Showing posts with label Taylor Hall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taylor Hall. Show all posts

Monday, November 27, 2017

Get Over It!

Seems like almost daily that the fans of the Edmonton Oilers break down about what could or should have been. Now, I don't know about you, but that type of thinking would wear me down a lot and I would become even more depressed than I already am. Why subject ourselves to what ifs? 

We can't change the past, no matter what. So, why are we dwelling on trades and transactions that are long and over with? I can see the appeal. You see something that's going well and you wish it to be happening here. But, if we rewind the clock, people were happy to ship Hall and Eberle out of town as two examples. 

It was a general consensus that Hall had ran his time down here. People laughed and made jokes about how upset and sour he was to leave here. Taylor Hall was the laughing stock of the Oilers on his exit out of Edmonton and still was up to the start of this season. 

Some, claimed he was a cancer in the dressing room and that's why he was traded. Some, claimed his style of play would have him injured for most of his NHL career as the Oilers were better off not having that style of player here. Some, just thought he was a puck hog. 

No matter what your thoughts were on Taylor Hall at that time, you fast forward to now and you'll find fans missing and craving his goal scoring in Edmonton. You'll find people wanting to turn back time and not make that deal. And now, the same could be said for Jordan Eberle. 

Eberle was a bum in the playoffs, they said. Eberle has no heart and doesn't compete like an Oiler should. Eberle was renamed Eberlazy. Once again, those fans fast forward to today and they don't understand why he was traded. 

I think at times General Manager Peter Chiarelli and his staff actually read too much into the hype the team gets from MSM, bloggers and the casual fan. I firmly believe that the Eberle deal was made to appease the fans and critics. In my mind, it made no sense to trade him at the time he did. It made no sense to give away the goals he produced. But, should have, would have, could have, he's gone now. We have to live with that and accept it. 

Same could be said about Pouliot. He was a bum too right Oiler fans? Yet, here we are, desperately needing his strengths of killing penalties. 

Hindsight is always 20/20, but at the end of the day, decisions get made and love them or hate them, they happened. 

It's time to let it go and get over it. I know I have. 

Written by Brent Huska

Monday, May 26, 2014

Are Edmonton's forwards good enough to compete?

My apologies in the delay yet once again in my article's. I am producing at a slower rate then Tamby ran the Oilers. I appreciate the faithful ones who support and continually ask when I will have my next blogs up. While finalizing the final aspects of the Oilers team with forwards today and defencemen and Goalies in the next two article's, I will also be putting out a final 2014 NHL Entry Draft Ranking following the Draft combine.

Let's get to the point of this article today. The Edmonton Oilers forwards that are locked, loaded and ready to go for 2014/2015? Ok, maybe their not ready but at least let's discuss where they are currently are at and where this team could be headed with what they actually have sitting in the wings. As we walk through the list of players at forward there are some given players that are likely to be going nowhere. How will they make the changes and will an important part be sent away? Only MacT really knows but that next move will either move this team forward or it will cost MacT his job in the future.

First let's be realistic about who is staying regardless of offers and who potentially could be dealt away. As we walk through the skilled forwards, the idea is to fairly analyze their place on this team with logic and deduction.

Hall; 6'1, 201 lbs
The cornerstone of this franchise and a player who can be relied on 90% of the time. Taylor is going nowhere and it's likely will be the captain in a year or two. He may not have a no-trade clause but unofficially there IS a no-trade clause on Hall within the Oilers organization, You win with players like this. Wait till he finally makes the post-season, players like Hall are money in the bank.

Nugent-Hopkins; 6'1, 180 lbs
Has been competing against the best in the game at every level and beyond his years experience for his whole hockey playing career. Took a big learning curve this year defensively but considering he takes on the others teams best defencemen and forward checking lines, he only stands to get better each year. On a team that has very little centre depth, other teams know that and that has been the mistake the Oilers have had. Very little centre position support. Coming off an off-season last year where he was recovering from shoulder surgery, this off-season is all about strength and conditioning. Get a good second line center (or even 1st line if possible) and watch RNH blossom. You don't find a centre of his skill set and hockey IQ often. Is untouchable unless they can fetch better in a trade and we all know in today's NHL, those trades don't happen.

Eberle; 6'0, 185 lbs
Jordan Eberle is as clutch as you can get. This boy has been waiting and itching to play a playoff game of importance for some time. Loves the city and loves the organization but as close as he is to Hall and company, he could potentially be the piece of the puzzle who can actually fetch something back in return. Don't want him gone but somebody with skill needs to go to bring in what this team needs.

Yakupov; 5'11, 189 lbs
Another player of incredibly high skill but needs to be played according to his strengths. Some like to say his trade value is diminished but don't believe the lies. They are only opinions and several team scouts will tell you, Nail has game. His last 15 games he was turning the corner on his back checking and defensive awareness without the puck. His +/- was virtually 0 during that same time span. (which is almost never mentioned) Fans and media like to really run with a story and in Edmonton, Nail became the favourite whipping boy. Nail is going nowhere unless there is a way to pick up Florida's 1st rounder with him in the deal. (likely will not happen). Don't believe the talk he is too small for this game. Nail is strong on the puck and fights hard for it in battles. Not an easy player to knock over and knows how to dish it out occasionally as well.

Perron; 6'0, 200 lbs
A player with his feisty attitude and jam for the net is not traded away. Unless there was an internal problem, he stays. Maybe a situation where they bring in a top 2 defender or a top 2 centre but we all know Perron would not fetch that type of player so time for speculation of being traded is out of order.

