MAKING THE GRADE

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Edmonton Oilers entered training camp with a few openings and a bunch of interesting options at each position: Draft picks, minor leaguers and some college men. Handicapping the field, I guessed we might see Jordan Oesterle and Jujhar Khaira break camp with the big club. Who won the jobs? Let’s have a look. 

  • R Tyler Pitlick, who scored a nice goal in the first game of the season. Pitlick has been toiling in the AHL (on and off) since 2011 fall, playing 196 minor league games and just 28 in the NHL. Pitlick has averaged only 44.8 games per pro season, and lost a lot of key development time. He has always looked like a player when healthy, as is the case this fall. Right now, he sits in the Matt Hendricks roster spot, meaning he could get sent out when the veteran returns. As with all of these pro players this season, Pitlick may be auditioning for a spot in the Las Vegas organization—depending on how things go in Edmonton. Not technically an NHL rookie, he is still trying to establish himself.

  • F Anton Slepyshev, who is going to earn the nickname Mr. September with these strong training camp showings. Like Pitlick, he is here due to injury (Iiro Pakarinen) but got a nice push in game one, starting on the 2line. He hasn’t delivered a lot offensively in North America, limiting his options in terms of roster spot on an NHL team. This is a big season for him, if he can establish himself as a strong NHL option it may give Edmonton a solid value deal moving forward.

  • R Jesse Puljujarvi, who scored a goal in his first NHL game. JP (I am calling him that, hope it catches on because it will save a helluva lot of typing time) is a big winger with speed and the ability to win pucks—making him a Chiarelli player no matter how many goals he scores. I think he should pop 15, but it helps that he scored in Game 1. Puljujarvi played 12:52 in his first game, 4:33 of that on the power play—and I do think he could end up being a RH trigger man on this team as the season rolls along.

  • RD Matt Benning. Although he has not played yet—and could get sent down before making his debut—Benning was impressive during training camp and should see NHL action this season. I was surprised that the Oilers sent Jordan Oesterle down so early during the preseason, and one of the reasons for the quick demotion may have been Benning’s performance. NHL teams use 10 or 11 defenders during the long season, chances are both men will see action this year.

  • F Drake Caggiula, a famous college player who had a strong training camp. Sometimes performances in preseason are not matched once the regular year begins, and the injury might impact Caggiula’s performance once he gets back. That said, he certainly earned an audition and he adds speed and skill to what can be a lumbering bottom 6F.

The Condors have some players we should see this season—Jujhar Khaira, Jordan Oesterle, Laurent Brossoit—but the opportunities that were made available this training camp ended up going to the five men listed above. That probably informs the future, and indicates the organization likes the Russian winger more than we might have thought based on his disappointing minor league season.

    CURRENT CONDORS ROSTER

    • 2—D Mark Fraser
    • 3—D Dillon Simpson
    • 5—D Ben Betker
    • 6—D David Musil
    • 7—C Jujhar Khaira
    • 8—D Griffin Reinhart
    • 11—W Joey Benik
    • 12—L Ryan Hamilton
    • 14—C Kyle Platzer
    • 15—D Jordan Oesterle
    • 17—D Joey Laleggia
    • 18—C Josh Currie
    • 19—L Mitch Moroz
    • 22—R Joel Rechlicz
    • 23—L Braden Christoffer
    • 25—R Greg Chase
    • 28—D Mikael Tam
    • 29—L Scott Allen
    • 31—G Laurent Brossoit
    • 34—G Nick Ellis
    • 36—R Patrick Russell
    • 39—R Jaedon Descheneau
    • 40—L Jere Sallinen
    • 41—R Taylor Beck
    • Source

        • TaylorFall

          Oilers fans just dont never learn…

          Ran Dubnyk out of town… 2 years later = Vezina Finalist

          Ran Schultz out out of town = 8 points in 18 games + 7, on pace for a career year, Wins stanley cup! (His defensive game is still a work in progress but it will get better within the next year or two)

          Ran Yakupov out of town = ??

          • FISTO Siltanen

            Dubnyk was the only one I’d say they screwed up on. He had a promising 2013 season —- then MacT opened his mouth. Besides that the other two were gifted opportunities or kicked in the butt or both. It wasn’t happening.

            Plenty of key NHL players who never stuck with their original teams who are now key contributors.

