TRAINING CAMP THOUGHTS

This is the type of promotional video the Oilers should have. That is former NHLer Pasi Nurminen, who once fought Ty Conklin, driving the Zamponi.  I love that they call it a Zamponi. 

My Finnish buddy and NHL correspondent for Helsingin Sanomat, Jouni Niemimen, translated what Pasi was yelling. "THAT (The Zamboni) BARELY MOVED! DO I HAVE TO DO THIS MYSELF TOO?!" 

Gold, Jerry, Gold.

I like the spunk Antti Tyrvainen showed in the rookie tourney, and look for he and fellow Finn, Lennart Petrell, to grab Tom Renney’s attention during main camp and into the preseason.

The Oilers will be huffing, puffing, biking and jumping their way through physicals tomorrow. Outside of the usual VO2 tests, they get their eyes and ears checked, the lovely body fat test and other fun things. Brandon Davidson tested the best out of the rookies, so I wonder which vet will test the best. Any guesses? I’ll go with Ladislav Smid.

The Oilers have three days of camp before their split squads host Minnesota in Edmonton and Chicago in Saskatoon on Tuesday. The Oilers have eight days between their final preseason game, Oct 1st in Vancouver, and their season-opener v. the Penguins on Sunday the 9th, so Renney will have ample time to fine tune his system.

He won’t spend as much time on system play early camp this year like he did last year, mainly because most of the guys who have a realistic shot of making the team know his system, while the new vets; Belanger, Sutton, Smyth, Barker, Eager and Hordichuk have enough experience that they should pick it up rather easily.

"Guys should be comfortable in our system. What they need to learn quickly is how uncomfortable it feels when you don’t execute it properly," Renney said.

I’m sure many of you were thinking "How can we keep the same system when we finished 30th?" It is a valid point, but it is clear from Renney’s comments that it is more about understanding and executing the system. Renney will be a different coach this season. He won’t be, and can’t afford to be, as patient as he was last year.

The Oilers don’t need to make the playoff for him to keep his job longterm, but he will want to see a major improvement. This team needs to be close to the playoffs in the middle of the playoffs, and by close I mean six to ten points out.

LINE COMBOS

I’m interested to see what line combinations Renney will start with. Based on past history, the lines we see for the first preseason games won’t be the same as opening night, but Renney has some ideas based on last season, however, he wasn’t willing to divulge them on my show yesterday.

The best part of the preseason are predictions. Who will make the playoffs, who will score the most goals, have the most points, which coach gets fired first, how long before fans start calling for a coach/GM’s head, who will make the team and who will play together?

It’s fun stuff because there are rarely any wrong opinions, unless you pick the Islanders to make the playoffs. Some guesses are more educated, some filled with blind-faith, most are lucky, but all of them contain one consistent ingredient; Passion.

Between now and opening night, October 6th, the fanbase in every city believes their team has a shot. "If we can stay healthy we have a shot." "If our young kids take the next step we look good," are some of the usual phrases fans blurt out discussing their team at work, on the Nations, on radio, in their men’s league dressing room, at their kids hockey practices, with their buddies, and sometimes with their spouse.

Here’s some combos I’d like to see early in preseason.

Ryan Smyth- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Ales Hemsky
Taylor Hall- Sam Gagner- Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi-Shawn Horcoff-Linus Omark
Ryan Jones- Eric Belanger-Ben Eager
Lennart Petrell-Gilbert Brule-Darcy Hordichuk

I like Smyth to protect Nugent-Hopkins early on just like Horcoff did with Eberle and Hall last season. Let’s see if Gagner can keep up with Hall and if he is ready to make the step to becoming an impact top-two centre. The Swedes had some chemistry last year, and Horcoff can act as their security blanket.

If Jones, Eager and Belanger are the so-called 4th line, then maybe the Oilers can compete. Renney made it clear to me yesterday that he wants a 4th line that he can rely on. The Oilers top-thee lines aren’t good enough or productive enough, yet, to play 53 minutes a night. He needs, and expects, a reliable, energetic and productive 4th line. 
 
The blueline pairings are also intriguing. Will Ryan Whitney will likely be on the ice to start camp, but I’d be surprised if he played on Tuesday. His health will have a major impact on D-pairings, but if he was healthy I’d like to see these to start:

Whitney-Petry
Gilbert-Smid
Peckham-Barker
Sutton-Chorney

I’m still not sold that Petry wouldn’t benefit from some more seasoning in the AHL, but if he is here I’d play him with Whitney. The obvious risk to that philosophy is it means Gilbert and Smid will face the opposition’s first line. In the longterm I don’t see them as a #1 shut down pairing, but I’m not sure the Oilers have any tandem that would fall into that category, so that honour falls to them.

I’d bring Barker along slowly and let him build his confidence in the 3rd pairing. Peckham was the Oilers 2nd most consistent D-man last year, so play him with Barker and let them battle the 2nd and 3rd lines. If their confidence grows and they become consistent Steve Smith can give them more difficult matchups as the season progresses.

Who would you like to see together?

Let the games begin baby….Hockey is back!

DRIVE SAFE KIDS

The good news about that video is that they shot it before Finland won the World Championships this past Spring. Nurminen was much more sober during this shoot than he was a long-night of celebrating. (Shout out to mister_plow for the reminder. 

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    For most in shape player, I’m going with Omark. He.s so pissed from last year he probably used a picture of Renney as motivation. Then I’m going with Chorney on D. He’s going to turn some heads.

