The deadline came and went. The conversations have seemingly ended and now we wait. We do know that there will be no pre-season games for the Oilers this year, at least not the six that were previously scheduled. There is still hope for some sort of shortened NHL season, but those hopes seem to be fading with each day that passes. Jason Strudwick has mentioned however, that during the last lockout the NHLPA encouraged their members to find contracts and work anywhere they could, this year, the PA has been far more quiet on the subject. It could be that with NHL players going to Europe they are pushing other players that rely on the income out of their positions, or it could be that the union truly believes that the season can be salvaged. Either way, it seems that a few less players are making the trip across the pond.
Ladislav Smid and Ales Hemsky are reported to be playing in the Czech league this winter, a league that is said to be taking on only Czech players. The trouble with Hemsky playing in this league is of course his shoulders. If he is truly feeling as fit as he says, it may not be an issue, but I think that many of us remember Hemsky saying that he hadn't ever felt as healthy as he did at the start of last season. For me, Hemsky's shoulders are still and should still be a concern.
Nail Yakupov is said to be having some issues being granted clearance into the KHL by some sources, but the KHL itself has said that there are no issues. Who is to be believed? The KHL season has already been running for a few weeks now, and Yakupov has been locked out for a week. You would think that the KHL would desperately want the NHL's first overall pick to be a star or at least a feature in their league that they can feature and focus on, but the league may have bigger issues.
News out of Sweden concerning Oilers' prospect defenceman Oscar Klefbom is glowing. The gold medal winning World Juniors star defenceman has been playing bigger minutes and taking on a more important role with his Swedish Elite Leage (SEL) team Farjestad. Many Oilers' fans have been anxiously awaiting his North American arrival since the day that he was drafted, but it seems that playing out his contract in the SEL was the smartest thing Klefbom could have done. Instead of sitting around wondering where he will be, or where he will fit in a busy Oklahoma City Barons roster Klefbom is playing and training. Should the CBA matter be decided we could see Klefbom in an Oilers uniform next season, even if only for a few games.
The Barons team is looking to get started, and with a very full roster for their training camp. Usually the team would start their training camp with a skeleton crew until players had been released from the Oilers, but this time the team is ready to get going with players like Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and head coach Todd Nelson couldn't be happier to have the "problem" of deciding where to put his newly acquired star talent.
From Jason Gregor's interview with Coach Nelson on Monday afternoon it does sound as though Magnus Paajarvi may get a chance to play with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins. This should help Paajarvi with his confidecne and perhaps even the consistency that is needed from the young winger.
The Stockton Thunder still have plenty of time before their October 12th openeing night, and we will watch anxiously to see which Oilers players are assinged to the league.
The Edmonton Oil Kings are set to be the only hockey team in town, well the only team that has the potential to draw huge crowds, no offence to the UofA Golden Bears, Nait Ooks, etc, and for some this is a throw back to the days before the Oilers were even in Edmonton. But the team is going to be without Oilers' prospect and defenceman Martin Gernat who is nursing a sore shoulder. Gernat also suffered a shoulder injury during last year's World Juniors. There is no idication at this point that Gernat could be in for some future trouble, but I think that once he is able to add some weight or bulk it might help him.
The new arena project seems to be moving as well and as quickly as the NHL CBA talks. That's not a good thing. Most of us had believed that things were sorted out and that ground was certainly going to be broken this spring. Instead we are learning that talks between the city and the Katz group have been completely derailed over a few keys points that may or may not have been up for discussion since the beginning. Because the arena is so polarizing for fans and for the people of Edmonton I won't go into much more discussion, that's a topic in and of itself.
And so it seems we have another week of uncertainty to look forward to. But at least the Alberta weather has been nice and we haven't been driven indoors to watch dancing with the stars or something just as bad.