Thursday, September 22, 2016

Oilers latest at World Cup of Hockey, Centres, Young Stars, PTOs, and Rogers Place

Yay! Hockey season is back!  Yaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!  I love the Fall. Beautiful weather. New big huge bad ass building near the office and ten minute Uber from home.

Oilers / Team Europe centre Leon Draisaitl scores on Czech Republic in the World Cup of Hockey Tournament. Image courtesy of

Oilers in the World Cup of Hockey Tournament:

G+A=P (+/-)
1+2=3  (+1) Nugent-Hopkins (North America)
0+3=3  (+1) McDavid (North America)
2+0=2  (+3) Draisaitl (Europe)
0+0=0  (+1) Sekera (Europe)

In the prelim round, Draisaitl got a hat-trick. In a two game span, he was scoring at a rate of about 1 goal per 5 minutes.  That's absolute insanity.


There was some talk this Summer of trading Nuge or Draisaitl to free up cap space for another right-shot d-man then bringing in a 3rd line centreman like David Backes.  Didn't happen. Whatever.  So are you as excited as I am with having three highly-skilled and very smart two way players like McD, Nuge, and Drai?  

Here's the thing.  I think Drai needs to be on the 3rd line.  Why?  Unless he's dramatically improved his conditioning to last longer, being on the 3rd line will cut his minutes.

Generally, it goes like this, and often it's based on salary.  Duh. That's called value, man.
1st line:  20-22 minutes per game
2nd line: 16-19 minutes per game
3rd line: 11-15 minutes per game
4th line:   5-10 minutes per game

But with the Oilers, you could almost even the 2nd and 3rd line minutes depending on who's having the better game.  That's called competition, man.

Young Stars

There's no doubt Jesse Puljujarvi was lighting it up as he should.  So let's mention some of the other notable players like forwards Drake Caggulia, Patrick Russell, defenseman Ethan Bear, and goalies Nick Ellis and Keven Bouchard who all played very well.  Oilers swept the tourney which indicates to me that, initially, the Oilers depth and development system is looking better than the Flames and Canucks.  That's called better management, man.


Oilers true depth on right-wing has been a contentious issue with the Yakupov banner-wavers claiming no such thing exists or that Eberle isn't good enough so trade him for defense.  Well, unless you have a solution to fill in for Ebs, like Lucic is doing for Hall's departure, then shut. your. trap.

Every Yakupov package trade scenario has been contemplated but the fact of the matter from Chiarelli's mouth is Yak's trade value is a 4th round draft pick, while the #2 pick right after Yak, defenseman Ryan Murray, is playing on Team North America.  Damn Katz.  Do you just play out Yak's contract and see if his value increases to dump him for pucks or better?  Seems so.  That said, they may put Yak with McDavid to up his value although Drai on the 3rd line isn't bad either.

Solution?  A Personal Try Out was offered to and accepted by middle-6 right-winger Kris Versteeg, who was playing in the Swiss League, and with some confusion over his health insurance from years ago, and management being on the ball, he "popped loose".  Versteeg is the near the exact type of player the Oilers need on the right wing.  Already heavy on the left side, having Versteeg's possession numbers are 1st line quality and better than Teddy Purcell--meaning, he wins puck battles to pop loose (saying that a lot, aren't I?) and pass to Nuge or Drai.

What this also allows the Oilers to do is keep Jesse Puljujarvi in the AHL to develop to the rink size--although at the Young Stars tourney, it didn't seem to phase him.  This would be the smart move.  Have placeholder players.  There's no rush with Jesse.  Finally the Oilers can do what they've needed to do for a long time and that is to stop rushing players and exposing them to young-bone injuries, but have them hit the ground running when they're a little older, stronger, and wiser.  That's called better development, man.

As it's now obvious Chiarelli couldn't find another right-shot d-man over the summer, a last-minute PTO was offered to previous Oilers huge right-handed d-man Eric Gryba.  This is a good move as the Oilers still don't have ANYONE to fill that spot other than moving a lefty to the right side.  I'm done with all of you who think a lefty there makes sense. Stop it.  That's called a better ideal scenario, man.  Would someone better than Fayne on 2nd pair be ideal. Yes it would. Gryba will be a stop gap.

The other potential PTO is for former Flames lefty d-man, Kris Russell.  Wow, what are the odds of two Kris' being offered a PTO?  Zero.  Russell would be the fill-in 7th man while Nurse, Reinhart, and Oesterle develop for another year.  Nurse needs to be a dominating d-man in the AHL in order to be impact in the NHL and he's not quite there yet.

The Lineup

This leaves the potential lineup as follows:

Lucic - McDavid - Eberle
Pouliot - Nuge - Versteeg
Maroon - Draisaitl - Yakupov
Hendricks - Letestu - Kassian
(Lander - Pakarainen)

Klefbom - Larsson 
Sekera - Fayne
Davidson - Gryba
(Russell, Oesterle)

You know, save a couple spots, this is a solid hockey team.  The best one the Oilers have had since...

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Place
Ford Hall at Rogers Place. Image courtesy of the Edmonton Journal.
I took the tour on the Sunday.  It's big. The "bridge" called "Ford Hall" over 104th Avenue is just pure awesome and the artwork spectacular.  It really will bridge the downtown core with the arena without having billions of fans cross the road by foot.  It feels like an airport coming in and certainly takes a while for one to get to their seats. 

When you get in, there are so many lounges. So many kinds of seats.   The casino I hear isn't as big as everyone thought it would be.  We didn't pop in but I like roulette.  Maybe I'll only play after a game if the Oilers lose (so hopefully rarely).

Lots of up escalators but didn't see any down ones (maybe one).  It also felt like they really want you to stay on your level as it's difficult to get up and down once you find the back stairs.

The seats themselves were disappointing.  Seems all the upper level seats weren't any wider than Rexall although there was about one more inch for my knees to the seat in front.  Only the lower bowl had cup holders and a smattering of wider seats.  I'm loving Commonwealth Stadium with the wider seats and cup holders--was hoping it would be the same for all seats at Rogers Place.  The sight lines are what stand out.

No more gambit for the fans to watch and howl at the players as they come to and from the dressing room.  Like in Pittsburgh, there is a glassed lounge.  But access to underneath the stands is Forbodden!

The dressing room is what it should be--a semi-circle so all are equal.  The theatre room to go over video is big and roomy.  The physical and training rooms are massive.  All good things for the players to have the best.

Parking?  Just don't do it.  Take the nearest LRT in your area to a downtown station and if you're on the Capital Line, switch to the Metro Line.  I bet you many folks will be parking in Kingsway Garden Mall and LRTing it over one station.

Anyway, thanks for reading.  Lots of exciting Oilerama going on.  I've moved to a new house and have setup my man cave with Oiler stuff, goal lite, and more.  I figure if I don't attend a few home games, I'll be able to pay for the house in no time!

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