After a day off the Oilers were back working hard on and off the ice. As the morning group went through battle drills and line rushes, the 2nd unit (guys not playing tomorrow) were doing off-ice training. Pre and post-skate workouts aren’t new to the players, many have done them in the past, but under Eakins it is much more regimented.

It is going to take time before the Oilers are comfortable with Eakins, and vice versa, but his approach has been very consistent since day one. He is very talkative on the ice, and gets involved in the drills. I’m curious to see how long it takes until the players completely understand his system.

We’ll get another chance to watch them tomorrow night when they battle the Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada.





We will finally get to see Anton Belov. (BELL-ov) He’s looked good in practice, which ultimately doesn’t mean much, because they weren’t emulating game situations. He’s a good skater, very fluid and in one-on-one drills he never got beat. He’s the biggest wildcard in camp right now, because very few have watched him live. If he plays well, I think he has a great shot and jumping ahead of Grebeshkov and Larsen.

He prefers to play the right side, despite shooting left, and that means Nick Schultz could play his natural left side on the 3rd pairing.

It is rare to see three right-handed shooters on one line, but that’s what we’ll see with Perron, Gagner and Eberle. The remaining four preseason games should give us a better indication of what the top-three lines will look like on opening night.

I wonder if we’ll see Yakupov and Hall together at some point. Eakins stated earlier that he’d like veterans alongside Hall for the first few preseason games, and I’m curious to see if that will change the closer we get to October 1st.


  • I’m not sure why some people were surprised yesterday when the Oilers announced Nugent-Hopkins’ new contract, 7 years at $42 million. After Hall and Eberle were extended last year at $6/season, it seemed obvious RNH would receive a similar deal. There is no more or less risk with RNH than there was with Hall last summer.
  • How the Oilers approach extending Justin Schultz is much more intriguing. I doubt either side starts serious negotiations until the middle of the seasons. Schultz has only played 48 NHL games, so there is no urgency for the Oilers to get a deal. Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Alex Pietrangelo are the only young D-men who got a huge 2nd contract. Myers has struggled mightily since signing is, while Pietrangelo and Karlsson’s kick in this year. Only Doughty has has lived up to his new deal.

  • Schultz could outperform Myers, but at this stage of his career his overall game isn’t close to Pietrangelo, Doughty or Karlsson. I don’t see him getting a bridge contract (short-term), because he’s eligible for arbitration. I could see him landing a four-year deal around $5 mill/year. The Schultz negotiations is much more interesting to me, because there are very few comparables to him, due to his age and coming off a two-year entry level contract and being arbitration eligible.
  • Darnell Nurse played great in Vancouver, and he has impressed the coaching staff, but I hope they look big picture with Nurse and send him back to junior. Even if he stays and plays nine games early in the season, I still don’t think that is a big enough sample size to know how good he will be. History shows D-men need time to develop. 

    Since the 2005 draft these D-men have jumped directly to the NHL after being drafted four months earlier:
    Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian and Luke Schenn (2008 class).
    Dmitri Kulikov and Victor Hedman (2009).
    Cam Fowler (2010) and Adam Larsson (2011).

    Outside of Doughty none of them have become elite D-men, Bogosian and Hedman are solid, but not great and, when you compare their success to forwards who recently went directly to the NHL it isn’t close. Also, look at the list of top D-men in the game, and only Doughty went straight to the NHL.

    An extra year sure didn’t hurt Pietrangelo, Karlsson, Subban and other young D-men. I have no problem if Nurse gets a few regular season games to reward him for playing great, but the Oilers have to look long term with Nurse and let him develop one more year in junior.


  • bazmagoo

    Personally I think it’s doubtful the Oilers keep Nurse in the big leagues, even if he’s playing better than others in the mix. They’ve got 8 defenders on one way deals, with Belov also there on a two way deal (can someone please tell me how Garbagekov got a one way deal? MacT’s only slip up this off season). Sure Nurse is a legitimate fist round pick, but there is too many defenders to lose via waivers. Common sense and proper development would seem to dictate sending Nurse back to the OHL would be the smart move.


