GREAT CHASE SCENES

When the Edmonton Oilers selected Greg Chase late in the 2013 entry draft, observers agreed that it was a great selection for that point in the draft, a hidden gem near the end. However, that and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee these days–the proof is on the ice and in every shift. We’re so early it’s barely sunrise, but there’s an interesting story emerging and the arrows are heading in a nice direction.

BEFORE THE DRAFT

Although the Oilers got him at #188 overall, Chase was rated much higher on several scouting lists, including notable hard markers Redline Report. They had the youngster 70th in the entire draft.

  • Redline: “A real Red Line favourite who flies under the radar. He’s a fine puck distributor who shows great patience and possesses the touch to constantly find linemates off the cycle. Keeps feet going after making a pass to sustain pressure in offensive zone. Versatile forward has spent time on every line and been effective in every role. Shows up every shift and his play away from the puck is impressive, makes things happen by constantly filling open ice. Refuses to back down in contested areas; first player into the corners. Wide skating stance helps him maintain balance and uses edges well to maximize glide. Hungry player has a great compete level and looks to make a difference every shift. Not as dynamic offensively as other prospects on this list, but plays a well-rounded, consistent game.”
  • Corey Pronman: "Scouts praise his offensive mind and vision. He can slow the game down when he has the puck, hit targets through small lanes, and move the puck quickly when need be. He also has good hands, and when he is on, his offensive upside is apparent."

The underlined portion points out (I think) a very important item in the "we need more toughness" debate. I love skill–for me, the best deterrent against being intimidated by enforcers is the powerplay goal–but have NO issue with toughness being added by the bushel. However, that toughness has to come from players who can also play the game, who can be on the ice when things of import are happening. The orechestrated thug shifts we see (less often, mind) are miles from where the game is decided and only serves to clog up the end of the roster and keep extremely one dimensional players on the club.

Greg Chase–if he makes it–is a different item altogether. He’s a hockey player with toughness and skill, plus an extra little something in the mean department. I have no problem with that–Mark Messier is my favorite player! The key is to get players with physical elements who can play, and this Chase fellow might be that type of player.

WHAT ARE THEY SAYING ABOUT HIM AT THE ROOKIE CAMP

Good things all. Chase has had a nice camp, showing some nice hands (on the Khaira goal and on his own) and getting more touches than older prospects on the Oilers side. When he has the puck there’s a sense it’s going to be heading to a good place in the offensive zone, the play isn’t going to die on his stick (to borrow an age old MacT phrase).

  • Jonathan Willis. Aside from Marco Roy, Chase was the only Oilers forward to generate a real chance in the first period with a nice 2-on-1 rush that was stopped by Laurent Brossoit. His hard work also led to the Oilers’ first goal, as he won a battle in the corner and set Gernat up in the high slot. Also took Laurent Brossoit out by going hard to the front of the net and getting pushed into him, then triggered a third period scrum by doing much the same in the crease again. Looked like a lot more than seventh round pick.
  • Kevin McCartney: Chase had an impressive game, and I think did well if we were to track zone entries on the game. He protected the puck well and played a possession offensive game on a team with a lot of forwards whose skills are best suited to not having the puck. (Or maybe there not being a puck.)

The phrases that are important here are Willis’ "won a battle" and "generate a chance" and McCartney’s "protected the puck well and played a possession offensive game" because these are elements that will be useful all down the line. In yesterday’s press conference, Dallas Eakins talked at length about having possession of the puck, and when losing it having an aggressive and immediate strategy to get it back.

That strategy will no doubt involve many of the things Chase brings to his game. The trick for Chase–and any prospect–is to learn how to do it at each step along the way. Easier said than done, but he’s got the toolkit and that’s the biggest requirement on the list. It’s early, and two rookie games isn’t even a sample size, but it’s encouraging to see the performance match the scouting report and confirm what our eyes see when he’s in town with the Hitmen.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The new coach is all about possession, the new GM is bringing in talent that pushes for possession and is aggressive, the game in Edmonton is going to be more uptempo. Greg Chase (and Jujhar Khaira and Marco Roy) represent an exciting development in Oilers scouting, drafting and procurement.

Hockey players who bring a wide range of skills that includes a physical edge. This is miles–MILES–more productive than drafting Coke Machines and hoping they’ll improve at hockey.

I don’t know if Greg Chase makes the NHL, hell any number of things can derail a prospect (or any young person) along the way. I do know that the Oilers have improved their chances of success by taking this player type, because the game you see in Penticton will be infinitely more valuable if it arrives in the NHL than another 4th line enforcer.

That’s progress.

  • Jay Gray

    He’s been one of the only Oiler forwards who have stuck out in a positive way so far in this tournament. Can’t wait to see him mucking it up on the Oilers 3rd and 4th lines in 5 years.

  • TayLordBalls

    In relation of a recent article on Sportsnet, whereby Spector calls the city of Edmonton losers.

