Day One: Hall,Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle will play together

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.

Hall-RNH-Eberle
The trio of first rounders has had success in the past, and it makes sense to keep them together.

Pouliot-Draisaitl-Perron
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.

Yakupov-Arcobello-Purcell
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.

Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu
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.

UPDATED….

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?

DEFENCE

The D pairs aren’t as clear as the forwards, but there are some interesting combos.

Nikitin-Fayne
I won’t be surprised if these two start the season together.

Marincin-Schultz
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.

Nurse-Petry
Ference-Simpson
Aulie-Klefbom

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.

GOALIES

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.

QUICK HITS

  • 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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

    • bazmagoo

      Matthew Ford ( age 30) – 6ft. 1 in. ,207 lbs. RW . Played last season in OKC . 73 games -25 goals,22 assists for 47 points and 71 penalty minutes . plus minus of -1 . 2004 draft pick that went in 8th round -256th overall .

      Chris Baltisberger (age 22 ) 6foot-176lbs.. Zurich last season was : 48 games – 3 goals , 6 assists for 9 points . This year however (2014-15 ) he is 3 games with 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points with 4 penalty minutes .

  • Bob Cobb

    I understand there are some people who trash every comment obviously in order to give themselves a thrill. I asked a simple question – I don’t recognize the name “Ford.” I was hoping another Oilers’ fan could enlighten me. If you don’t feel you can give me a civil answer then don’t say anything at all. It’s that simple.

  • Czar

    Hey Gregor

    Don’t mind the Marincin-Schultz pairing, the two were about 49.6% (just under) in CF. The Ference-Schultz pairing wasn’t great. I hope they do start and see what kind of success they have, granted last year was a small sample size

    Yak and Arco had good chemistry and possession #’s together too. Purcell is a pass first guy. So that’s two passers for Yak.

      • That’s exactly what I would do:

        Nikitin – Fayne – tough minutes

        Ference – Petry – 2nd toughest minutes

        Marincin – Schultz – soft minutes and power play

        End the Yakupov on the point experiment, set him up like Stamkos

        • Bob Cobb

          I know Ference didn’t pair well with Schultz last year, but he was also out his depth on the top four. Maybe pairing him with Schultz on the third line would help both improve, while giving a development push to Marincin, but not putting him in over his head like they did at the end of last year with the top line minutes.

  • Bob Cobb

    I always thought Perron was a natural LW, and Yak was a natural RW. In fact it seems like every time Yak gets put on the LW he plays poorly.

    Also, I wonder if Perron Arco Purcell isn’t a better way to organize the second line. Then give Poulliot Drai and Yak. I suppose of the two centres, Arco is likely more defensively responsible at this point, but if that’s the third line anyway, I guess it shouldn’t matter.

    So much for sheltered minutes for Draisaitl.

  • Spoils

    “Ford’s” name in along side the Jones twins on the Gretzky team. Check the Oilers web site. Before slamming someone get your facts straight. If it’s a misprint then admit it, if not STFU. As for your comment on smoking crack I seriously feel that Oilersnation should be regulating these comments a bit more. Internet trolls are certainly rampant on this website.

  • Spoils

    nothing would be better than to have neon leon win the calder, but from what I have seen in Penticton and v the Bears he isn’t playoff team level NHL #2C yet.

    here’s hoping I’m way wrong.

  • Bob Cobb

    I see Jason Williams has been added to the training camp rosters, why is this not gaining any attention, it may not be a bold move but it does address the center situation. 455 plus NHL games, cup winner with Detroit, what are the chances he’s on the opening game roster?

    • This isn’t gaining any attention because Jason Williams is an entirely forgettable hockey player. He’s been out of the NHL since 2011 when he played 8 games with Pittsburgh.

      There’s probably a higher likelihood of ME being on the opening night roster than Jason Williams.

      • Bob Cobb

        Right, he’s been in the Swiss Leagues for a couple years, he’s played over 450 NHL games, has NHL experience, and is a center, that would put him in the equation. Right now I’d put him ahead of Lander and possibly Arcobello because at one point he was an established NHL’er. As Far as Pittburgh, when your behind Crosby and Malkin and Staal, at the time, your not making that team at center.

        Besides, if a relatively unknown Anton Belov had a chance last year, then Willams has a shot. He may not make the opening night roster, but he’ll be one of the first call-ups from OKC if the Oilers sign him to a contract and Arcobello, Draisitl and Lander struggle because according the Journal he’ll be the number 1 center in OKC .

        • ubermiguel

          Williams WAS an NHL player, he’s not anymore. Putting him ahead of Arcobello suggests you didn’t actually watch Arco play last year; he IS an NHL player, one that got screwed by his contract and waiver status last year. Lander hasn’t come close to figuring out how to play in the NHL yet, but most people want to give him another half to a whole year to prove it.

  • Bob Cobb

    If Marincin has been eating steak all summer with Gernat and they’re both 200+ that’d be a plus. I heard Gernat put on a lot of weight.

    My pick would be to have Yak on his off wing for one timers, but i don’t mind the idea of having two natural passers for him on one line.

  • vetinari

    Exciting to see the Oilers back. Also will watch the Philly, Boston, Chicago and TB camps closely to see who might be trade bait given their cap issues. Maybe our new 2C is currently on one of their rosters?

