Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Year End, Oilers Talk PART III"

As we near the end of yet another losing season, it has become quite discouraging , yet exciting time for Edmonton Oiler fans. On the one hand, we are sick of losing games we should win, sick of hearing Maple Leaf fans tell us how much better their team is, sick of Flame fans rubbing it in, that they are still a better team then us and worst of all, we Oiler fans are sick of not seeing our team compete for a playoff spot come March.

Now on the other hand, we have Jordon "Clutch" Eberle and his magic touch becoming one of the best 15 players in the NHL. Who would have thought that? Yes, we all knew Eberle was going to be good, but this good? No one I have ever read a article on predicted the top end game of Eberle this quick into his career. What about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? This guy is magic with the puck and almost finishes the season at a point per game as a 18 year old kid? He may not win the Calder but IMO , he is hands down the best rookie in the NHL. 20 less games and still on top of the points standings for rookies? The guy is a treat to watch, at both ends of the ice. To me, the rookie of the year is easy to figure out. If you wanted to pick one rookie in the entire NHL on your team this year only, who would it be? RNH right? To say otherwise would be lying to yourself.

Hall is a 'Bull in a China Shop'. The guy rocks and he rolls like there is no tomorrow. He is a fighter, a delight to watch and has a competitive edge that is second to none. Can you imagine Hall lining up on Sidney Crosby's wing for Team Canada? Wow, that's all I can say. Petry, while he has struggled the last couple games is really turning into the top 4 defencemen that us Oiler fans hoped he would become. Smid has become one of the league's best shutdown men and Schultz has become a nice steady random with whomever he plays with. Dubynk, while some may not agree has rounded out well this year in his growth and I see only positive arrows up for him next year. On a 29th place team, look at his win-loss record, his SP and his GAA and there is no way you can deny he is moving in the right direction. (especially when you see how bad his numbers looked before christmas).

I have continued to collect the questions I am asked in person, email and twitter regarding my opinions on items related to the Oilers organization, so will wrap up my final segment on Oiler talk in today's blog.


If the Oilers are to select Ryan Murray at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, do you think he would be ready to play in the NHL his first year?

On most occasions, I would say that a 18 year old defencemen is not ready for the daily rigours of NHL work and should take 2-3 years of development. In Murray's case, his own Everett Silvertips coach, believes he likely won't be returning next year. He believes he is good enough to stick with the NHL club which drafts him. That does not mean he will be ready to step into a top 2 defencemen role, but possibly a protected 5-6 defence role? Like other rookies he can be sheltered and brought about slowly. Should the Oilers draft Murray, I for one think he will be able to make the club his first year. The Oilers will talk the talk, just like they did with RNH, but if Ryan Murray can make a good case for himself he likely would be staying in Oilerland.

If the Oilers were to select another defencemen other then Murray, who do you think it would be?

Griffin Reinhart is a definite IMO for the Oilers. They will try hard to find a way to land a second pick and to select him if there is a way. Chances are slim but I do believe the Oilers brass believe he is a gem. I see no way, the Oilers draft Reinhart in the top 4 however, too high of a risk for that high of draft pick.

Do you feel the Oilers will try and trade for the 1st overall pick at the 2012 NHL Draft?

I believe they will attempt to try and procure the #1 overall pick, but like all the other years, it is almost impossible for the price teams want for that pick.

Who do you think will be in line next year from OKC to play here in Edmonton?

Paajarvi and Hartikanen with Teubert and Plante getting the call ups on defence. Its a do or die year for Plante to make a step but with the defence more then likely going to be upgraded one way or another, players on defence will be in tough to get a shot at the beginning of the season. The wildcard in here is Taylor Fedun. Depending on his rehab and if he is the same player as he was in exhibition season this past season.

Where do you think Paajarvi fits best on the current Oilers team?
I might see PaajarviHartikanen/Horcoff/Paajarvi next year. But what I think and what the coaches think are two entirely different things usually.

What happens to Linus Omark this off-season in your opinion?

Linus will be flushed IMO. I like the guy and there are several other teams in the NHL to catch on with. He has no chance in the top two lines and IMO he is a top two line type skill player. My guess is he gets traded as a RFA for some low pick at the draft table.

With two young goalies in the fold , with Bunz now signed , what happens to Roy?
Roy had a outstanding year in Stockton with the Thunder despite not always having much help with the team in front of him. He has become a much steadier goaltender and is more then likely going to be headed to OKC for a shot as the backup next year. My guess is they try and sign Danis to another one year contract. In the meantime, Bunz will likely take Roy's place in the development curve with the ECHL club his first year and may occasionally get a call up for a game or two with OKC if opportunity arises. The following year, I would venture to guess they hope to have Roy take the OKC starting goaltender position with Bunz as the backup.

