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From August to October

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09-28-2003, 07:42 AM
  #1
theoil
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From August to October

I love this time of year when the team is being picked. Next to the playoffs I think it is the best time to be a fan. It is an emotional roller coaster as we go from sneaking out of work to watch the first skates over at Clare Drake arena to the business of cutting the last few players to send to Toronto.

It seems that this year there was so much hope for our young kids coming into camp. We had Moreau off to the anonymity of the SE division for a pick and a bag of pucks. We had 17 NHL'ers for 14 spots up front.

On d there was concern about our ability to even ice 6 legitimate NHL'ers going into camp and Conklin was a big question mark as a backup for Salo who also had questions about his ability to rebound from a subpar season last year.

My question as we inch toward October is who has exceeded or played up to expectations and who has lost ground over the course of the last month of rampant speculation regarding our prospects for the coming season?

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09-28-2003, 07:55 AM
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theoil
I love this time of year when the team is being picked. Next to the playoffs I think it is the best time to be a fan. It is an emotional roller coaster as we go from sneaking out of work to watch the first skates over at Clare Drake arena to the business of cutting the last few players to send to Toronto.

It seems that this year there was so much hope for our young kids coming into camp. We had Moreau off to the anonymity of the SE division for a pick and a bag of pucks. We had 17 NHL'ers for 14 spots up front.

On d there was concern about our ability to even ice 6 legitimate NHL'ers going into camp and Conklin was a big question mark as a backup for Salo who also had questions about his ability to rebound from a subpar season last year.

My question as we inch toward October is who has exceeded or played up to expectations and who has lost ground over the course of the last month of rampant speculation regarding our prospects for the coming season?
Just based on pre-season play, which of course in the end is meaningless, there are a few of the conclusions I have made.

1. Torres and Stoll are more ready for NHL duty than Rita.
2. Corey Cross is more of a concern than I had originally felt. It could be that he needs to play with a guy like Brewer, but I don't know.
3. Salo has played really well, and Conklin has lived up to the role handed to him.
4. Moreau is going to remain a big part of this team... of the MGM line, I never thought he would be the one we would always keep.
5. The Oilers need either Comrie, or a centre to replace him on the top line.... York, Smyth, Horcoff... nope.

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09-28-2003, 08:49 AM
  #3
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1) Hemsky. Off-season regiment of roller hockey and practicing with Hejduk have really shown through in his conditioning for the season. He looks poised to shatter last years point totals.

2) Salmelainen. I think this guy just stole Rita's spot in the PB. He is flat out one of the fastest guys on a smokin quick team. I expect Tony to make a name for himself this year.

3) It might not count but.. Craig Simpson. He is having a ball out there. I have a good feeling about him and the Oilers this season.

On my uh-oh list are... Cross, he's gotta keep his feet moving. Laraque, groin injury already? Little more stretching little less power 92. Rita, I dont think he's going to make the team again this year.

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Old
09-28-2003, 12:46 PM
  #4
hackey
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oh darn those pesky little Minny wilds......

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Old
09-28-2003, 01:45 PM
  #5
Yanner39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
5. The Oilers need either Comrie, or a centre to replace him on the top line.... York, Smyth, Horcoff... nope.
Ya know, I'm really starting to beleive that...I guess if we start the year off with what we have it won't be the end of the world...But I would feel a little better if they'd get more offensive help...

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Old
09-28-2003, 01:57 PM
  #6
IceDragoon
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I was thinking of these 2, even tho neither is technically a prospect. I agree with your assessments, just adding from my point of view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obsessed
1) Hemsky. Off-season regiment of roller hockey and practicing with Hejduk have really shown through in his conditioning for the season. He looks poised to shatter last years point totals.
I read that he played D on his winning roller hockey team. That has to be good for his overall game.
Quote:
3) It might not count but.. Craig Simpson. He is having a ball out there. I have a good feeling about him and the Oilers this season.
Oh, I think it counts big time. After all, he's the youngster added to the coaching corps. He's really "hockey smart". And he brings the boys a new perspective, controlled enthusiasm and a burning desire to win.
.........

I like how Stoll has looked, but I think he would benefit more from playing on the top line in TO for a few months, than from playing 4th line minutes or keeping a seat warm in the press box.

I also think Rita looked good with Reasoner, but has disappeared since being teamed with other prospects. Looks like he could use some first line ice time with Stoll.

Luoma has had sporadic success at camp and needs some "NA hockey conditioning" on the farm.

Now is as good a time as any for MAB to kick start his way into limited play with the big boys.

In the "been there - done that" department, Jamie Wright has had a decent camp, but he's done that before (down highway 2), only to look like crud in regular season play. Hmm... Doesn't this sound like someone else we're all happy is gone?

