On Monday morning, I’ll be flying to Switzerland to handle the play-by-play duties of the Spengler Cup for the second consecutive year. It was an honour to be given the opportunity last year and I’m excited to head back once again. The Spengler Cup is everything you’d imagine it to be, and more. I’ve been asked a number of times what it’s like in Davos during the Spengler and the only way to describe it is hockey heaven. If you ever have the opportunity to check it out I 100% endorse it as a bucket list item.
Like last year, I won’t be the only taste of Edmonton setting up shop at Vaillant Arena over the holidays. Last year, there we a number of former Oilers in the tournament. Tom Gilbert and Will Acton played for the Nurnburg Ice Tigers out of Germany and actually went on a surprising run to the semi-finals. Iiro Pakarinen was on the KHL representatives while Martin Gernat and David Musil anchored the blueline for HC Trinec out of the Czech Republic.
The official rosters won’t be confirmed until Christmas Day but I’m expecting to once again see a large contingent of former Oilers.
CRAIG MACTAVISH & PAUL COFFEY:
MacTavish and Coffey will be together behind the bench for Team Canada. For Mac T it will be his second time coaching at the Spengler, he guided the Canadians to a 3rd place finish at the ’09 event. Coffey will be making his coaching debut.
Desharnais only played 31 regular season and playoff games for the Oilers, but will always be remembered for his overtime winner against the Sharks in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. He spent last season in the KHL but is now playing for HC Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland’s National League.
PTOers: KRIS VERSTEEG AND SCOTTIE UPSHALL
Hey, they almost played regular season games for the Oilers, kind of anyway. Upshall was signed to a PTO in August of 2018 but wasn’t healthy enough to take a run at making the club. Versteeg came to Edmonton on a PTO in 2016 and was offered a contract from the Oilers but opted to sign with the Flames instead.
Upshall is actually a part of HC Ambri-Piotta, a team that will also be participating in the tournament, but will be playing for Canada and was banged up earlier this month. Versteeg signed a deal to play with his brother Mitch in Slovakia.
He isn’t Oilers property but Golden Bears keeper Brendan Burke will be one of three goaltenders heading to Davos for Team Canada. Brendan’s dad Sean is the GM of the Canadian club so this will be a special Christmas for the Burke family. The Spengler Cup is all about family for the Canadians. The entire roster brings their family for the event and on Christmas Day there is a family skate on a very picturesque outdoor rink in Davos. I hope to bring my family with me next year when my kids are a little older.
SALAVAT YULAEV UFA
Yes, the legend Linus Omark is on UFA’s roster and I’m really hoping he shows up at the tournament. Last year the KHL entry left a few of their stars at home for the holidays but Omark has played in the Spengler in the past so I hope he comes again. The 32-year old Omark has 33 points in 39 games for UFA, a club he has been with since 2015. Can you believe Omark is already 32?
Hartikainen has been playing for Salavat since he left the Oilers back in 2013. He only has 18 points so far this season but was a first team KHL All-Star last year and absolutely torched the playoffs. This will be the second Spengler Cup for Hartikainen.
Larsen is right where he belongs in the KHL. He has been playing with UFA since his last stint in the NHL with the Canucks. He has played in three consecutive KHL all-star games and will be making his second trip to Davos.
Remember him? Semenov was the Oilers 2nd round pick in the ’99 draft and spent the first two years of his NHL career bouncing back and forth between Edmonton and Hamilton before being dealt to the Panthers in year three. MacT coached him in Edmonton so I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say about him. He’s been in the KHL for 12 years and this will be his second Spengler.
The Oilers would kill for a current role player to have the season that Korpikoski had for them in 2015-16. He only had 10 goals and 22 points but the Oil could really use someone in the bottom six to produce at that level. After spending a year in Switzerland Korpikoski has been with TPS for the past two seasons. He’s the club’s Captain and has 12 points in 24 games so far this season.
HC OCELARI TRINEC
MUSIL & GERNAT:
The two former Oil Kings d-men, and Oilers draft picks, are back once again with Trinec. Gernat never played a game in the NHL but after watching him last year you could easily see he still moves very well for a lanky blueliner and actually has 22 points in 28 games this season. Musil, who played 4 games for the Oilers, has been with Trinec for the past three seasons and is a steady stay at home d-man in the Czech league.
NO SWISS LOVE
With Upshall playing for Canada instead of his club team there will be no former Oilers on either of the NLA clubs in this year’s event.
I’m excited to chat with all of these guys about their experiences, or near experiences, here in Edmonton. So, as you stress about the Oilers during the holidays take some time and flip over to TSN to check out the Spengler Cup, it truly is a wonderful time of year.
Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for supporting many of my endeavours here at the Nation and beyond, it’s very much appreciated and we’ll chat in the new year!
Previously by Dustin Nielson:
- Oilers Top 10 Prospects: Winter Edition
- Blame the Keepers?
- Nielson’s Notes: Oilers/Hurricanes Edition
- Overtime Issues?
- Nielson’s Notes: Oilers/Senators Edition