HOLIDAY ROAD

It has been a splendid summer, it has been a fascinating few months for Oiler fans. And as much as I love the hot sun, the coastal humidity and the mosquitoes that have grown to the size of Black Hawk helicopters, it is time. Time, boys. It is time.

I find myself spending early August thinking about the beautiful game of hockey. My dear friend Louise has agreed to meet me for at least one day of coffee and muffins (she brings both) while watching the boys of winter at the first days of Oilers training camp, and my wife and kids have promised they’ll join me at the Joey Moss. Plus there’s pre-season, the Oil Kings are just around the corner and Nail Yakupov will play in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge in Yaroslavl and Halifax, N.S. August 9th to 14th.

My hatred of Calgary is gaining momentum and my spider senses tell me we should be on the lookout for turning leaves and cooler temperatures.

HOW HIGH CAN THEY FLY?

The Oilers have done some things, focusing specifically  on the future (Nail, Justin Schultz). They might add during August but as things stand now the roster might look like this:

  • C: Nuge, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger
  • L: Hall, Nail, Smyth, Eager, Hordichuk
  • R: Hemsky, Eberle, Jones, Petrell, Hartikainen
  • D: Smid-Petry, Whitney-Schultz, Sutton-Schultz, Peckham
  • G: Dubnyk, Khabibulin

We can even throw the OKC roster on the table:

  • F: Josh Green, Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander, Mark Arcobello, Phil Cornet, Chris VandeVelde, Dane Byers, Tyler Pitlick, Antti Tyrvainen, Tanner House, Curtis Hamilton, Cameron Abney, Ryan Martindale, Kristians Pelss
  • D: Corey Potter, Colten Teubert, Alex Plante, Taylor Fedun, Teigan Zahn, Dan Ringwald, Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson
  • G: Yann Danis, Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz

I may have missed one or two along the way, and maybe Oscar Klefbom sneaks on a plane before TC. Having said that, the group lines up as Goalies (5); Defenders (15); Forwards (28).

WHAT’S NEXT?

There is so much unsettled business for the entire NHL that I can see Edmonton making one or two big moves before training camp. I can also see them stand pat–which is what they usually do this time of year. The three-for-one deal I’ve been promoting since Christ was a kid remains somewhere out in the ether.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

 

It  means we pretty much know the names to follow at training camp. New hires Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz will get plenty of attention, and we’ll be curious about the health of incumbents Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney as well as a guy everyone is cheering for in Taylor Fedun.

It means we’ll have something new to talk about. Thank God and Greyhound.

NATION RADIO

Holiday weekend edition and we have a wide range of guests. Questions can be posted below, email is nationradio@theteam1260.com and I do pay attention to twitter: @lowetide_ and @ItsNationRadio.

Scheduled to appear:

  1. Jason Gregor from JG Show and Oilers Nation. We’ll talk Oilers summer, what they might have left to do and the importance of the Ryan’s and a Taylor or two.
  2. Eric T. and his giant brain will return to talk about the importance of performance in the neutral zone and the relationship between possession and winning.
  3. Thomas Drance from Canucks Army and other parts of the Nations. Drance has clarity, and in the world of hockey think that’s like Olympic Gold. We’ll talk Arnott, Luongo and the NW division.
  4. Jim Byers from the OKC Barons. The Barons roster is starting to take shape with Josh Green, Chris VandeVelde and Alex Plante getting contracts recently. We’ll talk to Jim about the 12-13 edition of OKC Barons.
  5. Corey Graham, Oil Kings play by play man. I love hockey, but Corey loves it more. He cannot wait for OK training camp and we’ll talk about the WHL champions and their chances this season.
  6. Scott Francis Winder is a young Edmonton businessman who gets things done. We’ll talk about FC Edmonton’s big game tonight and a major event that will hit Edmonton in the next 7 days.

Your questions are the best, so bring them on. Festival seating, byob. 

  • Reg Dunlop

    Only, what, 40 more sleeps until camp if a new CBA can be agreed upon? Until then, here is what I think.

    Oil will score 20+ more goals with most comming from Yak.

    Oil will surrender 20 fewer goals with Khabbi playing no more than 20 games.

    Oil will win 5-10 more games and finish 10th but we will be OPTIMISTIC about 2013-14.

