopped all of them enroute to a 2-0 shutout.. 

The Oilers weren`t able to generate many quality chances despite outshooting the Jets 27-24, but after a weak point shot from Ryan Lowery – that Jets` netminder John Corrazzi should have stopped – made it 2-0 it became the Bunz show.

In early August head scout of Hockey Canada, Kevin Prendergast, said on my show that he felt Bunz was the best goalie in the CHL from January through to the end of the season, and Bunz hasn`t lost any of that momentum over the summer. He had a solid world junior camp in August and was perfect against the Jets.

Here`s my thoughts on a few other players from tonight`s win.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Once again he showed he sees and thinks the game at level, or two, higher than every player here. He made numerous small, subtle plays that turned into scoring chances or kept the play alive. For the second straight night he was more physical than I would have predicted. I don’t expect him to play that way all the time, but it is an added bonus knowing that if need be he can separate a guy from the puck.

Ryan Martindale: I spoke with Todd Nelson earlier this morning and he told me that the organization wanted Martindale to be more assertive. He struggled finding the proper balance in the first game, but he was excellent in the first period. He didn’t get a point on the Schaber goal, but he made the key play that led to the goal. A few shifts later he rocked Schiefele with a clean hit at centre, that led to an Oilers PP. On the ensuing PP Lowery scored a weak goal, and without getting a point, Martindale was a key factor on both goals. Late in the first he made a solid defensive play, breaking up a good scoring chance and then blocking a shot. Unfortunately he suffered a hip flexor in the period and didn’t play the final 40 minutes.

Tyler Bunz: He wasn’t tested early in the first period, but he made two excellent saves in the final ten minutes. He looked very comfortable, played his angles well and had good rebound control. He made a series of solid saves in the 3rd to keep it 2-0. He is also a great puckhandler. I see Bunz having a better pro career with the Oilers than Olivier Roy, similar to what we saw with Dubnyk and Deslauriers. The guy who got drafted first will eventually get passed on the depth chart.

Ryan Lowery: He is a great skater and excellent in the offensive zone, but at times he was a major adventure in his own zone. Funny thing is he scored only seven goals and 46 points in 152 college games so historically he hasn’t been that great offensive, but he looked very comfortable with the puck. I don’t see him being more than a potential ECHLer.

Tyler Pitlick: He wasn’t as noticeable in his first game tonight as he was last year, and that’s probably because he was playing centre for the first time in a year and playing his first game since breaking his ankle on March 1st. That is a long time between games, and he looked a bit rusty. He was sluggish through the first 40 minutes, but he found his legs in the third, threw a few hits, and had some chances. I thought he was very good in the third and now that the rust is off look for him to make a bigger impact tomorrow.

Jeremie Blain: I liked his game. Not flashy, but steady. He got in the shooting and passing lanes often to break up plays. The biggest difference I noticed compared to last year was how much thicker he is now. He was able to put on some weight and not lose any speed. He will need a few years of seasoning in the AHL, but he might turn out to be a depth D-man down the road.

Antti Tyrvainen: He wasn’t nearly as involved like he was on Sunday. I did like his positioning on the PK though. He showed his agitating side in the 3rd when he thought Klingberg slew-fotted him as they were going to their respective benches. He stood at the bench and was giving it to anyone on the Jets bench who would listen. Being a consistent agitator and aggressive player every night is very difficult and I`m looking forward to seeing more of him at main camp.

Toni Rajala: He hasn’t improved since his first camp and I don’t see him having any part of the Oilers future. He isn’t that big, and he isn’t as skilled as the other small forwards the Oilers have. He just isn’t big enough or skilled to enough to take the next step.

Did anyone else make an impact in your eyes? Positively or negatively?


For the Oilers sake let’s hope this tournament is not foreshadowing for the season, because the Oilers now have five injured players. Travis Ewanyk was hurt before the tournament started and it sounds like he will be having shoulder surgery. Milan Kytnar is here, but he won’t play due to an ankle injury. Colten Tuebert has a broken nose, Cameron Abney has an upper body injury and Martindale is out with a hip flexor.

With so many injuries a few forwards are going to play all three game. Nugent-Hopkins will NOT play tomorrow, but Curtis Hamilton and Tobias Rieder will suit up for their third game. At least two or three more forwards will have to play three games as well, and we’ll find out who they are in the morning.