What do you think with happen with our GM and coaching situation with next year?
I know there is lots of speculation everywhere with many different rumours floating. Tamby will get his GM extension (2 years?) and then it is anybodies guess. If someone good becomes available maybe they make a move but I think they try and convince Renney to sign a one year, explaining they need to see greater improvement to move beyond and challenge for a playoff spot to give anything longer. I really believe they want to eventually bring in Todd Nelson but are another year or two away from that. It's a trend more now then ever to do just that and it seems to work 50% of the time. On the other hand I am hearing rumours still that Krueger may not be back next year and returning to Europe. Myself, I really believe he is a vital reason for some of the development we are seeing , more then Renney.

If the Oilers were to improve no more then 25th overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, who are the top 3 players eligible to draft that may be of interest to the Oilers?
It's a strong draft year in 2013 so they stand to draft a forward again if they do falter. The big 3 names though are the ones you will hear all next year. Nathan Mackinnon of the QMJHL, Sean Monahan of the OHL and Hunter Shinkaruk of the WHL. All three are scoring dynamos and will be pretty closely watched this next season. Other players like Curtis Lazer, Seth Jones and Max Domi are thought to be pretty high end players as well. Goalie Zachery Fucale stands to be the best goalie of the crop year so far.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Future Superstar?

There is a lot of talk every year about some new kid doing well and possibly being the NEXT One. It happens almost every year. True, most never get to see that potential turn into super stardom but it is always exciting to see how their game eventually translates at the next level.

I personally have been able to see some great players move through the ranks, some better then others and followed their Junior careers quite closely. Starting with Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby, John Tavares. Steven Stamkos, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and this year's potential #1 draft pick Nail Yakupov. But it's next year's potential 2013 #1 draft pick that has really caught my eye these last couple years.

Enter, Nathan Mackinnon. From Cole Harbour, same hometown of Sidney Crosby and following a lot of the same paths Sidney did, Nathan is now carving out a name for himself as a player to be concerned about, if your the opposing team.

I plan on writing a longer article on Nathan following the memorial cup but for now I will leave you with some video's to watch if you have not already seen what this kid can do. The first video is his first season as a 16 year old in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads. The next two video's are of his first 2 games of the QMJHL playoffs he just played these past few days.

Nathan is 5'11 and 180lbs and turned 16 September 1st 2012. He wrapped up his first year with 78 Points in 58 games with 31 of those points being goals. This boy can score nice goals and is a sniper.

Nathan MacKinnon Season Highlights 2011/2012

Nathan Mackinnon in 1st ever QMJHL playoff game 2012
Nathan Mackinnon in 2nd Playoff game in QMJHL 2012 (penalty shot)
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Oilers 2012 NHL Mock Draft Rankings, March 25th/2012

Junior Draft eligible players are now playing in playoffs and getting their final opportunities to showcase to NHL scouts their talents before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The Oilers have been on a winning streak as of late and could be looking at drafting anywhere between 25-29th come draft time, so people's desire to see them draft a top defencemen may very well come to place. It will be a interesting race to say the least.

Should my REVS 2012 NHL Top 15 Draft List, be used and the following NHL teams finish in today's current order, the draft would look like the following;

1.Nail Yakupov

2.Mikhail Grigorenko

3.Ryan Murray

4.Alex Galchenyuk

5.Morgan Rielly

6.Mathew Dumba

7.Derrick Pouliot

8.Griffin Reinhart

9.Filip Forsberg

10.Cody Ceci

11.Brendan Gaunce

12. Olli Maatta

13.Zemgus Girgensons

14.Jacob Trouba

15.Radek Faksa

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Year End, Oiler talk PART II"

The NHL is the greatest hockey you can watch, but unfortunately with a organization comes the politics of it as well. As frustrating as it is to watch game after game where the ref's screw up the call, it is what it is. Last night, we saw a 'hit' that took out our 'beloved' Taylor Hall and some Oiler fans were crying for payback. There were several calls in the game that were not called either way. Bottom line is, stuff like this happens every day.

Today I wanted to continue answering questions that people keep asking me on twitter, Facebook, email and personally. I labelled this Part II but there will have to be, a Part III cause the questions don't stop rolling in. Figured it was easier to offer my opinions through our blog here at oilersjambalaya. 

