The Edmonton Oilers managed a 5-2 victory last might against the Vancouver Canucks but woke up this morning to find out centre Sam Gagner will be gone for the foreseeable future with a broken jaw. Taylor Hall took a nasty elbow to the face earlier in the game and Darnell Nurse was run from behind as well. Reminds me of the last few seasons doesn’t it?
Jujhar Khaira to Nail Yakupov, Scores! And other thoughts from last night- It is always a treat to watch the Oilers beat the Canucks, even a the glorified AHL version which lined up against the Oil last night. Sedins? nope. Kelser and Burrows? Nowhere to be found. Luongo? Probably still trying to figure out how he is still on the West Coast. Make no mistake, this is a game that the Oilers, who had most of their stars in the lineup, should have won. However, the enjoyment is the same. Especially since Nail Yakupov, who is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining Oilers to watch, was again flying around the ice and shooting from everywhere. He was also setup on his goal on a sweet feed from Jujhar Khaira- a player who is starting to get excite.
Quickly at Edmonton Oilers Training Camp- I had a meeting this morning at the airport and another one scheduled near downtown for early this afternoon and about an hour and a half in between to kill. I thought to pass some time, I should have a look at the Oilers’ training camp which took place earlier today at the Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. I was more than a little surprised when I arrived to find no parking; I initially thought there was no way there could be this many Oilers’ fans willing to watch a practice, but discovered on entry that there was a women’s show scheduled for the same time. However, it was standing room only for the drills taking place on the north sheet of ice. I wasn’t willing to shove my way in to see and since I only had limited time, I made my way to the high tables at on the other side of the glass on the west end of the south rink. That sheet was vacant at the time. I resigned myself to catching up on some emails on my tablet and then heading to my next meeting. I got lucky, 15 minutes after I sat down, the Oilers moved to the south rink for a 15 minute scrimmage and I had a front row seat.
Everybody wants something……. - If you were a Canadian child of the eighties or early nineties, you no doubt crossed paths with the kids from Degrassi. I was thinking this morning that the Zits song, “Everybody Wants Something,” could be the Edmonton Oilers theme song for this coming year. Fans of Edmonton want the team to finally arrive and make the playoffs. Fans of other NHL franchises want the hype bubble to burst and the young stars to fall on their faces. The media, as always, just wants an angle on the story to push the media product. Everyone watching the Oilers does indeed want something.
Will the Oilers make the playoffs? I started off my day as I always do- reading three different blogs. I start with Oilers Nation, switch to the Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockey, and then finish with a scan through Spector’s Hockey. What caught my eye today wasn’t a post, but rather the heated exchanges in the comments section of a post. In his post from yesterday, titled, ‘Camp Primer: The Way I See It,’ Robin Brownlee picked the Oilers to fall short of the playoffs. This caused him to get blasted by some angry readers.
The question I have is it really that unreasonable to expect/suggest the Oilers to miss the playoffs again? No, it isn’t and for some fans to get really bent out of shape because someone who is paid to cover the team feels this is the case is more than a little ridiculous. The Oilers have too many of the same issues which caused them to miss the playoffs last season.
Lets have a look at the weaknesses from last season:
2013-14, Edmonton Oiler Scoring Predictions: I was looking into getting tickets for this weekend’s Edmonton Oil Kings Preseason Invitational tournament in St. Albert when it occurred to me hockey season is finally upon us. I have had an extremely busy summer with both work and home and somehow the reality that summer was almost over had escaped my perception. I have attended at least a game of every Oil Kings Preseason Invitational in the past and it has become a late summer ritual.
Another late summer ritual has been attempting to predict scoring for the Edmonton Oilers for the new season. It started in 2007 when I would circulate my predictions amongst friends and continued when the 1st iteration of Oilers Addict launched in 2010. I have used the same basic method over the years, with a few refinements. The basic methodology is:
* I look at the Point-Per-Game average for each roster player over the past three seasons. I only use a three season sample as, in my view, it gives a better indication of where the player is in terms of production right now and helps to identify trends. In the case of young players where they haven’t played three NHL seasons, I look at any NHL production and their most recent production in lower leagues.
* I also use a comparable player. Using these comparisons doesn’t mean that I feel, for example, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jonathan Toews are similar players in terms of their style or their development. What is comparable is that they are both centres who were drafted in similar positions (1st & 3rd overall) to Western Conference teams. I use these comparable players as a sort of ‘check’ on my predictions (i.e. what is reasonable). I have found that they use of comparable players help tame the fan and introduce some reason.
What about Ryan Smyth? Ryan Smyth was a first round pick for the Oilers in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft (#6 overall), but he wasn’t their first choice in that draft- that honor went to Jason Bonsignore at #4. The Oilers pick of Smyth eased the pain of the Bonsignore selection (the original #64 was last seen running a small amusement park somewhere in New York state). What followed was a career for Smyth which weaved through 17 NHL seasons- most of which were for the Edmonton Oilers. The 2013-14 NHL season represents the last season of Smyth’s current contract and after 2 goals in 47 games last season, how will the Oilers elder statesman be used this fall? Will this season be his last? Should it?
Better know a new Oiler: Philip Larsen- With my last few posts centred around newcomers to the Oilers organization, Will Acton and Jesse Joensuu, I was reminded of one of my favourite segments of the Colbert Report- Better know a district. Like the last few items I have posted, this article will surround Philip Larsen who was acquired from Dallas in the Shawn Horcoff trade. Is Larsen actually part of GM Craig Mactavish’s plan for the future or is he a simple ‘must take back’ like Aaron Johnson was when he was the player the Oilers received for Steve Staios a few years ago?
The unknown big man: Jesse Joensuu- One of the early signings this off-season for GM Craig Mactavish was a relatively unknown player from the Islanders organization, Jesse Joensuu. I say ‘unknown’ as it is doubtful few outside of the most hardcore NHL fans and observers would have any idea who Jesse Joensuu is or even seen him play. However, at 6’4″ and 210lbs, he does add much needed size to the Oilers forward ranks. Is he a big league player or minor league stop gap?