    Calgary will finish below us, right where they belong.

    Detroit will miss the playoffs. How’s that for a bold prediction.

  • Reg Dunlop

    It was just brought to my attention that all 14 teams that missed last years playoffs had a negative goal differential. 14 of 16 playoff teams had a positive goal differential. Since I am confident that we will score more than we let in, I hereby change my prediction: the oil finish 8th and make the playoffs. So it is written so let it be done.

  • The Soup Fascist

    The Oilers, beyond adding what would appear to be two fine rookies and saying adios to Barker, have done nothing to change player personnel that finished 29th last year.

    So we are hoping to show significant improvement through 1) existing players improving 2) less injuries to key personnel and 3) a rookie head coach.

    I am a huge Oil fan and season ticket holder but colour me dubious. I think we needed to add a couple more pieces (top 4 veteran D and gritty bottom 6 fwd) to be a playoff team – and that assumes above average goaltending. Maybe Whitney can be the top 4 guy if healthy and maybe Eager figures it out.

    But that is a lot of hoping and wishing. If there is a season they will be fun to watch but I don’t see me needing to take money from the kid’s college fund for playoff tix. Hope I am wrong, 2006 was a lot of fun.

    • This^

      I have been saying this all summer while not trying to sound negative, just to add; that there are a lot of “if’s” to the team as well.

      I honestly don’t see the Oilers coming out of a lottery postion with this team as is.

      That’s also not a negative thing just the reality of the rebuild.

        • Not sure, but we know Eberle may come down a bit, Hall might not be ready till end of November/December. RNH should improve and I do have high hopes for Yakupov.
          Like I have said, there are a lot of “If’s” on this team

          If Paajarvi can bounce back
          If Dubnyk can take that consistent step-
          If Whitney can play-
          If Hemsky can bounce back-
          If Horcoff can bring his F/O % up and +/- down-
          If Belanger can stop being an offensive black hole-
          If the Oilers can get a top pairing defensmen-
          If Yakupov and Schultz can play good and responsibly.

          The Oilers need to still address skill and toughness in the top six, they still need better forth line players and of course a top pairing defensmen to be competitive IMO.

          Next years draft is a good one and if the Oilers somehow find themselves in the lottery postion it won’t necessarily be a bad thing, after all it’s a five year plan to rebuild.
          Then you have assets to trade, exspecially if both Hemsky and Gagner hav e good years.

    • The Soup Fascist

      I just think another year in the minors would be good for Pitlick.

      (Pause)

      Oh, you mean Paajarvi. Not sure where he plays unless he changes his game. Looks great flying up and down wing, but unless he decides to use his size and speed and get his nose dirty he is AHL / SEL material.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Paajarvi is a test that separates good coaches from bad coaches.

        When a player has a different skill set than your average young prospect, a good coach knows that he has to develop him differently.

        Renney was given a gold square peg. He only had round holes. So the threw the gold peg away.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Hope you are right. We need a big skilled forward with grit. I never see MP as an edgy player – not in his DNA. However he does potentially have the first two, which would be an improvement.

          But a perimeter game of flying down the wing and floating a wrister at the goalie at the first sign of trouble is not going to cut it. Being 6’2″ and a great skater does not an NHLer make – see Pouliot, Marc. Paajarvi needs to show he deserves the coaches faith.

          It is too early to give up on this kid but unless there is progression this year on the big club or in OKC time to face facts. I think he is a smart, well-spoken kid. I truly hope he figures it out.

  • paul wodehouse

    WEST FINISH : 1.Minnesota , 2. Oilers , 3. St.Louis ,4. Vanc., 5. L.A. , 6.Chicago , 7. San Jose , 8. Colorado, 9. Detroit , 10. Dallas 11. Nashville , 12 Phoenix , 13 .Calgary , 14.Anaheim, 15.Columbus .

    Expect big things from Oilers this year as we become super competitive beyond most of your wildest dreams for usual naysayers to even make playoffs . RESPECTABILITY finally coming and conservative guesses . Out on a limb , and goodbye and good riddance to cellar dwelling . Any one bold enough to put Oilers first ?

