A WEEK OF WAITING

If you thought the off-season was long, then this week might kill most Oiler fans. The Oilers don’t open their season until Sunday, they will be the last team to play a regular season game, with the Jets opening their season a few hours earlier.

The only positive is that it gives Ryan Whitney more time to get healthy. Whitney was on the ice this morning wearing a regular jersey and he was paired with Tom Gilbert. He didn’t wince when he pivoted, which is the motion that causes him the most discomfort, but I won’t know until after practice if he thinks he might be ready for Sunday.

The Oilers only had six D-men on the ice this morning. Andy Sutton, Gilbert’s regular partner, didn’t skate and that is likely why Whitney was so involved in practice. Ladislav Smid is out with a separated shoulder, Taylor Chorney has a wonky knee and Taylor Fedun is still in a Minnesota hospital.

 

Ben Eager was on the ice this morning, but he was wearing a baby blue jersey and didn’t take part in all the drills. He looked good wheeling by few D-men during one-on-one drills, and  when I spoke to hinm last he was certain he’d be cleared for contact later this week.

QUICK HITS

  • I was pleasantly surprised that the Oilers sent Gilbert Brule to OKC yesterday. Based on his play in preseason he deserved the demotion, but that isn’t always the case in the NHL. Numerous teams will keep guys on one-way deals over a newcomer who has a two-way deal. Brule is a good guy, who has much more important issues in his life to deal with other than getting demoted, but the Oilers had to send him down.

    They’ve had too many "wildcard" players the past few seasons. Players that they couldn’t rely on game-to-game. Brule wasn’t the only one, and I’m curious to see if they continue getting rid of other "wildcards" in the coming season.
     

  • Even though Lennart Petrell was my surprise pick to make the roster, I’m not certain how much of an impact, if any, he has this year. He needs to do more than just be a solid penalty killer for three minutes a game, and I’m not sure Renney has him pencilled in as one of his top-four PK forwards at this time. Horcoff, Smyth, Paajarvi, Belanger and Eberle might all still be ahead of him.
     
  • I still think that Anton Lander is here until Sam Gagner is healthy. I have no doubt Lander will be a solid player in the future, I just think he’d be better served playing 1st or 2nd line minutes in the AHL than 4th line minutes in Edmonton. The most encouraging part of Lander’s game is his desire and work ethic. He also thinks the game very well, but his best attribute is his competitive drive. In the past few seasons, the Oilers have had too many guys who didn’t match the intensity level of the opposition. Lander won’t be one of those guys once he becomes a regular NHLer. 
  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    I think that for the first time in years, we actually have a well defined group of top 6 (Smyth, Hemsky, Horcoff, RNH, Eberle & Hall) and bottom 6 (everyone else) forwards who can play those roles, and that we are not asking players to be something that they are not (Hemsky… checking forward??? Jones… first liner???).

    Unfortunately, when it comes to defencemen and goalies, we may be in for a bit of an adventure. Our top 6 defencemen are more like a case of “Survivor: Edmonton”, and we have a goalie (Khabibulin) who looks like “Jekyl and Hyde” within the same game.

    I think the plan is to ride the forward corps for as long as possible to hopefully cover some of the blemishes on the back end and if the opportunity presents between New Year’s and the deadline, move some of the excess forwards to get help with the problem areas on the back end.

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say that RNH is a top 6 yet. He hasn’t played a single regular season game but he definately has the potential and I sure hope he just takes off and runs with it.

      • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

        @Dman09 – I take your point about RNH, but really, what are the other options available to the Oil? He’s led the team in the pre-season and who would you replace him with on a 1st or 2nd line pairing? Gagner? Lander?

        The Oil surely won’t be able to trade for someone or pick someone up on waivers to fill that role, especially when they have bigger problems to fix on d and in goal.

        I think RNH is here to stay and it’s his job to lose. I think the team will simply surround him with better physical deterrents (Hordichuk, Eager) so that opposing teams will think twice before trying to run him.

        • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

          If it were up to me RNH would be a lock right now. but lets face it, how much faith do you have in Oilers Managment. It would be just like them to do something stupid and send him down. I suppose they could go back to the Horcoff-Gagner-Lander-Belanger setup up but really we’ve seem similar setups before and its not good enough.

  • Bob Cobb

    One of these team won’t make the playoffs:

    Edmonton, Dallas, Calgary, Phoenix

    Winnipeg, Florida, Carolina, and NY Islanders.

    Just thought I would take the time out to point out the blatantly obvious.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    This whole Gagner/ RNH / Lander debate is the stupidest debate Ive ever heard on here. One guys job doesn`t hinge on another. And all Lander and RNH has done has played well in preseason, and people want to ship out a 22 year old player with a good contract.

    The impatience on some fans in this town is laughable, its one thing to be passioante about your team, but let your passion cloud your judgement.

    Gagner is going to be here, he`s a better option then either Lander and RNH right now, in time that may change. Landers being projected to be a third liner and my hope one day is we see RNH, Gagner, Lander down the middle. To me that makes sence.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Stating that Gagner has the second highest career point total from his draft year as a point in his favour is really deceptive. There are much better players who started at 19 or 20 so they haven’t had 4 seasons to rack up Gagner’s point totals. For example, van Riemsdyk, Couture, Voracek, Sutter and Perron are all better players. It may not show in their point totals, but they are nearly as, if not more, productive moving forward and offer much more defensively and/or physically. If anything, Gagner’s totals only prove that he was brought up too early. Watch this year as more and more of the players from that weak draft start surpassing Sam’s career totals.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    When I first looked at this article about an hour ago I read the author of the article was ‘Teflon Toque’. Now I see it’s Jason Gregor. Wow I must be under the weather.

  • Release the Hounds

    I have been an Oiler fan since they arrived in the NHL. My prediction for this season is another 25th or worse finish. Reason? The Oilers have lost any and all respect of the other 29 teams they play against, the on-ice officials and the NHL executive. Watching the Canuckleheads run players on Saturday might without any fear of retribution (From TSN: “Marco Sturm and Alex Edler have avoided suspensions after a pair of controversial hits vs. the Oilers.”) just reinforces this. AND, no mention of Bieksa’s knee on Hall. And its not only the Canucks either. And we question why our injury situation is the way it is? Total lack of respect.

  • Bucknuck

    Jason is saying who the contenders are. Why all the a-hole comments?

    Those of you complaining about Jason Gregor’s prediction, man up. Declare your final four right now.

    Mine:

    EAST
    Washington, Lightning

    WEST
    LA, Chicago

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    Bucknuck . . .whoah buddy, we’ve all had a few. . .let’s settle it down!

    Your final four prediction is hilarious!

    Here’s mine . . .

    West: Edmonton, Minnesota
    East: Winnipeg, Ottawa

    Bettman’s freakin’ nightmare!

    HAHAHAHAHA!

    Not as funny as you Bucknuck, but hey, who is?

    (and I’m a professional)

    *ggl*

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    I would send Sam Gagner and Alex Plante to Dallas in exchange for their first round selection next summer. Then again, I’m not longbottom, so what do I know?

    Bucknuck? Thoughts?

    • Bucknuck

      Not sure why you are singling me out, but I am certainly against trading live bodies for draft picks at this point in the rebuild. That cupboard is pretty full of prospects.

      I am uncertain what the market value for Gagner would be. Considering his age and offensive ability it would be pretty good, but certainly not worth a top pairing D which is what this team really needs.

      If the Hemsky talks are going nowhere he would be on my trade block, though I love watching him play (entertainment value). Still, you have to give up something to get something.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    no I personally would keep Sam 2 more years. Imagine the worth of a solid second line center with 6-7 years exp at 25. You would be able to get your final pieces yes I said pieces to your puzzle. Sam will be on a good value contract and Lander will be ready to step in then. The pressure on Lander to step in right now is crazy let him get 2 years to learn the NHL game on a smaller Ice serface.
    It just takes Patience that is all.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    We always seem to be one of the last teams to start the regular season. With all of our injuries, at least it gives us a chance to get one or two guys back for the opener.