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Photo Credit: Jack Michaels

Oilers Training Camp: Day One

The Oilers hit the ice at 10 a.m. this morning, with 59 players split across three groups. Scottie Upshall (knee) and Drake Caggiula (illness) didn’t skate today. Caggiula has the flu and will be on the ice soon, while Upshall could return this weekend.

The line combinations give us a pretty good insight into how the coaches see things on day one. Of course, things can change over the next few weeks. Some players will lose their spot, while others, if they play well, will move up the lineup.

Here is how today’s schedule looks.

10:00 AM. Group A practices on community rink
10:50 AM: Scrimmage between Group A and Group B
11:20 AM: Flood
11:40 AM: Scrimmage between Group A and Group B
12:25 PM: Group B practices on main rink
1:30 PM: Group C practices.

Here is how the Groups were split up:

GROUP A:

Nugent-Hopkins-McDavid-Rattie
Khaira-Strome-Puljujarvi
P.Russell-Marody-Yamamoto
Vesel-Currie-Hebig

Gravel-Benning
Lowe-Bear
Garrison-Bouchard
Lagesson

Koskinen
Montoya

Gravel is holding down Darnell Nurse’s spot. It would seem the plan, when Nurse is signed, is to play him with Benning. This isn’t a surprise. I believe the plan is for Kailer Yamamoto to start in the AHL, which will benefit him, but if he has a great preseason he could find himself in the opening night lineup. He will have to really shine for that to happen.

GROUP B

Lucic-Draisaitl-Rieder
Esposito-Brodziak-Kassian
Benson-Malone-Aberg
Gambardella-Mcleod-Chiasson

Klefbom-Larsson
Jerabek-Russell
Jones-Day
Stanton

Talbot
Starrett

Caggiula would have lined up beside Brodziak and Kassian, but he is sick so they kept him off the ice. Right now Pontus Aberg is starting as the 13th forward, but if he can use his speed and produce he too will be in the mix. It is interesting to note Russell is starting on the right side. Jerabek can also play RD, but at least to start it looks like he will play LD while Russell will be on the right side.

GROUP C

Maksimov-Polei-Safin
Gust-Van Stralen-Callahan
Christoffer-Larkin-Vesey
McFarland

Wilson-Crevier-Morin
Kulevich-Samorukov

Skinner
Wells
Rodrigue

I’m interested to see if one of Skinner or Wells will find their way to Bakersfield this season. Right now Montoya and Starrett are likely to start there, but what if Montoya gets claimed on waivers? Then one of Skinner or Wells could be in Bakersfield. Both need to play, so splitting duties in the ECHL makes the most sense.

DAY ONE THOUGHTS…

— Koskinen is huge. Even when he is in the butterfly his shoulders are above the crossbar. The thing to watch will be his hands. The scouting report is he has a tendency to keep them low, making him susceptible to allowing goals up high. He made two really good cross-crease pad stops in the first scrimmage this morning, but never faced any really good scoring chances that weren’t along the ice.

— Puljujarvi looks like his first step has improved. He was never a bad skater at all, but he looks quicker out of the blocks. His stick looks shorter, the blade is different for sure and it looks like he has less whip. I know it was only a scrimmage, but he handled the puck better and made some nice plays. I believe Puljujarvi will be a “long play.” I’m not expecting a major breakout season, but instead just solid, continuous progression. I believe when he is 22 we will really see his full potential, because he’ll have grown into, and filled out, his massive frame. Patience is the key with Puljujarvi.

— It was only a few scrimmages, and the pace is not like a game, but I noticed the D were trying to move the puck up the ice instead of look for the D-to-D pass. Of course you have to use it at times, and it can be a good option, but when the D-men have time, and the forwards are moving up the ice, the plan from Trent Yawney is to move the puck up to the forwards, instead of slowing down the flow by moving cross ice.

— Rieder skates a lot like Linus Omark — hunched over, low to the ice. Rieder is a much better overall player, but seeing him in #22 reminded me of #23 Omark.

— Al Montoya’s puck handling skills have not improved, but he made a great save robbing Brad Malone.

— Ethan Bear looked good — quick moving the puck and very accurate with his passes.

— If you are a young player, you just want to do something every scrimmage to get noticed. Evan Bouchard scored. If he stays this year, it will be because of his defensive zone play. The Oilers know he can help out offensively, but how he handles the defensive zone responsibilities will be a huge factor in if he sticks in Edmonton.

— Ryan McLeod is going back to junior, but he took his strong play from the rookie games and carried it over into today. He will be an interesting prospect to watch develop over the next few seasons. His speed and skating ability looks NHL ready now.

— Draisaitl scored and Lucic got an assist. Lucic spoke yesterday about being positive and confident, and getting points in a scrimmage will help. Glen Gulutzan shared a story with me earlier this week about confidence. “The best lesson I learned was from coaching the Sedins. You assume the great players never lose confidence, but it isn’t true. They too can struggle with it. A conversation with Daniel one year really changed my outlook as a coach when dealing with skilled players,” said Gulutzan. I’m not comparing Lucic to the Sedins, but confidence is huge in sports, and in life.

— Peter Chiarelli spoke after the skate. There is no update on Nurse and there is still a “gap” between both sides. My sources tell me Oilers are around $3 mil/year and Nurse’s camp at $3.5m. So the gap is not massive, but still, on a bridge deal that is fairly substantial. Chiarelli was asked if he had a backup plan in case Nurse wasn’t signed before October 6th and he said he didn’t but wouldn’t elaborate. I still think the deal gets done, it is just a matter of when. The sooner the better for all parties involved.