  • paul wodehouse

    …last year there wasn’t word one about Taylor Hall ‘making the team’…not from us not from Renney not from our GM … this year i hear more than one word about RNH and his ability to ‘make the team’ ‘it’s his training camp to make the team’ ‘there’s no rush for him to be with the big club’ says our GM along with ‘being in RedDeer isn’t the end of the world’ and ‘we just want him to be himself, wherever that turns out to be’…everyone sings his praises and talks of his vision and no one’s come along in a long time that has the hockey IQ that he has BUT…
    why’s there the BUT at any point in these most recent conversations? if he’s not going to get Taylor Hall minutes outta the gate and that’s what #1 overalls should get why do we hear and speak about limited EV time and that he could be here to fill a power play specialist type role? Does the Tyler Myers contract extension pucker our GM’s butt? Do the optics change when Taylor Hall scores 70 points this year and the trend is to extend ELCs after the second year? Who will agree Taylor Hall could be eligible for a biga$$ signing bonus with a tidy seven year extension this time next year? For me it all adds up and questions beg answers to know what the ‘braintrust’ has in mind for RNH…really

    • Clyde Frog

      WHAT!?!?!?!?

      How short our fan memory is…. There were many, many hours devoted to debating about whether we should burn an year of Hall’s ECL.

      Hundreds of posts, quotes from Steve about evaluating our team, hours of anguish as people argued back and forth and raged… “He’ll progress better in junior they said”, “You are so wrong! He has done everything junior!!” Others replied…

      I am beginning to think this is just par for the course in killing time until the season starts.

  • Nabokov posted a .922 the year SJS let him go.
    It was more a matter of fitting him under the cap and term. He was going to be a 35+ contract (no cap relief is retired or bought out) and one of the smartest GM’s in the NHL wouldn’t give him a 4 year deal (unlike the Oiler braintrust with Khabby)

    He was not good in the KHL last year (.888), but he says he was unhappy, and he quit.

    I’d look to seem him around .915 this year.

  • Talbot17

    I really think Brule is old news. Even if he plays well, his version of playing well may not be enough to take a line spot for the up and comers. Frankly, i hope he plays well, so we can send him to another team when injuries creep into the season for all teams as the season gets going.

    I think its going to come down to Lander, RNH, Harky and Brule. As has been what everyone is saying post after post, it looks like RNH’s future is in his own hands. Name to know: Lennart Petrell . I think he might be a dark horse out of camp. Bigger body and older than Gagner, playing against men for a while so, could see him impress.

    I think people should start understanding RNH WILL make the team and stay with them though out of camp. Why? 1 reason: Ever see Tambelini’s interviews? everytime they ask him about RNH about making the team he gets this goofy glimmer in his eye, wrinkly kick in his cheek with a smile and states “theres no rush blah blah”…same sort of responses to Hall last year. People keep saying, Hall was way more explosive out of camp and therefore thats why he stayed…But RNH isnt the same player as Hall, its almost guaranteed hes going to have a couple games and plays that are going to look so good to the oil brass and us fans that they will validate his position on the team. I have been reading comments on here a ton and honestly if RNH isnt out every shift dazzling people get their panties all tied in a knot. The guy works his tail off every shift and its going to pay dividends in TC, and moving forward.

  • paul wodehouse

    …Clyde

    ..ok there was talk…not nearly the cloud i see that seems to be hanging over RNH… not like the way RNH is being trotted out and pointed at as the slighter version of an overall #1 pick…i believe RNH could benefit by staying in junior and entering next year with ‘maybe’ a gold metal from the ‘local’ world juniors…and posssibly a Memorial Cup MVP like #4… i was actually thinking more of the connection between the Myers signing and Hall after his second year…imo RNH could make this team but the tradition of losing and getting another lottery pick could stand in his way…

    AND…i’m old so please excuse my short memory

  • Quicksilver ballet

    One thing to keep in mind with RNH. He was 17 yrs old and putting the wood to all of the 18 yr olds in last yrs entry draft. For a 17 yr old to be rated higher globally in a world dominated by 18 yr olds tells me he’ll be worth the wait if he goes back. Personally i’d like to see him stay, he has to get that first yr under his belt at some point.

  • Clyde Frog

    I hear you Pelhem, just find it funny that people hold Hall as an example of a kid ready to storm the NHL this year…

    When there were pages and pages of “Math” devoted to whether the Oiler’s and Hall would benefit from a year in WHL or not.

    The only real answer will be in the late games of Pre-season and the first 9 of the NHL. Either they feel he is making it work, he gets injured or they send him back to find and grow his inner-“man” body.

    • paul wodehouse

      …here’s where i need some clarity Frog…last year yes we discussed whether TH should go back to junior because as i recall tyler dellow came out to say all that stuff about ELCs and how they shouldn’t burn a year of his contract particularly…there was a i recall no real “doubt” that he would play in the NHL … but with RNH there seems to be camps that say he’s ready and camps that say he’s not ready … no ELC discussions just his “slightness” …the boys on 1260 radio are betting that RNH will or will not wear a t-shirt when being tested in the physicals because they say there’s a problem with him looking too skinny in his “skivies”…that’s what i’m talking about…with four there was never any question..just whether he would wear Kevin’s unretired number…

      i want RNH to be on this team BUT…

  • Biggest difference between Hall and RNH? Last season there were billboards all over town, paid for by the Oilers, saying ‘Welcome home Taylor’ or to that effect, the day after the draft. The mgmt made up their minds at draft day he was going to be on the roster all season. You don’t run a marketing campaign on a player who won’t be on the roster. I haven’t seen any such public indication from the Oilers that RNH will be an Oiler when the regular season starts. Therefor, it is not a lock for him to be in the NHL this season any more than 9 games.

  • Clarence Oveur

    I can’t wait to watch Tyrvainen’s “Anttics” in preseason play…the Oilers have needed that type of player for years now (at least since 2006).