The Edmonton Oilers—four and OH in the pre-season — are running back to Saskatoon today for a tilt with the thoroughly comatose Minnesota Wild. Are the prairies ready for McDavid? It’s time to catch a piece of history.
Connor McDavid will never again be what he is today. In our eyes, he remains a curio, an 18-year old Canadian kid who may be more interested in having a hot dog and PS4 than being interviewed by the Star-Phoenix. As someone who has seen these phenoms arrive each fall (less talented, but just as young) part of the appeal is that McDavid genuinely DOES seem interested in the finer details, the minutiae and the little people he meets along the way.
As rare as his talent may be, a humble superstar comes along as often as Halley’s comet.
STILL IN THE RUNNING
The Oilers roster is going to get pruned in a big way tomorrow. Over the next 10 days we may see some trades and certainly some interesting waiver moments. Here’s the battle as I see it:
- Cam Talbot enters the season as the starter. He had excellent results last season and is a good bet, but he is not an established veteran, so there is at least some worry.
- Ben Scrivens/Anders Nilsson are in the backup battle and Scrivens looked good not great last night. I’ll suggest he held his ground but didn’t shut the door for Nilsson. Your mileage may vary.
- Andrej Sekera looks very mobile and capable. Not a physical player, that may be a down arrow for Oilers fans.
- Mark Fayne is strong and steady, looks good alongside Sekera. I wonder, as time moves along, if the club moves Sekera right side and runs Fayne on the third pair. That kind of depth would be terrific.
- Oscar Klefbom has impressed me with his passing this fall, seems to me he may be more capable offensively than the numbers have suggested. Damnable Swedish assist counters!
Schultz impressed with his physical play in the game this week, but I think his passing should be given good marks too. Forwards are coming down lower and making that pass less wobbly, but credit where due No. 19’s attention to detail (confidence?) appears to be much better.
- Andrew Ference appears to be slotted well below last season’s role and I’m not actually certain where or how much he’ll play.
- Nikita Nikitin needs to play well in order to hold off the kids. He’s gone before the deadline is my guess.
- Eric Gryba will play top six most nights
- Griffin Reinhart has the team made in my opinion. Steady and reliable.
- Darnell Nurse has shown some chaos while also exhibiting terrific ability. In a normal Oilers camp it would be enough to make the team. Less likely this time.
- Brandon Davidson. I thought he was one of the best Oilers in Winnipeg last night.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Anton Lander, Mark Letestu are locks at C, but I think Andrew Miller is making it tough for the Oilers. He’s fast and can play with skill.
- Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot and Lauri Korpikoski have made the roster but after that it’s a moving target. Rob Klinkhammer and Luke Gazdic are absolutely in the conversation but neither player would appear to be a lock.
- Jordan Eberle, Teddy Purcell, Nail Yakupov and Matt Hendricks already have their ticket punched for the 2015-16. Leon Draisaitl has to be close, the man’s skill is electric. Tyler Pitlick, for me, is hanging by a thread.
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) September 25, 2015
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win against a pedestrian Wild team that doesn’t have enough pro experience to learn Lemaire’s stifling style. 4-2 and McDavid scores a beauty.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Todd McLellan points a lot during the final 40 minutes.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The Oilers make a trade right after the game.
PS, I know Lemaire is in Toronto but the Wild aren’t exciting despite the talent.