—Chiarelli said this when asked about Erik Karlsson going to San Jose, “I won’t lie. When he came to our division, there was an expletive coming out of my mouth. He’d be nice to have here, but we weren’t on his list. It was a non-starter.” No doubt the division got more difficult with the arrival of Karlsson.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Saturday’s training camp is the only day open to the public. It is free to the public. Door open at 10AM at Rogers Place.

10:00 AM. Group B practices on community rink (not open to public)
10:50 AM: Scrimmage between Group A and Group B
11:20 AM: Flood
11:40 AM: Scrimmage between Group A and Group B
12:25 PM: Group A practice.
1:30 PM: Group C practice.

The doors are open from 10-12:30 for the scrimmage portions.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

    • Hemmercules

      I believe Chia’s words were, “we do have a plan, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”. That could mean anything really. Maybe he has no plan at this time and he’s deflecting. I keep telling myself the deal will be done right away but with Nurse leaving town this could drag out. He needs to be in those Europe games.

      • OilerForLife

        I’t actually think that means he’d rather talk about it if Nurse’s agent advises him to holdout. So are you suggesting that Nurse gets paid whatever he asks? Movement has to take place with both parties, and we don’t know what’s happening behind the door, but don’t complain if you think he was paid too much

  • Leichs

    God please keep Drake in a quarantined zone in a bubble at the other end of the city.. The last thing we need is for a flu bug to start spreading around the locker room a few weeks away from the season opener in another country.. Another McD flu month would not help what will already be a tough few weeks on the road. Luckily puck drop is still a few weeks away.

  • Opi

    Chiarelli admitted Friday that he’d investigated trading for Norris Trophy defenceman Erik Karlsson just long enough to find out that the Oilers were not on Karlsson’s list of acceptable destinations. Yet another, hey …

  • jesse says yep

    3.0 – 3.5? Seems easy enough. 3.25 and get the man his jersey. On a guy who will with all probability be in Oilers silks for at least another 6 years what does the .250 mil really matter when in reality he is the last player left to be signed.

  • TKB2677

    I love Nurse but on what planet does he think he is worth 3.5 mill on a bridge? Montour a DIRECTION comparison signed a 2 year deal at 3.385. Montour is right handed, moves the puck better, had more points, goals and even a higher +/-. How the hell does Nurse or his agent think he is worth more than Montour? As much as I am a HUGE Nurse fan, I can’t find a single thing he does better than Montour to warrant more money.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      According to the post-tax earning numbers on Capfriendly Montour at $3.385M makes about $90K more than Nurse, if he signed, at $3M.

      Yes. The Oilers are right to be firm. It is a bridge deal not an 8 year locked in contract.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Can’t find one thing? How about bending Draisaitl’s nose?

      Am I the only one that thinks something is rotten in these negotiations? Nurse contract left for last, Chia playing hardball for the 1st time in his life. Seems odd.

    • Kevwan

      @TKB2677 – I respectfully disagree.

      -Nurse was plus 15 on a team with a minus 33 goal differential. Montour plus 16 on a plus 22 team.

      – Nurse had 6 fewer points overall points but 6 more EV points. Montour had 12 PP points to Nurses’ 0 but he also had 2:15 PPTOI to Darnells’ 0:29. Nurse also had almost twice the PK time.

      -Nurse is in line for #3D minutes on the Oilers and Montour is probably #4 on the Ducks.

      -Nurse is a year younger and therefore should have more potential for improvement.

      Personally I think Nurse should be able to command at least a comparable salary if not a little more.

      If Chia signed Nurse for 3.5/yr it would be his most sensible RFA signing this summer. So just do it.

  • Soccer Steve

    I’ve said this a couple times now. Nurse is going to get chewed apart by fans in Edmonton every minute he remains unsigned. Already starting to bubble over on here…
    This could get ugly.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I think a large percent of fans realize this MIGHT NOT be on Nurse. Maybe he is getting suspect advice from his mouthpiece. Maybe the NHLPA is pressuring him to try driving salaries up. Maybe because he knows it is a sign-and-trade situation he is delaying because he just doesn’t want to leave. Lots of angles here, no reason to heat up the tar and break open the bags of feathers… yet. Of course, keeping the tar and feathers close by is prudent when the oil s t r u g g l e to Halloween and Chia plays his final card by flushing coach Todd.

      • ed from edmonton

        Would the same go for a number of other players in the same spot, eg. Theodore, Morrisey, Sam Reinhart among others? There are abut 8 RFAS out there at the moment.

  • BlueHairedApe

    Chances are Nurse was advised to go back to Toronto by his handlers in case this thing really blew up. We’ve all seen the backlash and most of us have probably contributed at one time or another. He’s no Chris Pronger but it’s still Edmonton after all and the way I look at it at least he can still train without a wolf pack waiting on his doorstep.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    From Saturdays scrimmage:
    I was really impressed with this McLeod kid. He looked confident with the puck. Big body that can skate and handle the biscuit.
    The McDavid line looked good as expected. 97 is an absolute blur out there. Forgot how fast he looks when in person.
    It seemed Draisaitl and Reider had some good chemistry. Tobias has 3 good chances from in the slot on deft passes from Leon. Buried one and narrowly missed on the others.
    Kris Russell looks quick. I thought Bouchard was a bit tentative and had some passes deflected because of it.
    Klefbom looked unreal.

    But….Lucic looked like a slug. I hope for a bounce back, but he was getting caught from behind for fun. Hope he turns it up, but it wasn’t a great start for him.