Welcome to the inaugural Beer League Heroes Sunday Night Pint! What we’re going to attempt to do is dazzle you on weekly basis with our vast VAST knowledge of the Edmonton Oilers in a Q&A format. A hotstove without the hot or the stove. Just dudes sitting around a keyboard, beers in hand.
How Much Does Cam Talbot Actually Improve The Goaltending This Fall?
Ryan Robinson (@ryandlace) – Significantly. The sad thing is, Talbot will only need to be average to accomplish that. Scrivens and Fasth don’t exactly leave huge shoes to fill. The good news for the Oilers is that Talbot will have plenty of motivation to excel. He is being given an opportunity to establish himself as a #1 NHL goaltender and he’s in a contract year. There are skeptics who claim they have seen this movie before, but the re-runs in Edmonton ended when Bob Nicholson took over. Talbot will be solid.
Corey Mitchell (@corn_cwm) – My opinion is that after the disaster that was Ben Scrivens last year, almost anyone brought in was going to be an improvement in net for the Oilers. And when it came to finding a backup tender that looked ready to make the jump to starter, Cam Talbot was always first on my list. There was lots of love for both Martin Jones in LA, and Eddie Lack in Vancouver, but the biggest selling point for me was late in the season. Talbot carried the Rangers on his back when Henrik Lundquist went down with a neck injury last February, going 17-4-3 over a 24 game span, while the Rangers cruised to the Presidents Trophy. Granted, the defense Talbot is going to have in front of him this upcoming season pales in comparison to the one he had in New York, but like I said, after last year, things can only go up.
Lindsay Ryall (@lindsman77) – This is a tough one to statistically qualify with wins because defence and goaltending mutually support each other. I do believe Talbot will benefit from a much improved defence and would put that improvement at two games over .500 Talbot’s stats next year: 26W – 24L – 4 Overtime wins.
Rob Cooke (@Cooke_Rob) – The simple answer here is a lot. Talbot may not have played in a ton of games so far but he is the real deal. When you look at his stats no matter how you slice it this guy is a keeper. His adjusted save percentage last season was .935, good for 11th in the league. The season before last his numbers were even better when he posted a .942 adjusted save percentage. That put him fifth in the league. Over those two seasons there were only two other goalies that had played at least 950 minutes and managed to be in the top 15 both years, Carey Price and Jonathon Quick. Price is without a doubt the best goalie in the league, if not the world. Anytime you are on an exclusive list with him you know you are on the right track.
All my stats and info are from a terrific Oilers blog run by Darcy McLeod. It’s called www.becauseoilers.blogspot.ca. Go check out his 3 part series on the goalie situation in Edmonton. It was excellent.
Who are the defensemen that will be on the opening night roster?
Robinson – I’ve never been so happy to not know the answer to a question. For so many years, the Oilers have barely been able to ice an NHL calibre defense corps. This year, they may not have a lot of high end guys, but they have nine players who are capable of playing at the NHL level. As much as I’d love to see Reinhart and Nurse play the entire season in the American Hockey League, I think one of them will crack the opening night roster. My guess is that on October 8th in St. Louis, Sekara, Klefbom, Fayne, Schultz, Gryba and Nurse will be manning the blueline
Mitchell – It’s been a few years since there have been positive questions to ask in regards to the Oilers defense corps. With pretty much everyone from last season, save Keith Aulie and Martin Marincin, it was already going to be a tall order for any youth to crack the line up this year. Add into the equation two proven NHL players in Andrej Sekera and Eric Gryba, along with blue chip (yes, I’m that high on him) prospect Griffin Reinhart, and it’s going to be a really interesting training camp. Unless there are a few more moves made, I’ve got Sekera, Schultz, Klefbom, Fayne, Gryba, and Ference all making the opening night roster. I’m really ok with the idea of Nurse and Reinhart starting the year in Bakersfield, preferably on the same pairing. Brad Hunt is probably my 7th to start the year, with Nikitin either buried, or just gone altogether.
Ryall – While I believe Nurse will have secured a roster spot by the end of the season, the starting spots will be: Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne, Justin Schultz, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart
Cooke – The easiest way to answer this is to first figure out who are locks to be on ice opening night. We know for sure that newly acquired Andrej Sekera will be on the team, likely out there for the opening draw. His most likely partner will be Mark Fayne. Fayne excelled when he was paired with a solid puck mover in New Jersey. He will be better this year.
The second pairing will be young Swedish stud Oscar Klefbom and the defensive liability, Justin Schultz. Klefbom sure as shit deserves the top four minutes but Schultz will get his by default. There are no better options on the right side right now so we will use what we have.
Now for the third pairing there are quite a few possibilities on who will suit up in St. Louis. On the left it will be one of Nikitin, Ference, Nurse, or Davidson. On the right it really will come down to Gryba and Reinhart. The right is easier to figure out, with Reinhart having only played 8 games in the NHL to date he will have to be light years ahead of Gryba in camp to earn a spot. On the left 2 or possibly even three out of the final four will make the team in October. Ference will be here for sure, although I have my doubts to how many games he will actually see this year.
The other three are a little trickier but if I was a betting man I would say that Nikitin will come to camp healthy and in a lot better shape than last season looking for a bounce back season after the disaster last year. Davidson will stay up with the big club as a healthy scratch as his development likely won’t be hampered as much by sitting for long stretches. Nurse and Reinhart will both start the year in Bakersfield and will most likely be the top pairing down there until they get their call ups. Before Christmas for Nurse is my guess there. Reinhart will depend on injury I think.
Are the Oilers done making moves this summer?
Robinson – Unless he can find a taker for Nikitin or Ference, then I think Chiarelli is done. The management team should dedicate the first quarter of the upcoming season to evaluate their group. Several players regressed under Dallas Eakins, so I believe it is wise to give them an opportunity to prove their worth under a savvy, veteran coach in McLellan. If individual players do improve, they will either contribute more to the team or boost their trade value.
Mitchell – The logical answer to this question is no, the Oilers aren’t going to be making anymore moves. The goaltending is (hopefully) solved with Talbot, Scrivens, and Anders Nilsson all signed. The Oilers really don’t need to add any forwards, be it top or bottom six. And with the number of signed defensemen on the team right now, adding another one doesn’t make sense. That being said, it’s the Oilers, and logic has been thrown out the window by this team a long time ago. If it were me, I would be calling teams day and night in a hope to unload Nikitin, even for a late round pick. Ference would be on my to do list as well, making room on the for either a Cody Franson signing, or a long shot home run trade for a minute eating defenceman, possibly from Chicago.
Ryall – I think there may be maintenance moves but I don’t think anything significant. The Oil don’t seem to want to get into a bidding are for Cody Franson’s services and that’s long-term smarts.
Cooke – Barring a trade right now I would have to say yes. I know most Oilers fans are clamoring to add one of Christian Ehrhoff or Cody Franson and I know that it is possible with a little cap creativity but it isn’t in the cards I fear. I think Chiarelli wants to see what he has with the ten defensemen heading to camp that are realistically competing for the big club’s eight slots. The forwards are fairly well set right now, although I wouldn’t mind a solid scoring winger to join the team on the cheap. Goaltending is miles better as we already discussed tonight so outside some minor league moves to bolster an already impressive AHL roster we are likely done. With the one caveat being that I think that the Oilers will have Oscar Klefbom re-signed to a long term deal before the end of August
There you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed our very first Beer League Heroes Sunday Night Pint! If you have any comments or questions there are three options:
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