It’s easy to describe the leaves in autumn and it’s oh so easy in the spring

But down through January and February is a very different thing

-Van Morrison

Sometime this morning, we’ll get an idea about the Oilers training camp roster. Jason Gregor told me yesterday afternoon not to expect surpise names we haven’t heard of, so Kirill Tupulov is about as exciting as the names are likely to get. There are three things to keep a close eye on in training camp and the early part of the season:


Nikolai Khabibulin enters TC as the starter, but his age and injury history means this is a fluid story from the beginning of the season. We could get through the physicals, Joey Moss, pre-season, October, Christmas and the trade deadline without an injury, and he could channel the Bulin Wall one more time for a short period.

But the future may belong to Devan Dubnyk, and that future could be now. The battle for the starting job is unlikely to be a bitter battle, mostly due to the fact that a veteran player is trying to catch a swansong and no one really hopes against it. The best thing for the Oilers future? Dubnyk grabs this job by the brass and kills it.


Yes, I did hear about the photos and no I won’t post them. I got about 15 text messages from people about the Johansson photos, meaning a lot of people read ON and LT. I won’t post them because it seems to me that any photo released by a movie company or a publicity department (or the paps can drag up) is one thing but taking advantage of a (stupid, stupid) mistake is beyond the pale. I’m also amazed the FBI has time to fight the globe’s evildoers AND find Ms. Johansson’s diabolical offender.

Anyway, defense. I think we’ll see some moves at the deadline depending on the progress of Peckham and Petry, along with some of the more advanced kids like Fedun and Teubert. Trade deadline deals involving Andy Sutton, Laddy Smid and Tom Gilbert all seem possible. Look for Jeff Petry to kill the competition for the last job opening and force Sutton (or a struggling D) down the depth chart.


I expect there will be a battle or two, involving Brule, RNH and Lander. The organization needs to find out if Nugent-Hopkins is ready to make the NHL grade, and that could force Lander to the AHL for at least 9 games. After that, the club may send RNH back to junior and then callup Lander.

Brule is a complete wild card. I expect Tom Renney is going to make damn good and sure he doesn’t see a repeat of last season, when Brule was badly needed (the team was very thin up front due to injury) and could not answer the bell. This is an extremely tough business, and not being able to play (whatever the circumstances) when needed is a massive negative arrow.

The Oilers up front who are shoo-ins in my opinion:

  1. Taylor Hall
  2. Jordan Eberle
  3. Ales Hemsky
  4. Sam Gagner
  5. Magnus Paajarvi
  6. Linus Omark
  7. Ryan Smyth
  8. Shawn Horcoff
  9. Eric Belanger
  10. Ben Eager
  11. Ryan Jones
  12. Darcy Hordichuk

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gilbert Brule, Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen would seem to me the strongest candidates for addition to the dozen listed. There are battles, and they will go all season long. I’d expect all 16 of the names I’ve listed at forward to play at least some with the big club this season. I’d also expect that Lennert Petrell, Chris VandeVelde and Curtis Hamilton will get at least a cup of coffee in the show.

    • RPG

      Couldn’t agree more with the “nice problem to have” comment. Hartikainen might be another nice problem to have. Could see some solid trading from a position of strength in our future.

  • O.C.


    From C&B training camp primer: “Honest-to-goodness NHL hockey is back! The Edmonton Oilers’ 2011-12 training camp kicks off today at Millennium Place in Edmonton and if last year’s crowds were any indication, the place will be packed.”

    A heads-up: Oiler camp opens today at Rexall Place. If you go to Millennium Place today you will see Pinky’s Pizza versus Joe’s Muffler shop in Senior C hockey.

  • Talbot17

    meant to post this here accidently put it in past thread but:

    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.

  • fuzzy muppet

    Ideally, Brule wins the 4C job outright and Lander stays down for a few months. Brule and Jones build up trade Value and are moved at deadline for picks.

    Roster spots open for Hartikainen and Lander.

    Probably not going to happen…

  • Talbot17


    these are nice problems to have, finally, some depth at center and thru the top 6. at what point tho does this become a game of russian roulette with developing players? the lower we finish, obviously, the better the pick and more talented the player. so if we keep drafting and developing strong skilled potential, then at some point we must pull the trigger and get rid of someone.

    don’t get me wrong this is a nice problem to have but it is a problem, eventually.

  • Pronger's Wife

    So pumped – training camp!! I just booked off work, took the kids out of school and my wife called in sick.

    We’re so excited. Now we’re all going to… uh, ummmm. Well, were were planning on watching…

    “Nothing to see here folks.”

    Don’t play a pre-season game till Tuesday, huh?

  • Willis is joining The Cult of Hockey at the Journal. I assume that does not mean he will be leaving ON. At least I hope not. He is one of the few advanced stats guys that also knows how to present the material in a digestible manner.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    I so hate summer! I mean really I love spring! I love fall! I love hockey! But all summer I just suffer through reading a blog and wondering, wishing. Going to the lake is great don’t get me wrong but it is just a diversion from the pain of NOTHING in JUNE since 2006!#$&^##UG

  • Woogie

    I think Lander and RNH are going to force tambo hand and he will end up having to make some deals to make room for these guys unless there is a crap ton of injuries again and then it really doesn’t matter because they will get playing time anyway.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I’ve been thinking more and more about the Roy/Bunz/Perhonen situation that’s just over the horizon. When we have three potential goalies chomping at the bit and Dubnyk possibly solidified as the starter, then we’ll have a glorious problem.

    Also, in my first pre-season game of NHL ’12, I played Minne and drifted Heatley into their bench with Peckham. I got an achievement and everything, it was also glorious.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    We have tons of depth up front so if we are in the hunt by mid-season and our D still stands out as a clear weakness, we do have some bullets if we want to pull the trigger. We just need to stick around the pack and give ourselves a chance to be that team that gets hot late. GO OILERS GO!!

  • bazmagoo

    In my mind as an air chair GM, I’d like to see RNH get his 9 games but go back to the WHL so he can win the World Juniors and maybe the Memorial Cup. After that, I’d love to see Hemsky and Gagner both having stellar years but being traded to Nashville at the deadline for Shea Weber in some sort of package (details to follow at the deadline when this happens, haha). Could easily see this happening considering Suter is looking like a stud in Nashville too and will probably be seeking 7+ million when he is a UFA next summer.

    This would encourage the competition we are seeking at the forward position, make room for both Ladner and RNH moving forward, and land the stud d-man that any team needs to make a serious push for the cup. Also signing Pekka Renne next summer when he becomes a UFA wouldn’t hurt either.

    If all those stars aligned, I could see us pushing for the cup in 2013 or 2014. But let’s not fool ourselves, we aren’t going to do much until we rectify our defence. Dubnyk is solid and Khabby could possibly have a good year, but our d is undoubtedly the worst in the league currently. This needs to change before we can challenge for the playoffs or further. Baz

  • OutDoorRink

    Our organizational depth is starting to look really good. Of the four players listed as being on the cusp, no worries about Landers, RNH or Hartikainen. Brule though, man he worries me as far as his depression issues. I’m talking on a personal level more than professional. He seems very fragile and listening to him, you know that he realizes that he is at a crossroad in his career.