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Wet Hot Canadian Fall: News and Notes From Camp.

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News and notes from Oilers training camp.

Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers are the best team in the NHL.  In September.  This runs counter to the Oilers’ recent tradition of being the worst team always, and is a phenomenon we here at the Copper & Blue fully endorse.  These undefeated superlatives are fresh off a proverbial pistol-whipping of the Winnipeg Phoenix Arizona Coyotes last night, but the victory came a dear cost.  Former All-Star RW Jordan Eberle will be out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury.

While this is surely devastating news to Oilers fans the world over - and anyone with a gap between their teeth - this presents an opportunity for the remaining Oilers with two functioning shoulders to get a real look in a top-six role.  Camp standouts Anton Slepyshev and Leon Draisaitl, camp enigma Nail Yakupov, and camp counselor Teddy Purcell all figure to be in the mix for a spot on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ right wing, and whoever gets the job should see a prominent role in the team’s 5v5 game.

None of these players, at present, represent a like-for-like replacement with Eberle.  Slepyshev has shown well and lasted surprisingly long at main camp, but is still very much an unknown commodity in North America.  Draisaitl has all-world puck skills, but he and RNH like to operate in a similar fashion and it remains to be seen whether they can develop some chemistry together.  Yakupov is the greatest and all but would guarantee Nugent-Hopkins’ first 200-point season if he got a look.  Of course, that’s not true.  Yakupov has spent some time on RNH’s wing in the past and the two had as much chemistry as two cousins dating.  Not just any two cousins either.  Two cousins who were acutely aware that the person they’re at dinner with is their cousin.  It wasn’t good.  It really, really wasn’t.  Purcell is pretty old, and pretty slow, but he does think the game like an NHL pro and, despite a strong allergy to physical contact, could do a job on RNH’s right.  He did play with Stamkos once, after all.

Other, less (or possibly more?) depressing, news out of Oilers camp this morning tells us that highly-touted prospect D Darnell Nurse has been sent down to Bakersfield for the beginning of the season.  The Oilers cut three more today, with Iiro Pakarinen, Martin Gernat, and Mitch Moroz all scheduled to join Nurse in California.

Nurse had, by most accounts, a pretty strong training camp.  It’s clear to anyone with eyes that he’s blessed with elite speed, size, and strength, but he’s also got a good stick and can make plays with the puck.  Where Nurse struggled, for me, was that he seemed to be trying too hard to make the team.  There was some chaos in his game (not Norris-trophy calibre chaos, mind you) that a stint in Bakersfield should help with.  A bit of restraint, and a better understanding of the game at the pro level will do Nurse wonders.  This move also makes sense from a contractual perspective.  Nurse can be sent down without incident, whereas a guy like Brandon Davidson will need to clear waivers to be assigned.  I think most of us would agree too, that Nurse seeing 20+ minutes in all situations at the AHL level will serve his development better than 12+ sheltered minutes in the bigs would.

Pakarinen came into camp as a longshot to get a job, and spent virtually the entirety of camp banged up.  Martin Gernat is now the frog with which other Oilers prospects use to leap over, consistently.  Gernat was once a highly-touted prospect from the Oil Kings organization, but has struggled mightily since turning pro.  If he ever gets more than a cup of coffee with the Oilers, colour me surprised.  Mitch Moroz is a player I’ve never been a big fan of, but most of that bitterness comes from where he was drafted.  That, and his general badness.  I think Moroz has a better chance to land an NHL gig someday by virtue of the NHL’s obsession with guys who aren’t the most talented, but could beat up a birch tree.  Time will tell.

As it stands now, the Oilers camp roster sits at 28 players.  15 forwards, 10 defenseman, and 3 goaltenders.  Here is the list, as per oilers.nhl.com:

Forwards Defensemen
Name Position Name Position
Leon Draisaitl C Brandon Davidson D
Jordan Eberle RW Mark Fayne D
Luke Gazdic LW Andrew Ference D
Taylor Hall LW Eric Gryba D
Matt Hendricks LW Oscar Klefbom D
Rob Klinkhammer LW Nikita Nikitin D
Lauri Korpikoski LW Griffin Reinhart D
Anton Lander C Justin Schultz D
Mark Letestu C Andrej Sekera D
Connor McDavid C Dillon Simpson D
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C
Benoit Pouliot LW Goaltenders
Teddy Purcell RW Name Position
Anton Slepyshev LW Anders Nilsson G
Nail Yakupov RW Ben Scrivens G
Cam Talbot G