The Edmonton Oilers kick off their season tonight at home against the Winnipeg Jets. They do so with their newly named captain(14th) Andrew Ferrence. He has exhibited great leadership from the day he stepped into the dressing room and has been a great asset to the community outside of the rink since his arrival. He’s homegrown and seems to be a perfect fit to help guide our youth.
Aside from Ference, the Oilers have added a number of new players to the lineup this season. More notably David Perron, Boyd Gordon and Jesse Joensuu up front. Anton Belov, Denis Grebeshkov on D and Labarbera to back-up / share the load with Devan Dubnyk. More recently the Oilers have also added Steve MacIntyre and Luke Gazdic to up the team toughness.
With Gagner out for some time still and Nugent-Hopkins still without the green light, Mark Arcobello will be standing in to fill an empty slot at center. Taylor Hall has played most of the pre-season at the pivot as well centering Hemsky and Smyth. He’s done a decent enough job that management hasn’t felt the need to shop the market for a stop gap.
Depth wise there was some good battling for the last few roster spots through the pre-season which is a welcome change. Nice to know there is a competitive drive and that if anyone falters we have some usable pieces that can rotate in.
The new head coach Dallas Eakins has been a big part of that. Coming in from the Marlies organization everyone essentially had a clean slate, and with it Eakins expected everyone to earn a spot. He may be the biggest off season acquisition that this team has made. He’s brings high expectations in and will play no favorites. Fitness is a big part of his philosophy and he won’t tolerate anyone doggin it out there.
A lot of really positive moves have been made, so if this team gels, we might actually be able to start planning the parade route this year. The welcome back to the playoffs parade… I think we’ve all earned it!
Tonight’s game against the Jets is the first meeting in a while, aside from pre-season. Re-alignment has brought them back west and the two teams did not play each other during last year’s abbreviated season.
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (shoulder)
Sam Gagner (broken jaw)
Steve MacIntyre (knee)
Denis Grebeshkov (groin)
Corey Potter (back)
David Perron (illness)
Dustin Byfuglien (lower body)
Zach Bogosian (undisclosed)