Gagner; 5'11, 202 lbs
Gagner must have been traded at least 15 times by media and fans in the last 2 years. This guy has more lives then a cat. I think the problem is less how good he is and more how he just doesn't compliment what this team needs. If he were to play with two thick bodies and quick wingers who could score maybe this would be a different discussion but right now, that's not the case. Can't see Gagner lasting much longer in Edmonton as their 2nd line centre. If they trade Eberle or Yakupov he could move to right wing (where he played with Cogliano his rookie year mostly) but if one of the other wingers are not traded, it will likely be Gagner who is finding a new city to call home.

None of the other Oilers forwards on the roster are what you could consider top 6 forwards on a NHL team. They may be able to fill in occasionally but as regular top 6 forwards, the Oilers only potentially have the 6 mentioned above. Other forwards on this team will be role players only.

So having said all that, who is in the system that could be a player in the future that the Oilers could use as a legitimate NHL forward? Below I have rated the % chance of them making a solid NHL Career.


Chase; 6'0, 205 lbs
Chase produced some incredible numbers this past season. He has shown to have soft hands to go with his pesky side of the game. We know he is the type of player who will be in the scrums and try to get under the skin of his opponents. A player that was selected in the Oilers last round and looked good at training camp as well. His 1st year in the minor pro level will be the true test, if he can bring that level of play to the next level of hockey. His top end potential is maybe as a third line but more then likely will be a 4th line player should he pan out. I think many of us are rooting for a incredible career for this young prospect. I rate him at a 60% chance of succeeding.

Moroz; 6'2, 211 lbs
No one expected the Oilers to take Mitch so high in the draft but when his fellow OilKing was selected just in front of him the Oilers wanted big, tough and some resemblance of skill and they took the chance on him. He has looked good for the role this year and for many parts of the year has carried his team. The bigger question will be can he carry the game the same way in OKC like he did with the OilKings because he will be playing against the big boys in the AHL and they likely won't be so easy to dominate physically. He has good fight in his game, only time will tell. I like him and he stands a 70% chance of succeeding

Khaira; 6'3, 210 lbs
A big player who can guard and protect the puck well. I am concerned about his foot speed but has appeared to be a solid player in the making. He is a interesting player when it comes to development. This will be very a test year for him. He is a centre but IMO, I think he needs moved to the wing to stand a good NHL shot. Give him a 40% chance of succeeding at the NHL level.

Roy; 6'0, 175 lbs
A highly skilled forward with not lots of size and more then likely will be used in a trade somewhere down the line but isn't that why you want your stables full of players who can bring back some assets down the road? Possibly stands a 40% chance of succeeding at the NHL level.

Slepyshev; 6'2, 194 lbs
Will just be glad when he actually signs with the Oilers. A very good talent, just not sure if his game will translate well to the smaller ice surface and game of the NHL. Likely will be coming over for the 2015/2016 season after he fulfills his contract with his KHL team. I see him as another player that could be potentially offered in a trade to sweeten a package. Has a 50% chance of making a NHL Career.

Yakimov; 6'5, 202 lbs
A player many people are high on in this organization, including MacT himself. I see his top end potential as a 3rd line centre but he will need to improve his foot speed. Likes going strong to the net so that can be a benefit to a team like the Oilers who lack that from too many forwards. Potentially a long term fix at our 3rd or 4th line centre role. I give Yakimov a 70% chance of a successful NHL career.

While there are other forwards in their system, I rate their chances below 40% chance of actually making it to the big show for more then a cup of coffee.

I predict with little available in the system as we can see, 2 of the 6 mentioned current Oiler forwards will be moved out and replaced this season. Who? Some combination of Gagner, Yakupov and or Eberle. It's all hypothetical but simple deduction tells you something is about to break and not to far away!

In the meantime, and in between time, that's it for another edition of Oilers hockey!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another season of Oilers turmoil ahead?

With another long season behind us and only hopes of yet another shot at being a decent team next year, the Oilers give us little to write about that has not been written before. We all have talked about Taylor Hall and his progress to a point per game player. RNH's increased workload and lack of scoring this year despite facing the other teams toughest defence and the other team's toughest and best forwards.

What about Yakupov and his two-way game or lack of? Maybe it was his lack of scoring. We could always discuss the fact Dallas Eakins was a rookie head coach learning on the go? No? What about our bottom 6 forwards, our city and fans like to complain about how bad they are all the time. I got it! How about we need a big power forward to play in our top 6? Nope, been there, done that!

Well we know the defence needs a top 2 defenceman right? Let's discuss the possible trade scenarios or maybe the possible free agents? Man, this team has sucked so bad for so long, I am shocked bloggers and MSM have anything to write about anymore. There isn't one area this team has not had dissected inside out. I know I cover the crap out of draft prospects so that's been done by me several times and occasionally here or on another site we cover the Oilers prospects but what else do we have to look forward too? Exactly! Not much.

Having said all that, lets take the next couple blogs and discuss the state of the Goalies, defence and forward position and coaching/management. We can breakdown the options and what likely is too happen at each part of the organization. Could a few shocking surprises be coming? Their are some rumours swirling that we will examine and analyze.

In the meantime, and in between time, that's it for another edition of Oilers hockey!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Anticipation is rising in Oil City (pt 1 of 2)

My apologies to our blog readers here at Oilers Jambalaya over the last while. I have been in somewhat of a hiatus for awhile. My daughter recently got married outdoors and the extra work and effort between that and my regular paying job kept me quite busy. I did manage to stay focused on spreading the Oilers Spirit though.

