Summer is over and hockey is back. Could things be any better? The Oilers made many changes over the summer, some good and some not so good. I will go in depth on some of the moves and what I see happening with the Oilers this season. This is my first blog for Oilers Jambalaya and i have not blogged much the past year so be nice lol.
Letting Cogliano go could end up being the worst thing the Oilers have done the past few seasons. Cogliano is young and has shown he will be a reliable 2-way player. The Oilers seem to have a history of giving up on players when they are still young. One example would be Jason Arnott but there are many more.
Sam Gagner holds his future in his own hands this year. To remain an Oiler he will need to step up his game. Nothing short of 55-60 points will do and a vast improvement on his faceoffs. The Oilers simply have to much depth at center after the free agent signing of Belanger and RNH being drafted 1st overall and Gagner could end up being the odd man out if he doesn’t impress the coaching staff before the trade deadline.
Its much to early to tell but from what I have seen from Ryan Nuggent-Hopkins I can honestly say ive been very impressed. The little things he does on the ice adds up to a lot. Hopkins sees the game better than I ever could of imagined he would at his young age. Yes it is early with only 1 pre-season and 2 rookie games under his belt but he has shown signs that he will be every bit the player the Oilers hope he will be.
Ryan Smyth could be the best thing the Oilers did this summer. Not for his offensive skill but for the way he plays the game and how the young guys will see that and know what needs to be done to win. Smyth plays 100 percent every shift every game. He is willing to take a beating in front of the net and never scared to make the hard play. If even 1 or 2 of the young guys learn something from Smyth then bringing him back will have proven to be a success.
Anton Lander is another guy who has really impressed me early on. He is a guy with good hands who is willing to do what it takes to win. As Dan tencer tweeted “Lander hates losing as much as anyone ive ever talked to.Guy despises it”. Is that not the attitude we need to see more of in Edmonton?
Defence is what scares me about the Oilers. There was a time when fans thought we had to many puck moving defenseman and a short few years later we are now begging for one. I cant help but think that if we would have kept Grebs two seasons ago he could be that guy.
There are some young guys who look like they will eventually step up on Defense but as we all know it usually takes years to develop a defenseman so a trade may be the best option here. I will say however that I was impressed with Petry at times last season and with Tulupov getting an invite he could work himself into the rotation by seasons end. The Oilers also have a couple other young guys who could step up.
Another big question about the Oilers comes in goaltending. Can Khabibulin have a bounce back year? Is Dubnyk ready to be a starter? I see Khabi having a good year yes but he will only play 40 or so games this season with Dubnyk getting the remaining starts. I just don’t see Dubnyk ever becoming a true number 1 but I have been wrong before. I see him becoming a good back-up and feel the Oilers need to go after a true number 1 after this season.
Overall my way to early to tell prediction would be the Oilers finishing in tenth or eleventh spot in the west right behind or ahead of the flames. I see Petry earning a spot on the roster while Lander, Tulupov and Hartikinen getting early call ups due to injury.
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