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Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

GDB -4.0: Oilers vs. J-e-t-s

These kids arrive from far away places in pursuit of a dream. As fans of the game, we cheer for all of them, develop our favorites and follow the day to day challenges along the way. Despite a great deal of certainty about the training camp result (the die is cast for 90 percent of the roster), we stand our ground and cheer for our choices. It’s always been thus, going way back to the WHA days when Rusty Patenaude was trying to make the jump from the Fort Wayne Comets to the Alberta Oilers.

Todd McLellan is very helpful during training camp, he’s a straight shooter and refuses to play any games. Last night in the post-game media avail, he told us Kailer Yamomoto is pushing for a job and may have told us Iiro Pakarinen has one.

I read comments at ON, on my blog and on twitter, and sometimes wonder if some of us are missing the moment. When defending this or that (“Kailer Yamamoto is not ready, you’re an idiot and your avatar is dumb!”) very important events are passing by. My opinion, your opinion, that’s the fun part of online conversation, but the opinion of Todd McLellan holds sway and should be observed closely.

  • Todd McLellan on Yamamoto“He knows how to use his size and the more structured he gets, the better he plays. He can anticipate where players are and he plays better with higher end players. As camp dwindles, we expect him to get better. We expect him to push for a spot.” Source

I listened to McLellan’s media conference with interest, as his words reflect the organization’s thinking in real time. I’m not going to parse all of the words, but believe we can assume Yamamoto is going to get some more games, is in the running for a roster spot at this point, and the team is serious about his chances of making the team.

If Yamamoto does nothing this week, if the goals and chances dry up, if he increases the number of turnovers given, if he clearly falls back from the rest, it still represents an outstanding training camp. I’ve been observing undersized forwards coming to town since Patenaude landed just shy of his 23rd birthday. Some days are diamonds some days are stone. Sometimes it’s Rob Schremp, whose puck skills were exceptional but lacked top end speed, sometimes it’s Michel Riesen, who played a perimeter style despite standing 6.02.

There are so many kids who arrive in this city with high hopes and don’t impress, I hope you’re enjoying one who has that ‘wow’ factor. I don’t know where this journey ends at the end of camp, but I’m thoroughly impressed.

ABOUT JESSE

Oct 12, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) celebrates his third period goal against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Puljujarvi is one of four men (Yamamoto, Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev) applying for work on skill lines at right-wing. Puljujarvi has great draft pedigree and a natural spot (Jokinen-Nuge-JP) in the lineup waiting for him. Has to earn it. He was banged up in his first game, and we look for him to play well (and post some offense) tonight. There are great expectations for him and that means great pressure. Puljujarvi’s skills are plentiful and I’m betting on him big time. That doesn’t mean he’ll blossom tonight, or even in the coming week.

THE LESSON OF THIS CAMP

We don’t know what we don’t know. For me, the lesson of this camp comes is this: The Edmonton Oilers have two outstanding RW prospects who may be on the verge of substantial NHL careers. As for their estimated time of arrival, we’re just going to have to stay tuned and find out. It’s going to be a fun journey.

LINEUPS

Oilers

Maroon – McDavid – Strome
Jokinen – Nugent-Hopkins – Puljujarvi
Khaira – Letestu – Kassian
Malone – Kelly – P. Russell

K. Russell – Benning
Nurse – Gryba
Simpson – Jones

Talbot
Ellis

Jets

Matthias – Lowry – Copp
Petan – Roslovic – Connor
Lemieux – Sgarbossa – Lipon
De Leo – Spacek – Tanev

Morrissey – Byfuglien
Kulikov – Poolman
Melchiori – Chiarot

Mason

QUICK HITS

  • Oilers prospect Filip Berglund had a massive game in the SHL today, going 1-2-3 +4 for Skelleftea. He is playing a much larger role early in the 2017-18 season.
  • We should see another round of cuts in the coming hours, expect a large group of Condors to fly south. Edward Pasquale was placed on waivers today as the team will send him to Bakersfield when he clears.
  • The final junior players (Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson) will survive the next round of cuts unless something very unusual happens.
  • I’m always happy to talk trade (three-for-one) but do wonder if we see a late addition to the NHL team on defense. Yohann Auvitu has shown well but is a lefty, and the team might prefer Eric Gryba as 7D to start the season. Something to watch for this week.
  • As per John Shannon, NHL officials are already cutting back on slashing and faceoff infractions. There goes that 200-point season for someone.

TONIGHT

Nov 11, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Jamie Kompon (left) and head coach Paul Maurice (center) and assistant coach Charlie Huddy (right) on the bench in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers are quick out of the box, scoring twice by the 10-minute mark. The Jets take advantage of defensive wobble to get the score 2-2 by the end of the period.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid provides shock and awe, scoring in the second period and setting up Ryan Strome for another.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Jets roar back to tie it 4-4, but lose on a stunningly bad penalty taken at 19:55 of the third period. Letestu wins the draw, Oscar Klefbom sends a bullet that goes through the webbing of the Jets goalie and the puck lands in the net with :000000001 seconds left on the clock.

  • Thumby

    If Klefbom shoots the puck with .000001 seconds on the clock, he scores at .00001 due to the fact his shot is going a warp speeds! I hope he can get that cannon going a lot this year!