The Oilers are praying this injury bug doesn’t follow them to Edmonton. 

  • Eulers

    Hopefully, this is the FIST of many shutouts for Tyler Bunz in Oiler silks!! I have a soft spot for Bunz (Principe eat your heart out!) from his excellent interviews on this here site.

    Don’t know quite what to make about Pendergrast’s man-crush. Hopefully, this love for an Oiler prospect goalie works out better than the last one (read: Olivier Roy, who was notably not FIST at the WJC last year).

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Say what?!?! Martindale showing some desire? All we would need is for this kid to figure it out and Stu’s draft last year is going to look that much more impressive.

    Stu, you magnificent bastard you.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    The only way i see RNH not making the big club is the coaches decide to go with Brule on the 3rd line center, yea he’s only played against guys from the CHL but RNH looks light years ahead of them and more than ready for the big time.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Also, who goes out and drafts a goalie in the 5th round only for that goalie to look and develop like a first/second rounder? Reading Bunz’s scouting report made you think the guy would top out as a regular AHLer.

  • justDOit

    Nugkins does look like he should be playing at a higher level, but here comes that stupid rule about him not being able to play in the AHL. The NHL is a BIG step, and maybe too big?

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Bunz has that unique ability to steal games all on his own , and last night was an indicator of it . Martindale was another standout till injured . Pitluck showed spunk and some ability . The rest of Oilers didn’t stickout much . Fedun was best of defence but not great either . Hopkins off last nights performance doesn’t look near ready for NHL . He’s an adapt passer , but i see little else from him of NHL caliber play . I wasn’t sold on Hopkins at the draft , and even less so now . Hopefully he shows better NHL abilities in upcoming games .

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    From the bits of the game that I watched, if all goes well I could see the Oilers’ third line in 2-3 years consisting of Pitlick down the middle with Hamilton and Harski on the wings. Pitlick really stood out with his puck control down low (drew a couple of penalties) and cycling – the only thing he lacked was some finish. Hamilton is a better skater than I was expecting, and he looked huge on the wing. Add in Harski on the right side and it could be a 3rd line that has size, decent skating (Pitlick is the fastest from the looks of things) and enough skill to wear down the opponent and contribute a lot offensively. The Oilers have not had that type of a 3rd line for a while now.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    RNH definitely is a step above the other kiddies, but the seperation wasn’t so great that I would assume he is NHL ready. If he’s not ready to dominate, then the Oilers are better to maximize the value of his controlable window.

    He will likely produce a heck of a lot more points and have a bigger impact on the team in is 26 and 27 year old seasons than his 18 and 19 year old seasons.

    Liked what I saw from Bunz and Martindale. The Oil need to get Martindale signed and down to OKC so Nelson and his coaches can teach Martindale how to play at the next level. He is a project, but a project worth investing in.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Bunz did play great! Can he do it with better shooters and passers? I think so as his positioning was really quite good from what I saw.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Watching Bunz last night and then comparing him to to Roy in the first game reminded me of the comparison between JDD and DD. Alot of people were saying the JDD was better but when I watched there play I thought that DD was better just because he had better positioning, mechanics, and composure. I see the same thing in BUNZ and I think he will easily pass Roy on the depth chart.

    The only standout on Defence for me was Fedun, I thought his play in his own zone for this game was a lot better than the first.

    RNH was still a standout for me but I think his linemates weren’t up to par with the first game and that contributed to what looked like a slight decline in RNH’s game.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Jason, if possible and you have an opportunity, would you ask Tyler who has influenced him the most in todays NHL? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him mention that Carey Price is one of his favorite goalies to watch.

    I know it was only one game with maybe no actual NHL’ers in the lineup but i would sure be great to see him get a game or two in the pre season.

  • Leni

    I was given tickets for behind the oilers bench last night. what a bonus.

    RNH is the real deal; however, put him back in the WHL wouldn’t be a bad thing. He is small. But man he has vision, I can now understand the datsyuk/gretz comparisons. Please put him back in the WHL to bulk up.

    I was at the tourny last year as well and I have to say RNH looks better than Hall did last year.. and hall looked good.

    Yes Bunz was spectacular

    Hamilton was a dog and he played with RNH for the first two periods. He looked horrible. That was a let down.

    Blain had good moments and bad moments for the oil on D, no one else on D for the oil stood out.

