Bears vs. Oilers rookies tonight


The first time I watched the Oilers rookies battle the U of A Golden Bears was in 1993. Jason Arnott was a rookie and my brother was a free agent invitee to training camp. He played with Arnott for the first few days of camp, and I vividly remember him calling me at home after the second day of training camp and talking about his experience.

He told me Arnott was going to be an excellent player. He was big, strong, had a great shot and played with an edge. Arnott went on to score 33 goals as a rookie, so his scouting report was pretty accurate.

My brother grew up a diehard Mark Messier fan, so wearing the Oilers jersey, even against the Bears was a fun experience for him.

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My bro was invited to training camp after playing the previous two seasons at Acadia University. They are still considered one of the greatest University teams ever. They crushed the U of A Bears 9-4 in the semi-finals at Nationals and then trounced Toronto 12-1 in the final in 1993. They made the Nationals in 1992 as well, but had three of their best players suspended prior to the tourney due to a brawl in the AUAA finals. 

He suited up for the Oilers rookies and was actually named player of the game that night, scoring two goals. It was a thrill for him because the legend, Rod Phillips, chose the players of the game and we had grown up listening to Rod.

If social media had been around in 1993, I’m sure Oilers fans would have been clamouring for the Oilers to sign him to a contract after that game. The instantaneous reaction of social media today, often leads to many incorrect evaluations and a lot of knee-jerk reactions.

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While Arnott went on to an excellent NHL career, my brother played a few years of minor pro. The biggest mistake he made was listening to his agent’s advice after the Oilers training camp. He didn’t have a contract entering camp, but the Oilers did offer him a 25-game contract/tryout with their AHL affiliate in Cape Breton during camp.

His agent said he’d be better off waiting for a “real” NHL contract and that other teams would sign him. It didn’t happen. He learned that you are much better off being in an organization, even if it is on a 25-game tryout, than being a free agent, especially when you’ve yet to prove yourself at the NHL level.

It likely wouldn’t have made a difference in the long run, and my brother has no regrets and he is happily married today, but as you watch the game tonight, don’t get too excited if one prospect plays excellent. It shows they have skill, but consistency is the biggest hurdle most players have to overcome if they want to succeed in the NHL.

Puck drop is 7 p.m. tonight at Clare Drake arena. Tickets are available at the door.



The Oiler rookies have a nice combination of speed, skill and size. The centres are all big, and Yakimov an Draisailt are extremely skilled. Khaira had only 43 points in 59 games in the WHL last season, so I’d be surprised if he becomes a big point-producer in the pros. I think best-case scenario is that he becomes a solid two-way third line centre.

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Moriz, Holmberg, Chase and Tkachev are all very skilled.

Holmberg had 62 goals and 118 points in 72 games for Spokane as a 20 year-old last year. He has excellent hands. He’ll need to improve his footspeed to produce in pro, but he has great skill.

Chase produced 35 goals and 85 points in 70 games for the Hitmen last season, and he’s a pest, which is something the Oilers don’t have. He has the potential to score 100 points this season, and if he gets off to a good start he has an excellent chance of making the World Junior Team.

Moroz had a breakout year at 19, scoring 35 goals and 63 points while adding 156 PIMs. He had 19 points in 21 playoff games, and then won a Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings. He’s a big body with some size. He wants to improve his footspeed and he will have to learn how to battle without having a physical size advantage every night.

Tkachev only played 20 games in the QMJHL last year, but he tallied 30 points. He’s extremely small, listed at 141 pounds, but he doesn’t shy away from contact. He was bypassed in the draft and is in camp as a free agent. The Oilers can sign him now, but once the season starts no team can sign him and he becomes draft eligible again. The Oilers can be patient and see how he handles bigger players tonight and into training camp. If they like his tenacity, there is a good chance they sign him. He has very good skill, but how much will he grow over the next three of four years is the question. 


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Ludwig is looking for a contract. The Oilers have virtually no right-shot defenders in the AHL, and if he continues to play well, he had two goals vs. Calgary in Penticton, he could earn himself a contract.

Oesterle, Simpson, Musil and Gernat are all destined for the AHL, but it will be interesting to see how Simpson and Gernat look on the right side.