  • lostdog82

    With so many Dmen already signed management cant be tempted to let Nurse stay with the big club. Give the kid some time to gain some strength and weight. Exciting to see the Oilers with such a strong looking defence man prospect.


  • Citizen David

    Stoked to see Belov play. I don’t think people have given enough thought about Perron. This guy is very good. The Oilers offensive depth is impressive. Along with help from the back end from Schultz, and Belov and next season Nurse and Marincin. This team will be a pleasure to watch for the next decade.

    As of now I have complete faith in Eakins. But if Grebeshkov makes this team…

  • Bucknuck

    I’m not sure I give a damn about big picture. If Nurse gives the Oilers a better chance to win than the other guys on the bubble, then play him. If he doesn’t, then don’t.

    If it’s a close call, then you take a step back, but if he is miles ahead of the others I don’t think you bother. I would just rather the coach made the call, not the accountant.

    Any way you go about it, it’s great that this is even a discussion point. It looks like the Oil made a pretty decent pick at number six. I don’t think they should rush him, by any stretch, but if he’s that good then whatever.

  • Agree 100% regarding Nurse. Maybe reward him with some games, but the safe move is to have him play 30mins/night in Jr. for another year.

    Have to disagree with Nuge deserving as much as hall. I heard you mention the comparables in %of games missed and pts/gm between Nuge and Hall and yeah they were basically identical, but not really…

    1) I place more value on goals than assists (in the long run)
    2) Hall had eberle as a teammate his rookie year, Nuge had Hall and Eberle.
    3) Hall had Nuge and Ebs his second year, Nuge had Hall, Ebs, Yak, and Schultz.

    I am confident that Nuge will outperform his contract, but if Hall was the Benchmark than Nuge should have received 5.5-5.75.

    In my humble opinion.

  • Nurse may very well give the oilers a better chance at playoffs this year, but I want 6 years of being a cup contender, and sending him back gives us the best shot at that despite lowering our odds for this year.

  • Citizen David

    With Nurse on this years squad our defence will perform much better . He looked great with Ference , and now he is paired with Petry to see if he can ignite him as Smid has not . The kids the real deal , and already seems defensively better than Petry and J.Schultz . Unless he falls apart (which looks unlikely ) he will be top 2-6 . He also shows some offensive flare . We should perform better with him in lineup – bottom line . Don’t be surprised if he s a staple this year if next couple of games he shows well again . Different partners and he still sticks out as dominant . Can’t say that about the rest of our defence .

      • Numenius

        I don’t recall trashing him , only his shot was weak . Still have yet to see a powerfull shot from him as yet . I liked Ristolainen and Nicushkin like many others , no harm in that . Besides , Oiler defence is not a stellar defence from last season – so if he is half decent then it shows obviously . Don’t mind admitting I like what I am seeing from him .

  • Oilers4ever

    Good read Jason,heres a question.So lets say Nurse plays 6-7 games then gets sent down.IF we made the playoffs and DSF I said IF,could nurse be called up?Im not sure they would play a rookie Dman in that predicament but with injuries who knows.Would he be able to play is one question but how would that affect the first year of his contract?Hypotheticaly of course.

  • book¡e

    Nurse & The Grigorenko Rule —

    At this point there should be some significant doubt or concern as to whether Nurse will be pushed enough if returned to Jr.

    He seems to play better in a more structured environment where he is being pushed to excel and learn new things.

    Even if the AHL was an option this year, I would suggest it is not a good option either given the horrid lack of structure, and poor quality of skilled attackers in that league (compared to the offensive players he will be required to deal with in the NHL).

    The best option, thus, may indeed be third pairing minutes in the NHL. Granted that is a significant jump, and he may not be used to the increase in games played at the level expected, he can certainly play more than the 8 games allowed and be returned to the OHL at a subsequent point like Grigorenko was last year, if it proves too much, the only penalty is that it burns a year off his entry level deal.

    I may be wrong on that, but seems to me that`s what happened last year in Buffalo.

