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Oilers training camp notes and the opening night starter

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Photo credit:© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
6 months ago
A commenter today on Oilersnation Everyday dropped this opinion today during the live show. 
“If the final roster was based on merit, then Ben Gleason would be on the team over Philip Broberg.”
Here’s the thing: he’s not wrong. Gleason has been absolutely fantastic and arguably the Oiler’s best defenseman through the preseason.
Against the Seattle Kraken, he played a team high 23:53 and was on the ice for every one of the Oilers’ four goals. Even going back to their last home against the Canucks last Wednesday, he was one of the team’s few noticeable defensemen.
It’s a shame that there isn’t a spot for him on the NHL roster, but that hardly means that this preseason was a waste. 
Gleason was an afterthought heading into camp. In terms of getting a potential call-up during the season, he ranked behind the likes of Markus Niemelainen, Cam Dineen, and possibly even Noel Hoefenmayer. 
Now? He’s without a doubt eighth on their depth chart. If someone goes down during the season, Gleason will be getting the call.
Stepping up and getting noticed during the pre-season may not always result in getting a spot on the opening-day roster, but it can put a player on the organization’s radar.
I think Xavier Bourgault did something similar with his strong play. Like Gleason, Bourgeault was noticeable against the Kraken, scoring two goals and looking very effective in just eleven minutes of ice time.
He was sent down the next day, but after watching him rip around during the preseason, I’m not convinced that we won’t see Bourgault get NHL minutes at some point in the 23-24 season.
His first professional season with the Bakersfield Condors was a solid building block. There were some tough moments and while he did post 13 goals, it’s worth noting that he was given more leash than a lot of the other young players on the team. This year, he really needs to take a step forward. 
This summer, I was told by people who follow the Condors closely that there was basically no chance that we’d see Bourgault play NHL games this season and that just committing to keeping him in the AHL for the full season was the right move for his development.
After seeing how comfortable he looked in the preseason, I’m starting to think that if the Oilers were to run into some injury issues, Bourgault might be the right guy to bring up for a few weeks.

GOALTENDING

Sep 29, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Jack Campbell (36) sprays water in his face during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.
So, Jay Woodcroft says it’s an open competition in the Oilers crease? That’s music to my ears.
Jack Campbell has been outstanding through two pre-season games and while some may shrug that off because it’s just preseason hockey, I actually think this is a somewhat important revelation.
Sure, these aren’t the same pressure-filled games that will be happening a week from now, but to say that Campbell wasn’t facing any pressure to come out and start his season off on the right foot would be foolish.
If he had come out and stunk up the joint in his first two outings of the year, we’d be having some really interesting conversations right now.
Instead, Campbell has us dreaming of a world where he steals back the crease from Stuart Skinner, and while I doubt that it will happen for an extended period of time, who wouldn’t love to live in a world where the Oilers have two goalies rolling at the same time?
I think Jack Campbell should absolutely start the first game of the regular season. He’s earned that opportunity during the preseason and I think it’s important to reward a guy like that, who’s struggled with confidence issues in the past, by giving him something to build off of.
As for Skinner, I don’t think it’s a slap in the face to go to the guy who carried you through last season and say “Hey, we’re rewarding Campbell for his strong pre-season and you’re going to get the home opener”.
The workload will be more split than a lot of people expect, so why not get the ball rolling on that by splitting the first two games of the season?

OVERVALUING PROSPECTS & WAIVERS

Sep 29, 2023; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Raphael Lavoie (62) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
This week, we’ve seen multiple former first-round picks slip through the waiver wire. Ty Smith (17th overall in 2018) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th overall in 2018) have both surprisingly cleared.
That’s led me to think “Why are we so worried that Rafael Lavoie would get claimed?”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was worried about it heading into training camp. A big winger who’s proven he can score from distance is a pretty rare commodity in the NHL and Lavoie scored a ton in the AHL last season.
In September, I was certain that a bottom-feeder team would step up and claim Lavoie.
At the same time, the Buffalo Sabres placed Brett Murray on waivers today and he popped home 23 goals last season in the AHL. He’s 6’5 and two years older than Lavoie, but I think he’s capable of being a fine fourth-liner and he plays with some jam.
He doesn’t have the upside of someone like Lavoie, but he’s serviceable and my point is that there are plenty of serviceable players on the waiver wire.
Maybe it’s not as much of a lock that Lavoie would get claimed.

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