Are you worried or bothered with the lack of fighting like we used to see in the "Battle of Alberta"
 Last night's BOA was a prime example of lots of emotion going both ways, without the actual fights. That is unless you consider Sarich having to scuffle with Ryan Whitney. The game was intense, packed with emotion, something was on the line (Flame playoff hopes and Oiler pride) and while it was not a old time fight filled, bench clearing brawl, it was a exciting game. It contained hits, highlight goals of both fluke and awesomeness and some unbelievable passes. Nope, fights that occur by emotion in the game (in defence of your teammate or one's that happen in anger) are the one's to me that make the game exciting. Not a big lover of staged fighting at all, never was.

What are your thoughts on our Current defence we have here in Edmonton?
Unlike many other Oiler fans and some MSM, I for one, am not as worried about our defence as I have been about our goaltending. Defence takes much longer to develop and making radical changes to bring in top 2 players or drafting them, either takes too long or your spending your top cap $ to pay them. I would much rather follow the Pittsburg model of bringing in defencemen. I am a believer of the Oilers current form of defence development. 

With Klefbom, Musil and Gernat, I think the Oilers are sitting well in the years to come. Early in the season people were screaming for better defence when Petry was making his mistakes, and now who is complaining? The guy is looking better with every game he plays. The last couple years people have been calling for a Smid trade, now this year we absolutely love him. Some Oiler fans were complaining about the Schultz trade thinking we lost in that deal. To me, Nick was exactly what we needed. As I have mentioned before, I would rather have 6 defencemen who are all top 2-4 players rather then the traditional top 1 defencemen and a couple 2-4 and a couple 5-7 defencemen.

For me, if your picking in the lottery, you take best forward most often and use 2nd pick on the defencemen, much like the Oilers have done the last 2 years.

What's your opinion on all these hits from behind?
I am mixed on this one. So often I am seeing defence men turn their back on the player to protect the puck and then the league says that the player is vulnerable and should not be hit. On the other hand, I do believe with a faster and bigger player, we need to protect the players from themselves. This one is tough for me, I still have not decided which way I fall on this one.

The more you watch RNH, who do you think he most resembles his game after?
Paval Datysuk is the one who I have said he resembles his game after the most, but as time passes I am sure seeing a lot of similarities between him and the 'Great One'.Notice the similarity of his positioning when behind the net? That was Wayne's OFFICE! In no way am I saying he will have the same career, but Nugent-Hopkins is a top 10 player in this league and I am so excited to see his game grow as he matures in his game and physically as well. The fact he commands instant respect at 18 years old is amazing in today's NHL. To think he is a year and a half younger then Hall really shows you the upside this young kid has. 

Where do you see Hartikanen's upside?
Teemu is looking to just work on the smaller details of his game and his compete level game in and game out. What few realize is Hartikanen's game is a difficult one to deliver game in and game out as it is physically demanding. Not only is it hard on the opponent but also on him. If Teemu can find a way to come through in his game like he did last night against Calgary (notice how he excels against Calgary though? Sweet!) he has the potential to be a top 6 player and occasionally play some shifts or games here or there on a top line when needed IMO.

Come playoff time, with the Oilers not playing, who will you be following?
This is a easy one for me. It is the Penquins! Not only do they have great top end goal scorers but good checking lines, tough defencemen, skilled defencemen and awesome goaltending but they also have very tactical coaching for games. They will be a treat to watch as the post-season begins.

Do you see Ryan Smyth
Not this time around. I appreciate Ryan's game but his time has come and went and there are just too many other players in the 'wait' and now Canada is starting to develop future Olympic players by giving them a chance to show their commitment to Canada at the World Championships each year.

What happened to Alex Galchenyuk during Friday night's game?
Unfortunately for Galchenyuk, this season has been a nightmare of sorts. Good kid, excellent player, but I truly hope this injury is nothing serious. I have not seen any new info today on how badly his injury was last night upon falling in the face-off circle but it must be a concern for any team now to take a chance on him too early in the draft based on his injuries. Maybe another Brett Connelly? All I know, is whoever does draft him, should it be later then a 6th pick will be getting a steal at that place in the draft.

Don't you think that Tobias Rieder is too small to play for the Edmonton Oilers?
Tobias is weighing in at around 190 lbs and still is at 5'11, so while small, he is skilled and like Eberle, you need to give him more time to develop. Just a hunch but I wonder if they would like to keep him 1 year longer in the OHL before sending him to the AHL for further development. Quite possibly should a opening arise, they could look at a move to the AHL but with so many young players like Pitlick and Hamilton there, I have a feeling he gets 1 more year with the Rangers in the OHL. His goal scoring is what has surprised me the most, but this kid has been showing good arrows, let's hope it continues into the post-season as well.

