TRAINING CAMP AND LINEUPS…

 

You know hockey season is back, when many are wondering about the status of Corey Potter. Potter is nursing a back injury and that’s why he didn’t play on Saturday and wasn’t on the ice today.

Potter’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for him, because there is lot of competition for the #6, #7 and even #8 spot on the Oilers blueline.

It is obvious that Justin Schultz, Andrew Ference, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry and Nick Schultz will make the team. Denis Grebeshkov has the inside track on the sixth slot, while recently-arrived Anton Belov, Philip Larsen, Oscar Klefbom, Taylor Fedun, Brandon Davidson and Corey Potter are battling for the final two spots.

Klefbom and Davidson won’t be sitting in the pressbox as the 7th D-man, so they will likely start the season in OKC. Fedun has only played one year of pro hockey, so I’d expect he’ll be going down as well.

Belov has a two-way contract, $1.5 million in the NHL, and $70,000 in the AHL, and that plus his late arrival to camp could see him starting in the minors.

If Potter can’t get on the ice, then he’ll start on the IR, while Larsen and Grebeshkov will battle for the 6th spot. If Potter isn’t ready to start the season, that means three of last year’s seven D-men won’t be on the team. Ryan Whitney is on a tryout in St.Louis, Mark Fistric is in Anaheim and Potter would be on the sidelines. Theo Peckham only played four games last year, but if you include him, then half of their eight D-men are gone.

To be fair none of them played regularly in the top-four, but it is still a significant, and necessary, change over on the blueline.

As the preseason continues in Winnipeg tomorrow and Vancouver on Wednesday, the most intriguing aspect to watch about the blueline is how they are adapting to Dallas Eakins’ swarm defence.

The Oilers have two morning practices this morning. These players were on for the first session, and there were whispers they will be playing in Winnipeg on Tuesday, but that isn’t 100% confirmed just yet.

Potential Lineup for Winnipeg:

Jones-Gagner-Omark
Joensuu-Lander-Pitlick
Hamilton-Arcobello-Yakupov
Moroz-Martindale-Abney

Smid-Petry
Grebeshkov-Klefbom
Larsen-Davidson

LaBarbera
Bachman

  • Denis Grebeshkov looked good in the first 25 games on Saturday, but he struggled after that. His conditioning needs to improve, it isn’t awful by any stretch, but a great way to improve it is to play right away. The best way to get in game shape is to play games.
     
  • Davidson looked very good on Saturday. He’ll need more seasoning in the AHL, but right now I’d rank him far ahead of David Musil and Martin Gernat. He’s quicker than Musil, and he’s more dedicated off the ice than Gernat. It is hard not to cheer for Davidson after his battle with testicular cancer.
     
  • Lander needs to get quicker. I like most aspects of his game, but he isn’t any quicker than he was last year. He needs to get a half step quicker to become an impactful NHL player.
     
  • Eakins’ practices are much more intense than I’ve seen in years. Lots of skating, one-on-one battles and very quick-paced.
     
  • I don’t mind Eakins changing the decor and pictures inside the Oilers dressing room, because it was time to turn the page. This team needs things to change, and if a new coat of paint and some new pictures on the wall can make the Oilers feel more like a team, then great. To me it shows that Eakins is a "Doer." Rather than just talk about things, he does things. I think it is a good change of leadership.

POTENTIAL LINEUP FOR CANUCKS…

Smyth-Hall-Eberle
Perron-Gordon-Hemsky
Eager-Acton-Brown
Khaira-RNH-Miller

*RNH will not be playing of course.***

Ference-J.Schultz
Belov-Fedun
Nurse-N.Schultz
Marincin-Hunt

Dubnyk
Rimmer

  • The Oilers announced another round of cuts, none of which were a surprise. The following players were assigned to the AHL.
     
  • Goalies Bunz  and Roy.
     
  • Forwards Ewanyk, Ford, Fyten, Nesbitt  and  Stretch.
     
  • D-men Gernat, Musil and Leach.
     
  • The Oilers need a young goalie of the future, because Bunz and Roy are a long way, if ever, from playing in the NHL.
     
  • It will be interesting to see if Ewanyk stays in OKC, or possibly gets sent back to junior to play with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
     
  • Musil needs to get quicker, and Gernat needs to be more dedicated in the off-season if he plans on ever taking a run at an NHL job.
     
  • I’m not a fan of the NHL’s decision to ban players from tucking in their jerseys. This is not a safety issue, it is a potential money issue. The only reason they decided to do this was to open a spot for potential adverstising on jerseys. Either way, I’m not a fan of it. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Czar

    I think the one thing that can be observed from line combinations at this point in time is who the coaching staff thinks can make the roster right out of camp. Clearly, guys like Ryan Hamilton and Arcobello are getting opportunities to show that they belong on the opening day roster. A guy like Andrew Miller seems to be out of the running (which he should be based on what I’ve seen) for a roster spot at this point.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing Belov play. I’m not a huge Grebeshkov fan and I think Klefbom and the other young pros need to start the season in the minors. Potter is no more than a fallback plan and I need to see more of Larsen to really have an opinion on him. All I know is that Belov is a big body who by all accounts could be a big asset if he can adjust to the North American game. Hopefully missing the start of training camp hasn’t completely derailed his hopes of starting the year with the big club.

  • stevezie

    If a player comes to camp late (like Belov) for whatever reason, how far behind are they in terms camp participation. Does he take a day for physicals, etc.? Or bypass that and jump right in to drills?

    • Alsker

      I cant resist, no ill will intended BUT lets see, he slipped in the shower, was helping a friend move, tried position #27, didnt want to be bag skated again, was trying to give Grebs a shot @ the big team, who F”ing knows, BUT love your question…not sure if its the multiple pints of Bud or the pint of Capt. M. that still has me rolling on the floor, cheeers!!

  • stevezie

    I’m curious as to how Abney has survived the cuts so far. For that matter same with Moroz and Martindale. Is it just to give them exposure? Imo it makes sense to cut these barely fringe players asap, so the players with better odds of making it, and the vets as well, can be as sharp as possible opening night.

    • Jason Gregor

      Simple, they don’t want to play too many players back to back…The team flies to Peg tomorrow aft, then back after the game, then they fly 2nd team to Van Wed afternoon. You don’t want too many players doing both trips.

      The vets don’t need 6 preseason games to be sharp.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    I’m a little disappointed that I won’t get to see my favourite players tomorrow night.

    It will be nice to finally see Klefbom in person, though!

  • stevezie

    Hey Jason, how is Eakins handling Belov? Is he going through all the fitness tests, catching up on everything he missed? Or is he just getting thrown in as if he was here all along?
    Has Eakins had a chance to comment on his missed time?
    I agree with LT and Spec that missing a few days won’t impact that much for a 26 byear-old pro; I’m just wondering how the coaches are handling it.

    • Jason Gregor

      I had to leave before Eakins spoke, but I’m guessing he will put him through the test at some point because he likes using the data. I’ll find out.