  • The Soup Fascist

    i don’t see much improvement for next year,but that’s ok,we are rebuilding and it’s fun to watch the young guys mature.i just hope they have a plan b for their goaltending ,because dubnyk is not a proven starting goaltender and they need to add some toughness that can play higher than the forth line or it will be another injury filled season.

  • Mumbai Max

    I think you meant ‘since Christ was a cowboy’, or alternatively, ‘since Christ was a Corporal’. Both, one would suggest, would be a long time ago.

  • Lexi

    PRV should be on a top 3 line unless he really stinks in training camp or they decide they want to try him at C and then OKC makes sense. Just because he isn’t gritty or have elite finishing ability doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective top 9 player for 10 years. Lots of successful NHL teams have had “soft” Swedes be very valuable because they tend to be very smart, great skaters.

    To me the two biggest test of whether Krueger was a god hire is him finding a role for PRV and getting Belanger to buy into his role without being a “cancer”.

  • paul wodehouse

    …”Nail Yakupov will play in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge in Yaroslavl and Halifax, N.S. August 9th to 14th.”

    Really?????????????????????????????????????

    He signed a contract with Oilers and he’s playing hockey for Russia in this???????????

    What am I missing here other than … if he plays and gets injured while playing for a Russian team who’s signed off on letting him do this in the first place …?????????????

    can anyone ‘splain ?

    • The Oilers did allow Yakupov to play with Insurance from team Russia I believe? but don’t quote me on that.

      I don’t mind Yakupov playing in that tournament, he’ll be ready come training camp for sure and with Hall down for a bit should be good to see what he does with prime time ice.

  • Lexi

    LT,

    Correct me if I’m wrong but does it not make sense for the Oilers to sit tight until the CBA is signed, as there is bound to be a ton of movement then depending on the terms. The 50 contract limit could go up, potential amnesty clauses, some teams might need to dump salary, and cap floor issues could make a guy like Hemsky in big demand. Plus there are teams like Chicago, Detroit, Philly and Pittsburgh who are surely not done with movements this offseason. I could also see even a month long lockout putting a damper on some teams season ticket sales which might force them to dump salaries as well.

    I think one thing the Oilers have managed well, is they are better positioned going into the new CBA than most teams, with cap flexibility. The key will be for them to understand the new CBA ASAP to properly lock up the young guns to the right term and amount contracts and hopefully find teams who are not as well setup and exploit them.

  • Lowetide

    Lexi: You bet. I’ll be talking to Jason about that today, and my thinking is they may even have some things in place but are waiting until the new world order falls into place.

    • All Tamby need is another excuse not to do anything! Let’s see, we got lucky with Schultz, no real management strategy there.

      We signed another top first rounder, no real management strategy there!

      Exactly what has Mr. Dithers done that we are so excited about?

      • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

        Seriously? You’re not even gonna give Tambo credit for the Schultz signing? Did he hit on your wife or something?

        Recruiting Schultz was ALL management. If you give him credit for anything good, it’s the Schultz signing.

        • French Toast Mafia

          Come on man……..get real! Tamby was not there, he was never mentioned by Schultz, Lowe got Coffey and Gretz to help out…..good for him!

          I stand by my comment Tamby has done nothing, except ride the “pick first train”‘, on draft day……..hardly a thinking mans strategy.

          The emperor has no clothes!

          • OutDoorRink

            Sometimes making no move is the best one.

            Check Burke (the TV GM) and the leafs, the guy wants to trade someone every weekend, fast tracking a rebuild is silly.

            The Oilers are now in a position to do something if they feel they need to, or if the deal makes sense, you don’t just make a trade to make a trade.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Here’s my prediction:

    Khabibulin remembers that it’s a contract year. He will train accordingly and, like every other contract year of his career, he will not only be healthy but also motivated.

    I’m making the bold prediction of a goaltending controversy in 2012-13.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I may be high on life this day but am i the only one who figures Yakupov pots 45 goals this coming yr? Oodles of opportunity and icetime in this lineup. A landslide winner for the Calder finally wearing Oiler silks.

    Bounceback yrs from Hemsky and Whitney and this will be a playoff team.

    ..then looks at our goaltending. Hold that thought.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Also on MPS: It’s easy to sit at our desk’s and say how soft he is. I’m pretty sure though that most here would be pissing thier pants if they had to skate into a corner against a tough NHL defender.

