Lowetide talked about it the other day, but there are only six, and more likely three, jobs open on the Oilers. It's a bit puzzling that the worst team in the league already has nineteen players locked into jobs before preseason even starts, but such is life when renovating without gutting. While Edmonton fans are going to be stoked for preseason hockey, preseason isn't going to be exciting because of any roster drama as it might be traditionally. This preseason is going to be exciting because of the debut of a bunch of pre-packaged saviors. Well, that and hoping that Nikolai Khabibulin plays on the road in the preseason, just to see what hilarity opposing fans can think up.
The first foray into the pro game for the kids like Hartikainen, Eberle, Vande Velde and Petry is in Vancouver, a terrible, horrible place. I can't think of a tougher introduction to the league - it's a place where some fans try to blind their opponents for fun, and the team retired the number seven for those fans. If you want to laugh at, not with, some people, watch the ceremony here.
Tonight's lineup, as per EdmontonOilers.com
Giroux - Horcoff - Eberle
Hartikainen - O'Marra - McDonald
Stewart - Moran - Stortini
MacIntyre - Vande Velde - Ondrus
Whitney - Petry
Peckham - Vandermeer
Chorney - Taylor
The questions I hope the Oilers begin to answer tonight:
- How is Shawn Horcoff feeling? He led the forwards in time on ice last year despite being handicapped with what we've been told was a partial tear of the labrum in his shoulder. With Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, and Fraser behind him on the depth chart, Horcoff is going to get worked like a rented mule. He's a big boy, he can handle it when he's healthy, but if the shoulder is still bothering him, this year will be uglier than expected.
- Is Jordan Eberle going to swim? Bruce thinks he's like Joey Mullen - smart, surprising, aware and timely. Dawgbone brings up a good point - Eberle's reputation would be completely different if he swapped two posts in Regina with two game-tying/game-winning goals in the World Junior Championships. Is he already skilled enough to keep up in the NHL? If so, does he have the game to play both ends of the ice, or is he going to need serious shelter?
- Can Teemu Hartikainen work against the big boys? He's strong like a bull and relishes play on the boards and in front of the net. He showed off some real strength against bigger defensemen in the rookie games, but can he hold up against real NHL defensemen? Will he be able to protect the puck on the boards and force his way to the front of the net like he's always done, or will he have to refine his game?
- Will the Oilers' penalty kill stink again? Gone from the regular penalty kill of the last two years are Staios, Souray, Moreau and Pisani. They've been replaced by...Colin Fraser. They're being backstopped by Dubnyk, Deslauriers and the pink boxer shorts. Should be fun.
- Can the Oilers count on Jeff Petry this season? He's got three years of NCAA seasoning on him - he should be ahead of Chorney, Peckham, and Plante, right? His short stint in Springfield didn't look great, but he's got a chance to prove himself in this training camp.
- Is Tom Renney going to maintain his sanity? He's got one line to work with in the tough conference. How in the world does he put together a roster like this? Does he break up the pieces and drown Fraser's line?
It's an open game thread. Drop in during the game and join us while we make fun of Vancouver.