Nurse is the only D-man dressed tonight who has a shot to make the Oilers this year, and the only one who looks like a lock to play in the NHL, and his biggest challenge will be trying to avoid doing too much. He is eager to impress, like most high draft picks, and if he just plays within himself he will do fine.

Brossoit starts

These are the two best goalie prospects in the Oilers system, although Rimmer is only signed to an AHL standard contract at this point.

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  • The U of A leads the series 13-10. The Bears are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings, but the teams never played between 2010-2012. The Oilers rookies will be in tough tonight against the defending CIS champions.
  • The Oilers announced they’ve added Olympic figure skating champion, David Pelletier as a skating coach on Rick Carriere’s player development staff. Pelletier will also work with skills coach Steve Serdachny. Pelletier has received rave reviews the past few years from numerous hockey academies and schools that he’s taught at. The Oilers have a few prospects who should benefit from working with Pelletier.

  • It is fascinating watching how differently NHL teams negotiate contracts.

    In 2013, the Detroit Red Wings signed Danny Dekeyser to a two-year deal, but really it was only for one season. He played 11 games in 2013, after graduating college, and then last season he was their #2 D-man. Yesterday, they signed him to a two-year extension worth $2,187 mill/year. That is an excellent value contract, but in his first contract he didn’t have the bonus potential of Justin Schultz. By not giving DeKeyser all the bonus potential in his first deal, it allowed them to get him signed to only $2.1 on this deal. Very smart.

    The Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen are in a bitter contract dispute. This morning the Blue Jackets went public with what they’ve offered the former #4 overall pick.

    They offered his camp three different options.
    Two year deal at $3 million per season.
    Six years at $5.33 mill/season.
    Eight years at $5.75 mill/season.

    When a team or an agent make the negotiations public, usually it is sign they aren’t making any progress. Johansen had a very good year last year, 33 goals and 63 points in 82 games. The Blue Jackets want a short term deal to ensure he’s consistent, while his agent wants to cash in big now.

    The problem the Blue Jackets have is that last year they gave Sergei Bobrovsky $5.625 million/year for two years after 38 great games, he won Vezina trophy, during the lockout-shortened 2013 season. Bobrovsky’s first two seasons in the NHL, with Philadelphia, weren’t much better, statistically, than Johansen’s first years with Columbus. They were willing to roll the dice on Bobrovsky, but aren’t willing to do so with Johansen and you know his agent will use Bobrovsky as an example to try and strengthen their demands. I’m not saying it is right, because I think a bridge deal is best for Johansen, but his agent will use Bobrovsky big deal after only one great year as an example.

    Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators are in the midst of a tough negotiations with Marc Methot. Methot’s camp supposedly used Brooks Orpik’s asinine $5.5 mill/year deal as their first asking price. Ouch.

  • If the Blue Jackets can’t reach a deal with Johansen, you can bet many GMs will be on the phone talking trade with Kekelainen. The Oilers would gladly give Johansen $5 mill/year on a short two-year deal. But what would the Blue Jackets want in return? I can tell you it would be something significant, not just prospects or picks. It would start with Eberle and… I’d bet.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

      • ubermiguel

        Always a good laugh to read from the “know-it-all” Oilers fans. They see a guy play well for 3 games against rookies, mainly CHL players, and suddenly he is the answer.

        The Oilers need more puny, skilled wingers? No. If Tkachev looks good against NHL players then sure, but let’s stop with the usual over-hyping of players associated with the Oilers.

        Every NHL team passed him over in the draft, so clearly they are all concerned about his skill. To say 100% they have to sign him based on three rookie games is extremely premature.

        • ubermiguel

          I don’t thing anyone is saying he’s ready for the big club; I want them to stock up on prospects. He’s a freebie; he didn’t cost a draft pick or asset and he won’t take up an NHL contract. Give him a couple of years in the AHL and see how it goes. Low risk, big possible reward if there’s an NHL player there.

    • Jason Gregor

      Will be watching Drasaitl tonight to see how he compares to some of these guys. Should be the first chance lots of people will get to see how he plays against tougher competition

    • Jason Gregor

      It should be a fun game to watch tonight.