I must say, when I was asked to come on and join Smokin Ray here at Oilersjambalaya a couple years ago, I was full of excitement and anticipation. The Oilers had been trying to scratch and crawl their way back to respectability and were drafting and developing new talents much better then in years past. My excitement for the team , the prospects and their development was hard to surpass. I would spend endless hours in research and conversation with any contacts I could find that had any information that could be useful or give myself a different look at these players.

As the last few years have passed by, that same excitement started to dwindle and while I am still a die hard fan, it has been less emotional excitement then in the past. Why? I am guessing maybe emotional drain? Maybe it is disappointment? Frustration? Regardless of what it was, I was still faithful and still am today watching and following this team. Some have said not drafting the best young player in the world for the 4th consecutive year in a row did it to me. Maybe, but bringing in a new coach and everything MacT has done has not impressed me yet. Sure it's a start but the proof as they say, is in the pudding!

This year, it's time to 'put up, or shut up'! Anything less the a playoff push to the last week is a train wreck to me. I know, teams can only improve so much without major change in player personal. That is true, but no one who drafts as high as the Edmonton Oilers and has elite talent like they do, should grow slowly like some teams that finish in the middle of the pack and yet still see drastic improvement with little changes. With the natural physical, mental and emotional maturity of elite talent comes great strides.

Enough about the past! I love that Eakins cleaned out the past player persona in the changing room. The past is not what you build on, its the future you build into. Having said that, I am starting to feel that 'twitch' again that makes me jump, scream, shout or say 'Yes'! on every Oiler goal, assist, save, hit, fight and plain old 'sweet play'. Looking through this team, there really is no built in excuses why this team can not be a playoff bound team this year. Let's look at the reasons we can anticipate the excitement building for the Edmonton Oilers.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is Cerebal

He's back!! Do not look at his stats line from last year when he was fighting a injury that limited his shot and passing. I have followed RNH for the past 5 years and last year, his whole offensive game was affected. What did he do? Became a even better center defensively. Once RNH can bring his FO% up to around 50% he will become a Top 5 Center in this league as far as I am concerned. His presence on this team will be a huge boost and the team's offensive output will start shooting through the roof of arena's everywhere. Why? Because it will be contagious and will be a catalyst this team needs.

Boyd Gordon is a solid defensive center
Gordon is a player who can win face-offs, fill in a night or two on a higher line, back check, and just plays the game the way any hard nosed player should. His dependability and reliability is something this team will greatly appreciate this year. Also Boyd will seldom makes stupid plays that leave you shaking your head.

Nail Yakupov is a beast

In training camp and pre-season and right throughout the 1st period in the season opener, you can see Nail has gained some great strength in protecting the puck. He doesn't just dangle it, he dares the opposition to take it away from him. He handles it like a bull in a china shop and he doesn't care about the results other then getting that puck to the net. His one-timers from anywhere are hard, crisp, fast and bulls eye accurate. His one-timers take a backseat to no more then maybe 10 current NHL'ers currently playing and if he continues to grow in this area, the sky is the limit for this Russian kid. His hunger for the game, his relentless back check and speed will not be able to be contained too often as this season progresses.

Taylor Hall is a Stud

Not many players can play like Taylor Hall plays. His intensity, versatility, drive, speed and love for hockey make Taylor Hall one of a kind. The fact he has been able to make this shift to centre in the loss of the Oilers top 2 centers has been nothing short of incredible. Sure there have been some mistakes but playing a 1st line center role when you have never done it at a NHL level? That is crazy and he is still holding his own. With Nugent-Hopkins set to return , it is likely to free him up some to relax and take some of the pressure off of him. Don't forget he is carrying two players in Hemsky and Smyth who most Oiler fans wanted run out of town not long ago. Hall with a Yakupov and Joensuu could be a interesting line while Perron and Eberle play with Nugent-Hopkins? No matter how it plays out, left wing or centre , Taylor Hall is a stud out there and intends to make this a winning season at any expense.

Don't fret Oiler fans over the opening night loss. I know it may look like the same old story but this team while down 2 of their top 6 players has looked dominating at times and with this new 'swarm' philosophy of hockey for the Oilers, it might just suit this team well. The addition of some new players added to the mix currently growing by leaps and bounds could be what takes this team back into the 'sacred temples of Lord's Stanley'.

to be continued....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

That Uneasy Feeling

I'm usually full of positivity and optimism when it comes to the start of the NHL season. But not this year for some reason. 

Maybe it's the lack of centers? Maybe it's those first goals that are scored on Dubey that are weak? Or maybe it's the fact we have yet another new coach, and I'm half assed expecting the same results as years past?

Whatever is troubling me, I want it to go away. 

I've been really happy with the play of the Hall line. They have been pretty good and I love seeing Hemsky and Smyth back together again. The strange part is Hall actually looks like he belongs with those two guys. It's uncanny. I'm just hoping this line doesn't stay together long. Smyth will peter out by game 20 and production will drop. I'm just hoping by then he's relegated to the third line by then. 

I've really like Anton Belov too. I was told by a friend that he looked like Boris Mironov out there, and he does. Except Belov looks more stronger and not so gangly looking. I'm excited to see him continue to develop. That was a hell of a signing by MacTavish. 

I'm very skeptical about having a couple of Eakins guys on the team like Hamilton and Acton. We're they better than the other guys who were cut? Marginally I'd say. Do they deserve a roster spot? That's still up in the air. 

I'm loving the Perron/Paajarvi trade. Oilers are loving Perron and the Blues are confused with Paajarvi. They know MPS needs more development, but what do you do with him? All the Oilers have to do is put Peron out with Eberle and you have magic. Oil clearly won this trade as of right now. 

