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.
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.
Maroon – McDavid – Strome
Jokinen – Nugent-Hopkins – Puljujarvi
Khaira – Letestu – Kassian
Malone – Kelly – P. Russell
K. Russell – Benning
Nurse – Gryba
Simpson – Jones
Matthias – Lowry – Copp
Petan – Roslovic – Connor
Lemieux – Sgarbossa – Lipon
De Leo – Spacek – Tanev
Morrissey – Byfuglien
Kulikov – Poolman
Melchiori – Chiarot
- 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.
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.