Pump The Brakes Or It's Going To Be A Long Season
The Oilers rookies got beat quite handedly by the Flames rookies last night.
Now let's discuss why the Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson pairing should work well together this season...
Or at least that is what I wanted to discuss, but the fact that the Oilers rookies scored 1 goal in 120 minutes of play has the Twitterverse in a bit of a tizzy.
Show of digital hands... who remembers which rookies had a good NHL training camp last season? Great. Now tell me who had a strong rookie camp.
Personally I can tell you that Puljujarvi and Yamamoto had great NHL training camps last season, as did Ryan McLeod. I can tell you that Yamamoto also had a great camp the year before, and I can even mention that Anton Lander a few seasons ago scored a hat trick against the Coyotes in pre-season a few years back.
Aside from going to rookie camp in 2015 to watch McDavid skate in person for the first time, I can tell you next to nothing about any rookie camps. In the grand scheme of the whole NHL season they matter next to nothing.
It is an exciting time for those players and their families, to see their hard work paid off by playing a game, wearing the jersey of the NHL team they were drafted by. In terms of system and chemistry, quite simply there is very little of either at these kinds of camps.
Evan Bouchard scored a goal, Marody made some good passes as did Tyler Benson, and McLeod is very fast. These are likely the main prospects that have some semblance of a chance to earn a roster spot in training camp. Their play here, regardless of whether it was brilliant or poor will have very little impact in the eyes of the coaches or management.
The reason this rookie camp is receiving much more press and concern is simple; the Oilers roster still has a number of holes it needs to address and fans are hoping some of the players here can be an answer. For those who believe Tyler Benson could be a useful top 6 player for the Oilers this season, they are concerned when at a rookie camp he doesn't dominate play.
Teams that count on rookies and prospects to be difference makers are rarely Cup or even playoff contenders. Regardless of if some of the above players make the roster, they should not be seen as saviors to fix a roster hole (see: Puljujarvi, Jesse).
The real test for these players when their play will be scrutinized much more heavily will be at training camp and through the pre-season. For these players to even be considered for a roster spot they will need to dazzle, score some goals, and find ways to make themself stand out among the 15 other forwards competing for the same spot.
Even if a Marody, Benson, or Bouchard impresses the coaching staff, the best course of action may still be to send them down to the AHL for more seasoning and plan to call them up at some point in the season when the staff feels they are ready to be full time NHL players.
With notable holes in the top 6 and on the right side on defense, the biggest story to follow will be what happens when these players show better than anyone else? If Bouchard is one of the best options out of camp, does the coaching staff push to play him now, knowing there will be hiccups or send them down ala Draisaitl and call them up shortly afterwords?
Thanks for reading.