      Even with the little Russian in the line-up, this will be the biggest and most skilled Oiler rookie team in the last 10 years. I’m looking forward to it.

      Also, I’d love to see Johansen in an Oiler jersey but I doubt it will ever happen. They will want too much in return. Eberle and Petry probably.

      • Jason Gregor

        Looking long term, is Eberle and Petry too much?

        What if Petry doesn’t re-sign, and wants to test the UFA market, he’d be the youngest D-man on the market this summer, and command huge dollars?

        I doubt CBJ moves Johansen, but getting a big, skilled centre who is past the first three years of development would be worth a lot to the Oilers.

        I’d make that trade in all honesty. Hard to find big, skilled centres.

        • ThinkingOutLoud

          Meanwhile at Nation HQ, the sound of Wayne yelling “WHISKEY!”, between muffled sobs at the suggestion of Eberle being traded could be heard emanating from behind his closed office door…

      • Jason Gregor

        A big, skilled centre for a winger and a 2nd rounder? It will likely take Eberle and either a high end prospect, or another roster player.

        Skilled centres are valued higher than skilled wingers, if all things are equal.

        • ubermiguel

          I agree there is a premium on centres (especially big ones) however Eberle has a better track record to date and may be a better goal scorer. He has great value. I am not advocating for the deal but suspect Ebs for Johan with a swap of picks/prospects would do it. Oil would have to give up the better pick/prospect but I think the two NHLers are closer in value than you suggest. If Johan was at Eberle’s level, why aren’t they willing to pay him 6 million/year?

          • Jason Gregor

            Better track record?

            Johansen scored 33 goals when he was 21.

            Eberle scored 36 when he was 21.

            Trade is about who they think can help more moving forward, not who was best previously.

            • DieHard

              And Eberle had 42 assists to Johansen’s 30 as a 21 year old.

              I know that quality, big, young C’s bring a premium but Columbus’ biggest need is RW. Eberle is a pretty valuable asset as well who is signed long term. Other teams would give up plenty in picks, prospects, but who else is going to trade CBJ an Eberle quality player.

              The Jackets have the problem -why is it in our mindset to always overpay.The media and fans in this city have to get over this. If and when they do sign Johansen -then we talk Anisimov.

            • Jason Gregor

              To be clear you are saying the Oilers trading a small, skilled winger for a big, skilled centre who just turned 22 and scored 33 goals is an overpay?

              You think other teams don’t recognize the value of a young, big, skilled centre?

              The only centres to score more goals than Johansen last year were Crosby and Seguin. The only player who was 21 and under who had more points than Johansen was Landeskog (65) to Johansen’s 63. Yet you think Eberle is an overpay. Please explain.

              And please share with us what your trade option for Anisimov is?

            • Jason Gregor

              I would rather have Johansen if both players had the same contract. They don’t and therefore I think that brings Johansen down very close to Eberle in value. Your article suggests that Eberle and more is required. The more is the overpay imo.

              Of course other teams (probably all of them) would have an interest in Johansen. I don’t think CBJ has any interest in trading him for picks and or prospects just as we wouldn’t want to trade our core players for futures. CBJ needs an 1st line RW and I’m not sure anyone else will offer up an Eberle for him. I probably do over value Eberle but I wouldn’t give anything more. If the Jackets say no – then oh well.

              As for Anisimov that probably would have to be prospects/picks. CBJ seems to have pretty good depth at D but how about Musil and a 3rd? Enough?

    • A-Mc

      Ticket Information: On September 17th, the Canadian Interuniversity Sport champions, the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team, will drop the puck in their annual tilt against the Edmonton Oilers’ rookies at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $30 and available for purchase at the ARZ sales office (780-492-2231) in the Van Vliet Centre.

    • Jason Gregor

      Would love to hear more about your brother, from growing up and his and parents commitments, to what his expectations were. So mank kids playing hockey, so few make it, his story sure sounds bitter sweet.

      • Jason Gregor

        My parents never pushed him. They supported him. He was one who was driven. He worked out regularly, when very few players were in the late 80s and early 90s.

        He was a very good player, but there are many very good players, you need to be great to make it to the NHL.

