Photo Source: Andy Devlin/Edmonton Oilers
It has been nearly five months since the Oilers left the ice in Anaheim after their game seven defeat, thankfully we can put that behind us as we open a new season on a fresh sheet of ice. Heading into camp there were questions, now that we’re starting the season tomorrow many of those same questions seem to loom while others have popped up. I’m looking forward to the season but these questions create a bit of anxiety for me, let’s chat about them now.
Can Cam be a machine, again?
It’s no secret that Cam Talbot was a monster last season – ha ha that’s kind of funny because the guy who was supposed to carry the load, Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson was anything but a monster.
It’s crazy to think that he played in 73 games, that means the guy only had 9 games rest during the regular season, insane considering his wife had twins in the middle of the season as well. He backstopped the team to 42 wins playing 4294 minutes with a .919 save percentage; clearly, Talbot was snubbed of an All-Star appearance and Vezina nomination.
Can you imagine if Cam had gone down at all last season? We didn’t have a dependable backup goaltender, sorry LB. It’s something that Chia didn’t deal with over the summer, and it’s something that could come back to bite us in the rear end. LB isn’t ready in my opinion, he looked shaky and nervous during the preseason but did have that one good game in Saskatoon. Knock on wood, hell punch the wood that Talbot stays healthy.
We’re going to miss Sekera
Chia missed the boat on this one, we’re going to suffer on the back end without Andrej Sekera as he recovers from that nasty torn ACL. No one during camp has shown that they can step up to fill his shoes, Matt Benning just hasn’t grown enough to do it. We could’ve invited Cody Franson to camp on a PTO, I’m just saying.
Benning made errors during the preseason and at times looked way over in his head at times. The play by play guys said he worked hard during the summer to get bigger, and yadda yadda enchilada but those things won’t help him step up into Sekera’s role. I watched Russell bail him out a couple times during training camp, but how will Benning fair in a real-life NHL game?
Auvitu did a ton to please during the preseason but also did a lot to scare. He isn’t as steady as Gryba, he has a more offensive flair but tends to get into trouble when he’s not on the attack. I think he sits in the pressbox and enjoys the popcorn until McLellan switches things up.
This could be a BIG year for Darnell Nurse. I can’t believe he has only played in 115 games, there is still so much room for this guy to grow. This is the year that Nurse will take that big step and show that he’s a stud, I mean he pretty much already is, but he’ll really solidify it.
Ah the right side and bottom six
It seems like nearly all of the line combos that we started the preseason off with look much different. Part of the reason is that the right side hasn’t kicked into gear like it was expected to with Strome and Caggiula taking the top two lines respectively.
Honestly, who would’ve thought a month ago that Kailer Yamamoto would be leading the talk of the town throughout preseason?! He seems to be able to play on any line in a variety of different roles, he’s smart defensively, and offensively, teams are going to regret letting him fall to 22 at the draft. How long can he stick around though, and what happens if he doesn’t?
Why isn’t Strome clicking with McDavid and Maroon? Let’s be real, they just started playing together, and maybe they need a bit of time to find some chemistry. I really hope that McLellan gives this line another go real soon.
Is Caggiula ready to play a top-six role? He looks so good at some points, at others, he looks like he’s overthinking it and makes major mistakes. I really hope that it comes together soon because we could use that feisty player we saw last season.
That bottom six has become a little more packed with Khaira, Slepy and Pakarinen all fighting for that spot. Khaira has bought himself a little more time to show he’s the real deal with Slepy being sent down to Bakersfield to get in a few games. I love JJ’s game, he can be a ball of hate, but it seems like once he feels comfortable he coasts and doesn’t do all of that hate stuff. Pak has the upper hand here, McLellan seems to be a bigger fan of him than JJ. I think Khaira joins Auvitu in the pressbox tomorrow.
Lots of questions are there heading into the season opener, some will be answered more quickly than others and hopefully that Talbot injury one doesn’t need to be discussed. Do you have any opinions on these questions or disagree with my views? Have other Oilers questions that are causing you anxiety? I’d love to hear it, shoot me a tweet @nooorzy.