HEMSKY, MACT TALK AND ROOKIE CAMP OPENS

Oilers training camp officially started today with rookie medicals, however, unlike previous years there isn’t as much excitement surrounding the rookies. Oscar Klefbom is the only rookie with a shot at cracking the Oilers lineup, and while he is a first rounder, and could be a huge part of the Oilers future, there isn’t the same excitement amongst Oilers fans compared to when Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz made their camp debuts.

Klefbom shouldn’t take that as a knock on his ability, he’s just experiencing what 3rd, 4th and 5th children in a family experience; your parents love you just as much, they just don’t go crazy taking pictures of your every move and fawning all over you.

The excitement of another top-prospect still matters, of course, but the feeling in Oilersnation is much different this September than in previous years.

I suspect the excitement surrounding Klefbom will intensify when he comes to main camp next week. There is no need to rush him, but the Oilers blueline isn’t filled with proven top-end talent, so he does have a shot, albeit minimal, to make the opening-night roster.

The rookies will fly to Penticton after medicals and get ready to face the rookies of the Jets, Canucks and Flames over the next four days.

In case you missed it, here is the rookie roster, draft picks are in bold.

Forwards:

Defense:

Goalies:

HEMSKY TALKS…

Ales Hemsky and Craig MacTavish stood side-by-side and spoke with the media this morning, and said what most of us expected. MacTavish stated, "In this game you need to have energy to play well, and I think the frustration of losing has a negative effect of zapping that energy level that you need to have success in the NHL. We went about the prospect of potentially moving Ales and Horc (Shawn Horcoff), and I really found out, at the end of the day, that I had a great appreciation of him and his skill set than most people that I talked to. I’ve seen him at his best and that’s why I have a great appreciation of what he does. The bottom line for me, if this team turns around, and I know there is a lot of work to be done before that happens, Ales will have a very prominent role in that turn around.

Hemsky shared his thoughts on how the situation unfolded.

"Like Mac said there was a lot of frustration for me. I understand the process, not being in the playoffs for seven years is hard for every body and you lose it (desire) a little bit. When I talked to Mac before leaving I told him I’d do whatever they want. It is what is now, and I’m happy to be back and I want to help the team turn things around. I want to try and be a leader and help the young guys and be the best for the team. I know I have to change a lot of things, be better and help the team."

It was interesting to hear Hemsky say he wants to try and be more of a leader. He’s never mentioned that before that I can recall, and it shows that maybe he understands he can offer the younger players some things.

I’m in the minority, but I feel Hemsky can still be a major contributor to the team. I’ve always liked his skill, and his skill hasn’t evaporated despite two below average seasons. Hemsky could be the wildcard in the Oilers offence. He’s the only forward on the team with two 70+ point seasons, and while no one expects him to lead the Oilers in scoring, he should be highly motivated to show many around the NHL he can still produce.

NEEDED TO BE SAID…

I’ve noticed over the past few years in Edmonton there seemed to be two sets of rules and expectations; one for the kids and one for the veterans, and I don’t think that leads to a healthy environment.

The most encouraging thing I got from the presser was the following statement from MacTavish.

"One of the steps we want to make this year is eliminating young guys and old guys from the dialogue surrounding our team. I think there has been far too much of that. We are in the NHL, there is no age requirement to play here, we are all Edmonton Oilers and it doesn’t matter how old you are. It is time for us to be a team, and I think that is going to be a big step. 

"Players, regardless of their age are going to get equal opportunity to see where they fit on our team, how they can help us and how valuable they are going to be to our team. There is a part of development that goes into playing on an NHL team, but I think we are far beyond that. We are looking for performance whether you are a 30-year-old player or a 25-year-old player; you are going to be judged on your performance on the ice."

The Oilers are past the point of giving young players ice time. If they play well and earn it, then they will play, but if they don’t, then a guy like Hemsky or another veteran will have an equal opportunity for that ice, and vice versa. I agree with MacTavish that the Oilers are past the point of having to give their young players icetime to develop, they are now entering the phase where the players need to earn their icetime, regardless of age.

According to MacTavish, head coach Dallas Eakins will expand on this when camp opens next week.

I doubt you will see them benching Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Nail Yakupov consistently, but it is obvious that the battle or argument of "young vs. old" needs to be in the rear view mirror.

PARTING SHOTS….

  • MacTavish had some other solid quotes from today.
     
  •  "It is important I offer Ales the same opportunity I offer every play who walks through our door at training camp, and that is to come in and compete on a level playing field. It is up to Ales, as it is for Taylor Hall or Denis Grebeshkov and all the players to establish their value to the team. The great thing about training camp is that it is a very optimistic time for 30 teams around the NHL. It is important to me that when you walk through that door at training camp, you walk through with a fresh canvas and you have an opportunity to impress upon the coach how valuable you and your contribution can be to the success of the team." MacTavish.
     