          • Jay (not J)

            You’re right. The fans are making these decisions far too lightly. Yak would have been way more productive in Edmonton’s press box. Or maybe with his strong defensive play the Oilers would have beat Calgary 7-2 instead of 7-4 if he had played instead of JP (good call on the name LT). Get over it already.

          • SUMMIT STU

            Just because he couldn’t play here does not mean he cannot play elsewhere. He wants to go. Everyone wants him go. He finally goes. Can we have him back. Calm down and hope Yak scores 15.

            • CaptainLander

              Also no one mentioned Cogliano’s pair…what about the good trades. If we are making comments after one game then it is worth mentioning that Larsson has more points then Hall.

          • SkatinginSand

            What a piece of revisionist history. Dubnyk was sent out because he was playing terribly behind an awful defence that destroyed his confidence. Of course, MacTavish publicly questioning him after a great year couldn’t have helped. It is interesting that MacTavish never asked me about trading Dubnyk when I met him in the Collingwood Arena parking lot that year.
            Chiarelli traded Schultz because he was terrible. In Pittsburg, he is a 6-7 defenceman and on the second powerplay. That is where he belongs. Funny, last spring, he only got into the lineup because of an injury and when the playoff games were on the line, his butt was gathering splinters.
            How many years does it take to learn to play defence? Like Lowetide says, there is 1 years experience 5 times.
            Most people love Yakupov. Trouble was, he wasn’t even very good at the things he was supposed to be good at, much less taking care of his defensive responsibilities. He was beaten out by an 18 year old rookie and a free agent college player.
            I am so tired of this stupid narrative about fans having any power to “get rid of” players. Go take this story back to your Junior High School, Jasmine.

        • It was actually the opposite.

          He hung around center ice and got a hard crisp pass from the Blues D. He built up speed in the neutral zone and carried it in.

          The Oilers had him coming back to the blue line, get a pass with all 5 opposing skaters in front of him, make him dump it in the corner and chase it.

          So no he didn’t smarten up, he was all offense and didn’t bother coming back to his own zone. But with Hitchcock’s roster and his coaching, that’s fine. His defense can find players up the ice, the Oilers didn’t have that luxury.

      • I am Batman

        This can’t be right.

        Yak scored 2 points and was + 1 ?????

        I thought the only way he could do that was if he played with McDavid.

        He played with McDavid?

        You know what’s gonna be the kicker? If he scores more than you all know who…

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      I want both Yak and Hall to do well, but we did not make a mistake in moving them .
      How can you come back in the dressing room after you ask for a trade?
      Hall was not the guy to lead this team and so far so good for Larsson.

    • Mitch92

      Looking forward to seeing how Drake plays with Jesse Puljujarvi when he returns from injury. I think Puljujarvi will climb his way into the top six in short order once the coaching staff determines what he is capable of. He will likely get the first opportunity when injuries happen.

      I expect we will eventually see a top six of:

      Lucic – CMD – Eberle
      Puljujarvi – RNH – Draisaitl

      Follow those two lines up with:

      Pouliot – Drake – Slepyshev
      Maroon – Test tube – Kassian

      • Rock11

        If JP proves he can play top 6 you’re more likely to see something like this:

        Lucic-McD-Ebs

        Pou-RNH-JP

        Maroon-Drai-Drake

        Hendo/Pitlick-Letestu-Kassian

        If Drake cant play RW then Kassian could move up to 3RW and drake and piltick could swap sides on 4L. Could also easily see JP and Ebs switch spots.

        • Mitch92

          McLellan has already expressed a desire to play Draisaitl on the wing in the top six. The only reason he didn’t start there was due to Drake’s inability to go on opening day. If Puljujarvi is going to join the top six it makes more sense for him to usurp Pouliot. If Draisaitl is playing his off-wing so can Puljujarvi. He tends to create a lot of his offense from the left side of the ice anyway.

    • oilman3

      yes, yak got two points, but the goal was a very weak long-range shot that leaked out of dubnyk’s glove. props on the pass, though. it’ll be interesting to see if he gets to 15.

    • Arod

      I would put $500 on Yak not scoring 15 this year. The goal he scored last night should not have gone in. Not even on Elliott.
      Also, he’s going to start complaining about his 8-12 minutes of ice time within 2 months and that will be that for him.
      But seriously, if anyone actually wants to bet $500 on the over/under of 15 goals for Yak, I’m game.