This is a post that will anger some and appeal to others but it’s mainly going to be some ramblings about the week’s going ons in the land of Oilersville. I want to chat about the Young Stars tourney that went down in Penticton, Richard Cloutier’s latest blog about trading Nugent-Hopkins, Kris Russell, and something the Oilers haven’t done since they went to the finals in ’06.
So let’s get started!
PULJUJARVI DESTROYS PENTICTON
Was it 6 points in 2 games that the Grinnin’ Finn put up against mostly junior, ECHL, and maybe some AHL talent in the glorious lands of the Okanagan? Well regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing him versus some better players once the pre-season gets started (hopefully on Oct.6th when I’ll be in attendance at the game versus the Jets).
Puljujarvi took about 2 shifts to get himself sorted and then it was game one. That goal you see above was bloody breathtaking. We all know that Pulju can move but on this particular tally he was at the end of his shift and I knew once he got the puck he was going to slow that train down and make some magic. He zipped that puck right past Demko’s ear with ZERO wind-up in a manner Mario Lemieux would’ve been proud of.
As for the rest of the team in Penticton, I was impressed with:
- Matt Benning – Grit personified. Moves the puck well and doesn’t get bogged down.
- Markus Niemelainen – So smooth with the puck. Looks like Martin Marincin but is much better. I was told he could play for the Oilers on the bottom pairing in 2016 but that he’ll be sent back to the OHL because the days of rushing teenagers into the league are over.
- Nick Ellis/Dylan Wells/Kevan Bouchard – Did these guys play well, do the Oilers finally have some defence coming up, or did the other teams just play terribly? I though Ellis looked outstanding versus the Canucks, Wells was organized chaos against the Flames, and Bouchard somehow made it work against the Jets. Out of the three, Ellis was the best.
- Ben Betker – The guy who complimented my Beer League Heroes jersey at the Golden Bears/Oilers Prospects game two years ago played the role of team leader very well. Slow wheels but massive frame. I’m not sure if he’ll ever see an NHL game in his career but I liked the way he lead the team on the ice.
Some players of note that didn’t do much for me include:
- Drake Caggiula – Pretty pedestrian debut in my opinion. As I sit here writing, I cannot recall one highlight that stood out for him. Needs AHL time most definitely.
- Caleb Jones – You could see flashes of his brother in the way he skates but I’d say he was average.
- Ethan Bear – Played a game and then left for personal reasons. Hard to get excited for him when that one game he was barely noticeable.
- Joey Benik – Took advantage of his linemates, that’s for sure. Who wouldn’t put up points on a line with Puljujarvi and Caggiula?
- Kayle Doetzel – Apart from this fight below… Nadda. Good scrap though given he was dealing with a horrible migraine at the time.
IS NOW THE TIME TO TRADE “THE NUGE”?
We all thought that last season Nugey was going to break out and man were we wrong. It was a not a great year for the Oilers centre as injuries slowed him the “F” down but he is looking like a man renewed at this year’s World Cup of Hockey, isn’t he?
Famed Oilers blogger, Richard Cloutier, penned a piece claiming that now is the time to deal 2011 first overall pick for a right-handed defenseman. He says,
Because of the additions of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, confusion set in as to where Nugent-Hopkins fit into the roster. He’s too good to be a third line center…
First off, everybody has to start letting go of this traditional way of thinking when it comes to how line-ups are constructed. Teams are moving away from having their top 6 do all of the scoring, their 3rd line doing the checking, and their 4th line being the energy line.
Lowetide often talks about unicorns, meaning three scoring lines. THIS is where the Penguins found success this past year right? Crosby/Hornqvist on the 1st line, Malkin/Kunitz on the 2nd, and Kessel/Bonino/Hagelin, on the third. That means they were throwing mad offense in waves at their opponents at any given moment.
THIS is where hockey is headed, so don’t think for one minute that the Oilers need to dismantle the three-headed dragon that they’ve played so horribly to attain. McDavid will draw every team’s top pairing D, Nuge will get the heavies (meaning he’ll have to play against the other team’s best centres, something he’s been doing his whole career AND he’ll get the shat zone starts), and Draisaitl will get the 3rd pairing and cherry zone starts.
The reason Draisaitl is having a fair-to-midland time at the World Cup?
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) September 20, 2016
If you can convince Woodguy that Draisaitl would be a better fit playing above his level, then I’ll side with you but good luck. I think someone also mentioned that Draisaitl was playing with annual all-stars Nino Niederreiter and Tobias Reider… Oh, what? They’re not annual all-stars and one of those guys has yet to sign a contract for the upcoming season? Weird.
The Oilers backed away from making a Nugent-Hopkins deal this summer because there simply wasn’t enough of a market for him.
I think there’s more truth to the fact that any deal that Peter Chiarelli was looking to make had to include Taylor Hall. Now, Clouts is a man in the know for the most part but I know that there were teams interested in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Colorado) but the Oilers weren’t so interested in moving him. That’s my source vs. Richard’s, so take it for what it is.
The final note on this topic is just as I spoke of teams moving towards the “unicorns” way of building a line-up, they’re also going to add a dusting of Babcockian to it. What this means is that if you’re a winger going forward, you’d better be able to take draws and you’d better be a 200ft player. OR you’d better be the next coming of Alex Ovechkin… Teams are going to want two players on each line that can take faceoffs, it’s as simple as that. What good are you if you’re only competent at one aspect of the game?
KRIS RUSSELL/ERIC GRYBA
I’ve been told the same thing that all of you are hearing from Jason Gregor, Ryan Rishaug, and Bob Stauffer… The Oilers are still negotiating with Kris Russell but, as Stauffer put it, it’s unlikely that he lands in Edmonton. He wants $4-5M per year for 4-5 years… That’s facking insane! Either he’s crazy of his agent has lost it.
Eric Gryba is a much better fit for the team as it is and my source told me that Chiarelli will continue to talk to the Russell camp but they won’t budge off of a 1-2 year deal around $1M per year and that by getting Gryba to agree to the PTO, the intention is to put pressure on Russell to make a decision.
I don’t really want Russell on the Oilers. I don’t believe he’s a 2nd pair defenseman. Simply put.
THE VETERAN MOVEMENT
Lucic – McDavid – Versteeg
Pouliot – Nuge – Eberle
Maroon – Richards – Draisaitl
Hendricks – Letestu – Kassian
Klefbom – Larsson
Sekera – Fayne
Davidson – Gryba
Now check this line-up out. Nearly every line has two centres and the youth are insulated by veterans. If this isn’t a way to escape the sins of the past, I’m not sure what is. No Yak, No Puljujarvi, Draisaitl on the wing and Nurse/Reinhart in the AHL…
*Just an aside, I know Bob Stauffer was talking about the whole “Nurse should start the year in the AHL” twitter movement yesterday and he was against it IIRC. But what’s the difference between that and Yakupov starting on McDavid’s line? By the numbers, Nurse definitely needs more seasoning in Bakersfield and Yakupov belongs on McDavid’s wing. There’s not much to support Nurse starting in the NHL in 2016 if the Oilers are adding more veterans to their team.*
Peter Chiarelli is going to be looking to add more veterans to this team as teams are looking to make room on their own teams for young players and guys that surprise their team and make a veteran expendable.
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