    I don’t think it would be unreasonable to see how some young players may be a little intimidated at first. The NHL is full of big strong mean men, who would like nothing more than to smash your teeth down the back of your throat.

    I know there is no guarantees he will get over it, but i think there is a quality person there. He will realize, and probably has already that he needs to toughen up to have an NHL career.

    If that light comes on we could be looking at a completely different player. For the little trade value he has now, i think they would be well advised to hold on a little longer to see what they have once young Maggie actually grows up to be a man.

  • Tim in Kelowna

    If we are done I am going to be extremely bitter heading into TC. There is no excuse for leaving the defense in the state it is currently in. This shouldn’t be a lottery year for the Oilers, but with the blueline as it is, a top 5 pick is not out of the question. All it would take is 2 or 3 key injuries and we could be cellar dwellers once again. You need both depth and quality on D, and we have very little quality. It seems like ST is resting on his laurels, patting himself on the back for signing J Schultz, a promising young player who should be LEARNING next year from a quality veteran PMD!

    Other than the addition of two rookies, this team is identical to the team that finished 29th last year. One year of maturation for 4, 14, 93 is not going to launch the Oilers up 13 spots in the standings! August is a little late to start kicking tires on NHL dmen- by this point in the summer, GMs are starting to like their teams and are gearing up for TC.

    Don’t get me wrong, we need Dmen, but the Oilers biggest weakness is at the General Manager position.

  • Tim in Kelowna

    Why all the Conservative , Reserved and Negative comments coming out of Oilers Nation ? Despite our veterans our youth is paramount . Yakupov and Schultz with our other elites will drive us upwards and be an upgrade over last years squad . Big steps by system players n OKC also reason for optimism as they are much improved from a year ago ! Paajarvi will be also much improved . Kreuger will get them playing more as ateam and inspire them . ALL THINGS POINT UPWARD – NEITHER STATUS QUO OR DOWNWARD !

    It is just to bad management could not get more veteran upgrades , but is it really going to make that much difference if their ice time is more condusive to what they can handle respectively – i don’t think so . Besides , i’m tired of bweing negative until at least season is 1/4 over .

    • Tim in Kelowna

      I think the negativity is stemming from the fact that ST stated at the end of the year that we needed to improve in a few key areas, and he hasn’t done anything to make those improvements. It’s nice that the OKC roster is quickly improving, but that doesn’t help us win next year.

  • DieHard

    I’m with madjam, to a point. There are a few IF’s that need to happen but I can see us fighting for a playoff spot with 5 or so games left in the season. I think we’ll see a new style of hockey, very fast and aggressive.

  • Tim -The OKC team will help us with the odd graduate and relieve the veteran over use again this season , and concurrently making them (veterans ) better because of it . This season is not going to be a recurrence of last 2-3 years for our veterans , as youth will pick up those additional minutes with respectability and reliability i predict ! ST and rest of Management i agree should /could have done more to upgrade veteran base , but as usual they have not and thus a minor disappointment only . Lowe may be the ultimate reason ST can’t make a deal .

    Jones , Paajarvi and Hemsky should be on upswing this season , while rest of veterans will be slightly better riding the coattails of our outstanding youth elites , etc.. I don’t see or predict another need for veterans to burn themselves out this season by overuse . They should do better than expected this season .

    Do i project Horcoff , Smyth , Smid , Whitney , Dubnyk , Gagner , etc. to have downturns ? No, any many reasons for that obviouslty !

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Okay guys. Do we really know how involved Tambo was or wasn’t? Nope, all we know Is what the media tells us.

    Tambo might not have been at the meeting that was made public but who knows which strings were being pulled by who.

    And if everyone else got Schultz to sign here well good job Tambo getting together the right personnel at the right time. Even if Tambo is just a puppet to Lowe then he deserves credit because he takes all the flak for everything else that happens.

    Tambo is the GM of the Oilers. The Oilers signed Schultz. To assume that we know the inner workings of how all that played out it silly. To me at least.

    I’m just giving credit where credit is due.