 In your Opinion, how do you feel about Martin Gernat and his potential with the Oilers Organization?
Upon watching Gernat at 'Development Camp' last July, I knew he had that extra something special. The only question was, what was his upside and could he show 'battle' still deeper into the season. He will have his chance to really show what he can do come playoff time. The Oil Kings are about to take a shot at the WHL Championship, so there is not a better time to show the Oilers that he has the tools to be an effective player for long stretches and when it matters most. 

The fact he is almost scoring a point a game is amazing in itself, but he is looking more like a pressure player the further into the season the Oil Kings go. I think it is quite possible he could become a top 4 defencemen in the NHL but for now we will take it one season at a time. Chances are after this year, the Oilers will keep him in the WHL 1 more year before giving him a year or 2 in the AHL. 

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Friday, March 16, 2012

"Year End, Oiler talk"

Oiler fans are dying for a reason to get excited about more then a future superstar draft pick. Granted, no one is complaining about the great picks the Oilers have brought into the fold, in Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins. While next season we may still not see the playoffs yet here in Edmonton, it must be almost a given that 2013-2014 will see that playoff flame burning bright here in Edmonton while our 'arch nemesis' to the south will be "Burning" with envy. (at least we hope they are).

Instead of going on about a single topic I have decided to answer some questions I continually am asked to talk about in Oiler related news. While some may totally disagree with my views, feel free to comment and do so here at oilersjambalaya. That is the great thing about the internet, we all have a chance to state our views and air our grievances, but if we do so, I say we do it with respect to one another.

Where will the Oilers end up placing?
No way do I see a remote possibility (other then winning the lottery) picking first again this year. On the other hand I am 95% certain they will pick 2 or 3. Unless they pull off a winning streak of sorts, my bet is still on 29th place finish.

Who are the players the Oilers would want to select 1-5 in place of available talent at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft?
It's only my educated guess but by things I have heard in the mainstream media, some back door conversations I would say their order of preference will be....1) Nail Yakupov 2) Mikhail Grigorenko 3) Ryan Murray 4) Morgan Rielly 5) Griffin Reinhart

What do you think are the chances of signing Ryan Suter in Edmonton?
Just have this feeling that Nashville finds a way to keep him and if not, he will end up in another non-hockey hotbed ashe signs for the big bucks, rather then the hockey.. Of course we could dream, that it's Suter's dream to be a Oiler and compete for a Stanley Cup with Hall and the boys.

What are the chances the Oilers will actually be able to sign a top 2 defencemen this off season?
Slim to none. There is just not much out there. On the other hand, it is quite possible that Tamby goes out and brings in another Schultz type player. I would gladly exchange one or 2 top d-men for 4 or 5 guys like Nick.

Do you think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will win the Calder Trophy?
It's interesting how fast time flies when your having fun. Other then watching Ryan play, looking at his stats and listening to the opinions of the commentators around the league, why not take a look back at a article I wrote here at oilersjambalya at the beginning of the year.
My answer is yes, while he may have been out 20 games, the pace he is scoring at for a rookie player on a 30th place team is incredible.
Is it possible for Taylor Hall to score 30 Goals this year?
All you need to do is look how close he is already with still 12 games to go. With close to 30 in the bank, to actually think this is just him getting started is pretty exciting. To me it's a no-brainer. I think he will hit over the 30 goal mark this year.
Will Jordon Eberle be able to finish with a point per game pace come the final game of the year?
As this season comes to a close I am a believer of Eberle and his chase for a 80 point season. In fact I am guessing he could very well be a few points over at year end. Jordon has been playing good, but not great in his own standards. Imagine a even better Eberle?

How likely is it, that Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle all get invited to play for Canada at the World Championships?
Well, since Lowe is running the show, it's highly likely. But even so, what GM or coach would not want these three guys playing together. They are all dying to play some meaningful games and based on how well they have carried this Oiler team themselves, I think they are a lock, all three will get the invite. Nugent-Hopkins faces the stiffest competition but I think he still makes the team.

What % would you give the Oilers chances of landing a Goaltender from outside the organization to play with the big Club?
IMO, 5% chance of landing anyone. This is a rebuild and the Oilers brass, see no reason to chance the plans now. Dubynk once again has a pretty good win loss record on a bad team and is growing, be it, too slow for most Oiler fans. Roy has excelled at the ECHL and will likely get his shot for a couple years in the AHL and more then likely Bunz will get a year of seasoning at the ECHL level next year. The plan from how I see it, those two are to be the future here in Edmonton.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bickering Amongst Teammates Leads To...