        He broke his knuckle in January during his draft year. He was rated to go in the 3rd round that Christmas, but after breaking his knuckle no one drafted him.

        He got four years of schooling paid for from the WHL, got a degree at Acadia and had a great time playing hockey in the minors. John Brophy was his coach one year. He has so many stories about Broph. It is unreal. Maybe I will write about it sometime. Would be a good piece, because there are way more guys like him, who are close, but never make it than guys who actually do.

        He still loves the game, coached hockey for years and now both his boys are playing junior hockey. Hockey was a great experience for him. It teaches you a lot, and often the lessons aren’t fun ones.

    • 916oiler

      Could we trade Draisaitl for Johansen? As in why not get a developed version of LD instead of waiting for him to develop?

      Would we have to add something to the deal?

      They’re extremely similar but RJ is ready to rock right away!

    • Spaceman Spiff

      Oh thank heavens … some perspective on social media and the hype around training-camp wonders. Finally.

      You don’t mention Tkachev by name, Gregor, but good on you for sharing your brother’s training camp story.

      Training-camp-legends are a part of every sport as there’s always a mysterious kid who can put the puck through the boards/hit the cover off the ball/dunk from anywhere/run through defences/(INSERT OTHER SPORT HERE).

      Tkachev, who is so small he could have been a stand-in for a Lord of the Rings movie, is only the latest.

      Still, he is definitely worth a look in the main camp. But right now, he’s not worth any more than that.

      Camp Tkachev, I’m looking in your general

    • ubermiguel

      Was last year’s Johansen the new normal or an anomaly? Eyeballing his junior stats his NHLE might be in the 60 points per year range. His shooting % went from single digits to ~14% so you have to expect a bit of a regression there. If we’re trading a big piece like Eberle I don’t want it to be for a relatively unproven commodity, I’d want to get a bit older not younger with the deal. Picks and prospects might get it done; #1 pick next year has some weight.

    • ubermiguel

      I think the most likely career outcome for Tkachev is somewhere in between Michel Riesen and Linus Omark. And yet I too would be frustrated if he signed with a different NHL team.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Yakupov and Perron might get their attention, throw in Musil as well.

      There are more than a few teams wanting to get their hands on Nail. See what their guys ( coaching staff) can do with a kid with that much talent. Maybe the Jackets are one of those teams. With Eakins here again I don’t see this ending well for Yakupov and his time here in Deadmonton. Dallas is making more mistakes than all these entry level players he’s been so critical of.

      3 guys who won’t be here in two years anyways for a first line center who could help buy Hopkins some more time to develop.

    • pkam

      What have Ewanyk and Kessy done in the rookie tournament that win them the spot over Roy in tonight’s game? I think Marco Roy played better than the duo in the rookie tournament.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I would do Eberle and a prospect for Johansen for sure. We need more center depth and more size in our top 6 and Johansen delivers that. Nothing against Ebs who is awesome.

    • pkam

      Just post in TSN regarding Johansen’s contract negotiation:

      According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Michael Arace, Davidson told reporters that the team has three separate offers on the table for their young centre – one worth $6 million over two years, another for six years worth $32 million and a final for eight years worth $46 million.

      Looks like a 45.5M 7 year (6.5M per) offer sheet will put the BJ in tough position and it only cost a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd.

      • Zarny

        I don’t think it’s accurate to say a 7 yr $45.5M offer sheet would put CBJ in a tough position.

        They’d just match the offer sheet and get on with life. I doubt they would like it but that wouldn’t prevent them from matching it.

        • pkam

          The BJ will probably match it but it doesn’t mean it is not tough for them. Just like the Weber’s offer sheet and O’Rielly’s offer sheet. Preds and Avs did match them but I think those two were tough for the teams.

          From the offer BJ put on the table, I believe they are prepared to sign him at around 6M for 8 years. Remember when I said BJ will thanks MacT if he can sign Johansen to a 6M long term offer sheet and you disagree?

          I don’t think Johansen’s team will ask for more than 7M. So if the BJ is willing to pay him 6.5M, I believe they will still be talking. So a 6M offer sheet is a welcome offer sheet for them. I think they are unlikely to match a 7 year 49M (7M per) offer sheet, that is why I think a 6.5M is a tough one for BJ.

