GDB -4.0: Pre-Season Battle Boys (7pm MT, Streaming)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
The pre-season slog continues with our fourth tune-up game of the week. This time around, the Edmonton Oilers are making their way down the highway to square off with the Calgary Flames for the first Battle of Alberta (kinda) since December of 2022.
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Working our way through the pre-season is never on anyone’s list of favourite times to be an NHL fan, but it’s one of those things that has to get done. Jay Woodcroft needs the time to evaluate the hopefuls, and having eight pre-season games to do it means that nothing gets rushed. Logically, I get it. From a fan perspective, however, the pre-season already feels like it’s been going on for 15 years. Either that or this whole period feels like watching a cover band that’s playing tracks from your favourite band. I was at the game on Wednesday night, and it’s always weird to watch strangers (read: prospects and hopefuls) wearing our favourite team’s gear even though we know that most of these guys aren’t going to be around on opening night.
Heading into Calgary, the Oilers will be facing an opponent that has been scoring goals in bunches, and that presents an interesting challenge for a group that has had a hard time doing the same. Through three preseason games, the Oilers have only scored four goals whereas the Flames put up 13 goals in only two — I’m ignoring their split-squad day — and I’ll be watching to see which of our players is helping out the most on either side of the puck. At the end of the day, nobody cares what the final score ends up being at the Saddledome unless you’re betting on the fancy scrimmages, but what we should all be looking for at this stage is who is most likely to help put pucks in or keep them out. Yesterday, 15 players got cut from training camp and it’s time for the remaining guys to make an impression with the opportunity at hand.
Now at the midway point of the tune-up period, time is running out for players who were gunning for one of the few available jobs in the lineup. Whether we’re talking about Brandon Sutter, Raphael Lavoie, Adam Erne, or anyone else who’s still around, I can’t see a better opportunity to show what you’re capable of than in a matchup with the Calgary Flames. Yeah, I know we’re not talking about a meaningful BOA in any real way, but if you’re fishing for an NHL job then it’s fair to suggest that this is a pretty big one for you. But seeing as Jay Woodcroft has been playing his regulars more than I may have expected, the key for the bubble boys will be to make the best of whatever minutes they do get. With the clock ticking down to showtime, I’m still waiting for a Ty Rattie Award candidate to emerge, but to this point, we still haven’t seen anyone do anything special to really stand out.




At the time of posting, we don’t know what the line combos will look but we do know who will be playing tonight in Calgary.
  • Forwards: Drake Caggiula, Derek Ryan, Greg McKegg, Lane Pederson, Seth Griffith, Brad Malone, Warren Foegele, Carter Savoie, Xavier Bourgault, Dylan Holloway, James Hamblin and Raphael Lavoie
  • Defencemen: Cody Ceci, Brett Kulak, Vincent Desharnais, Alex Peters, Phil Kemp, Markus Niemelainen and Noel Hoefenmayer
  • Goaltenders: Olivier Rodrigue and Jack Campbell.
As always, I’ll be sure to jump back into the article and post the line combos once we know who is slotted with who.


Huberdeau – Lindholm – Sharangovich
Dube – Kadri – Coronato
Coleman – Backlund – Duehr
Honzek – Schwindt – Bishop
Hanifin – Andersson
Oesterle – Tanev
Poirier – Solovyov
From Jeff Middleton at Flamesnation:
Backlund was the front-runner to wear the captain’s patch for a while after Mark Giordano left, considering he has dedicated his entire 15-year career to the Flames (and has been a very steady and effective player while doing so). However, there was a point in time when it felt like Backlund wouldn’t come back, which the Flames could have overcome, but it would have been a bit odd to see the 34-year-old in a different jersey.
The good news is, we won’t have to worry about that for another two years, as that’s the term for his extension at a more-than-reasonable $4.5 million AAV, which made plenty of fans happy reading after it was announced on Twitter (or X, or whatever).


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers prospects get fired up to play against the Flames’ prospects and they channel that excitement into a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: You will say, “Who is number ____” at least four times.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Every goal for both teams will be scored by players who aren’t expected to make the opening night rosters.

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