    Winnipeg had a much bigger team than the oil

    Sol for winnipeg was impressive.

    There wasn’t a lot of quality talent out there

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Bulk up. So your saying the only reason to send him down is his weight. Go look up the top 10 rookies from last season. Not one of them was over 195 lbs even being taller than RNH. One was 157 lbs, the rookie that one the Stanley cup is 183 lbs and was a big reason for winning in the regular season and the playoffs.

          • Zimmy

            Seriously, there are people who can continually increase their wieght regement and hardly gain any wieght. There are people whose muscles naturally have a high tensil strength that allows them to be stronger. In the same sense there are some that are naturally more flexible and have higher resistance to muscle strain and tearing. None of that has anything to do with their age, its genetics.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Why are you talking about wieght? The point is that of two guys the same wieght, the 23 year old is likely to be stronger then the 18 year old.

          • Leni

            You can’t really use averages in this instance because majority of hockey players would be stronger as compared to others that aren’t hockey players. Similarily their strength is just as much a part of learning and development as it is genetics. Someone who is on a much more intense workout schedule is very likely to be stronger than someone who is doing a lesser program regardless of age.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Not really, I’m just stating the facts. Your narrow minded if you think the only thing that plays a part in an individuals development is age. There are many factors that contribute but if you want to live in tunnel vision thats fine by me.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I guess you missed the point.

            The point is that stating an 18 year old will be strong enough to be effective at 185lbs because a 23 year old was strong enough to be effecive at 185lbs is poor reasoning.

            Your example/comparison was horrible.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            And Ennis played an extra year in the Dub and one more in the A.

            Look, their are legit concerns about RNH regarding his weight and strength. People can stick their heads in the sand and ignore them, or they can factor them in and realize they might skew his most effective development path compared to other high picks.

  • Leni

    I like the Bunz/Roy dynamic if it pushes them both to develop faster and better. We haven’t had true depth in goal for years and I’m skeptical that Khabibulin will make the full NHL season, either due to health or due to play.

  • Zimmy

    In my opinion being at every tournament game again this year, RNH has yet to look like the best player on the oilers for a game let alone the tournament. People keep talking about the Nuge looking better than Hall last year again I have to disagree again. You could see Halls speed and drive last year although no one came close to MPS who looked dominate. Im far from saying Nuge has looked poor and I have focused on him quite a bit his determination on the back and forechecking has been neat to see. But for the second game in a row I find writers gushing about a guy that when you ask fans in the stands what they think of that 72 over the last two games they have not come close to the glowing reviews of writers. What’s the deal?

  • Zimmy

    I`ve looked forward to seeing Martindale play for some time. For some reason people don`t respect him because of the linemates he has had in the OHL. Last night we saw some glimpes of a quality prospect. I liked his shifty puck handling before sending the pass back to the point on the one goal. He showed good speed, decent skating, and a physical side till he got hurt. He was clearly the best forward on the ice in the first period. He also seems very responsible defensively, and he can win draws. I think he replaces VV, and O`Marra as big centers down the road. He`s got skill and a real chance to be a everyday NHl`er somewhere if he`s driven enough.

    I`ve also waited to see Gernat, because of the comparisons to Marincin that were made by someone out in the media a while back. I was hoping we struck gold a second time on a later pick. Gernat doesn`t see the ice as well as Marincin, but we all learned that this rake has a phyisical side. It was nice to see his hit on the boards rather then another stick check. He seems to be good positionally except for the gaff in the first game where he got hit in the corner, and took a dogs age to get the guy in front of the net which resulted in a Canuck`s goal. He`s got some game, but he`s definitely a few Happy Meal`s away from seeing pro action. Man he`s thin. I hope someone feeds him this year.

    I was also excited to see Bunz play. I saw a Oil King`s game in Feb or March where where the Oil Kings were swarmed the Tiger`s, and they got 3 goals quick in the first period on Bunz, and it was looking like a blow out. Then Bunz just shut the door on the King`s the rest of the way. The Tigers got back into the game only because of Bunz, and the game was won in shootout by the Tiger`s I believe. The kids got the ability and confidence to be lights out. He seems mature, poised, and positionally sound. Seems to be very square to the shooter. I believe one of his downfalls until this year was his reflexes. I don`t see that being a problem anymore. I was blown away last night, and can`t wait to see what happens when he plays against regular NHLer`s hopefully soon.