      • Jason Gregor

        You should read the article and not try to be “An Insider”. Gregor had the numbers in the article. They were easy to read.

        They offered his camp three different options.
        Two year deal at $3 million per season.
        Six years at $5.33 mill/season.
        Eight years at $5.75 mill/season.

        • pkam

          Isn’t 6M over 2 years equals 2 year at 3M per?

          Isn’t 32M over 6 years equals 6 years at 5.33M per?

          Isn’t 46M over 8 years equals 8 years at 5.75M per?

          So which part of my comment is incorrect? If you’re not good at math, there is always a calculator.

          • pkam

            Thanks…You just proved my point. We already had the numbers. Why did you repeat them and then present them as new info?

            You seemed to miss the point again…calculator isn’t the issue…You posting something that was in the article, and then making it look like it was new was pointless.

            Maybe drop your calculator and pick up a dictionary. 🙂

            • pkam

              Did you read the 1st line of my original comment?

              “Just post in TSN regarding Johansen’s contract negotiation:”

              And the following paragraph is copied from TSN, like you copy yours. So how do readers here know the offers if I don’t copy them here?

    • Bucknuck

      One good year does not a player make. I think Eberle, Petry (or what we could get for him), Draisaitl, and Yakimov will by next year be better than Johanson and no Petry and Eberle.

    • Bennyboy

      OK everyone.
      Ryan Johansen is clearly a self inflated jerk.
      The offers he received were very reasonable considering what he has proven to date.

      Ryan johansen,60 points, wants about 6.5 mil a year.
      Taylor hall, 80 points last year, seems perfectly happy with 6 mil a year.

      This guy thinks he’s way better than what he has proven, who wants somebody like THAT around.

      And then to even think about starting offers with Eberle????
      You’re kidding me right?

      Here’s my proposal when Columbus calls…..”the number you have reached is not in service, please hang up and leave your phone that way”

      Dressing room cancer.that is all.

    • Spoils

      it’s time for MacT to dust off his Perron for Magnus magic and get a #2C.

      We have to be willing to trade ANY of our players to make the team better.

      Columbus is struggling with Johansen, so maybe there is a conversation there. And MacT should be in the conversation… but let’s not give up the farm – Ebs scored 76pts in his second year. He had 65 last year. So size and centers are valued but what about ability on a shootout – that has real value.

      change the conversation – win the trade

      that said – i’d much rather NOT trade Ebs. I’d rather find a veteran 2Way #2C that can help provide experience as well.

      and I love Ebs.

    • DieHard

      Well now we have a bit of an inside to why Jason thinks he’s one of the guys when it comes to pro hockey players (referring to everyone by last name or nickname).

      • The Soup Fascist

        Call me crazy but isn’t the last name the way the Media should be referring to them? Would you prefer Gregor and the broadcasters use their first names. And here is Taylor skating down the wing over to Jordan back to Justin …?

        Very professional.

        It’s a hockey team, not a boy band.

        • Jason Gregor

          Broadcasters are a different story. Gregor is an afternoon radio guy who conducts interviews by calling players in any sport by their nickname.

          for example.
          How do you think “Ebs” is going to progress this year.

          a professional would say… How do you think Jordan Eberle is going to progress this year.

          Its a hockey team and hes not on it.

    • DieHard

      I doubt CBJ would want Eberle’s 6mil when they could just give that to Johansen. Think about it, small winger 6 million or big centre 6 million. Never would happen.

      • bazmagoo

        I agree if Johansen would take the 6 mil/yr. but I don’t think he will. CBJ offered 8 years at 46 mil – pretty sure they would have done the extra 2 mil over the 8 years.

        I heard Davidson on Primetime Sports today. He basically said he should be fired if he gave Johansen what he wanted although he wouldn’t say the ask. My guess is 6.5 -6.75 a year with term but that’s just a guess. Whatever he wants, it is knocking down his trade value.

        So the question CBJ should be asking is do we want a very good young scoring winger or a guy that won’t sign what they feel is a reasonable deal. Also he can walk away in 2 years.