There is lots to be excited about, I'm just having a hard time getting amped up for this season. The thrill is gone, and I want it back. 

How about you?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Barring Any Other Hiccup, This Is Opening Night

The Gagner injury has really messed up plans for the Edmonton Oilers opening night roster. They currently need to fill another big void at center and have only three options. 

Lander, Arcobello and Acton are the three guys who the Oilers are going to have to choose from. There is no other players in the system remotely close to ready. 

Oh shit...

Another (insane) option is to have Jordan Eberle try center like Hall did. Eberle did say the other day that he could try center as he's played it when he was younger. I don't like that idea for the fact your two best wingers are now playing center. We need those guys on the wings, not patrolling center ice. 


Both Weiss and Kassian will have hearings with the NHL for their actions during last nights game. Hall almost had his head taken off by Weiss and Gagner took a high stick and had his jaw broken by Kassian. Both instances went on with no on ice retaliation and it sounds like Gagner will be out for 4-8 weeks. He's having surgery to put his jaw back together. 


Darnell Nurse had been making coach Eakins (and the fans) think twice about sending him back to juniors. Nurse has progressively been better as each day passes, and its apparent he's actually being considered to stay. I think he's been better than N. Schultz, Grebeshkov, Fedun, Larsen, Belov and the hurt Potter (based on last seasons play). 

I'd like to see him stick. At least give him a few games of real NHL duty to see how he does. I don't think he's going home just yet, but I'm not sure the Oilers want to too many chances with the waiver wire with other players. 



Smyth Hall Hemsky
Perron Gordon Eberle
Omark Lander Yakupov
Jones Acton Brown
Joensuu Eager

Ference J. Schultz
Petry Smid
Nurse N. Schultz
Grebeshkov Belov


*starting lines in bold*


Saturday, September 14, 2013

'This & That from Oilers Training Camp'

Having tried to glean information from the Oilers on their interest or lack of in regards to players and or their development has not been easy. Some of what I am going to share is information that each one of us has had access to hear via the MSM or even the interviews from the coaches themselves. Some information comes from being closely around the Oilers brass for a couple days, some comes from personal one on one conversations from those closely associated with the players or some comes from the players themselves away from the ice.

Having said all that, take the information for what you think it is worth. No need asking me who said what, cause if I did hear directly from 'unnamed' person, out of respect for them, it would be unfair to expose their name or names. If you think I am being another EKLUND wannabe, you definitely have not read many of my blogs over the years and or followed me very much on twitter. Having followed closely the Oilers organization quite closely these past 5 years and prospects as well has afforded me unique opportunities and I am not going to do anything to put anything like that in jeopardy. If you think I am way off, so be it! Let time be the judge before you rip apart the messenger.

I will highlight in red anything that was information that i received on perspective players leading into saturday's night split-squad games in Edmonton and Calgary. If it is not highlighted it will be my perspective and or views.

Unfortunately for Cam, this could be the beginning of the end. His off ice work while good, has not been great and his progress has been stalled while other potential players are about to supplant him if things don't change ASAP. My take on Abney will be, this is his final year to prove himself. He will either be traded or released at the end of season most likely

 Was hardly recognizable on the ice these past couple days but is that always a bad thing? It could turn out to be his best chance. Will be in a fight with Lander for that 4th line spot. Is not slotted into OKC's plans in their line combo's currently but that could change drastically should he falter in the opportunities given.

A decent showing with skilled players Yakupov and Omark could prove to be his best chance. His outcome from the game in Edmonton Saturday night could either elevate him into the opening night lineup or actually see him with a ticket back to OKC after a few pre-season games. Is currently slotted into the Barons #1 Centre slot and MacT has been very direct that he wants players to play in OKC around the same role they would play should they be playing for the Oilers. Maybe one line higher but no more.

Grows a stache like nobodies business but will that be enough. Will be the 13th or 14th forward going into the season. Plays exactly the game he knows how to play and knows how to use gamesmanship which is extremely important for the role he fills.

Hits well, is relentless and has a scoring touch too. Did I mention he is a agitator and likes it too? The Oilers are very high on Chase and have been pleased with what he has shown them this camp so far. Not every jr player gets to play even in a scrimmage let alone game action. If he continues to develop this year back in jr, his path and future looks bright with the Oilers.

Sick skills and looks to really have his shot back. His minor injury last season really hindered his shot. This year I would expect his shooting % goes back up. Will be interesting to see who he is paired with in the early regular season games.

Had his good and bad moments playing in the centre pivot position. It will take time to adjust but Hall is a world class player and at the very worst it is highly likely he will fill the team need better by playing centre for up to 5 games then playing left wing and leaving this team extremely weak down the middle. RNH hs confidence in Taylor, why shouldn't we? Taylor is learning what needs to be done in that centre pivot spot from good mentors in his coach Action and RNH himself. If we all recall, he did mention last year if the team did try him at centre he didn't want it to be a 2 or 3 game stint but given some time to really try it out. My guess? He will play a minimum of 10 games at centre and then be evaluated after that.

Time is running out for Curtis and his injuries have likely been his greatest downfall to really exhibiting what his true value is to the Oilers. His off ice work was said to have improved last development camp but now we missed seeing what progress could have taken place by, no on ice action. If not this year, then the next Curtis will likely be on the outside looking in. Only thing that saves him is a big year in OKC IMO.

A big tough, determined player that Dallas Eakins really appreciates has brought him to Edmonton on the basis he will push the bottom 6 forwards and or at worst play the power forward role in OKC, Most likely in the end will be a call up for bottom 6 winger role in Edmonton this season.

