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. 
  • Quicksilver ballet

    If i could make one change to the possible lineup for Sunday. That 4,93 and 14 line should be the second line. 94,10 and 83 should go up against the oppositions best line me thinks.

    Jason, any chance that Potter kid can weave some of his magic on the Oilers powerplay this year?

    • Jason Gregor

      He has a heavy shot, so he might get some time on there, but Gilbert, Petry and Barker are likely top three, and once Whitney returns Potter drops farther.

      The biggest impact on their PP will come from Smyth and more experience for Eberle and Hall I’d guess.

  • I’m really excited to be going to the home opener this year but the week long layoff is bad news. This club are notorious slow starters even without the break. Hopefully they are down 3-0 to PIT by the end of the first!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gagners one way contract is what’s holding Lander back. If both players were on the same sortof deals, it would surely be Gagner going to the AHL and not Lander. Lander has more to offer this club now than Gagner.

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      Really, Really??? I love these fans that think a person that has scorede ZERO points in the NHL has done more to earn a job than a second line center who has averaged 40+ points thru his first four years. Did you know that Gagner sits second in career points from players in his draft year? Probably doesn’t matter to you.
      If you expect Lander to step in and play on every line First to the Fourth and still get points doing it Then your crazy, remember this in four years of being here he has never had a consistent set of line mates even last year he bounced from the first to the third line, under Quinn he was third and fourth line center most of the year, under Mactavish he was never more than third line center.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Rick Rypien (GRHS) entered the NHL at 5’10” and 170lbs. Just imagine the damage that will insue with Hopkins at almost 6’1″ and 180lbs. Ryan will be the player we hoped Gagner would be.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Yes sir, really.

        That 5th yr NHL’er will be put in his place by an 18 yr old raw rookie in his first year. Hopkins will have more points this season than Gagner plays games. 89 is fools gold. Feel free to try and change my mind if you like.

        • longbottom/P.Biglow

          There is nothing to change if you can’t see talent. Ganger is turning or just turned 23 going into his 5th season. there is a level players play ar then from the 5th season on they get it and there is a noticeable difference. Lets use the D.Sedin for example.
          The first four seasons he averaged 37.7 points a season, the six seasons after his average is 83.3. Now before you jump down my throat Gagner may not have that big of increase but for his first four seasons he averaged 44.4. Not bad for a so called fourth line center like you say.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            The Sedins didn’t have the same challenges Sam has. He’s not as quick of foot as the Sedins, not as strong in his own end defensively and physically he’s seperated him from the puck with the greatest of ease.

            What say you Longbottom sir?

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            There my friend are where you are wrong. The Sedins got their nicknames the Sisters in the first four years when you could blow them over. They were softer than Sam Gagner then and in many ways they have less compete. How many fights have the Sedins ever been in? Gagner came into this preseason stronger and faster by all accounts, again its the five year rule he knows how and what to do in the and before the preseason. In the fifth year players have more commitment to the off-season training.

    • Gagner will be playing on the top 2 lines. Lander will be on the bottom 2. Neither is inhibiting the other.

      I dont figure how you came up with the conclusion that Lander has more to offer this club than its highest scoring centre. This is especially baffling considering Lander hasnt played 1 minute of regular season hockey.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        57 gets around the ice much quicker, he’s not lost in his own end of the ice, much stronger on the puck and watch him put up 30-40’ish points this season with only part time duty.

        If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck Achie, it’s probably a duck. Trust me.

    • Oh god. Here we go again with another 300 comment thread on the relative merits of unproven rookies over established NHL’ers.

      People. Just because it works in NHL 12 doesn’t mean it’ll work in real life.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        C’mon David, it’s been 4 yrs and he still hasn’t grabbed that role as the Oilers 3rd or 4th line center. How much longer shall they wait. He’s clearly 4th line material as this club sits right now. Even if he wasn’t injured he has to be sitting behind 93,10,57 and 20.