  • "When the team has had success Ales has always been a huge participant in that success. We think that we are going to have success this year. At this point we don’t have a contingency plan and how to deal with it, thankfully, but we feel we have the opportunity to turn the corner. I know how good a player he is, and I feel that at the end of the year we could be in a situation where we are doing another contract with Hemsky, but that will be determined over time." Mactavish
     
  • One of the other comments that caught my attention was when MacTavish was asked if he would be less forthcoming and open about his plans in the future. I loved his response. Too often people are scared to publicly state their goals, for fear of not achieving them, but it sounds like MacTavish will not veer away from being open, honest and truthful about his team’s situation or his plans to try and improve his club.

    "There is no hidden agenda here. The way I’ve always dealt with the media is to be as honest as I can. Those were our objectives going in, and I think the media and our fans deserve an explanation of what the manager is thinking going forward. That is why I’m up here today to tell you what I’m thinking now," said MacTavish.

    It takes courage in life to tell people your goals and objectives, because it can expose you to criticism, and i’d say it is even more difficult to do in pro sports where every move a GM makes will be scrutinized.
     

  • You can listen and watch the entire presser here.
     
  • I asked MacTavish if he’s looking at bringing in a veteran or two on a PTO. He said he is, but admitted he doesn’t expect many players to accept one due to the risk of an injury. He was clear that if he does bring in a veteran it will be a forward, because he feels the Oilers lack depth at the forward position.
     
  • Don’t expect Brad Boyes to come to camp. He is more of the same of what they have. Skill with little grit or a strong defensive pedigree.
     
  • Edmontonian Mike Priestner has purchased the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, pending governor approval. It likely will likely be finalized today or later this week. VP of Communications for the Oilers, Steve Hogle, will be leaving his post with the Oilers to become the new President of the Blades. Good luck to both of you.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Czar

    Oiler rookies will lead the tournament in PIM.We might not win a game but we’ll win most of the fights.

    Edmonton fans will walk away in love with Kale Kessy and everyone else will hate the SOB.

    • pkam

      I haven’t watched him play but noticed he put up a lot of points in the WHL playoff.

      I heard his foot speed is his biggest weakness. We pay a high price for him, hope he lives up to the expectation.

      • Czar

        Skating is the issue but the kids got balls. Despised him a little more everytime I saw him play up until he was traded for Rieder. I’m pulling for Kessy and I also hope Bunz can turn things around, kid has all kinds of potential.

        • pkam

          Ryan Martindale is a pretty good CHL player, similar size as Kessy and same weakness – foot speed and defensive game and he is going nowhere in AHL.

          I am hoping for the best but not completely sold until he starts to play in OKC.

          • Czar

            I’m far from sold but if Kessy and Martindale skate into the corner, Kessy comes out with his keys,wallet and his girlfriends phone number. Kale has all the qualities the Oilers need in a 4th line guy, I HOPE he can make it.

          • pkam

            You have watched him play and I haven’t so I hope you are right. Pitlick is another prospect which has a lot of potential which haven’t materialize. How is Kessy compare to Pitlick?

            The one forward I am most interested in at the moment is Jujhar Khaira.

          • Czar

            Pitlick looked great the few times I saw him in junior, thought he was going to be a hell of a pick but have no reasonable explanation as to what’s gone wrong with him? Or Bunz for that matter, here I go again, Bunz should be further along in his development but the Oiler system is where goaltending prospects go to die.

            I’ve never seen Khaira play live so I have to go by what the reports say thus far but I’ll definately keep an eye on him if he plays in the WHL.

            Cheers Dude!

  • Wax Man Riley

    For the first time in years, it feels like this team has a direction and focus.

    It feels like there is a real leader, as opposed to the puppet Tambo flapping his mouth.

  • Rocket

    I’m OK with this little press conference. It clears the air a bit & gives the media hacks and fans something to talk about leading into training camp.

    It’s not like they’re announcing big changes or anything. Hemsky will be an Oiler (most of) this season.

    No bigs

  • Rocket

    I’m just excited that the season is right around the corner. If Hemsky is willing to accept his role and conribute to the team even if it’s in a third line role, then I am all for him staying. He adds depth to a forward corps that desperately needs it.

  • Wax Man Riley

    *Joensuu & Belov will SOON be Fan Favs.!! both Huge players that don’t get pushed around….both have offense obiltys

    *you tube Joensuu vs USA or Anton Belov & watch his HUGE hits & absolute bomb from the point!!!