Will be monitored very closely this year and Oilers want to be cautious with him but are excited about his future with the organization. Debate is on if he reports to OKC or ends up in WHL with Everett. Likely he goes to WHL but some of that decision will be who gets assigned to OKC with other players from camp, bets are he goes to WHL.

Anton is pencilled into a 2nd line role in OKC to open the season but only Lander can change that destiny. Concerns are more about his confidence and Oilers would like to see him less concerned with points and more on just playing the same game, shift in and shift out. If he finds his game in pre-season, he starts in Edmonton, if not, other options are considered.

His all around game is coming around but it looks more and more everyday he will have to decide to become a role player in a 4th or 3rd line tops role. Would be great if he accepted he may not have the Hockey sense to be a elite skill guy at pro level. Is pencilled in as 3rd line centre in OKC to start the year.

While the last regime was not happy with what they saw in Omark, this new regime is very happy with his potential. Dallas has great respect for his skills and wants to provide a prime opportunity for him to show himself well. It is still a win-win for both sides no matter how this comes down. If Linus can show even just ok, defensively he will get a shot, if he shows what he did in the past without the puck, he won't be in Edmonton past the pre-season games. OKC would be happy with 1 more year of Omark and when the year is completed he is a UFA who can go and try his own luck. I wouldn't count Omark out and don't forget, it's not his toughness that is in question, it is his ability to cover his defensive role.

Perron is a interesting player. this guy has a lot of Yakupov in him when it comes to life and the game of hockey. He almost eats, breaths and lives hockey. Really love the fact he lines up so perfectly on his off wing just like Yakupov. If these two can have some chemistry, it may provide for some interesting hockey. David has no concerns going to the tough area's of the ice and does not mind some rough play.  Perron appears to really like the red carpet treatment he has received and you can tell by his actions he loves he is in hockey country.

Like so many before him, Tyler is about to fall off the face of the hockey world really quick, if he can not be consistent with his play. Almost makes you wonder what happened somewhere. Was there something others knew that made him available at 31st OV at the draft. I think the injuries and confidence is what has stalled his major growth. He still has time to prove himself to the Oilers brass but time is starting to run out. He needs a strong year in OKC if he stands to even have a fighting chance. Will likely only get 1 or 2 pre-season games and then get assigned to OKC.

Roy has looked good to date but at scrimmage on a line with speed and against bigger, quicker players he has realized pretty quick, he isn't in the CHL anymore. Marco has performed above expectations and a good showing back in Jr should go a long way into his growth development. There look to be some high praises of his game with oilers brass.

Honestly, upon tweeting about the scrimmages, I was not trying to follow Yakupov very much but anytime he is on the ice, he draws the attention of every fan too him. He has become the newest darling of the fans and girls are going crazy over this cute Russian. His game seems to even have another step since last season and with some confidence behind him the limits are endless. There is no way this organization will be even considering a trade of this player unless something were to breakdown in their relationship. Nail's best game is when he is confident and given opportunities to rise to the occasion. One thing that was noticeable in the scrimmage is his relentless pursuit of the puck when the other team had it. Let's hope that spills over to the early pre-season games and becomes a contagious habit. If Omark ever stood a chance to make the Oilers, it will be because Yakupov elevates his game.

Some MSM have pencilled him as the 7th or even 8th d-man in the depth chart, not so sure the Coaches and scouts agree. They are very high on his physical battle for pucks, his passing ability and his skating and see him suited well for the NHL. Just too bad his struggles with Visa have been a pain.

The Oilers are very high on this prospect and will be following his Jr season closely. There are already plans in place to make sure he gets everything he needs to development to the best of his ability. Not sure it's everyone who see's Ben this important but some who are directly involved with him do and he will be given every opportunity to show his A game to this organization.

It is amazing to see the growth in hi game. He is a battler but I don't know if he will ever see much time in the NHL but he continues to defy the odds. At the very worst he is a solid D-man for the AHL. Some of the development staff see nothing but bright future for this young player.

It appears there may be more to Denis coming back to the Oilers then just as a extra d-man. Between his NHL experience, his Russian language and his off ice personality and teachable character, it appears he may be the new mentor they wanted in town with Yakupov to keep the transition smoother with Khabby gone. Don't doubt Khabby's influence that aided Yakupov through the transitions early on.

Tyler is a battler and he likely will get over this but right now he is in for a tough season moving forward. He is the first one to tell you his head is not in the game like it was a couple years ago. Turning pro can do that to you against the next elite level of hockey players. I would still give him 2 more seasons to see if he can continue to develop the mental side of the game. There is no concerns with his athleticism or his positioning, it's all upstairs and that takes time to work on.

Jason is one of those Goalies who is adjusting to the new leg pad size. Didn't know about the change this year? Between the top of the knee and the highest point of the leg in the inner groin area, you have have your pad cover 55% of the area. The rule changed this year to 45%. This means Jason lost 1.5 inches on the length of his pad and it will affect the '5 hole' no matter how you look at it. Lots of confidence in Jason being able to run a string of even p to 10 games in a row if needed. Is considered a high quality back up goalie.

Those were the players that I was able to notice more and or get some more insights into these past couple weeks. Hockey gets back in action tonight and I for one am jacked to get it going! GO OILERS!!

For Oiler and Baron news and 2013/14 NHL draft watch

Friday, September 13, 2013

Is Andrew Ference the right Captain, right now?

I will make this post short and sweet. For weeks now we have heard speculation that Andrew Ference is going to be the captain on a intern basis until one of our young stars steps up and is ready to take the reigns. My question is, 'Is Ference the right Captain?'