  • The Saint

    The Maple Leafs put Matt Lashoff on waivers. Could he be someone to kind of ease the defensive injuries? He has draft pedigree going 22nd overall and trade pedigree (Traded from Boston to Tampa for Recchi) Could replace Fedun in the minors aswell for this year.

    If someone could inform me on the depth chart in OKC dcore that would be great. Im thinking it is Teubert-Helmer Plante-???? Motin-?? I just cant remember who we have down there haha

  • CanaDave

    I’m not opposed to Hall/RNH/Eberle being the Oilers 2nd line for at least the first 9 games of the season. Assuming Renney tries to have Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky together and out there against other teams top lines I think having the kids out there against teams second lines and second D pairings will give them much more of a chance to succeed.

    I also think that if Omark/Gagner/Paajarvi winds up being the Oilers 3rd line this season they could create mismatches against other teams bottom 6 and with a 4th line of Jones/Belanger/Eager, Renney will be able to roll all 4 lines with relative confidence and then having quality depth players like Petrell, Lander and Harski behind them I’m sure the Oilers will be able to address current NHL D depth as the season progresses.

    • Jason Gregor

      Guys like Gagner, Gilbert, Hemsky, Horcoff and Omark.

      Horcoff and Hemsky because of injuries. Can they rely on them.

      The others because of consistency. I give the kids a pass thus far. But for years this team has had to many…”If player X does this…

      They need to start knowing which player will show up on most nights.

      Ryan Smyth’s game is consistent. I’d argue Jones’ game was consistent. Sure both play simpler games, but at least you knew what to expect.

    • Jimmeh

      I wouldnt throw Jones into the wildcard group. Omark is likely in that group, but with more upside.

      Anyone else feel like Omark is kinda like Klima? terrible when he doesn’t play his game, but when he does, he is awesome.

  • Sorch

    When Gagner comes back, you would send Lander down as opposed to RNH? Does that mean RNH is #2 center? Belanger and Horcoff fight for 3 and 4?

    Its a tough decision, nice one to have though.

  • Talbot17

    @ Jason,

    Agree with you on Brule. You can only give a guy so many chances to step their game up, and I like that even with a 1 way contract you still aren’t safe. Players playing good should get opportunities

    Agree with you on Lander, I do see him being called up again in the latter part of the year, he is definitely a gem that i would want on the team for years to come

    Him and Harty on a line in OKC would be lethal

  • Chaz

    If the Oilers are smart, they’ll run 3 sets of PK forwards and 2 sets of PK defencemen, which means Petrell should see time there when he’s dressed.

    Side note, do you know what’s better than not basing decisions solely on contracts?

    Not giving out terrible contracts to begin with.

  • Chaz

    Hey Jason. Are you able to expand on what the other important issues are that Brule needs to worry about? I assume from reading between the lines that there might be some depression issues (I think he pretty much hinted at this in the summer after the loss of Belak). Thought maybe you could clarify this? Either way, I hope GB’s time in the minors is short-lived and that he’s able to return to the NHL. He seems to be a real quality person.

    • Jason Gregor

      I won’t put words in his mouth, because he never used that word, but he did openly admit on my show that he saw a psychologist and sports psychologist this summer. He felt talking to a professional helped him a lot. Finding happiness within is the most imporant part of life, regardless of occupation, and I applaud him for that. Hope he finds happiness off the ice, and maybe some success on it.

  • The Saint

    Jason,

    I know it’s been discussed in previous threads already, just curious who you think the Oilers will call up or pick off waivers to stopgap the numerous injuries on the backend?

    Ryan Parent?
    Bryan Mccabe?
    Plante?

    • Jason Gregor

      I don’t see them calling up Plante that is for sure. If Whitney is only out for a game or two they might not claim anyone and just go with six until he is healthy.