    Mark Spector is:

    a) seeking employment in another city or

    b) part of Sportsnet / TSN / NHL / Eastern Canada conspiracy to discredit the fabulous City of Edmonton, our rich sports history and whats about to become a dynasty in NHL.

    Why else would clowns like Principe and Spector be dumped on our city?

      • TayLordBalls

        wrong – we can’t win Grey Cups and Stanley Cups every year:

        We won 5 Stanley cups in 6 years,

        We won 5 straight Grey cups in a row.

        It takes time to organize great teams and the Oilers are the next great team in the league.

        Edmonton rocks dude!

          • TayLordBalls

            Pathetic.

            Reveling in stuff that happened 20 plus years ago and more – embarrassing yourselves.

            EDM is a backwater town with some redeeming characteristics – decent restaurants being one. The legend of being a city of champions is just that: legend – not reality. We are arguably in the midst of the worst era of Edmonton sports history. Crowing about how great we are with no current evidence to back it up only helps to perpetuate that slump.

            Demand better.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            if you mean our 2 sports teams, then yes, but not the city itself. it continues to grow, and now is finally starting to realise how important it is to not only have a new arena downtown, but also to build up downtown with condos and the infrastructure that will follow it. I think this city is finally getting it about the downtown core and it should look fabulous in 10 years or so.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            Still a end-of-the-line city like Omaha, or Tulsa.

            Geopolitically EDM is increasingly on the radar as the gateway to the oil sands and as such possessing impressive service infrastructure and in the midst of becoming a refining giant.

            Impressive in the way Gary, Indiana is and then some.

            Revatialising a downtown that is barely a century old is commendable but hardly unique. Hopefully the finished product will be a success.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            it is no more an “end of the line” NHL city than Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg or Ottawa are here in Canada! if you win, like Van City has been or Calgary once did, good UFA’s will come, if you don’t they won’t, simple as that!

    • OilClog

      Hey! Gene is good people! He’s always positive and bringing the team up!!

      Spector, he’s an absolute POS. Has he ever reported or made a story in a positive light? Has he ever actually done anything that isn’t a complete negative waste of energy when it comes to reporting on the Oilers? As a person, he’s probably alright. As a reported covering the Oilers, he should of been fired a week after being hired. Imo

  • paul wodehouse

    I hope our 3 Russian boys fair better than the prospects at rookie camp in Penticton . So far I see nothng at rookie camp that excites me , or looks close to being an NHL player in the near future . Will today be any better ? I thought our rookies would show far better than what they have . I wonder if Eakins is disappointed as well .

  • John Chambers

    Howdy LT….

    I like this kid. Definitely noticed by me in both games with his decent size and that he skated hard with effort alot (driving to the net) and he moved the puck around decently for opportunities and scoring chances. Kudos for him to be getting pts and scoring a goal.

    But what I really liked was his agitation and aggression applying instincts. He definitely brings a good amount of grit/toughness into the games I have just seen. I know its only a rookie tourney, and that he is just a new drafted prospect, but I agree with you and your colleagues that the kid appears to be of a much higher draft type pick than the 7th round. The Oilers apparently got lucky with him still available that late in the draft.

    IMO, He and Khaira have been the most pleasant to watch in the two games thus far along with Marco Roy as well. Khaira has been terrific with his play and effort, including scoring a goal. Noticed that the Jets rookies were having issues with him and this is another agitator with soft hands and skills I like, especially for a big centre prospect. Roy was the other who plays very well with his skating abilities and skill with a puck.

  • Lowetide

    I posted after the draft that the Oilers 2cd best pick was Chase. Still believe that. Its my believe that Chase will be an Oiler in 3 years. He brings what we needs. Grit. Skill. Mean. Ugly. Not a pretty player like an Eberle. Chase will be a player. Heck being picked in the 7th round will only light a fire under an ass even more than if he was mid round pick. He’ll want to prove the pundits wrong. Ala Kelly Buchberger.

    Nurse and Chase and aybe Roy graduate from this class in 3 years. The rest of the 2013 draft are longshots are far as I a concerned.

  • Lowetide

    Kessy and Ewanyk, baby! SOB. Sh*t disturbers with a license to thrill. A bunch of pucking neaderthals. Me like!

    When they can get in on the forecheck, sustain a lil’ pressure down low and create traffic in front of the net they are an effective duo. Only thing missing from these two is the third crazy thug. Moroz!

    Talk about moxie by the dozen! It’s a damn freakin’ shame we wont get to see these three cats play together this year. Oh, the humanity!

    Now thats a fourth line I would take to war.

    This year I can see Kessy and Ewanyk causing barrels full of havoc down in the A. Gonna be a trip!

    It’s too bad the analytics suggest they are already a bust*. Damn shame.

    Chase looks good too! I’m liking the type of players the Oil are stockpiling.

    *Yup, I’m being facetious. Just pucking around.