Not trying to sound insensitive to all he has done or who he is, Andrew is one of the last people who I would put in as captain and here are my reasons why....

1) He may be a fitness warrior but so was Horcoff and was he the right captain? Some will say yes, I would argue that he was the most experienced for the job after Ethan was done and not much else was a option at the time.

2) Speaking of experience, what experience does he have with his teammates as a veteran? Sure he is a veteran to the league but not to Edmonton and it's not like he is respected already as a Edmonton Oiler. I understand picking a veteran of the league on a team that is real young and there is no leaders but is not leadership what our young stars have been developing?

3) What does a captain do? It's not just on ice and locker room stuff, it's the intangibles. Does he know our city, will he organize events on behalf of our team players? How could he? He doesn't know enough about our culture or team. (Not that our culture has been great but it is improving)

4) Sure he appears good right now as a on ice player but media likes have penciled him in as a top 2 d-man on the Oilers and question is..can he even perform at that level skill wise? Maybe, maybe not! We won't know until the season moves into full swing. Why take a chance on naming your captain when he may stink out the joint or be a d-man that fans make their new scape goat? (He may do all right in the end , we won't know until halfway through a season even.

5) Lastly, why name a captain who is only a stop gap? If your going to name your captain and he is here now, make that decision to crown him when the time is right. I think IMO it is not beneficial to name a good leader a captain just because of that personality. I highly doubt Ference plays better or this team plays better because a 'C' goes on his jersey.

My suggestion you ask? I think you alternate your captain and wait to name him by Dallas seeing who will step up to the plate by the new year. Let's see who really shines in that all around leadership role. I would not be surprised if Gagner were to be picked but it would be the wrong decision IMO. For my monies worth I would pick Eberle still,  as Hall is not always a calm factor out there on the ice like a captain should be (In tradition anyway) but Hall sure appears like he wants the job and looks determined to take this team by the horns and run with it. Not sure why but I get this feeling that Eberle may one day be that key trading piece the Oilers trade out of town but let's hope my gut is wrong. I think the answer is in the writing and Dallas has it pencilled in as Hall! 

Question though 'Is Andrew Ference the right Captain, right now?'

Will be tweeting more on Oilers Training Camp , so follow me on twitter for updates.

For Oiler and Baron news and 2013/14 NHL draft watch

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Look At What Could Be Opening Night 2013-14

Hello Jambalya readers, as you know the hockey season is coming, and there will be tons of talk like, "how will Eakins help this team?", and "will we be over .500?".

But, I'm not writing this to talk about that, I'm writing this, to talk about who could be the opening day lineup for the 2013-14 season.

Forward line guesses

1st line guess

LW Perron C Hall RW Eberle

LW David Perron, Perron's skill will fit nice with Hall and Eberle who are already highly skilled forwards.

C Taylor Hall, This line has Hall at centre because of the fact Hopkins could be hurt for 10 games or so, (give or take) Hall is also at centre on this line because Eberle is a first line player and he has more chemistry with Hallsy than Gagner. Yes, I do know Hallsy is not very good away from the puck, but he has outstanding speed that will help him with back checking.

RW Jordan Eberle, Eberle is a good little forward that has great skills that would blend well with anyone especially with Hall and Perron in this case.

2nd line guess

LW Hemsky C Gagner  RW Yakupov

LW Ales Hemsky is another highly skilled forward who will hopefully bring leadership to Yakupov and if he can pass more, he might be valuable in the long run on this line.

C Sam Gagner I don't think has the defensive game to play 1st line minutes, so thats why I slot him here. He will finally have the contract stuff off his back and hopefully plays well because of it. 

RW Nail Yakupov, His shot, his skating, and his puck skills will hopefully work well with Hemsky this season. Hopefully they can find some offensive chemistry.

3rd line guess

RW Omark C Gordon LW Smyth

LW Ryan Smyth, Captan Canada, gritty, heart and soul and finally Symtty, these are all words associated with Ryan Symth, and coming in to probably his last season, I have him playing 3rd and 4th line minutes mainly because he is old and just here to finish his contract.

C Boyd Gordon, Maybe a bit of an overpayment, but still a good signing. Gordon is a good player that is two way.

RW Linus Omark, He was signed recently and it could be because the Oil want three scoring lines, or just for depth. Any such way, I have him here to add some scoring on this line.

4th line guess

RW Jones C Lander LW Joensuu

LW Jesse Joensuu, He was a first round pick, Lowetide says he is "very similar player to Temmu Hartikanien" which means he is a big grinder who will chip in a few goals, but is pretty slow.

C Anton Lander, He is a a good PK player which with Horcoff gone, he fills. He will chip in maybe 9 goals. He is a bubble player.

RW Ryan Jones, Jones cheats for offense and will probably be talked to by coach Eakins over the season. But I have him slotted here because he is a NHL player compared to others who might fill this role.

Other players that could be in on opening day.

Andrew Miller, Will Acton, Ryan Hamilton and Mike Brown.

Player to watch on offence: Taylor Hall who had 50 points last season and I Think will have 70 - 80 points this year keep your eye on him.

Defence pairing guesses

1 pair guess

LD Smid RD Petry

LD Ladislav Smid, He is a good heart and soul player who will block shots. Sometimes he will make a dumb play, but he's been improving every year. He is a good shutdown guy who logs PK mins and also can be trusted late in a game.

RD Jeff Petry, He was not as good as some people would have thought last season, but I think he will bounce back and not score on his own net vs the Wings and cost us a game (yes i'm still hurt over a regular season game.)

2 pair guess

LD Ference RD J.Schultz.

