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Off the Top of My Head

I’m not sure if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland is working the phones trying to get Jesse Puljujarvi gone or if he’s in a holding pattern in the ongoing saga regarding his status, but coach Jay Woodcroft sounds ready to get going with the big Finnish forward with the start of main training camp just a couple days away.

“I’ve got a lot of time for Jesse,” Woodcroft told Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer Friday. “Obviously, I’ve seen him mature over the years . . . I’ve watched Jesse over the last little while. He’s been back for a bit in those skates. He looks very good. 

“He’s somebody that we sat down with. We talked through a few systematic changes or tweaks that we want to add. We’re going to begin in training camp implementing those. He’s excited about it. He’s a great person. He’s approaching camp with the right attitude, he’s healthy. He’s feeling good about himself and we’re feeling good about him.” 

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Whether things are as rosy as the picture Woodcroft paints – I don’t think so, but I don’t know so — or Puljujarvi wants out of here and Holland is attempting to get something done, going public with any discontent doesn’t help the process, so it’s unlikely we’ll hear anything in the way of discouraging words as camp opens.

That’s as it should be.

THE NAME GAME

Edmonton Oilers’ Ryan Smyth (94) waves to the crowd before the game against the Vancouver Canucks during NHL hockey action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday April 12, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Everything gets into full swing this coming week with the return of the Oilers from the rookie tournament in Penticton and the opening of the 2022 edition of main camp. In between, we’ll find out who the first two inductees into the Oilers Hall of Fame/ring of honor are when their names are announced Tuesday.

We know that the 2022 class will include Al Hamilton, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Kevin Lowe, Glen Sather and Rod Phillips because they already have their banners in the rafters. The ceremony itself will take place Nov. 3 before a game against the New Jersey Devils.

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Former Oilers are eligible to be nominated five years after they have retired as players. Other nominees can include coaches, staff, trainers, executives or any other person whose role or service in the organization since 1972 is recognized as extraordinary.

It’s the two new inductees, who will be selected by an 11-member committee, we don’t know yet. Like I wrote back on Sept. 7: “For me, there are no wrong answers and plenty of worthy people for those spots.” If it were my call — it’s not – former dressing room attendant Joey Moss and Ryan Smyth would be the names called on Tuesday. We’ll know soon enough.

GET SHORTY

A deserved tip of the cap to Nathan Gerbe, 35, who retired this week after playing 435 NHL games with Buffalo, Carolina and Columbus in a pro career that spanned 13 seasons.

Gerbe’s claim to fame is that he goes in the books as the second-shortest player in NHL history at five-foot-four. Goaltender Roy (Shrimp) Worters is listed as the only shorter NHL player at five-foot-three. Worters played 484 games with Pittsburgh, New York, and Montreal 1925-37.

For context, Kailer Yamamoto is five-foot-eight and Theo Fleury played at five-foot-six. 

AND . . .

  • Word from Mark Spector at Sportsnet is Duncan Keith, who had the team over for dinner Thursday evening in Penticton, will join player development with the Oilers this season. Holland has done this before. He recruited Shawn Horcoff as his director of player development in Detroit in 2016 shortly after he retired with Anaheim. Horcoff, who turned 44 Saturday, is AGM with the Red Wings now.
  • A no-risk signing defenceman Jason Demers as a depth player and it’s no real surprise either as Woodcroft knows Demers from his time as an assistant on Todd McLellan’s staff in San Jose. At the very least, Demers will absorb some of the wear and tear a pre-season schedule that has the Oilers playing eight games in 13 days. 
  • Essentially, Evander Kane will have his $5.125 million salary with the Oilers topped up by the San Jose Sharks for the next three seasons.

#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

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  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

Previously by Robin Brownlee