The twenty Oilers who will play tonight in Winnipeg skated in Leduc this morning at 9:30 a.m., before flying to Winnipeg to face Jacob Trouba and the Jets. Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin will be in the lineup, and all of them are hoping to have the same impact in the NHL this year that Trouba had last year.
Trouba had an outstanding rookie campaign. He averaged 22:26/game, scored 10 goals and 29 points in 65 games and he had respectable iCorsi/60 of 12.4, which was 10th best amongst D-men who played 1000 minutes.
It is preseason, so I went looking for different stats that we usually don’t discuss. In case you’re wondering the best iCorsi/60 of any Oilers D-man was 8.3 by Jeff Petry, which ranked 67th.
The Oilers are hoping one of their young trio of defenders can emerge and be a regular top-four D-man this season.
Today Marincin seems to be ahead of Klefbom and Nurse, but it is unclear who will be the best of the three long-term.
Marincin put on 15 pounds this off-season and he looks much bigger and stronger on the ice. He looks poised for a breakout season. Klefbom seems destined for some time in the AHL, but I’m a big fan of his game and Nurse’s, although I believe Nurse needs to calm his game down a bit, and most likely will do that in junior. Whether he goes down at the start of the season or sometime in November remains to be seen.
Those worried about Eberle can breathe. I never understood the angst with him not dressing on Sunday. The Oilers wanted to reward Greg Chase for working so hard in the off-season. Eberle is healthy and ready to go. And before you worry, Hall is just a healthy scratch. We will most likely see the Hall-RNH-Eberle trio during the final week of preseason.
It is interesting to see Pitlick paired with Ewanyk and Kessy, while Tkachev plays with Draisaitl and Pouliot. The only wing spot open on the Oilers is on the 4th line, so maybe Eakins wants Pitlick to get used to playing with defensive players who are energetic. Pitlick is a bubble guy, and I’d like to see him play with NHL players at some point. I’m guessing his slot in the lineup is based on the type of role/style they expect him to play this year, but also that this will be Tkachev’s last game to show what he has. Pitlick will get two or three more exhibition games to earn a spot.
Klefbom and Nurse will play the right side. Klefbom looked fine on the right side last game, but it was also the first preseason game. It will be interesting to see who they handle their opposite side. Many players struggle with it.
Kane came into camp in great shape and Paul Maurice has been raving about him since. Kane and Schiefele need to have a good season if the Jets hope to compete for a playoff spot. They need consistency from their second line.
The rest of the Jets forwards are a mix of bubble guys and young picks, similar to the Oilers.
I’m a huge fan of Trouba and enjoy watching him. I’m curious to see how Draisaitl’s junior teammates, Morrissey looks. Fans in Prince Albert must be praying one of them returns to junior this year.
No Pavelec tonight sadly, because that would increase the chances of the Oilers scoring, but the Jets didn’t re-sign Al Montoya in the summer due to Hutchinson. It is a bit risky considering he started last season in the ECHL and only started three NHL games.
Hutchinson played 28 games in the ECHL, 24 in the AHL and 3 in the NHL, and he is their backup behind a shaky starter. Incredibly risky decision by the Jets.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The inexperience in both lineups leads to goal-filled game. The Oilers lose 5-4, but at least the game was entertaining.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Many wonder who is in the above picture. It is Winnipeg resident Crystal Cunard. Now you know.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Pitlick scores. This a selfish prediction, because I want the battle for the only wing position available to be somewhat enticing.