The pre-season is dumb. Almost nothing that happens in the pre-season carries over into the regular season. Last season Brendan Perlini led the Oilers and was near the top of the league in goals through the pre-season... he ended up playing 23 games and scored 4 goals and registered 1 assist in the regular season.
It's exciting seeing Dylan Holloway looking like the best player on the ice or Stuart Skinner posting a shutout in the half game he played but ultimately in the grand scheme of things, these matter little. It's promising to see these players start like this but it won't really mean much unless they are doing them at the end of pre-season... and even that matters next to nothing until the games start to matter.
8 games is far too much for the pre-season. Most NHL vets will tell you they need two or three games at the most to get into game shape. It's fun to see some of the young prospects get a chance to done the jersey and play in front of a crowd but as we have heard many times, the NHL is not a developmental league. At the most, have the pre-season be 5 games. Anything more is just cumbersome.
All that being said, here are a few thoughts from Game 1 and a prep for Game 2.
- Dylan Holloway was really flying all night and even though my stance on pre-season remains, it's hard to not feel some excitement for the young player. Holloway was noticeable all night, carrying the puck with speed, never afraid to cut for the net. He really plays the game with the same reckless abandon that Taylor Hall played way back in 2010. Holloway looks on track to have a highly successful NHL career but I do wonder how long it will take for his game to fully translate to the NHL. There is far less ice available in the NHL and defenders are far more tenacious in preventing players from entering the high scoring areas of the ice. I think he will figure it out but it will be something to keep an eye on.
- I thought both Jason Demers and Ryan Murray played strong games with no noticeable mistakes. Demers in particular was calm and made quick smart passes out of the defensive end. He will need to continue that kind of play in order to earn a contract.
- Speaking of earning a contract, Jake Virtanen certainly did not help his case in his first game. Pre-season does matter a great deal for Virtanen as it is his only opportunity to try and secure an NHL contract and he did not help his case in the first game. Not noticeable despite receiving ample PP time and also made a couple careless turnovers in his own end.
- Ryan McLeod was centering the top line and was flying all night and scored a nifty little goal as well. The team is counting on McLeod to continue improving and be a legitimate top nine player for the team.
- Niemelainen once again was hitting everything that moved but I also thought he made some good decisions with the puck in both ends of the ice, including of course the first goal of the game. Niemelainen could be a sleeper pick to crack this blueline.
Here is the star studded lineup for tonight's game against the Kraken.
I guess we can get excited about watching Broberg and Barrie and see how that pairing looks? Pre-season is far too long.