    3 scoring lines…we just need some muscle on that 4th line and we would be FINE!!! trade a draft pick or ryan jones to minny for Konopka!!!

    **Hall-NUGE-Ebz**
    **Perron-Gagz-Yak**
    **Joensuu-Gordon-Hemmer**
    **Eager-Konopka-Brown** (The MASHING line)

    p.s all you (Trashers) go look at Konopka’s Faceoff % and Penalty mins via: FIGHTS!!!!

    have a nice day 🙂

    • Spydyr

      that 4th line of eager-konopka-brown would be perfect to send out the very next shift anybody hassels the top 2 lines…

      instead of letting the instigator rule scare us…lets send a message send the 4th line out to attempt a square off, and have FAITH in our P.K to kill of a much needed message that NEEDED to be sent, that if you take libertys with out top 6 we aint scared to kill a pemalty for some pay back!!!!

      got eager/ smytty on left, konopka/ lander sharing the middle and Brown im hoping is a regular, i do not remember watching any games and swearing at brown so he is NOT a defensive liability IMO

        • oilerjed

          An intimidating power play is one that is the top 10- check
          One that has a second PP line that is a serious threat to score- check

          If we get a few more points from the D they might crack the top 5

        • oilerjed

          Konopka wins draws which gives us the puck!

          Eager, Smyth, Brown are all not Bad defensively, what we need is a 4th line that can win draws, Grind, HIT, create ENERGY and chill out whoever the F%#K touches our 1st two lines!!!

          🙂

  • The Last Big Bear

    Shipped out Petrell and Belanger…

    take any other left winger instead of (Petrell) or centerman (Belanger)in the ENTIRE league with a 1 way deal & it is a HUGE upgrade!

    Ference instead of peckham/fistric…

    Perron instead of Magnus… (also allowed to use his offesive weapons)

    Gordon instead of Horc…

    Yakupov getttin steady top 6 mins…

    Hemmer fuled to prove ENTIRE league wrong & earn contract…

    Duby making playoffs & running away with chance to match Crawford..

    Healthy Hall & Nuge…

    most of all….wait for it……our….BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL POWERPLAY!!!

    why people have doubts in the Oil success this season blows my mind!

  • The Last Big Bear

    1) A healthy Hemsky should be worth a late 1st at the deadline. He is an excellent player who’s only real knock is injury.

    2) A Hemsky who continues to stay healthy is worth more to the Oilers than a late 1st.

    3) BLANK – Gordon – Hemsky That would be a serious and dangerous 3rd line if “BLANK” were an above-average player (which Smyth is not any more). Perron would likely be a perfect fit if there was someone to take his place on the 2nd line.

    4) For the sake of Oilers fans everywhere, I hope MacT is not being honest and up front, because this team doesn’t look appreciably better than last year’s not-especially-good team. And this team is certainly nowhere near good enough for a GM to be sitting back as if it were a finished product.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      This team looks miles ahead of last years. Perron is an upgrade over MPS. The defense has honest depth. And the addition by subtraction of guys like Petrell and Whitney is huge. We could of very well had the two worst players in the entire league on our roster last year.

  • oilerjed

    Heading to Penticton tomorrow to watch some hockey!! Cant wait to see Nurse and Klef. Also cant wait to watch Kessy bury Monahan open ice style!!

    Then on sunday its time for our boys to make Horvat and Gaunce look like they still belong in junior. Cant wait!!

    • Czar

      Had to cancel my plans last minute, was really looking forward to it. Keep us up to date or offer up your opnion on how they look if you can? Enjoy dude and try not to punch out any Shame or Nuck fans.

  • mrBacon

    I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say the level of excitement for Klefbom isn’t the same. Maybe different, but I have been longing for help on the blue line for a very long time now. I am tremendously excited at the prospect of a definite blue line upgrade, especially with MacT’s failure to provide one through trade over the summer which is something a lot of people expected. Realistically we all know that the impact Klefbom makes won’t necessarily be immediate, but it’s like slowly building up to the surprise rather than tearing open the package as fast as you can.

  • Micbilly99

    Notice I said package him. With a prospect or a pick. Do you have him in your top 6? If he has a good season and signs a decent contract, he may have some value. Considering MacT couldn’t trade him all summer, this is the best we can hope for. Or do you think we should just sign him now to a 5yr 25 mill contract? That’s great value and asset management. Not.

  • pkam

    It all depends on what we will get back.

    If trading Hemsky for a 3rd liner, we shouldn’t have to add anything. It should be the other side package a prospect or picks to us, like we package Paajarvi and a 2nd round pick for Perron. Unless a decent young and big 3rd line center, then it should be a one on one trade.

    If we are getting a top 2 d man or a starting goalie, than I don’t mind to package a prospect and/or a pick.