Monday, September 25, 2006

Is It Over Yet?

Don't get me wrong. I follow training camp - I do. I enjoy seeing who is ready, who is almost ready and who will never be ready. I don't care so much for who is winning or not, although Colby Cosh at Battle of Alberta has an interesting look at the meaning of preseason win/loss records.

I mean ask Brendan Bochenski the importance of preseason stats.

The reality is (and a good thing for Edmonton fans it is) that this camp has been about determining the bottom four forwards and two D on the depth chart. Which is really what camp should be about if you're a half decent team. While Rob Schremp intrigues me as a future Oiler, the truth is if this guy were to find a spot on one of our top two lines then this team would be in deep deep shit. And you know what, there are plenty of teams out there, including one that has not even made the Stanley Cup finals in 39 years, which would give him that spot.

As a wise man with the initials V.F. has said a few times, training camp is about getting into the season with all of your veterans healthy. Not much else happens. A few kids make the team. One or two will likely be replaced by the guys they beat out at some point or another, maybe in a week or two. And for other guys who got cut, they will get their chances when injuries crop up.

It is exciting though to see a bunch of new guys coming up. Its been a while and speaks to the depth of this organization that a guy like Kyle Brodziak, a callup last season and someone who figured to be in the mix this year, is long gone, passed on the depth chart by a half dozen youngsters, some who weren't even on the radar a year ago.

Notes so far (and I realize that it is only training camp):

1/ Patrick Thoresen arriving in camp as a virtual unknown and forcing the team to give him a job almost immediately; a nice story and best of all this kid gives us a prototypical fourth liner - he'll kill penalties, hold his own against the big boys and likely outscore his counterparts - skilled and driven - a nice combination

2/ Jan Hejda has looked at least like he can be an NHL defenceman and that is a good thing - he has seen a lot of minutes against the best they can send him out against and he has pretty well been invisible - when you're a Dman I think that's a good thing

3/ Devyn Dubnyk has given notice that he may the real deal - he has been excellent in both starts

4/ The veterans have stayed healthy (knock on wood) so far

5/ Toby Peterson is this year's Todd Harvey, only a better player, I think

6/ Mikhnov's finger injury gives the club an excuse to send him down - first injury to any winger on one of the top three lines and he'll get a shot

7/ Schremp has to go down for some seasoning and why this is a bad thing in anyway is beyond me - Guy Lafleur played in the minors, iirc, for Chrissakes. He needs to learn to be a professional hockey player and that is ok. Anyone see how Eric Staal did with a full year in the minors as Carolina's farm team's go to guy? Right. (Not to say I expect Schremp to be Staal. Far from it.)

8/ Smid probably beats out Gilbert but we'll see Tom later this season. We got this guy for Tommy Salo?

9/ Pouliot probably joins Reasoner and Thoresen on the fourth line. While part of me thinks it wouldn't be bad for him to go down for more seasoning, if he can get some reasonable icetime then keep him with the big club. He is ready to help this team now - this kid has big things ahead of him I think.

10/ Smid takes that 7th D spot (although he had better play - if not they may as well keep Syvret) and I guess Winchester takes the last forward spot, simply because the pressbox is a good place for him.


Anonymous said...

bdhs - I have doubts that any of the AHL teams will want to touch the Mikhnov situation for fear of possible legal goo. It would be different if the relationship was exclusive. He may be on IR for a bit. Its almost like the finger injury was selected for its indeterminate length and ability to allow him to work on his skating.... hmmmm.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

anon - good point actually - I wonder how that would play out

and apparently Smid is # 6 according to the papers today which means Hejda or ??? will be #7.

Anonymous said...

Gilbert gets a cup of coffee while Hejda plays his way up from the AHL? Could help both of them develop quicker. Gilbert seems like the smart kind of guy that will take a trial by fire as the lesson that its supposed to be.

Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Not sure if they wouldn't want Gilbert in the pressbox - I understand your point but I'd rather have him playing 20 minutes a game in the minors.

Or maybe option #3 - Syvret or Roy up and have Hejda and Gilbert start in the minors.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I forgot, Syvret is the most "sittable". Call Hejda back up for the 5 game (Mtl, Det, Clb, StL, Col) road trip starting on Nov. 7. Who knows...