Unexpected spots could be there for the taking as Edmonton Oilers training camp imminent: 9 Things

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Edmonton Oilers training camp officially begins Wednesday.

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Although with rookie camp in full swing and the captain’s skates so heavily attended, it feels like we’ve already arrived.

The makeup of the roster will be fascinating to watch. Several positions will be in play. That and more just ahead in this edition of…

9 Things

9. We will see some new jersey numbers for new players when the Oilers regular season rolls around. Warren Foegele will don #37, Zach Hyman #18, Derek Ryan will be in Sean Horcoff’s/Esa Tikkanen’s #10, Codi Ceci the #5 that his new coach Jim Playfair wore an a young Oiler in 1982. Duncan Keith will be in his traditional #2.

8. James Neal has signed a PTO with the St. Louis Blues. While it had to be a relief for the Edmonton Oilers to get out from under his contract, don’t confuse that with whether or not Neal has something left in the tank. In a defined role with PP time I can see Neal catching on somewhere else.

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7. As exhilarating as rookie camp sure is, it is important to take in it’s results within proper context. These young, un-established players are competing against other young, un-established players. But within that bubble, there are fresh-faced kids right out of junior against young men who spent the past year (or more) playing against experienced pros.

6. 3 players who are standing out at camp so far; Dmitri Samorukov, Philip Broberg and Raphael Lavoie. Broberg because of his raw, elite skill set. Samorukov and Lavoie both showed up at the rink looking like men, having matured physically and put in the requisite work off the ice. Lavoie is a pure shooter who rang 2 posts Saturday. Samorukov’s 1st Period injury would be a bitter pill indeed, having just come all the way back from shoulder surgery. Fingers crossed.

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5. Hulking winger Ostap Safin’s performance on Saturday was an eye opener. He assisted on 2 goals with lovely passes deep in the Calgary zone and just missed connecting on several more. Safin appears to be moving better than I have seen him in the past. And his size is tantalizing. 2021 pick Xavier Bourgault showed great quickness and an ability to be very creative along the walls. But he was also victim of a filthy check from behind late in the game. You have to hope there are no lasting ill-effects.

4. Kailer Yamamoto has signed a 1-year contract, worth $1.175m. Good price point, identical to the deal handed to Jesse Puljujarvi. My Cult of Hockey colleague David Staples has the details here. It was vital that this get done before camp. Some compare this “show me” scenario to the Jeff Petry situation. One difference: Kailer Yamamoto, for all of his attributes, isn’t a young 6’3, right shot, puck moving D-man. Also, what of the cap implications of re-signing both Yamamoto and Puljujarvi going forward if both have big years? Well, that would be a nice problem to have. Even if you end up having to deal one, the value of the return would be higher.

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3. The vaccination picture among NHL players is looking very positive. While I have often been a critic of how the league has handled many things, they have been mostly on-target when it comes to COVID. And between them and the NHLPA’s efforts, uptake of the vaccine has been extremely high. No matter where you stand politically on this matter, the fact is having 15 or fewer players un-vaxxed league-wide means it is far less likely that games will be postponed or cancelled due to outbreaks. But in the immediate future, I also think those jab rates could have an impact on the rosters on a number of NHL teams including in Edmonton.

2. How crowds will look at Rogers place is still somewhat of a moving target. For now, there stands to be full capacity in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg. It will be just partial capacity to start in Montreal and Vancouver. It’s not yet clear in Toronto and Ottawa. For now (I stress that) Oilers fans will have the choice between proof of vaccination or a negative test 48-hours fresh. But even if that 2nd option remains (I have my doubts) I don’t think many will take it. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said just this past week that in Alberta tests are for those with symptoms. So those wanting to attend will need to either pay to get tested privately or get vaccinated for free.

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1.The Oilers have signed Colton Sceviour to a PTO. The 32-year old Red Deer native has enjoyed a solid NHL career since being selected by Dallas in the 4th Round of the 2007 draft. His time in that organization overlapped with his would-be new head coach Dave Tippett, albeit at the point in his career when Sceviour was primarily a raw prospect playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. His size and skill set aren’t un-duplicated on the present roster and that is likely no accident. The 6’0 winger plays a gritty, 2-way game. He is more of a grinder who can finish a bit versus a play maker. But Sceviour was also an effective penalty killer during his time in Florida. And those in the know say he’s a smart player who makes good decisions on the ice and despite his ruggedness doesn’t tend to take stupid penalties Remind you of anyone? A picture begins to develop.

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Some see the signing of Sceviour as merely a bit of a flier. At best maybe he is NHL depth that could start out at the AHL level and move up as/if required. And while that scenario is certainly possible, I do not believe for one second that Ken Holland is just “doing Sceviour a solid”. Do not discount that an opportunity that may exist for this player on the right hand side for the big club at the conclusion of camp. So, stay tuned.

Some will wonder why a prospect such as Cooper Marody would not get a shot at an opportunity such as that. But while I have time for Marody he doesn’t project to be a 4th line energy player who can PK.

When you’re on a PTO like Sceviour there are no guarantees. All you can do is show up at the rink, put your best foot forward, and hope things break your way.

And those breaks sometimes comes from where you least expect it.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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