  • John Chambers

    Types of players to avoid drafting & trading for:

    1) Coke machines and goons. The game is passing them by – a generation fom now kids will be amazed that the intimidation factor ever played such a role on a major-league roster.

    2) the uni-dimensional offensive wizard. Whether under-sized or not, strong instincts in the offensive zone can’t make up for the lack thereof over the remaining 150 ft of ice.

    3) hard-nosed defensemen with hard knuckles and slow feet. These players cannot play against NHL forwards. If we’re to trade one of our prospect defensemen, David Musil has to top that list.

    4) goaltenders who looked good in a short international tournament or playoff series, but otherwise sporting a dubious body of work on their resume

    Avoid these four player types and you can actually have seven productive rounds of drafting every year.

  • TayLordBalls

    Edmonton as a city rocks, yes.

    Edmonton’s sports teams are brilliantly awful and have been for quite some time.

    Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring that fact or living perpetually in the past basically makes you a Leafs fan. Congratulations.

    • TayLordBalls

      when Catz took over the team, he had a brilliant plan:

      1st) lose like crazy and draft high

      2nd) mature the team and win cups

      If you want to win one cup – do as the other teams have, but if you want to create a dynasty and win another 5 cups – its the only way to do it.

      Suck it up because this team is going to be GREAT!

  • Lowetide

    I for one do not agree with this rookie tournament as being anything but an experiment………no practies, no planning, no goalie produces games like we saw yesterday.

    Our defenseman were trying way too hard to look good, and basically threw defense out the window……..less is more but this lesson usually comes after coaching a player for a couple of weeks if not months. Comrie stole the show for Winnipeg……..should have drafted him!

    The winners in my mind were Kharia, Roy, and Chase……….at least they made plays. If Klefblom, Marincin, and Davidson can calm down and play the game, we will be fine.

    • Lowetide

      Oh agreed. The only reason this tournament gets the kind of attention it does is there’s been nothing else for months. NOTHING from this tournament means a damn thing.

      Still, it’s something to talk about!!!

      • John Chambers

        Actually, the only thing that really matters in this tournament is whether a prospect gets injured, and it seems like we’ve suffered that fate each of the last three tourneys if im not mistaken.

        • Lowetide

          Yes. Houck this year, Plante and Teubert in previous seasons. The Plante injury along with the other 60 concussions had a major impact on his career. Not saying he ever would have covered that bet, but the head hits didn’t help.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    still don’t understand why they waited so long to draft Chase after apparently being very interested in him prior to the draft? and in the meantime picking players like Muir, Campbell and Betker, 3 players I am not a fan of, and likely would have still been there in the 6th and 7th rounds had they picked Chase first.

  • John Chambers

    Stu McGregor,s great wisdom and vision of drafting are now baring fruits in OK valley.
    This clown should have been sent packing along with Krueger. Nelson seem,d to think everything was either ok or funny judging by the grin on his face throughout his interview.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Ahh… Bullet. Great cars – wrong reality. The 68 charger R/T in reality would DESTROY the 390 mustang. It would not even be close ~ It just show’s you how Hollywood can create something out of nothing – kinda like Omark’s trade value or the hate-on for Gagner.

    • John Chambers

      Legend has it that McQueens specially prepped mustang couldn’t keep up with the charger (driven by a pretty well-known race driver of the era) and the bad guy had slow down to keep the ‘stang in the shots. Not a hemi charger mind you, but a 440 RB equipped one if memory serves.

  • Oliveoiler

    Hi – I’m new to commenting but have read the articles on this site for years. I agree, Spector is a negative writer who has no business writing for the Oilers – same as Staples and Tychkowsky (forgive the spelling) Mattheson maybe a HHOF writer, but his dumb a**s comments (Keep Khabibulin) make no sense at all at times. If you can’t say anything nice about our team, then keep quiet and don’t make a living out of being negative. Keep the glass half full – not half empty. Fans like us MAKE the team and there are no other fans like us in the NHL.

    Aside from that, I APPLAUD the dismal Rookie’s tournament. We have aced it in previous years, and lost big time at NHL level – things are reversed this year – dynasty YES, as the old song goes “This could be the start of something big.” I for one have every faith in my team and the new coach and ESPECIALLY MACT. The enthusiasm of Andrew Ferrance is an absolute joy – and the other off season signings are great. So sit back fans, enjoy the season, cos this lady (who has only seen 2 losses in 60 live games – I live in BC so only get to 4-5 a season)has EVERY faith in the team. It’s OUR turn now, and we have to tools to prove it.

  • Oliveoiler

    I kinda like the way Dallas Eakins is working& thinking – a TEAM – not a YOUNG team – play your best and you’re in…sure makes sense to me. We have season opener tickets vs Jets and will be yelling our heads off (I become a hockey loudmouth at games.) I have NEVER lost faith in my team, and neither have true Oil fans. Let’s get the season started and show the guys just how much we believe in them!! GO OILERS!!!!!!