Oilers radio colour analyst Bob Stauffer answers fans submitted by fans about the team.
- Bob, what are some of your observations after the first the first three days on ice at Oilers camp?
— Mike in Redwater
Here are three observations for you.
The first thing that caught my eye was the urgency, effectiveness and pace of the practices run by Head Coach Todd McLellan and his staff.
McLellan clearly wants the Oilers moving in practices in an attempt to simulate game speed.
When McLellan and his staff explain a drill they try to do so in a succinct manner. After the players complete a drill, the coaching staff are quick to reinforce what was done well and correct what needs to improve. The attention to detail has been very impressive as well.
Clearly the plan is also for the Oilers to have three lines that can score as illustrated by the following combinations:
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall - Connor McDavid - Teddy Purcell
Anton Lander - Leon Draisaitl - Nail Yakupov
When factoring an experienced checking line of Lauri Korpikoski-Mark Letestu-Matt Hendricks my guess is that McLellan is trying to create some soft minute match-ups for Draisaitl’s line in particular.
McDavid and Hall clearly have chemistry and Eberle was very good in Sunday’s scrimmage.
Griffin Reinhart has also been put in a position to make the team by being paired with a veteran D-man in Erik Gryba. Reinhart plays a heady, but not flashy game. He was noticeable in the two scrimmages this weekend for his ability to effectively move the puck in transition. How many pre-season games do you think the Oilers might play McDavid, Draisaitl and Nurse in?
— Evan in Edmonton
My guess is that all three will play either four or five games in pre-season. As it stands right now we know McDavid will be on the team and based on lines early in training camp it looks like Draisaitl has a great shot to make the opening game roster as well. Nurse to me is more of a wild-card.
Leon got into 37 games in the NHL last season, and was dominant late in the Rookie Tournament and against the Alberta Golden Bears. Defencemen in my opinion tend to take a little more time to develop and that makes Nurse’s challenge greater.
Who plays in the final pre-season game in Vancouver might tell us a lot.
How do you see the competition for goaltending shaping up at camp? With so many question marks is there enough ice time to even allow guys like Laurikainen and Brossoit a pre-season start or two? And do you think McLellan might decide to carry three goalies to start the season?
— Guy in Penhold, AB
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Oilers were down to four goalies: Cam Talbot, Ben Scrivens, Anders Nilsson and Laurent Brossoit by Wednesday, and down to three goalies by next Sunday.
To me, Talbot has to play his way out of the starter’s job. Logic dictates that Scrivens is due for a bounce-back season and I want to see Nilsson in game action before assessing him in any way.
I am also very intrigued about the long-term potential of Brossoit, who is trending to be no worse than an NHL back-up goaltender in the next couple of seasons.
I do not see the Oilers carrying three goalies at the start of the season.Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer