Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.
After another Edmonton Oilers victory in preseason last night, we awaken to another round of training camp cuts, and reassignments to Oklahoma City. The bunch sent south this go-round included two forwards, and one defender. The three cuts (along with a placement of Darnell Nurse in juniors) now brings the Oilers towards a nearly complete NHL roster. There is just one more cut to make.
Last night’s victory over the New York Rangers probably wasn’t much more than a send off for the three assigned to the Barons.
Anton Lander, the centerman with callup potential, played just over 13:00 but was well below 50% in his face off wins (closer to 30%). His offensive inabilities seemingly continue to haunt him, and perhaps he is becoming the new Ryan O’Marra – so much potential, not enough meat and potatoes.
Tyler Pitlick, arguably the most impressive prospect in Oilers camp, played under 10:00 last night, and for all practical purposes was nearly invisible. He contributed in small ways, but on a night where Perron scores a pair, Eberle and Hall score one a piece, you are just going to be forgotten. What is not forgotten is how well he has stabilized himself at camp. I’ve said this before in the last week, but it needs to be mentioned again. This version of Tyler Pitlick is one we have not seen before, and I really want to see more. Instead of stringing together one or two good games, we need to see weeks of solid hockey. Those weeks then need to turn into months. Months into seasons. It boils down to roster placement as well, even on the farm team. Look for him to crack the top two lines in Oklahoma City.
Taylor Fedun continues to make headway quietly with the Oilers. Perhaps they have a soft spot for the kid, but the truth is that he has turned in to a decent puck mover with increasingly fewer defensive indiscretions. That’s good. With the loaded D core now hanging around in Oklahoma City (Klefbom, Marincin, Davidson, Gernat, etc. etc.) he will have to begin to pull away from the pack of slightly younger players. I think he can do it, and I think that Todd Nelson will favor him just a bit in the upcoming OKC season.
This leaves the Oilers with probably one more cut in camp to get to season “fighting weight”. Injuries excluded, the roster now stands at fifteen (healthy) forwards and seven (healthy) defenders. Many have suggested that Ryan Jones has been placed on waivers, and that might be the case.
Friday, the NHL Oilers will play in Oklahoma City in their final preseason tilt before the regular season begins. We will no doubt see a full, respectable roster. That will be fun. Likewise, it appears that Dallas will shed enough of their skin to be at the perfect NHL number. Two full NHL teams playing preseason in OKC sounds perfect to me. Let’s go!