The Edmonton Oilers are sending a much stronger group to the BC interior this year, and should get better results because of it. Keeping score in a rookie tournament has no value at all, but there are players in Penticton today who could make the NHL team this fall if things break right. Here’s a look at Edmonton’s marquee players and what they’ll need to show this weekend and for the rest of September.
He’s also taller, but the concern for Oilers fans in regard to the big German center has less to do with size and more to do with speed and playing the center position. Leon can skate and pass with aplomb at this camp—that’s a hurdle he’s already managed, after all, as a WHL impact player—and he’ll get a chance to show his stuff in main camp and the preseason. None of that is objectionable, this is a stud prospect who already has the size Edmonton needs at the pivot position despite being miles from his 20th birthday.
The risk comes deep in preseason or early in the regular year, if Draisaitl is unready for the rigors of the NHL game and the assignments of the center position. I love this guy’s future, but don’t know if his present can carry the day. We’ll see. There’s a real chance Mark Arcobello plays a much larger role than Leon during the 2014-15 season.
Nurse gained his weight over a full year, Leon over a few weeks. One suspects the maturation for Nurse over the year will make him an impact player at this camp. Kevin McCartney talked about Nurse and his performance at the camp one year ago:
#74 Darnell Nurse: The first thing to notice about Nurse is his
skating. He’s a big, big man, but it’s his transition and lateral
skating that make him effective. His straight away speed is reasonable,
and his skating in short bursts is very good. He was able to keep a
close gap against the Flames, and his escapes were sharp all night. He
is remarkably mobile and rarely needs to use his size. He’s effective
with the puck and showed strong awareness while his partner switched
sides all night. He did, however, struggle to read coverage and was
rarely patient without the puck. (PS: the trip on Nurse in the third was
really, clearly a trip. Tough break.)
Nurse actually showed better (imo) at main camp last fall, as we often see with these young defenders. Unproven blue tend to flourish in structure more than chaos, which is probably why coaches have been pairing kids with veterans for over 100 years.
I think Nurse has a chance to win a job this year, and I think there’s an even greater chance he’ll be one of the six best defensemen in camp. It all starts in Penticton.
The other name to watch this camp is Bogdan Yakimov. By description, he and Leon Draisaitl appear to have some things in common. Both are big men capable of doing impressive things with the puck, and both are quality passers.
I don’t think anyone believes Yakimov’s skill set approaches that of Draisaitl, but it’s also true the Russian is 13 months older than the German. That’s a fairly large gap, and we shouldn’t be surprised if Bogdan gets a lot of attention in Penticton.
I’d suggest that Mitchell Moroz, Greg Chase and Martin Gernat are worthyof our attention at this year’s camp. It’s going to be fun. The results of the games aren’t important, but strong showings from Draisaitl, Nurse and Yakimov would represent positive arrows for the Oilers future, and in some cases, the present.