LD Andrew Ference, Ference was a good signing. Maybe not because of his contract, but because he is a solid veteran D man and will help J.Schultz when it comes down to those tough times.

RD Justin Schultz, Schultz is our best defence if not now then in the very near future. He had a pretty good season with points (27 points) but, I think he is going to get more. If he really wants to be good this season, he will need to improve without the puck.

3rd pair guess

LD N.Schultz RD Belov

LD Nick Schultz, He is a defensive defence man who should bounce back after a lackluster season. If he doesn't improve, I wouldn't doubt it if the Oilers look to move him. 

RD Anton Belov, Some say he was the best D man in the KHL last year. He has some grit to him and will be good guy to keep your eye on. Not sure how he will adapt to the smaller ice surface though. Should be interesting.

Other D man that could be in on opening night

Phillip Larson, Oscar Klefbom and Denis Grebeshkov


Starting goalie:

Deven Dubnyk, He had an up and down season last year. He won us some games and he lost us some games. One thing I do notice is that he usally lets in one bad goal every game. Duby is the postion I am most worried about. He is 27 years old he has never had a better save % better than 2.57. But saying that, he was on the terrible Oilers team. All and all this is the season where we find out if he is an average goalie or above average goalie.

Backup goalie

Jason LaBarbera, Jason is a proven backup who might actually challenge Dubnyk if he faulters. Chances are that doesn't happen, but if they do, LaBarbera would love to step in. 

Remember, this all could change if RNH comes back early or if more injuries happen from now until the regular season starts. but if nothing does change, these are my opening night lines.

This was written by NHL rumors guy AKA Noah Fuchs

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Beginning That Lies Ahead

It's the beginning of the 2013/14 NHL season coming up, and the beloved Edmonton Oilers fans are starting to get giddy. Lots of speculation and opinions having been flying around for some time.

The latest story is the possibility of Sam Gagner as the next Oilers captain. If you've followed me, you'll know I was and am a huge Gagner supporter. I think he'd make a fantastic captain and he would be a good mediator between the different age groups. So if Sam Gagner is the next Oilers captain, I support that decision.

One scenario I'd like to see played out this year? I'd love to see Ryan Smyth wear the C for this last kick at the can. Captain Canada should have a C on his jersey before he retired. This is that chance.

Another story has been who replaces Ryan Nugent-Hopkins if he's not ready to return at the start of the season. Some speculation has Taylor Hall moving to center. That's easily doable for the fact that now with the addition of Linus Omark into the fold, the Oilers can still have the top 6 filled with goal scorers. Doesn't matter if it's Hemsky or Omark, the Oilers can fill the void.

I've also heard the possibility of Marc Arcobello will fill the void left by the RNH injury. He has experience playing with Eberle and Hall and that could be the way the Oilers start their season.

Although, what kind of message does that send to a player? Right now, good enough to play on the first line, but the minute RNH comes back, back to the OKC Barons for Arcobello. I wouldn't want to have to make that decision.

Will the Oilers have three scoring lines? I'd hope not, but it's looking more and more like that's going to happen. It's very possible that we will see a Omark/Gordon/Hemsky line. I just can't imagine a 3rd line as a checking line with Ales Hemsky and Linus Omark on it. Can you?

Of course a top discussion was, will Oscar Klefbom make the team straight out of training camp? The Oilers are very high on him and it's very possible he's a final candidate for the 6th and 7th spot. I'd personally, if he's not quite there, send him down to OKC and let him play big minutes and develop his skill. That decision never hurts the player.

The YoungStars tournament starts in a couple days. I'm excited to see these kids and see what they can do. Lots of new faces and I'm hoping the Oilers show them via webcast like the previous years. Should be fun to watch.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

YAKCITY - "Nail Yakupov ready to step it up?"

Nail Yakupov has always been a enigmatic personality in and out of the dressing room and on the ice. What makes this young up and coming star player so good is not just the skill set, it's the drive to be the best or as some say, the drive to always be improving.

Here are Nail Yakupov's PPG over the past few years in the respective leagues he has played in;

2010-2011 CHL (101pts for 1.55 PPG)
2010-2012 U18 (13 pts for 1.85 PPG)

2011-2012 CHL (69 pts for 1.64 PPG)
2011-2012 U20 (9 pts for 1.28 PPG)

2012-2013 KHL (18 pts for .82 PPG)
2012-2013 NHL (31 pts for .65 PPG)

I had predicted on twitter and believe on a blog as well the PPG production Nail would likely produce both in the KHL and in the NHL. I had estimated Yakupov could produce .65 PPG in the KHL which he fared even better and in the NHL I said I believed he would produce around the .57 PPG. I had people saying I was out to lunch and no way this player had the skills yet or the size to produce like that at the NHL level. He covered both bets for me and this year it is likely we could see him more around the .80 PPG mark by the end of the NHL season of 2013-2014.

When looking at his Jr career and comparing him at that stage , let's look how he compares to a few other notable stars.

Steven Stamkos
2006-2007 CHL (92 pts for 1.46 PPG)
2006-2007 U18 (10 pts for 1.67 PPG)

2007-2008 CHL (105pts for 1.72 PPG)
2007-2008 U18 (5 pts for 1.25 PPG)
2007-2008 U20  (6pts for .86 PPG)

2008-2009 NHL (46 pts for .58 PPG)

2009-2010 NHL (95 pts for 1.16 PPG)

As we can see with Stamkos, it was his second season when his numbers began to soar. With a solid understanding of the game now and a larger sturdier frame he was better able to translate his jr career to the NHL level.