    That MAY be an option worth considering, if the plan is to get him as prepared as possible for the big time, and he shows he can handle it.

    While I agree there is no rush, I do believe the experience gained here would benefit him more than that in the OHL. Also, having the kid develop the chemistry earlier, would put him in a better position next year, when the team is expected to challenge for the Cup.

    Its very difficult to learn and challenge for the Cup at the same time. As all rookie years have shown, there is a significant change based on actual NHL experience. Giving that to him earlier makes the whole team ready to challenge sooner.

    Again, only if he shows he is capable of handling it. Give him the 8 games and then see how he does. If he excels give him eight more … it can`t hurt.

    • Your argument makes sense, but history has recently shown that defensemen who make the jump too early are less likely to excel than those who stay in major junior.

      Do not use the small sample size of games in penticton as an argument for him not playing well when there is a lack of structure in a game.

      Nurse should go down no matter what
      … Well unless he shows to be a #1-2 d man, but if he looks like he’s ready to be a top 4 than I still say send him down.

  • otter2233

    It is nice he has played well, but he is a rookie and will have a lot more valley and peaks.

    I don’t think the Oilers will seriously think about keeping him . But as you say they will probably reward him with a number of games

  • Rocket

    Actually I just want one of the MSM guys to seriously demand that Nurse stay up with The Oilers just so we get to see Eakins give his best Jurgen Klopp death stare.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    We’ve seen him play really well for one game. We’ve also seen him in the deep end over his head against a bunch of prospects. Give him the 9 if he earns it, and send him down. Let him know that ahead of time. Use the proven template that works.

  • book¡e

    Belov last year
    9 goals, 26 points, and +19

    0 goals, 8 points, and -11

    Why is it that everyone is surprised that Belov might pass Grebs on the depth list?

    For that matter, why did MacT give Grebs a better contract (1 way vs 2 way same $$) than he gave Belov?

    Given the stats above, these guys are light years apart.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      I asked stauffer on his show Tuesday why greb wasn’t signed to a two way and he said that greb would not have come back for a two way.

      My question is – and stauffer really didn’t have an answer besides the fact that MacT knew greb – were there no other options in the entire hockey world than signing greb?

      • book¡e

        MacT clearly wanted defensive depth and maybe there are/were some insights into why he struggled in the KHL, but I do think it was a case of selecting a comfortable choice who he thought had some possible upside.

        I think it was a bad signing, but I don’t have a problem with it unless MacT forces Grebs into a spot that should be held by someone else. Paying a player 1.5 to play in the AHL for a year won’t hurt this team

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Grebs is a safety net for belov and yak for that matter, helps so things dont get lost in transalation, and eakins is the man to see that happen, also belov might make grebs look a whole lot better!

  • book¡e

    Would love to see Yak on the first line rather than “sleepy hollow Hemsky”

    For all the fans wanting Nurse for NHL today…
    won’t happen. Kid goes back to Jr. , plays top minutes [ where he didn’t last year] and gets to go to the Worlds for some great experience.Needs to put some meat on those long bones, and work on his shot.
    Besides, when the real NHL season starts, will be a whole different game.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    So numb nutz’ “rich neighbourhood” sh*t talk appeals to you but my “get dirty in the corners” sh*t talk scares you.

    The farm would own you, princess.

    How’s the new iphone?

    • Reg Dunlop

      At the risk of being labelled princess#3, kindly tell me what in the world you are talking about? Or at least tell me where you score PCP.

      Exactly which farm is currently purchasing princesses? Are any still on the market?

      The internet is a wonderful place, kind of like a car with bullet-proof windows allowing little men to act up without worrying about being pulled from their vehicle and tuned at the next red light. Go oil.

      • My apologies for the offence.

        When DSF writes his clown sh*t, I just gotta. I suppose I could just read and ignore. Sure.

