The Oilers were on the ice bright and early this morning with Group A taking the first tour of Rexall at 8:15 a.m. There will be no scrimmages today based on the first session. (I will update every few minutes, so check back for updates.)
Group A was on at 8:15 and went through an array of skating and passing drills in the first session.
Hall – Gagner – Hemsky
Tremblay – Lander – Keller
Hordichuk – Brule – Petrell
Hamilton – Martindale – Abney
Whitney – Petry
Sutton (not here wife having baby) – Potter
Tulupov – Plante
Vannieuwenhuizen – Schmidt
They flooded at around 9 and were back out at 9:15. Whitney didn`t return for the 2nd session, just for precautionary reasons. Hemsky is out for the 2nd session, and he did have a little contact in some one-on-one drills, but nothing major. He won`t be playing in any preseason games this coming week.
9:33…Line rushes one way up the ice, with three forwards forechecking in the zone and then transition the other way. Hemsky ends up on a breakaway and Khabibulin stones him with the blocker. Khabibulin looks in great shape. Of course being in great shape doesn`t equate to longterm health, so I`m still cautious.
9:36…Five-on-five scrimmage. Hemsky taking part, and it doesn`t look like he is off-limits. No major contact, but a few battles.
9:38…Tremblay with the first goal. After a turnover in the D zone by Schmidt, Lander flips to a wide open Trembley, who comes from the side of the net and slides it five-hole on Roy.
I wish fans could watch this short five-on-five scrimmage and see the difference between the rookie camp and main camp. The rookies get pressured much quicker and it results in bad passes or turnovers.
9:41…Hordichuk with the first hit…takes a few strides and gets a piece of Tulupov behind the net. Nothing major, but once one hit occurs normally we start to see more.
9:42…Short scrimmage is over. Day one has been pretty basic.
9:43…After a short meeting on the side boards, they pull the nets out to the slot and they will skate laps to finish the session. Three laps with two groups of five going at the same time…then the other two go…Fun stuff…
Tulupov is big, skates well and he has a heavy shot. Hard to get a feel of his hockey sense or his positioning on the ice. The former 3rd round pick of the Devils in 2006 only played 4 games in the KHL last year. He doesn`t have a contract, but Igor Larionov is his agent, which won`t hurt. We will need to see more of him before anyone can make a proper assessment. He didn`t look out of place.
9:55…Session is over. Guys stretch as a team at centre.
TEAM B is up next..
Smyth – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Tyrvainen – Vande Velde – Hartikainen
Cornet – Pitlick – Pelss
Rieder – Smith – Rajala
Barker – Gilbert
Chorney – Teubert
Motin – Blain
Colten Teubert is not skating. He is sitting in the stands watching practice and he doesn’t look happy. Originally Teubert and the organization said he only had a broken nose, but it sure seems like he might have suffered some sort of concussion from his fight on Sunday. Teubert wants to be on the ice, but the organization is being very cautious with him. I wonder if this is sign that we will finally see teams not allow players to fool the team into thinking they are healthy enough to play. It’s a welcome change.
It feels like groundhog day…Group B went through the exact same drills as group A…It is hard to get a sense of who looks good or not, but a few guys have caught my eye…
- Hartikainen looks leaner. He shed about 10 pounds in the off-season and looks a bit quicker.
- Johan Motin will never play for the Oilers. This will be his last year in the organization, he just isn’t good enough.
- Eberle looks a touch quicker, which isn’t surprising.
- Smyth looks exactly the same as 2007. Comes down the wing, takes a snap or wrist shot and stops right at the top of the crease. That’s a play Oiler fans will see 200 times this year and likely never get bored of it.
11:25 Motin takes down Gilbert in a strange collision. Forwards were at opposite ends and opposite corners for one-on-one drills and the D-men were at centre. Gilbert was standing still and neither saw one another. Motin leg-whipped him accidently, but both got up and the boys had a good chuckle.
TEAM C took the ice just after 12 p.m.
Paajarvi – Horcoff – Omark
Eager – Belanger – Jones
Green – O’Marra – Ferguson
Czerwonka – House – Arcobello
Smid – Peckham
Marincin – Davidson
Musil – Fedun
Eric Belanger loves to go top shelf in shooting drills. He’s scored four goals already. I like it when guys shoot to score. Just hitting the goalie doesn’t help anyone.
1:50…3rd and final session wraps up. Czerwonka was the only player who left the ice today due to an injury. It looked like he cranked his neck or shoulder. He didn’t return after walking off halfway through the first session for group C.
The Oilers will have a few quick sessions tomorrow morning before the Joey Moss Cup goes at 2 p.m.
You can expect a few cut as early as Monday, and then a few more after the two games on Tuesday.