“Tread lightly,” I told myself about a week ago. “Don’t get swept up in the emotions of watching actual Oilers hockey,” I shouted in my backyard. “Watch Jujhar, Musil, Chase, Brossoit, Gernat, and others, but don’t get attached to what you actually see as ‘good’ versus ‘bad’,” I promised my family. In the end the Penticton tourney, now an annual tradition in BC for the Edmonton Oilers, became everything I thought it would be, and thus everything I knew it shouldn’t.
Prospect tourneys are the first drag from a new bag of pixie sticks. You start with the red one, and it tastes sugary sweet. Once you’ve hit the rotation, ending with blue of course, things get yucky, bitter even. On the dawn of the finale in Penticton for the Oilers sprouts, I’m regretting not choosing Jolly Ranchers.
But despite the tourney being awfully triumphant, obese in its endeavors, there are some truly remarkable things worth noting. None of which, by the way, have much impact on the coming season of AHL/NHL hockey.
As we watched Tkachev turn into a revolutionary(??) player on twitter, we saw David Musil and then Martin Gernat and then Dillon Simpson and back again struggle in the minute portions of the game. Yet despite their little indiscretions, they looked much better than they did in September 2013.
Jujhar Khaira again showed his net presence was spot on, Kessy displayed good hands, then bad mits, and the Jones twins proved they are indeed ‘Perfect Strangers’ (and Connor is totally Balki, right? I loved Balki.)
Frans and Laurent looked far more poised than anticipated, and sparked a bit of a goaltending head scratcher when the Barons get locked and loaded in October. It was their own doing. They can’t help themselves. They are young Oilers – world beaters, constantly positive – and we thank them for their sunny approach.
Then came Mitch Moroz, the prize winning pie, who needs no 2% milk chaser. He is potentially an AHL goal-scoring magician, and a “top four Oilers forward” according to the radio broadcast team. His razzle and dazzle aren’t without their defensive misgivings, but he knows that. That’s why he and I will be fine acquaintances.
Yakimov was sparkly, agile, strong down the middle. If he were an Instagram filter he would be Nashville. A hue only reserved for bright, intense scene captures.
Nurse still moves like a freak-of-nature, the good kind, but occasionally has “Bambi legs”. He will be fine, I promise.
Nelson, Flem, and Borgford. Our first glimpse at the “new three” at work, and again they look ravishing. High-minded hockey thinkers for the working set, Nelson is going to make one NHL team very happy in the coming years (Nelson raising cup in three years > Oilers raising a cup in five – call Vegas).
Some good-times quotes from the event:
Frans Tuohimaa on the current state of Edmonton Oilers prospect tenders – “We have a lot of goalies”. It could be worse (and has been), Frans. Stay tuned…
He put on eight pounds, and is near 215 this season. I did the same this offseason, but for all the wrong reasons. Ladies and gentlemen, Jujhar Khaira on the difference between this prospect tourney and last year’s – “We have more skill, and we need it. I’m glad I can give the Oilers something they need.”
Todd Nelson gives us an insight into what he has been dealing with via Oilers call-ups, try-outs, and such – “Last year I coached 52-54 players, nine goalies, and everyone got a chance, that’s for sure.” Love you, coach.
The Penticton tournament wraps up tonight as the Oilers face the Winnipeg Jets. Then it is training camp full steam ahead. I’m ready.