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Old
09-28-2003, 04:40 PM
  #7
Digger12
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Going from the August optimism to the October reality, here's my quickie list:

Exceeded expectations

BRAD ISBISTER - I have to admit, I was pessimistic about how he was going to do in camp, and that pic of him from the fitness tests looking like he had to lose some baby fat didn't help any. I'm glad that he's proven me wrong thus far. He's shown better than expected chemistry with Smyth and Hemsky, and in limited action has been consistently driving hard to the net. It's early, but he HAS done better than I'd hoped.

PETER SARNO - If someone had asked me a month ago if it's be a horserace between him and Stoll for a spot on the opening day roster, I would've laughed, pointed at Sarno's previous forgettable camps and zero defensive awareness and said "Yeah right". The fact that he's still here over halfway through the exhibitions shows that his year in Europe worked for him. He's shown good playmaking and hockey sense on the PP, and amazingly hasn't been a Chernobyl-level disaster on his team's side of the red line. Right now I'd still pick Stoll over him because Stoll's far superior on the faceoff dot and can PK, but a platoon of the two might work out really well.

TY CONKLIN - I'm still sweating a bit about the spotty rebound control, but then Markkanen wasn't great in that way either, and Conklin's shown superior athleticism and handles the puck at least as well. The one question mark still is consistency, but the only way we'll find out is if he gets a chance. Now's his chance.

Failed expectations

JANI RITA - I know there's still time left, but right now he's really infuriating me with what seems to be indifferent play. I just can't shake the feeling that he hasn't learned jack squat from last year's camp...you know, the one where he had awesome scrimmages, followed by a goal in his first exhibition game, then falling off the radar as he started facing more NHL-calibre lineups and less camp fodder? You can SEE the talent there, but the willingness to make a difference in a game seems to come and go. We need his strength and offense, but I think he's going back to the A if he doesn't get some points in the next 2 games.

MIKKO LUOMA - This is more to do with perhaps unrealistic expectations from me perhaps, but I was hoping for a bit more. Not a bad camp, but it's obvious he needs some AHL seasoning. If he wants to learn the NHL game and isn't just here for a one year sabbatical, it'll do him a world of good, and give the Oilers a valid fallback in case MAB can't cut the mustard once the second half hits and the grind maybe gets to the little guy.

CORY CROSS - Right now, if the season starts tomorrow he's sitting in the pressbox. I didn't think it possible...I thought it more likely that Ralph Klein would be the Drum Major in a Gay pride parade...but Cross seems to have LOST a step. Glaciers can take him wide now. :mad:

SHAWN HORCOFF - Maybe he's just started slow, but I was hoping after the way he ended last year and all the good press about how he was ready to break out...he still seems like the same guy that started last camp. I still think he's going to start the year centering the 2nd line, but I was hoping it'd be a bit more of a slam dunk decision.

This list can and will change without notice after the Vancouver game, of course.

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Old
09-28-2003, 06:40 PM
  #8
Oi'll say!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
1. Torres and Stoll are more ready for NHL duty than Rita.
There's no doubt imo that Rita has an above average nhl skill set, and the only way for him to develop nhl level consistancy is to play in the best league in the world. He showed that he belonged here last season, that's worth more than anything that has happened in August and September.

Torres should get a good shot here too, but imo Stoll has lots to gain from leading the Roadies and hasn't played well while he was here in the regular season.

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Old
09-28-2003, 07:01 PM
  #9
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I love this time of year. For fans, this is when you get to see the kids try to knock the door down.

It's also a pretty difficult time for the coaches and GM, though. Over the next couple of seasons, Edmonton will have to make decisions on several young players. They've already sent away Josh Green and Dan Cleary up front, and Tom Poti on the backline.

Soon, they'll have to decide if Jani Rita gets playing time over other prospects; maybe they'll send him away for a pick or a defenseman, or in a package with Comrie.

From everything I've read, Jarret Stoll has the brightest future of all the young forwards in camp. He hasn't dazzled, but he's done what he was told to do, and did it with enthusiasm. Coachability is pretty important, and that's why I think he'll stay. I can't see Craig MacTavish cutting himself.

Rita appears to have stage fright. This same crap different pile stuff is killing everyone, and I expect they'll call him up in December and let him play until he finds his way.

Salmelainen has to make the club as a scorer, and that won't happen. If he stays as the 13th/14th forward, that means they don't think alot of him. imo they do, so he's in Toronto.

Jamey Wright has no real connection to the team, and battling a couple of first rounders is a pretty difficult task. Could make the team as an extra forward.

Sarno could make the team as a specialist, a power play guy.

Bobby Allen should have won the #6 job this fall, and didn't. He was injured, but NHL history is full of guys who missed their chance and never saw the light of day.

Luoma impressed early, distressed late.

Bergeron is pure dynamite, and for a coach who doesn't like to get a spot on his suit, I think he'll be a bit messy.

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