It's another year where the closest the Edmonton Oilers will get to the playoffs is the the IIHF World Championship. Thankfully, several Oilers made the cut for their various countries. Representing Canada are Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Devan Dubnyk. jeff Petry will be suiting up for the United States and for the Czech Republic Ales Hemsky. Winger Linus Omark did try out for team Sweden, but was one of the final cuts. There is no way that Omark could opt to play for the Oklahoma Barons now instead. So instead, this might be a good opportunity for Omark to have some real discussions with the Oilers to help determine his future, or to have them facilitate a move that will work for both parties.
Ales Hemsky's second period goal Friday was may not have been the game winner in the 2-0 win over Denmark, but it's great to see him scoring on the international stage again. This must also mean that he is feeling healthy again after another up and down season with the Oilers.
Despite having so many talented NHLers on Canada's roster, the focus does seem to fall on defenceman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL. Murray is projected to go to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the #2 spot at this year's NHL entry draft. Murray is not only playing with men, but is holding his own and does not look at all out of place. Perhaps he will be ready to play in the NHL next season after all, while defenceman Griffin Reinhart and Matt Dumba would likely benefit from another year in the dub.
Canada will face the USA Saturday morning at 10am MST, giving you a great opportunity to see a number of familiar faces instead of those in the playoff games you have been subjecting yourselves too. Sounds like a good reason to get up early, or set your DVR now doesn't it? If you have access to more games, the Czech Republic will play Sweden at 11:15am.
The Oil Kings may still be in the midst of their playoff run, but the Oilers didn't want to wait any longer to sign gritty left winger Kristians Pelss. In his second year in the WHL and in Canada for the matter, Pelss has made tremendous strides in his efforts to learn English and to play the North American game. Because Pelss was taken by the Oil Kings in the CHL European draft, the Oilers have been able to keep a watchful eye on Pelss as well as Martin Gernat and certainly they had a better idea of the player that they were signing to a 3 year entry level contract than their prospects who are developing in Europe. Pelss is still under 20 and will continue to add mass and further his game, but likely as a professional player next season. The Oil Kings have successfully engineered for themselves a wining team that can go the distance. If they were to keep Pelss next season, Pelss would be taking up 2 roster spots as a over age player. Instead of losing him to the draft again or another team, the Oilers were able to ensure that Pelss would remain an Oiler prospect and help out one of their affiliated professional teams.
The Oil Kings have opened the WHL finals at home, taking the first 3-2 but losing the second game 5-1. The series will now travel to Portland Oregon, but we know that this series will go at least 5 games.
The Oklahoma City Barons have also opened their next playoff series against the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers. Despite a phenomenally great deal that consisted of $11 tickets, $1 10 oz beer, $2 16 oz beer and free t-shirts, less than 3000 hockey fans made their way to the OKC downtown arena. The Barons fell 6-4 in their opening game Thursday, and will continue to hope to increased ticket sales and attendance in their second game, where they also hope to pull out the victory.