It's been reported that there was some bickering on the Oilers bench the other night. Captain Shawn Horcoff fully admitted this and it should be no surprise that this happened. Losing sucks. I'd be pissed off too.

The big question should be, who was doing the bickering and over what?

So many things went wrong during that game (and previous games), it would be hard to pin point it and where it started. I personally, hope it was the young guys on the team like Hall and Eberle that were giving the tongue lashing to the vets. I see it on so many different levels that the kids are going to sub plant the vets sooner rather than later as the leadership corps. For most of the veterans, their time here is almost up.

If it was the vets (like Horcoff, Belanger, Jones, etc) that had the beef with the kids, then I have an issue with that. If anybody with a decent amount of NHL experience on the team had the drive to win like Taylor Hall does, this team could make the playoffs now. But they don't.

On a couple of occasions we seen Hall try and make a save to try and stop an empty net goal. He was never successful in stopping the puck either time, but admiration from Oilers fans and alike grew. We seen right there how bad he wants to win. He'd do anything for the W. That screams leader to me. Give the kid a letter ASAP.

Then we have mr. clutch, Jordan Eberle. He wants to score the big goals. He wants the puck on his stick. He wants to win. Two more guys like him on the team and the Oilers are Stanley Cup champs. Forget mr. clutch. I'd love it if by next season he wore the C and we could officially call him Captain Clutch. He's that good.

But back to what I started with...

I sure do hope it was the kids chirping the vets. The kids are leading this team and they deserve respect. The vets IMO have no room to speak. They've as a collective unit, have sucked.

A new era isn't just coming, it's here.


-written by Smokin' Ray Burnt-

Saturday, March 10, 2012

REVS 2012 Prospects List (March 10/12)

REVS 2012 Prospects List (March 10/12)
1.Nail Yakupov
GP 41 G 31 A 38 PTS 69 Plus/Minus+15
(was injured on a couple occasions)
2.Mikhail Grigorenko
GP 56 G 39 A 45 PTS 84 Plus/Minus+38
(out for a few games with injury following world jr's)
3.Ryan Murray
GP 41 G 9 A 20 PTS 29 Plus/Minus+1
(was out with a injury, returned just before world jr's)
4.Alex Galchenyuk
As 16/17 year old had 83 PTS in 68Games 
(About to return to ice possibly in next week or two)
5.Morgan Rielly
GP 18 G 3 A 15 PTS 18 Plus/Minus+6
(Currently Injured but possible return before playoffs)
6.Mathew Dumba
GP 64 G 19 A 31 PTS 50 Plus/Minus-4
7.Derrick Pouliot
GP 68 G 10 A 46 PTS 56 Plus/Minus+10
8.Griffin Reinhart
GP 54 G 12 A 22 PTS 34 Plus/Minus+19
9.Filip Forsberg
GP 43 G 8 A 9 PTS 17 Plus/Minus+3
(playing in SEL so stats will be affected)
10.Cody Ceci
GP 60 G 15 A 41 PTS 56 Plus/Minus+23
11.Brendan Gaunce
GP 64 G 27 A 37 PTS 64 Plus/Minus+3
12. Olli Maatta
GP 54 G 5 A 26 PTS 31 Plus/Minus+25
13.Zemgus Girgensons
GP 37 G 15 A 24 PTS 39 Plus/Minus+13
14.Jacob Trouba
GP 15 G 3 A 11 PTS 14 Plus/Minus+9
(plays in U.S. Development league so less games played)
15.Radek Faksa
GP 57 G 26 A 33 PTS 59 Plus/Minus+16

As some may notice, I have removed Martin Frk and Nick Ebert from the top 15. Ebert has not been consistent enough in his play and has not grown in his development of decision making with the puck for my liking. Frk, while still a good talent on a powerhouse team has not even been able to get back to that point per game offensive player that was thought he could be at a minimum. Also while I have shown their point totals and plus/minus it does not give a accurate read of a player alone. For example a defencemen is much more then their scoring totals, but their plus/minus is then even more important to see, even on a bad team.

For those of you who been following my prospects ranking from October/11, you will notice some small changes again. Unfortunately as I mentioned before with so many injuries in the 2012 Prospect Draft class it has been much more difficult to read each players development in comparison to each other. This list is not a mock ranking as to where they will be selected but my personal ranking in terms of talent that is available at that ranking.

Honourable mention that did not rank in the top 15 in my ranking is....
Slater Koekkoek
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