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Photo Credit: Instagram.com/EdmontonOilers

At Random: Let’s Play

It goes without saying we shouldn’t read too much into today’s rookie game between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, even though some people will, but it is significant in that it’s the first step of many in how the 2018-19 edition of the Oilers will take shape.

That’s compounded by the fact this off-season has been a lot longer than most people around here expected it would be a year ago. So, sure, I’m looking forward to seeing what Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto and, finally, Tyler Benson do today with the rest of the rookies, through main camp and into the pre-season. It’s past time to get started.

Guys like Bouchard and Yamamoto should, and usually do, stand out in rookie events like this, which is a change-up from the Young Stars Classic out in Penticton. The next step for them will be main camp. I’m also looking forward to getting my first look at Cooper Marody and seeing more from Ethan Bear. The way I see it at this juncture, these are the four youngsters at rookie camp with the best chance of taking a run at a roster spot as we move along. Am I missing anybody?

“The most important thing is their effort and will,” said Jay Woodcroft, who’ll run the rookie bench today and the Bakersfield bench this season. “Not to be pressured up, not to overthink things or be worried about concepts or systems. We’ve put our focus on the will to do things correctly and the ability to adjust if a mistake is made. For some of the younger players, this is their first camp and we want to make sure it’s an environment that’s encouraging. Let them know that mistakes will be made and that it’s not the end of the world . . .” There’s more here.

EYES ON

Bakersfield Condors forward Cooper Marody

From the way Woodcroft has been running his lines, it looks like we’ll see Marody, who came over from Philadelphia at the deadline last March, in the middle between Joe Gambardella on left wing and Yamamoto on the right. Bouchard has been pencilled in on the right side in a defensive pairing with Caleb Jones against Calgary’s rookies. Marody and Jones were taken in the 2015 Entry Draft and both are 21, so I’d expect them to shine.

I’m wondering if Jones, taken 117th overall, might be ready to take a step and push for a job. What about Marody, taken 158th?  Bear, who played 18 games with the Oilers last season, and Yamamoto, who played nine, will hog the spotlight in their rookie encores on the way to main camp, but the bar has been set higher for them. I, like most people, will be disappointed if they aren’t pushing to stay on the roster to start the season.

As always, we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s go.

HALLSY?

Oct 19, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9) skates with the puck in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

David Staples at the Edmonton Journal was speculating the other day about a possible return to Edmonton by Taylor Hall based on the musings of Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer. What Staples wrote is here. Might Hall, who just won the Hart Trophy with the New Jersey Devils and will be a UFA in the summer of 2020, consider such a return?

As unlikely as it seems, and having Tweeted to Staples I don’t see much of a chance of it happening, I learned a long time ago to never say never. In an example Staples cited, I never imagined seeing Mike Comrie returning to Edmonton based on how he left here, and I was pretty close to that situation at the time. No chance. No way. Likewise, while I thought it would be a great story if Ryan Smyth returned, it seemed like a longshot.

Things change. The people and personalities involved in situations change. Right now, I don’t think enough has changed around here that a Hall return is very likely, even if the thought of playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would be attractive. First and foremost, there’s no reason for Hall to consider Edmonton in 2020 unless the Oilers have a chance of contending for the Stanley Cup and the Devils don’t. Hall is going to get paid no matter where he ends up. Where can he win? Not here, not yet.

Second, will the Oilers be able to afford Hall in 2020 given the money they’re on the hook for in long-term deals with McDavid and Draisaitl? It’s possible, depending on how much money comes off the books and what happens with the salary cap between now and then. Even then, you’re looking at having $30 million or so tied up in three players.

I was never one of those “good riddance” guys when it came to Hall. He was guilty of nothing more than being the best player on some bad teams and he ended up saddled with more blame than he deserved. If – big emphasis on IF – circumstances were that Hall was willing to look at the Oilers in 2020, they’d be foolish not to take a look at him.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • OriginalPouzar

    You mention Jones and I would like to bring up Willie Lagesson who I believe, at this point, is closer to the NHL than Jones. That doesn’t mean his ceiling or potential is higher, however, based on last year, I like Lagesson over Jones for potential NHL games.