        I also suppose I could just watch the Olympics and hope that all humans are seen as equal. But, I wont. You do what you want, bud.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Are we forgetting one thing here? Putting the best team forward?! If a player, regardless of age, race or seniority, performs ahead of his peers, then, he shouldn’t be punished for the same reason, just because of the flexibilities of his contract or cap room! Sometimes, one could get hurt playing in the minors, and instead of getting the necessary experience, he’s sidelined for an x period of time, sometimes never able to recover from it! Just saying, if a prospect is ready for the show, let him loose, holding him back doesn’t always yield a better outcome!

  • O.C.

    Gotta love pre-season hype.

    On the positive side, where can we mail Christmas cards to Peter Puck if he’s going in the big house in December? A shame the US penal system is so overcrowded.

  • O.C.

    “He prefers to play the right side, despite shooting left, and that means Nick Schultz could play his natural left side on the 3rd pairing”.

    Good to know. Thanks for that.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Another argument in favor of sending Nurse back to JR:
    If you keep him up, it will potentially cost you another player on waivers.
    Is it worth playing Nurse 9 games if you lose Larsen?

    • The Soup Fascist

      I agree with sending Nurse down but you don’t have to lose Larsen, do you? Phil suddenly develops “tenderness in his shoulder” and …. Bob’s your uncle ….. Nurse plays his nine.

      Again, I would send Nurse down after TC. Let him be a dominant OHL player, put on 10 to 15 lbs and play WJHC. However I don’t think they need to lose Larsen, if the Oilers decide to let Nurse feel his oats for a couple weeks in October.

      The only risk is that Nurse continues to look good and the coach / manager aren’t disciplined enough to do the right thing. Last year that may have been more of a risk.

      PS give the kid #25 already. 74 is a stupid number. And while you are at it burn # 6. No self respecting forward should wear # 6. Thornton figured it out. And Ron Ellis is like ….. what …. a hundred years old? If Joensuu likes 6 so much, give him 12 or 18. He should be 2 or 3 times happier. I know I will be.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Hamilton gets the push again! Eakins wants him to make the team it seems. Judging by coaches comments and third period ice time in the Winnipeg game, the coach was disappointed in him however.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    I just listened to the Belov interview on, and it left me wondering something.

    Belov was saying that the time change is “a big problem”. Why though while he spent days “stuck at the airport” wasn’t he directed to start sleeping on a North American schedule? Seems like quite the oversight by everyone involved.

    I hope he shows himself as well as he’s able. It seems that something like this could really derail what may be his biggest chance…

    • MattyFranchise

      I’m not sure how much traveling you have done but in my experience a time change of even a couple of hours is a difficult adjustment. The farthest I’ve traveled was a 7 hour time difference and it was a damn nightmare trying to sleep regularly once I got there. I can only imagine what it was like coming from Russia.

  • I love what I’ve seen from Nurse so far but he is definitely going back to junior after another exhibition game or so. He looks like a terrific prospect, but he needs to keep bulking up and learning his craft. He might have a shot at making the team next year but the following season is more likely.

    A few years down the road we could well see a defence featuring Schultz, Nurse, Klefbom, Petry, Smid, Ference, Belov and Marcinin, to go with Hall Nuge, Yak, Ederle, Perron and Gagner up front, plus Gordon, Jonessu, Khaira and a few players to be named later, with Dubnyk and a second goalie they will have to find.

    With MacT and Eakins in place I have more confidence in management as well. There are pleasant surprises and disappointments to come, but a coherent picture is beginning to emerge and it is very promising. This is September Pouzar speaking. I hope April Pouzar will feel the same way.

  • oildawg99

    Its nice that Nurse has played well enough thus far to make this an argument.

    I wonder what happens if he continues to look really good, say we play him for his nine games, and he is our best defender?

    Part of me agrees with the camp that says send him down regardless of how well he plays.

    The other part says what if he is NHL ready? Would sending him down actually hurt his development? It certainly would feel like a bit of a slap in the face. Also, would it go against Eakins who said when he came in that anyone can play their way on to this team?

    Anyways, just some food for thought. Not even sure what the right answer is or will be, however, I do love how Nurse’s play this far has us even talking about it