Training camp officially began today. The players went through a wide range of medical testing to gauge their endurance, strength, mobility, agility, eyes, teeth and overall health. They will be on the ice tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., the practices are open to the public, and they have been divided into three teams: Team Gretzky, Team Messier and Team Kurri.
The returning players should know the system. They won’t have to learn an entire new system like previous years, and outside of a few tweaks, they can use training camp and preseason to get in game mode.
I’ve been told that head coach Dallas Eakins is hoping to use the preseason more for developing chemistry between lines, rather than try new combinations. Based on his forwards lines it seems he has a plan on who he wants to play together, especially his top line. Expect that trio to start the regular season together.
Eakins needs his team to get off to a good start, especially the top line, and it is smart to play them together from day one.
The trio of first rounders has had success in the past, and it makes sense to keep them together.
Perron will move to the right side, he shoots right and played both sides in St.Louis. This combo gives Draisaitl two proven veterans to protect him.
Eakins wants all wants his forwards to start on their natural side, likely because it is easier to play defence in your own end on your natural wing, especially along the wall. Perron and Yakupov could switch during the year, but for now Eakins wants his forwards on their proper wing.
Joensuu will be battling his job with Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinizzotto. I don’t think his job is a lock at all.
Here are the other forwards who are in the mix.
Anton Lander will centre Pinizzotto and Ilro Pakarinen. I think Lander will be the 13th forward, because it makes sense to have a centre as your 13th forward.
Pitlick will play the right side with Will Acton and Ryan Hamilton. Pitlick needs to make a statement if he wants to make the 23-man roster.
Eakins said he will try different combinations, but he firmly believes that wingers on their natural side are able to protect the puck much better.
“We have two NHL centres right now. I don’t know who will be the other two. It is up to the players to decide,” Eakins said regarding the Oilers centres woes. This isn’t a surprise to any of us, but Eakins is saying the competition is open. We’ll see which two of Arcobello, Draisaitl and Lander win the job.
“We have only one spot open on the wings. It should make for a great battle,” said Eakins. He is referring to the 4th line obviously.
Any wagers on who you think wins that job?
The D pairs aren’t as clear as the forwards, but there are some interesting combos.
I won’t be surprised if these two start the season together.
I’d be surprised if these two are a pairing when the season starts, but after listening to Craig Ramsay talk about how engaged he wants his D-men to be, this might be a pairing that Eakins uses with the RNH line to create offence.
I won’t read too much into these pairings other than it is the first day of camp. Eakins and Ramsay are more familiar with Ference than any other D-man so seeing him with a rookie isn’t that surprising.
We will have to wait until a few preseason games to get a better feel of what pairing Eakins might use.
The only interesting part about the goalies was that Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens were both on Team Gretzky. I’m guessing it is because the coaches want them to form a solid bond, because it is obvious they will be the two goalies when the season starts on October 9th.
- Luke Gazdic is listed as injured and won’t be ready for contact. This isn’t a surprise considering in April he said he couldn’t rush back from shoulder surgery due to his style of game. He was shooting to be ready for contact in early October.
- I’d never heard of Chris Baltisberger prior to today. He is playing right wing with Jujhar Khaira and Mitch Moroz. He’s played for Zurich in the Swiss league for the past three seasons. He is here on a training camp invite.
- Three potential future Oilers are on a line. Marco Roy-Bogdan Yakimov-Greg Chase. Yakimov will start in the AHL, and I’m excited to see how he plays against NHL and AHL player during the preseason.
- Training camp is open to the public on Saturday as well from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. at Rexall Place.
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