  • Oilerz4life

    One advantage JP has is his size and strength on the puck along the boards, he’s good in that regard. I can see him in the bottom 6, but honestly can’t see Yammer in that role unless he’s playing top 6, which is no guarantee. Yammer might get a 9 game stint but needs to go back to the dub when it’s real NHL. Unless of couse because Oilers they play him 53 games and then send him back to Seattle…

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Serious question about Yamamoto (looking at you Lowetide).

    Say he’s good enough to score 50 points this year on this team today. Is there a legitimate chance if he were instead returned to junior his development would be delayed?

    Because if not I am 100% on the send Yam back to Jr train.

    • hockey1099

      I hope Yamamoto is the next Martin St. Louis.. he will always have the his size hanging over his head but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a great hockey player. That said send him back to junior. Let him gain some muscle and come in and excel even more next year. From a cap perspective this makes sense. With Mc Jesus and drai both on big hits next year there is nothing wrong with having an excellent player on an entry level deal for the first three years of 97’s deal.

    • madjam

      Sure he could be hampered in going back to junior if that team is bad . Oilers did not send Leon back to a weak Prince Albert team , but waited a trade to a contender in Kelowna I believe . I wonder just how Benson will do progress wise on a poor Whitecaps team . A lot can happen in one year away , physically and psychologically if he takes being demoted well . Yam’s options seem rather limited unless he goes a route like Matthews took or NCAA . Generally they go back and are the better player for it , but not always .

    • OriginalPouzar

      He did say that he “may” play both games but I think he wants to give Kailer the night off given the Jets lineup – we need to see what Kailer can do against a better lineup so this makes sense to me.

      • madjam

        No . He was specific about wanting to see him in back to back games . That changed , but not because of the opposition tonight . That is an opportunity missed in the evaluation period for team and Yam . Jesse has been gifted a spot to lose . He has yet to show he has played well enough to secure that spot – maybe tonight . Originally on Oilers site before noon they had Jesse and Kailer both playing tonight , so I am a little surprised and disappointed Kailer will not be in lineup .

        • OriginalPouzar

          Yes, he said he wanted to see how he’d do in back to back and that he might play – he never said for sure that he was going to play. Lineups are very fluid in pre-season – he clearly wants to see him against better competition as he knows what he can do against an AHL lineup.

          What a weird point to argue.

        • Randaman

          If Jesse has been gifted a spot to lose, he’s doing his best to do just that. He wasn’t very impressive in the first period. Yes, it’s early but… He better pick up the offence

  • ricardo2000

    I don’t envy the coaches difficult choices, especially with all the second guessing in this hockey-insane town.
    I think they have established that people will play with the Oilers based on production and positive impact for the team. They won’t make player decisions based on draft position, AHL or junior play, the rumble in the press, or scouting reports. These assessments will get a player here, but they won’t keep him here. That said, I don’t believe the club makes hasty decisions either.

  • OriginalPouzar

    The forwards are set but for one decision – Slepy, Khaira and Pakarinan are on the team – the only question is if Yamamto or Puljijarvi grab that last spot. Yamamoto needs to prove he can play and produce like this in the second half of preseason in order to say and he will only stay if Jesse doesn’t perform.

    Its Jesse’s turn tonight – lets go JP, I’m rooting for you. Step up and make the decision to send Kailer to Spokane an easy one for management.

    • madjam

      Hypothetical : Strome gets injured , or plays poor enough to drop to 3rd line service . Who then has the skill to fill that position ? Toss up between Jesse and Kailer skill wise ? Move Hopkins or Caguilla up ? Slep , Khaira and Pak are not top 6 material . I hope Jesse makes team and does well , but I also am encouraged by what Yamamoto looks like he is bringing to team . Having both could be a blessing . One thing Kailer has not done is played himself off the team .

  • OriginalPouzar

    Stanton has played well from what I’ve seen bu tthe 7D spot is all but Auvitu’s. Chiarelli signed this guy to be in the NHL and he’s shown his offensive and transition skill set to be true. He’s got defensive zone wobble but we’re talking about the #6/7 guy here – the player is not going to be complete.

    If he’s in the lineup over Gryba, which he will be in some games, how do we do this? It must move Russell over to the right side which is a very poor option unless Russell is getting 3rd pairing ES minutes and Benning is sticking with the 2nd pairing ES minutes. Will coach be willing to dial back Kris’ ES minutes in that situation? We know he likes and trusts this player. This will depend on Matty Benning and we very much need him to prove he is capable of 2nd pairing ES minutes. Come on Matty!!!!

  • Can't Fix Stupid

    I hate to be THAT guy but if the Oilers are looking for value contracts during the McDrai era then they need to give Yamamoto his 9 game stint and then send him back to Spokane both this year and next, regardless of what his production is like. This way his contract Year 1 will kick in as a 20-21 year old and we will have his 3 years of ELC start then. We will also get (if he develops as we hope) more prime years while he is still under team control. This is the reality of our cap world now.

    • OriginalPouzar

      There isn’t a realistic chance that he isn’t going back to Spokane so that his contract can slide – the organization isn’t stupid (anymore).

      People are so far ahead of themselves re: him playing any NHL games this season. A guy like Kailer can’t make the NHL in the first week of camp but he sure could play himself off the team – he hasn’t done that, obviously.

      This story will be written in the 2nd half of camp and I’m excited to see how he performs next week.

      Lets not forget about the history of huge performances in training camp – Gagner, O’Sullivan, PRV (Hattrick).

      So far so good for Yamamoto – miles to go.