As we ready ourselves for training camp 2013, it seems to me there a more jobs in play at this year’s training camp. Craig MacTavish added so many defensemen this summer there’s a major question about the 6-7-8 slots, and there are a lot of wingers hanging around, too. Add those things to the major need (center) and we’re probably looking at a more fluid TC than we’ve seen in recent seasons. There’s competition this year!
THE WAIVER WIRE
In most training camps, Oilers management makes their roster choices with an eye to waiver eligibility. If a player is eligible to be sent down without fear of waiver loss, the brass needs to be blown away by your performance before risking another player. I would argue Edmonton has gone overboard in this regard, to the point of protecting players whose value doesn’t reach the level of waiver worry, but that’s an easy argument to make from the comfort of my computer screen.
This season’s Oilers roster might look like this as we enter camp (23 total)
- Goal (2): Devan Dubnyk, Jason LaBarbera
- Defense (8): Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Nick Schultz, Denis Grebeshkov, Phil Larsen, Corey Potter
- Center (4): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Boyd Gordon, Anton Lander
- Left Wing (4): Taylor Hall, David Perron, Ryan Smyth, Jesse Joensuu
- Right Wing (5): Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, Mike Brown
Non-roster Exempt from waivers: D Anton Belov, C Will Acton, C Andrew Miller
I think that’s correct, please shout out if I have something wonky. Guys like Lander and Yakupov (and baby Nuge) are also exempt from waivers, and in the case of Lander that’s an interesting item and perhaps leaves him vulnerable.
In the previous regime, we’d see Edmonton keep 8 defenders, send down Belov and avoid any waiver worries. The roster would be set not so much on ability or roster needs, but on eligibility. That happens often with rebuilding teams, and certainly has been a staple of Edmonton’s decision making process for over a decade (Glen Sather’s waiver lists were always good for a shock or surprise).
HOW MANY RUSSIANS?
I think Belov and Grebshkov both have a very good chance to make the team. Belov as a puck moving option who might be a brilliant signing if he can make the jump, and Grebeshkov as a trusted hand and mentor for young Nail Yakupov. This assumes Grebeshkov’s skills haven’t eroded since he left the NHL, but he’s young enough for this to be a reasoable bet.
If my prediction holds true, it means there will be 8D opening night and that Nick Schultz, Phil Larsen or Corey Potter may be traded or exposed to waivers.
HOW MANY CENTERMEN?
I think the club likely has only 4 center’s to start the season (the 4C job is probably either Lander’s or Acton’s) but we shouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Smyth moves to the middle. Also, despite RNH’s recent appearances showing he has all his fingers and toes, Bob McKenzie feels Taylor Hall may play some center this season.
McKenzie may be working off old information, but could in fact have some new intel that inspired last night’s tweet. Hall at center is an interesting idea, the depth chart would look much different (C-L-R):
You don’t have to thank me, I know you love it! Hall moving to center gives this team scary depth and quality up the middle if it works. IF. IT. WORKS.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think coach Dallas Eakins will have tremendous leeway when it comes to roster decisions. It’s time to roll. If the correct roster set means exposing Corey Potter or Ryan Jones to waivers, I believe the Oilers will do it. We’re long since past the days of fretting over the fringe players.
How many jobs in play? Five: 4C, 3L, 4L, 6D, 7D, and there’s an entire infrantry division lined up trying to win the jobs.
That’s a good thing.