    • longbottom/P.Biglow

      Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won’t be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

      • Travis Dakin

        Well you must be confident that this team will compete for the playoffs then? Remember, the playoff race always comes down to pretty much one point now. The few games that this team of AHL defenders loses due to man games lost in October will very much matter in April.

        But that’s not reallly going to be a concern by January anyway. One more year.

        • longbottom/P.Biglow

          I donot believe they will get to the playoffs this year but I do know one thing that our goals against last year wasn’t all on the goaltenders and defencemen it’s overall team play. Lets take a peek at something. we can agree that Sutton and Barker are an upgrade over Vandermeere and Foster? Whitney returning is an upgrade over no Whitney. Now lets look at forward Belanger is an upgrade over Cogliano in the defensive style of play and Eager and Hordichuk are defensive upgrades over Stortini, Mac, And JFJ. Smyth is an upgrade overall. These players have 1 more year exp under what Tom Renny wants. I figure this defenceive system is good for 10-12 in the west which is an huge upgrade over last year. Lets have a little hope. Why people watch a team so they can dump on certains players and coaches and the G.M. no matter how good or bad they do are pretty lousy fans.(I didn’t mean you spefically). But you have guys still complaining what the Oilers did ten twelve years ago???? Every team gets injuries, and pre season is notorious for High goal scoring well we did well defensively with guys who couldn’t make the team….. Depth.

      • The Saint

        Simple…DEPTH.

        We have NHL type depth at forward, we dont on defense. Musil, Kelfbom, Marancin are years away.

        If you think this core of defensemen will hold up an entire season you’re drinking the happy juice. Has Smid been healthy any of the last 3 years? Peckham had concussion issues late last year, and Whitney’s ankles are what they are.. a total mess.

        If he’s not working on the radiowaves, I have a sick feeling Jason Strudwick will be in our opening day line-up? 🙂

        • longbottom/P.Biglow

          I guess you didn’t read the part of Whitney haveing no pain when turning? As someone that has had an operation in the past its not the injury itself that causes pain and suffering its the scar tissue. When Whitney say it hurts when turning and cutting its not his original injury hurting its the scar tissue around the nerves its inflexible and has to be broken up with his normal movement. Struds is ok as a partime fill in if there is the understanding that when the injuries come back he moves to a coaching role.

      • It might have something to do with the fact that the Oilers are going to bat with a lineup full of rejects and AHL wannabes on defense.

        You’re banking on two defensemen who are chronicly injured to return swiftly from injury and remain healthy, without losing any other defensemen on the year.

        Until that time the top 4 guys are who? Tom Gilbert, Theo Peckham, Sutton, and Barker? 1 lumbering giant with the speed to match, 1 reclamation project on his 3rd team, 1 player in just his 2nd fulltime NHL season, and Tom Gilbert.

        Maybe the “stay the course” plan should be re-evaluated.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Gregor’s twitter…You can expect the Oilers to put Whitney and Gagner on IR on Wednesday. They wouldn’t be available for one week. Neither will be ready for Sundays game, so that is likely move. Renney said Eager’s next concussion test is Friday, he’ll likely pass, but will need a few practices.

  • O.C.

    So…with us starting last, that automatically means that we will be (likely tied) in last place to start the season…before we’ve even played a minute of game time. I guess that means we have to fight our way up…I guess if it was easy every team would win the cup every year.

    Predictions: Dubnyk will impress this year and become a regular name for Pierre MacGuire’s “Monster of the Game”…Khabibulin gets his game back, Hall will step it up to 65-75 points with 36-42 goals…Nugent-Hopkins sticks with the team and gets 40 assists, doesn’t start scoring many goals till later in the year, Eberle also breaks out with a 30+ goal campaign. Whitney stays healthy.

    But hey, I’m an optimistic, biased Oiler fan with a man-crush on Hall…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Well the week off may be hell for some, but the team needs it. Not just for injuries to heal, but for guys like RNH to continue to grow.