| BUSY WEEK BEGINS
| The Oilers started what is perhaps the busiest week of the NHL season with their busiest day of recent memory.
With players and staff midway through a four-hour flight from Edmonton to Nashville, the organization made its first announcement of the day: calling up defencemen Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham as well as goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Springfield Falcons. The club also reassigned goalie Bryan Pitton to Springfield.
"Anytime you get called up you're pretty excited," Peckham said from Nashville. "It almost goes back to the first time -- you start getting those butterflies and the flight over is pretty nerve-wracking. But I feel good to be here, confident, and hopefully I'll bring my best."
CHANGES TO THE BLUE LINE
As the defensive reinforcements met the team in Nashville, the Oilers announced that one of their other blue liners would be calling Music City home.
Shortly before the Oilers took to the ice for practice at Sommet Center, Edmonton announced that they had acquired a second-round choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft from Nashville in exchange for defenceman Denis Grebeshkov.
"We're wishing Denis well," Head Coach Pat Quinn said after practice. "He was fun to work with, he was open-minded, and certainly a coachable guy. It didn't probably go as well with us as we'd all hoped, but none of us have been that good. So this is a great opportunity for him."
The announcement was a surprise in the locker room.
"I think that probably caught everybody by surprise," Chorney said. "I walked into the rink here this afternoon and I saw that he was just walking down the hall to Nashville's locker room, and that's kind of a different situation.
"I guess that's one of those instances that you realize that this is a business, that's the way things work around here, and maybe it is an opportunity for a guy like myself to step in and play in some more critical situations."
Fellow defenceman Tom Gilbert added that he'll miss Grebeshov on the ice and in the locker room.
"I played with him for a year, had a great experience with him. Obviously we were really comfortable with each other on the ice and it's tough to lose someone like that that you've played with for a long time," he said.
SKATE AT SOMMET
With Grebeshkov out, Chorney and Peckham were incorporated into the defensive combinations at practice. Chorney skated with Lubomir Visnovsky, while Peckham was paired up with veteran Steve Staios. Jason Strudwick and Tom Gilbert formed the third pairing.
|Taylor Chorney, Lubomir Visnovsky & Patrick O'Sullivan watch a drill from the bench at Sommet Center. |
Edmonton's forward lines were as follows:
Dustin Penner - Sam Gagner - Robert Nilsson
Ethan Moreau - Shawn Horcoff - Mike Comrie Patrick O'Sullivan - Ryan Potulny - Fernando Pisani
Andrew Cogliano - Gilbert Brule - Marc Pouliot / Zack Stortini
INJURED LIST GROWS
Forward Jean-Francois Jacques and defenceman Ladislav Smid did not join the Oilers on the road trip, both due to spine injuries. Quinn announced that Jacques will require surgery and will be out for the remainder of the season. Smid's prognosis is still up in the air.
"There is a disc that's kind of cracked off and hanging out and he's losing his strength and grip and has been for a while," Quinn explained. "They've determined that it's a real old sort of injury from when he was a young man but has been exacerbated and was certainly exacerbated by the hit vs. Vancouver.
"He's been experiencing loss of feeling sometimes, and finally during our testing the other day our medical people just said hey, wait a minute -- we're not going to go any further until we find out exactly what's going on. They're trying to find out whether this is on the spine or is it on the nerve endings and then they'll make a decision as to how they'll treat it from there."
When asked if Smid could be done for the season, Quinn said it's a possibility.
Grebeshkov's departure and Smid's injury dampened the mood on the blue line today, but Lubomir Visnovsky's return was a positive. With Team Slovakia, Visnovsky came within one game of earning a bronze medal in Vancouver.
"It was a big experience for me because our country played great during the tournament," he recalled. "We are not very happy because we lost the last game. It was very important for us and especially for our team. We have eight over 30's so it's maybe the last tournament for all of us together, and we believed in the medal."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer & Steve Taylor