So Training camp kicks off this Saturday, with an open practice at Rexall place at 8:15AM. I’m considering going to get a preview of these guys, live, although I’m having a tough time getting up early on a Saturday to go see a practice (especially when I’ve been going to bed too late on work nights as it is). I think really there probably isn’t too much excitement to see, until they start to scrimmage. So maybe I’ll just enjoy the beauty rest.
Anyways, it was announced yesterday that Tambellini has invited every Oiler from the Young Stars tournament to the main camp, so it sounds like they’re keeping all options open for positions on the big club. The Young Stars tournament was a big success with the Oilers rookies finishing with a 2-1 record.
The tournament left me with a few extra names to be excited about that I wasn’t necessarily normally expecting, including Tyler Pitlick. He seems to be one of those complete package players. I didn’t get to focus much on the defensive side of his game, but he should a great compete level and used his size a lot. I might be all caught up in “saw him good”, but last night in particular he had one shift where he layed 2 players out. He hit one Shark in the defensive zone pretty hard, then skated across to the other side of defensive zone and nailed the d-man initiating the Sharks break out. Pitlick also had 2 goals on the tourney (one an empty netter though) including the game winner versus the Flames.
I thought our goaltending was pretty solid throughout the tournament, although I’m not really too keen on Pitton. Also, Bunz had the odd issue of staying in his net, but aside from that, I was pretty impressed with the prospects of Roy and Bunz.
From the toughness and grit side of things, Cameron Abney is a beast. Hopefully he can play the game.. but he definitely likes to throw hands. He might have gotten a bit lucky against the Flames’ Breen, but he dropped him and cut him good with a solid punch that ended the fight (it should be noted though that Abney was losing the fight, albeit not badly, before that).
Chris Vande Velde is also had a decent tournament and played a very gritty game, although I had hoped for a bit more from him.
Some folks in the Oilogosphere have been a bit disappointed with Teemu Hartikainen, but myself, I thought he played a good tournament. He is strong on the puck, and a very aggressive player (had a couple of big hits). He also has a good nose for the net, even though he couldn’t pot one.
Perhaps our best d-man on the whole at the tournament was Alex Plante. He looked good at both ends of the ice. Unfortunately, in last night’s game, it appears that he hit his head on the ice and cut it open, requiring stitches. Word is that he didn’t suffer a concussion though (which wouldn’t be his first one).. so that is good. But I’d like to see him called up this year at some point, so I hope he stays healthy.
Last but not least, the big 3… what can you say about them? They are good like I had hoped. Eberle’s has a sick set of hands. Hall has very good vision and looks like he can PK well (although he and Eberle were on the ice for a short-handed goal last night). He even nearly single-handedly killed a penalty last night, playing keepaway. And Paajarvi… wow. Consider me sold. I know the true test is at the NHL level, but in this tournament he looked similar to present-day Ales Hemsky – all over the ice… making beautiful passes… shooting when the opportunity was there. The hype spawned by Forsberg and Hemsky seems warranted. Of the 3 young players, I’m most anxious about him, and I think he will lead our rookies in scoring this year.
Anyways, rookie camp was exciting as hell for me. But the main camp should be all the better now that these young, future stars will get a chance to play with NHLers like Hemsky, Penner and Gagner, as well as AGAINST tough competition. Will our big trio look good against real NHLers? That remains to be seen. I don’t expect them to be dominating at this point of course, but it would be nice to see if they can at least keep up with the big boys. And well, training camp is a good glimpse at what these guys can do early on at the NHL level.
UPDATED 10:00AM, 9/17/2010:
Ladies and gentlemen, here are your lines/teams to start the camp:
Penner – Gagner – Hemsky
Schaber – Pitlick – Ondrus
Hartikainen – Reddox – Stortini
Cornet – Kytnar – Abney
Jacques (I understand he is out though)
Whitney – Petry
Strudwick – Blain
Davidson – Bendfeld
Paajarvi – Cogliano – Brule
Giroux – O’Marra – McDonald
Hamilton – Moran – Thomas
MacIntyre – Martindale – Livingston
Peckham – Gilbert
Petiot – Plante
Marincin – Taylor
Hall – Horcoff – Eberle
Jones – Fraser – Omark
Stewart – Vande Velde – Peiss
Gimblett – Marquardt – Czerwonka
Vandermeer – Foster
Chorney – Smid
Belle – Motin