It was only a four-on-four no-hit scrimmage, but Connor McDavid impressed the diehard fans who showed up at Rexall Place. McDavid scored five goals (McCarron goal was changed to McDavid) and added an assist in team white’s 8-6 win. His skating ability, explosiveness and vision had the 7,000 (estimate) fans giddy with excitement.
“He is special,” said teammate Greg Chase. “He is fun to watch. He is smart, fast and he makes plays with the puck that you don’t think people can make. But the biggest thing about Connor is how he is off the ice. He is a terrific guy. He is extremely humble. You don’t see that a lot nowadays. That is something I noticed and something I can take away from him,” said Chase.
McDavid impressed everyone during the orientation camp and his performance tonight will only make Oilers fans even hornier for the start of the season.
The “game” was forty minutes of four-on-four and seven minutes of three-on-three. The only faceoffs were after goals. It was quick without much contact, which makes sense considering it is July 6th. McDavid was clearly the best player on the ice, but a few others did stand out, and it was the players you’d expect to shine.
Darnell Nurse strength and speed stood out. He will compete for a job in training camp and Peter Chiarelli said, “We told him not be disheartened by the amount of one-way contracts we have. We are going to have a competition,” Chiarelli also added, “I’m not basing this on tonight, because it was a four-on-four and three-on-three, but you notice his size and skating and he is up ice a lot. He’ll need to learn not to go up as much, but he is strong, he defends, he is a good pupil and he is young. He has a lot of positives going for him.”
Leon Draisaitl’s playmaking was outstanding. He is an effortless passer. He moved his feet well, especially when he had the puck. He and McDavid are very different players, which I think is good, and Draisaitl’s size, strength and skill will be a welcome addition to the lineup whenever he makes the team.
Joey Laleggia skates like a pro. He should stand out in a game like tonight because of his age and experience. His size and ability to defend will be his biggest hurdles, but he can skate at the NHL level. He reminds me of Brad Hunt, but skates better.
Greg Chase felt his way into the game, but once he found the pace he was solid. He learned a lot playing with Ryan Hamilton and Jason Williams in OKC during the playoffs and you could see he was very alert away from the puck. A no-hitter is not where he can excel, but he has the offensive instincts to be able to play with skilled players. The Oilers don’t have many skilled, gritty forwards and if he continues to develop he could challenge for a spot on the team in 2016 or 2017.
Kevan Bouchard was the best goalie on the ice. He made some huge stops, including two back-to-back on McDavid in the first period.
Luke Esposito had a solid effort. He took the puck to the net with conviction many times.
Kyle Platzer sees the ice well. He needs some seasoning in the AHL for a few seasons, but his skill stands out.
John McCarron is thick. I’m curious to see how he adapts to the pro game where everyone else is strong, but he is big, 6’2, 232 pounds. He is already 23 so he’ll need to adapt to the pro level quickly if he wants to go farther than the AHL.
He addressed the Justin Schultz arbitration and the Anders Nilsson trade.
He expects no problems getting Schultz signed, which isn’t a surprise, and said the buyout window will start right after they reach an agreement. He said it is a good option, but was not certain if they will buy out a player. Of course he would not address which players were candidates.
Nilsson signed a one-year, one-way deal. It does not have an out clause to return to Europe. If he doesn’t make the Oilers he’ll need to clear waivers. Chiarelli was adamant Nilsson will get a good opportunity to compete for a job and said players should take notice. I think we can assume he was referring to Ben Scrivens.
Nilsson has a strong KHL season and was average at the World Championships. His game was leaky at times. He also struggled controlling the puck with his catching glove. Chiarelli added the former New York Islanders draft pick, who has 25 NHL games experience, was ecstatic about getting another chance in the NHL and the GM loves his size and feels he is young enough to emerge into a solid goalie.
At the very least he will add some competition in camp, and if he doesn’t make the Oilers and Laurent Brossoit will have a battle for icetime in Bakersfield.
McDavid’s first appearance at Rexall was a rousing success. He impressed everyone in the Oilers organization with his off-ice demeanor and he wowed the fans with his on-ice play. It was only a no-hit scrimmage, but McDavid scored five goals and dominated.
Enjoy your summer thinking about McDavid in a regular season NHL game. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed.
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