    Jones had a very uneven season as his first year pro last year – he did start to get his feet under him when he came back from injury but regressed at bit at the end of the year. Lagessson had a fantastic season in the SHL earning the trust of his coach and playing over 20 minutes per game down the stretch and in the playoffs. He is a big body that defends in the mold of Adam Larsson (although not as mean) but is a “modern defensive d-man” that can skate and move the puck.

    Of course, Jones has plus skating and that is always a factor. It will be interesting to see the battle between these two for ice time in Bakersfield.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Woodcroft gave Marody some nice props yesterday, spoke about his preparation both on and off the ice.

    Got to love this quote from Marody:

    “I watched and clipped every one of the Oilers goals from last season, power play and even strength. I broke them down and really tried to learn the structure and learn about each player on the team. I learned about the style of game the Oilers like to play and tendencies I could pick up on”.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Tyler Benson – His third rookie camp and the first one he is able to actually participate in. Benson is back Oiler fans and we should be excited. He has real NHL potential if his injury issues are behind him. He is fully healthy now for the first time in years and ready to compete. He had a strong season for Vancouver in the WHL last year and is ready to show Oiler fans and the coaching staff why he was given consideration for exceptional status in the CHL – yes, he has that type of skill in addition to high hockey IQ and a great work ethic.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Oilers rookie lineup vs Flames

    Gambardella-Marody-Yamomoto
    Benson-McLeod-Vesel
    Hebig-Esposito-Maksimov
    Polei-Larkin-Vesey

    Defence:

    Jones-Bouchard
    Samorukov-Bear
    Wilson-Day
    Goal:

    Skinner and Wells

    I’m excited to watch all three of the top lines and top 2 pairings – love the depth this year.

  • HockeyYoda

    I’ve been a fan of Hall since he played junior. He was a big part of why I became a fan of the Oilers even though I’m not from Edmonton. I never liked the BS criticism of his play or his attitude. He wasn’t a perfect hockey player, but the Memorial cup MVP clearly has always given his all to win. I never bought into the BS criticism he faced. Like most great players. He can’t do it himself, just needs the right players around him ( such as actual NHL defenceman so he doesn’t have to chase the puck in his own end all night). Nothing against Larson, but Chia should not have a job with trades like that.

  • Bills Bills

    No to Hall. He is a good player but buying guys off the UFA pile is not a great option for long term success. Overpays are not what this team needs going forward. They have enough.

  • BlueHairedApe

    I’m heading over to The Athlete. I find the ads and pop ups on this site are out of control and there are writers here that are can be condescending towards the audience here in the comments section. Noticed that for a few a few years now. I guess just like 6 rings if you didn’t ride on the bus then you’re not entitled to an opinion. I’d rather read LT thanks.

  • OilCan2

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion; no matter how wrong they are. Oilers rookies looked good except the two goalies. I’m happy with the effort. Random goalie thought: Brossoit in Winterpeg as the back up, hee hee.

  • OilersBro

    I’ve always been a fan of Hallsy. You can’t blame the guy for the decade of darkness. He was always injured because he had no help during that time and was often the only guy grinding in the corners. It’s not like he wanted to leave Edmonton either. I’d love to see him in Oilers silks again, but in the meantime, let’s hope Benson, Marody, and Yamo replace that production

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    What, no writeup on the rookie game played Sunday afternoon? Forgetable perhaps, but it’s always nice to read the views of a team’s blog writers.

  • While nice to dream, I think the Hall discussion should happen when he’s actually available.

    It’s finally nice to see some quality depth within the organization. By that I mean players who could eventually crack the top six/top pair. Correct me if I’m wrong, but save Ty Rattie, it’s been forever, even after the DoD.