John Tavares 
(since John was brought in as a exceptional player into the OHL I will be exempting his early year to be more in comparison with the same age)

2006-2007 CHL (134 pts for 2.0 PPG)

2007-2008 CHL (118 pts for 2.0 PPG)
2007-2008 U20 (5 pts for .71 PPG)

2009-2010 NHL (54 pts for .66 PPG)

2010-2011 NHL (67 pts for .85 PPG)

John was one of the most incredible point producing jrs in the last couple decades. Very few reach his peak yet his game did not translate in his first year and even his second as you can see was somewhat reasonable.

Let's look at 2 more comparable players he currently plays with.

Taylor Hall
2008-2009 CHL (90 pts for 1.43 PPG)
2008-2009 U18 (8 pts for 2.0 PPG)

2009-2010 CHL (106 pts for  1.86 PPG)
2009-2010 U20 (12 pts for 2.0 PPG)

2010-2011 NHL (42 pts for .65 PPG)

2011-2012 NHL (53 pts for .87 PPG)

Taylor had a tremendous jr career but also while faring well in the NHL still took time to adjust to the style and speed of the game. His second year saw a increase in production like most stars do.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2009-2010 CHL (65 pts for .97 PPG)
2009-2010 U17 (5pts for 1.0 PPG)

2010-2011 CHL (106 pts for 1.54 PPG)
2010-2011 U18 (7 pts for 1.4 PPG)

2011-2012 NHL (52 pts for .84 PPG)

2012-2013 NHL (24 pts for .6 PPG)
*Fought with bad shoulder all season that ended early

Ryan IMO would have fared much better if not nursing a injury all season long. He fought through but likely his second NHL season was one that will not be seen again.

As you can see when comparing seasons to some other great players Nail is right on course and to under estimate his production this season would be to under value him as a player. The following is a quick look at the comparison's of jr career hockey to 1st seasons in the NHL.

CHL Career PPG
Nail Yakupov 1.59 PPG
Steven Stamkos 1.59 PPG
John Tavares 1.75 PPG
Taylor Hall 1.53 PPG
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.26 PPG

In looking at the PPG totals here in CHL hockey it's very clear Yakupov is on par with these players that many consider to be great. It should also be considered that both Yakupov and Stamkos did not play on a loaded team in their final year yet still produced well.

NHL 1st Season PPG
Nail Yakupov .65 PPG

Steven Stamkos .58 PPG
John Tavares .66 PPG
Taylor Hall  .65 PPG
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins .84 PPG

In observing the 1st year stats of PPG in these same players career's it can not be denied that Yakupov while playing only a shortened season produced equal to his earlier comrades in the NHL and shows very well against extremely high competition. 

Lastly, let's look at the 2nd years PPG production from the same players alongside my prediction of Nail Yakupov for the 2013-2014 NHL Season

NHL 2nd Season PPG
Steven Stamkos  1.16 PPG

John Tavares  .85 PPG
Taylor Hall  .87 PPG
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins  .60 PPG
Nail Yakupov .80 PPG (My prediction)

Looking at how Nail has compared well in at the same growth curve in his career, I believe it is reasonable to say he likely will be comparable in his 2nd NHL season as well. While Stamkos hit it out of the park on his second season RNH struggled a little. Despite that, when comparing, it definitely gives a good case of optimism for Oilers fans alike this coming season.

In the meantime, Keep your stick on the Ice!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A look into the UFA 'Center' position in Edmonton

Today we are going to look at potential Centre position players that could be brought in. We may just need that depth center position filled here in Edmonton OR could we trade Gagner potentially if he is asking for too high a price and sign a decent Centerman to replace him? Only time will tell for Oiler fans but in the meantime let's take a look at what is available on the Free Agent market for Centre's July 1/2013.

Elias, Patrik » 6'1 194 lbs

Ribeiro, Mike » 6'0 176 lbs

Connolly, Tim » 6'1 192 lbs

McDonald, Andy » 5'10 187 lbs

Antropov, Nik » 6'6 245

Roy, Derek » 5'9 187 lbs

Koivu, Saku » 5'10 181 lbs

Cullen, Matt » 6'1 194 lbs

Lombardi, Matthew » 5'11 194 lbs

Zubrus, Dainius » 6'5 225 lbs

Weiss, Stephen » 5'11 192 lbs

Malhotra, Manny » 6'2 216 lbs

Handzus, Michal » 6'5 216 lbs

Wellwood, Kyle » 5'11 185 lbs

Bozak, Tyler » 6'0 187 lbs

Reasoner, Marty » 6'0 190 lbs

Gordon, Boyd » 6'0 201 lbs

Hecht, Jochen » 6'1 192 lbs

Steckel, David » 6'5 223 lbs

Lapierre, Maxim » 6'2 220 lbs

Regin, Peter » 6'2 196 lbs

Halpern, Jeff » 6'0 203 lbs

Nichol, Scott » 5'8 179 lbs

Chipchura, Kyle » 6'2 209 lbs

Adams, Craig » 6'0 198 lbs

Hall, Adam » 6'3 205 lbs

Bolduc, Alexandre » 6'2 201 lbs

Of these players available, very few would be of interest to replace Gagner at center, so unless they can grab a top centerman in the NHL entry draft, very unlikely they let Gagner go unless they secretly plan to move Hall to the centre position. (I highly doubt they go that way). Take a look see at some possibilities here for that 4th line role behind Horcoff if he is not traded. Belanger's replacement is very likely going to be a faceoff winning centre who has speed to burn and is a big boy who can land a good hit.

I will discuss under comments some of my thoughts as too which players I like  or dislike.

'Keepin on Keepin on'

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