  • BlazingSaitls

    So, ESPN’s ‘The Mag’s Ultimate Standings 2014’ Ranked all the major sports teams. Ranked on the basis of

    Affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, bang for the buck, title track record.

    Oilers were ranked 115 out of 122. Leafs were ranked last at 122.

    I agree with the Leafs ranking but c’mon…115 for Oilers. Sure its been rough since the stanley cup days but damn…..115 out of 122. Screw that!

    • Do what Weight did?

      So, which categories do you think we were rated too low in? Affordability? Coaching? Fan relations? Stadium experience? Bang for the buck?

      We might get lmeium levels for players, and maybe ownership (it’s stable – I’m not defending his choices like PoHO). Our title track record is solid, in the 80’s – and would need to be balanced with 8 years of… Yeah, you know.

      All in all, the Oil are #1 for me, but 115/122 doesn’t sound too far off. But if they rated teams for potential…

      • BlazingSaitls

        I don’t disagree with much you said but Im having a hard time accepting there are only 7 teams worse than Oilers in all of professional sports according to ESPN’s criteria.

        In the NHL alone the Oilers are ranked 28th, behind Islanders and Leafs. So Canes’, Panthers, Coyotes, and every other team with crap attendance, and a poor to marginal record, has a better overall product than Oilers? Not in my opinion.

    • Serious Gord

      Seems pretty accurate to me.

      Since the last time the oil won the cup – 24 seasons (!) the leafs have made it to the playoffs 11times. The oil only 9. So for pretty much most peoples living memory the leafs have been more successful on the ice than the oil have. The leafs likely finish worse than the oil because of ticket cost.

  • Randaman

    Sorry guys but that third line is going to be suspect I think. How is Yak supposed to get off to a fast start playing with an AHL center?
    Yes I think Arco is an AHL player. Sorry for that but that is my opinion. We are in serious trouble if Drais or Arco is our #2C going into the regular season.

    Just sayin

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    From the small sample of the Oilers vs Bears game last night Draisaitl does not look ready on the defensive side of the game to play 2C in the NHL.

    He was routinely caught way to deep in the offensive zone and that led to MANY odd man rushes against the Oilers. And when he was caught out of position he did not look overly concerned about getting himself back very quickly. He skated much faster on the forecheck than on the backcheck.

    Yakimov however, looked like he was very defensively aware. Routinely first forward back in the defensive zone as a center should be.

    On the positive for Draisaitl, he sure knows how to use his size to his advantage when protecting the puck.

    • Reg Dunlop

      They really are two completely different players. Like Mac T said, Draisaitl does have impressive straight line speed and acceleration. when he gets going he can really turn on the jets.

      It will be interesting to see Yakimov’s development this year. Where I see Draisaitl having the advantage is he really does have some elite level passing and play making ability. He was also able to retrieve the puck very well. Some of his takeaways were unreal.

      Yakimov, on the other hand, reminds me of Nichuskin if he played centre. The kid is just so big and strong but with incredibly soft hands. His goal was unreal. He chipped it over then while being tripped, knocked it in out of the air, as he was rode into the end boards. I think at the end of the day they both could work on their skating.

  • Bob Cobb

    The 4th line open winger position I think is going to go to Pinizzoto. Hes got tons of sandpaper, drops the gloves when need be and hes a veteran presence. Hes got tons of playoff experience in the AHL and hes defensive minded to boot.

    • vetinari

      I actually wouldn’t mind seeing what a Hendricks-Gordon-Pinizzoto line would do in the preseason.

      If they could give the team 10-12 minutes per game of solid defensive play, some responsible PK time, some energy and some sandpaper, I’d give them a shot. I could see them being one of those type of lines that teams would hate to play against.

  • Czar

    I think the forward lines are probably fairly indicative of the coaching staff’s plans heading into camp although performance could always change things. The D pairings seem to be more intent on letting rookies like Nurse and Simpson play with more established veterans. I hope the Nikitin and Fayne pairing stays together. They could be face the tough opposition and take some of the load off of Petry and Schultz.

  • Serious Gord

    Meanwhile juxtapose last season the piss and vinegar coach taking down all of the old boys memorabilia in the locker room with this meek coach letting the three teams in spring training being named after them.

    Proof that Eakins was at the very least a premature hire to be an nhl coach. (I was listening to Tim and sid a sports radio duo based in Toronto talking about coaches – they had what could only be called faint praise for Eakins)

    • Reg Dunlop

      So, you think that the opinions of two clowns from Toronto is proof that Eakins is lacking as a NHL coach? Seriously?

      I have doubts about Eakins, just like I have doubts about Yak and Draisatl. HOWEVER, when some know-it-all from central Canada or some Birkinstock-wearing tree-hugger from Vancouver or some weekend cowboy from Calgary cracks on a member of the Oiler family… well, thems fighting words. Gordo, you really need to renew your Oiler fandom vows.

  • "Frank the dog"

    If you are taking wagers Jason ( for the fourth line opening) my money is on Tyler Pitlick.

    The guy looked great in the first couple of games before he got hurt………if this guy can buy some luck, he will be that guy that progress up the lineup into a top nine role.

    5 bucks?

  • "Frank the dog"

    “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?

    Might be Lander, but more likely he won’t until Joensuu suffers his next injury. But he’s as strong as an ox when not injured.