    As for Hopkins, its easy to see why the scouts are in love with him. But Ive yet to see a game he dominates in. He seems to to have the ability to almost be non-existant, and then be able to get a couple quick points. He so reminds me of a young Joe Sakic. Drives you nutz with the skill you see, but its going to take this kid a couple years to show the consistancy at the NHL level. Ive been on the RNH bandwagon for him playing all season, but as much at it pains me to say this he really could use a year back in the dub to refine his skills and learn to be more consistant shift to shift. I don`t think size is his problem right now, it to me seems to be consistancy. I find that you gotta watch for him out there because at points in the game he seems invisible.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      The one thing to remember about RNH is that we don’t know what kind of instructions he is getting from the coach. Remember this tournment isn’t all about winning but evaluating. Maybe they have asked him to play more defensively who knows. I think this tourny is a write off for someone like him but I think main training camp will be a different story.

  • Zimmy

    Hope your right Dman09. I was thinking that if that was Hall or Eberle he was serving those feed to in the first game we would of won 10-2. The truth is that he may of not be really meshing with his linemates because he`s such a playmaker and he was lacking a sniper. Hammy`s Ok, but he`s not a pure finisher. Ill definitely reserve my judgement till TC.

  • The Pestival

    Couldn’t agree more with, Zimmy.

    I was at both Oilers games and RNH looked fine on a few shifts but overall my buddy and I didn’t see much to get excited about. Lander really stood out in the first game though. Martindale was also very noticeable in the first last night. RNH is quite small out there and while you can see flashes of brilliance I don’t think he comes even close to standing out the way Pajaarvi did last year.

    As for Bunz, I think we drove the poor family that was sitting in front of us away as we couldn’t stop with the Bunz jokes for a solid 20 minutes. And the longer his shutout went on, the bigger the saves he made, the funnier it got. He made a beauty save, I yelled out “Nice, Bunz!!” (not trying to be funny) and it all went downhill from there.

    And yeah Winnipeg’s team was big.

  • Leni

    Ya Hall skated well last year. Hall looked like he could play in the NHL last year by his skating abilities and his physique. The nuge has way better vision than hall did. Hall was balls to the wall last year. Nuge finds his spots and exploits them.

    Ya he should stay in the whl. There is a reason they don’t let 18yr old in the ahl. If your not allowed in the ahl why should they be in the nhl.

  • Leni

    We probably wont see Bunz up in the bigs for a few years yet, goalie development routes seem to take longer. That could be a good pairing down the road though, Doobie and Bunzy.
    The Doobie Brothers. Doob and Bunz.

  • striatic

    RNH has looked very good and is always one of the better players on the ice, but he’s not exactly dominating.

    i think Lander is the only NHL ready player out there, but will likely have to wait for injury to get his shot.

    RNH should go back to junior and dominate there. i think he’s in the same boat Eberle was in a couple years ago and would benefit from a similar development curve.

    everyone is talking about size being the reason to send him down but i don’t see it that way. my concern is about speed. remember when the knock on Eberle was his footspeed? he went back to junior and came back a speed freak. that’s something i think RNH should work on a well, and he can do that in junior as well a anywhere else.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Couldn’t agree more on Bunz, he seems to have that perfect balance of flair and confidence that so many good NHL goaltenders seem to possess. The goalie situation 2-3 years down the road could be the best we’ve seen in decades.

    I agree with Smokey on both his points: if you stuck Hall with the Nuge on opening night, he could’ve had a 4, maybe 5 point night. Last game he was a force at times (a subtle one), but he didn’t have that build-up that we saw in game one, where he was dominating in the second and into the third.

    This is only two games against prospects, I would like to see what he can do in the pre-season with Hall/Ebs Hemsky/MPS etc/etc.

    Lander 4 lyfe

  • Settle down people. Most have been in agreement that RNH has been one of, if not the best skater, in this tourney.

    After this same competition last year it looked like Paajarvi was going to be the best Oiler rookie and things didnt work like that. It’s still too early to tell what the big club should do with RNH.*

    *but if they dont keep him they’re out of their minds

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Im with you on that Arch, unless he comletly implodes against NHL players I dont see a reason other than maybe a lack of roster spots availible to send THE NUGE back to the dub.