  • The Soup Fascist

    All the suggestions about signing a “top 4 Dman” mystify me.What NHL team is interested in trading a top 4 Dman to the Oilers for anything other than an untouchable and why would we do that anyway with a boatload of talent developing in the minors?You would need to overpay, and the term needed to sign a veteran would close off a place for our developing talent. And the suggestion that Tambo had nothing to do with the JS signing is just laughable Tambo hating – who else was in charge of the campaign, for fox sake? Geez, give credit where credit is certainly due.

  • OutDoorRink

    From what I understand from following the JSchultz story very closely, Tambellini worked dilligently to coordinate everything.

    The two main factors mentioned by Schultz himself as being persuasive in Edmonton’s favour were Taylor Hall and Coach Krueger. Gretz, Coff and the rest was just icing on the cake.

    The GM for Nashville commented that Tambellini “left no stone unturned” in pursuit of Weber. Other than trading Ebs and RNH, what else could he do? There’s other defencemen available, but at what cost to our young core?

    I’m not saying he’s the greatest GM in the league but he’s no fool either. He clearly wants to do what’s best for the team.

    I can’t wait for the season to start. It’s going to be right bloody exciting. Gonna have to make it up to Etown for a few games.

  • book¡e

    From Tim in Kelowna: “…the Oilers biggest weakness is at the General Manager position.”

    Couldn’t have stated it better myself.

    What has changed over last season? MacT has joined the inner circle in hockey ops. Schultz the Younger signed as a FA and ST got lucky winning the lottery=Yakupov, Renney has been replaced with Kreuger and Barker is gone.

    Otherwise, it is the same old. Same GM (with 3-year extension). Same assistant coaches. Top six forwards look promising, but not so much the bottom six, which contain Belanger, Eager, Hordichuk, Horcoff, Smyth, Petrill, Jones=problematic on performance and blocking slots for prospects in OKC. Other than adding rookie J. Schultz, no change on D. And the same duo in goal. And the vets are one year older.

    Playoffs for the Oilers? Unless Kreuger is a miracle worker and ST shakes up the roster with a second line centre, a top D, and some sandpaper up front, this is wishful thinking.

    • So you’d rather have an inferior OKC prospect on our roster than a proven NHL’er in Jones? If any camp invitee knocks Jones out of a slot, then fine, that’s how it should be. Prospects shouldn’t touch NHL ice until they force themselves into a roster spot by superior play.

      Not a single OKC prospect (outside of Harti – and the jury is still out on him) showed enough last year to merit replacing a full-time player on the big team. Noodle on that for a moment.

      We brought up alot of AHL talent in the last couple of years because we were in full-on tank mode and the roster was (intentionally) filled with fringe players the likes of which no competitive team would touch. I pray to god those days will soon be over.

      It should be a reward to get brought up, not an expectation.

  • book¡e

    I don’t see a ‘contact the webmaster’ link anywhere, so I thought I would post it here in hopes that someone sees this.

    The lettering that links to previous posts (beyond the last few) is white and is on a mostly white background. It is almost impossible to see.

    I mean this thing

    “« Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 … 776 777 Next »”

  • paul wodehouse

    …Oh Man Mantooth…i’m pissed at this sorry … why why why…Messers Hall and Nugent-Hopkins weren’t playing anything, least of all tournents representing their country before they had their first ‘rookie’ training camp shifts… our managememt team was thinking …what?!?
    not quoting you here just saying “Russian Insurance” ???? Huh??? kinda oxymoron-ish no? like Jumbo Shrimp and Military Intelliegence…it gets laughable y’know…this flurting with disaster… my gawd Man would you want Hall or RNH playing in a tournament in August…now?

    …what if the Nail turns out to be injury prone as well…then what ?

  • paul wodehouse

    LT…I stand corrected sir…although I do think there’s a big difference between playing for your country as opposed to red&white junior squads playing some shinny at a no pressure camp…I concern myself with the balls to the wall style of play when the ‘motherland’ is watching and imo that could jeopardize the asset…I can only pray he is safe and we get to see him at 100%

    • Not any different then Eberle, RNH, Petry playing in the World Hockey Championship.

      Can you imagine blowing your ACL or MCL even worse yet, tearing your shoulder playing in that tournament.

      it is going to be a good tournament to watch though, wonder if Murray wants a little pay back from the WJC?