This is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. If you’re an Edmontonian and you’ve never been, get in your vehicle and drive around our city: It’s very much the same. Saskatoon is by far Saskatchewan’s prettiest city, owing to actual water running through it (Regina Regina Regina: What WHERE you thinking?).

Like Edmonton, Saskatoon has a wonderful history and love affair with hockey.

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Gordie Howe was born in Floral, Saskatchewan and that’s a stone’s throw from Saskatoon (actually I think it IS Saskatoon today). Harry Watson was from there, Bobby Schmautz too, Brent Ashton, Keith Magnuson and many others over the years. Hockey-reference tells us that 80 NHL players (including Howe) were born in Saskatoon—impressive total, and compares to Edmonton’s number (more than 175) if you consider population differences between the two cities over the years.


  • Perron— Draisaitl—Yakupov
  • Pakarinen—Lander—Eberle
  • Kessy—Arcobello—Purcell
  • C Hamilton—Williams—Joensuu
  • Marincin—Gernat
  • Ference—Simpson
  • Oesterle—Schultz
  • Bachman (Brossoit)

The key item today is that top line, we might see it opening night. Dallas Eakins has Yakupov on his natural side and Perron serves as mentor. In this scenario, it is likely we’d see Pouliot and Purcell on a 3line opening night with Arcobello the probable center. Happy with that? I like Yakupov on the right side with skill, and that would in fact be the ‘soft minutes’ line for the Oilers in 2014-15. We’ll see, but it’s an exciting line.

Iiro Pakarinen is not famous with Oilers’ fans, but it may only be a matter of time before we adore him. He’s a Finn (Finland has been delivering their wonderful hockey players to us for over 30 years now) and we have seen him (although we may not remember the moment fondly):

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Pakarinen gets a real shot today and I think he has a chance to make this team. He appears to have agitating qualities (Finns who play hockey apparently have a special ability to piss off people, God love ’em) and a terrific shot. He’s definitely a player to watch today.

Others I’ll be watching: Kale Kessy, who we talked about last night, and Dillon Simpson, getting another opportunity to impress.





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GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win this one walking away in jean shorts. Although the ‘Hawks lineup isn’t known yet, I’m comfortable they’ll have a large group of suspects as teams do each year at this game. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  Among the gifs I run, this photo is the second most popular (behind The Hurdler). Many ask ‘who is that’? and the anser is Gemma Arterton.


NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Iiro Pakarinen has a big game and moves himself up the depth chart in the race for a roster spot. 

  • knee deep in it

    I don’t want to get too worked up about one bad game but from what I’ve seen so far this pre-season, the top line better eat their wheaties because I don’t have too much confidence in our secondary lines. Arcobello and Lander have not played like their careers are on the line. Draisaitl has been OK, but certainly hasn’t looked NHL ready. I guess that’s what happens when you basically hand unproven players NHL jobs.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We know this team won’t start 4-14-2 this season, but you know they will have that 20 game segment at some point during the upcoming season.

    Up from the ashes grow the roses of success (Connor McDavid) Plenty of rookies, coming to an NHL arena near you in the fall of 2015 (McDavid, Nurse, Klefbom, Simpson and Yakimov) This was the gameplan/excuse (rebuild from within) from day 1.

  • Andresito

    Deja Vu all over again. Insanity. Draisatl has been very average so far and DOESNT warrant a spot on the roster. This is the NHL the greatest league in the world… how many other teams would just hand an 18 year old a spot regardless of perfomance and just because he was drafted high? It’s sickening. Yakimov has outplayed Draisatl and Arco so far. Does mananagement actually wonder why they are the laughing stock of the league? I only watched a bit of the game but looks just like last year. No compete just go through the motions. Rookie camp was at least fun to watch in Penticton. I predict another bottom 5 pick. PS: I hear Sam Bennett is doing great with Calgary. Huge compete and will do anything for his team. Sounds like a guy we could have used.

  • Dan 1919

    We need to be so much more patient with Draisaitl.
    I think a good comparable is James van Riemsdyk. Same size, was second overall in 1997. First year after draft he went back to college, second year back to college then a few games in AHL at end of the second year. Then NHL in his third year – 35 points, 40 points in year 4 after the draft, lockout and injury year then finally in his 7th year after being drafted, last year he get 61 points with 30 goals. Only our Oilers pencil the fresh draft kid in for 2nd line centre and 50 points. We need to get a centre from one of the cap crunched teams, Arco and Lander and Yakimov as just band aids please…
    Send Draisaitl to Sweden. He won’t be the player we need him to be for another 3-6 years.

  • Reg Dunlop

    For those who hold out faint hope for Saskatoon hosting a NHL team, consider that there are 9 larger metro areas in Canada that are dying for a big league team. Ten, if you include Edmonton.

    For those who see Mcdavid as the ultimate solution to our woes(looking at you Quicksilver) there is no way Bettman lets a Canadian market draft a future ticket-seller like Conner. If we finish last and lose the lottery, think of it as karma for winning the right to draft Yak. Or, conspiracy theorists unite, blame it on the guy on the grassy knoll.

    For those distraught at one pre-season loss to Chicago, come on! I thought everyone’s expectations were tempered this year. We all better grab a piece of reality before the upcoming 5-15 start to the season.

    Finally, with Leon being just a step above an ankler and Yak looking like he’s never played organized hockey at ANY level… remember, they are young and they can still learn to skate and, in Yak’s case, pass the puck. I’m optimistic, as always.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Not saying they’ll finish anywhere near 29th or 30th. With the new lottery format those two teams are more likelier than ever to get pushed out of those last two positions.

      The ideal place to be in (for a shot at that 1st selection) is that 24-27 range. Right where the Oilers will finish this coming season.

      Are you implying Bettman would fix it so the Oilers aren’t allowed to win that selection?

      I feel them greatly reducing the chances of the 30/29th place finishers only enhances the chances of those above those last two positions/teams in the standings. Gary’s anti Oiler rule will bite him in the arse when they win that selection after finishing 25th this season.