Edmonton Oilers prospects point to better future

eberle.jpgThe Edmonton Oilers had a disastrous 2009-10 season, there’s really no other way to slice it. If they decide to release a team video, they might as well call it “What Murphy’s Law Looks Like.”

You can’t blame their fans for feeling optimistic about the future, though. For one thing, their prospects have flourished in international play, even when facing big pressure and pro-level talent. During the 2010 World Junior Championships, Jordan Eberle achieved near-hero status despite falling short of a gold medal. After one game in the pro-packed 2010 IIHF World Championships in Germany, Eberle already had a masterful four-point performance.

When you combine his play with the Team Sweden-leading output of Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (four goals and four assists in six games), things are looking up for some of the franchise’s richest prospects. Here’s a few thoughts on that via TSN.

“For myself, and I know Magnus and [Oilers prospect Linus] Omark, it’s only going to help us going into camp and kind of put us at that level where we can play with those guys,” said Eberle.

Tambellini has even visited the tournament in person and has spoken at length with Paajarvi-Svensson, who has four goals and four assists in six game.

“You feel if you can compare to them, and if you can skate with them or have the same skill level, then I think I can handle it,” said Paajarvi-Svensson.

Combine those two talents with the very probable drafting of Taylor Hall and it’s reasonable to wonder if the Oilers might go from famine to feast like the Penguins, Capitals and Blackhawks before them. I’ll leave you with this gushing review of Hall from the normally reserved Oilers blogger Lowetide. (Note: I am aware the Oilers might pick Tyler Seguin, but my guess at this moment is that Hall is far more likely.)

I have seen the future of the Edmonton Oilers and his name is Taylor Hall.

For a blog that prides itself on using math and discouraging the “saw him good” crowd, I’ll admit that this clearly runs across the grain.

But there’s too much. Taylor Hall has an extra something, call it a dash of Howe and a pinch of Messier to him. If you’re not comfortable with those names, we can use “Mark” Howe and I’ll still feel the same way.

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    Bolts ready to renew ‘budding rivalry’ with Habs

    Torrey Mitchell, Ben Bishop
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    The Canadiens know at the end of the year they’ll probably be jockeying with the Lightning for playoff positioning and, quite possibly, facing them in the postseason.

    The Lightning know it, too.

    Which is why tonight’s game has a certain amount of importance to it — yes, even though it’s just two weeks into the regular season.

    “Montreal has a really good team,” Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said, per the club website. “Last year was just a speedbump year for them. Marc [Bergevin, GM] has done a great job in retooling the whole team and Mike [Therrien, head coach] does a helluva job behind the bench.

    “When teams play each other a couple times in the playoffs, there’s a budding rivalry. We missed each other last year, but I have a feeling the way things are going, we’re probably going to meet up again at some point.”

    In 2014, the Bolts were swept by Montreal in the opening playoff round. A year later, Tampa Bay flipped the script by defeating the Habs in the second round, en route to the Stanley Cup Final.

    As Cooper mentioned, last year was something of an aberration in Montreal. The Habs are certainly proving as much with their play to start this year.

    At 6-0-1, they’re the NHL’s lone undefeated team in regulation. They currently sit first in the league in goals against, fourth in goals for, seventh on the penalty kill and 15th on the power play.

    The man advantage is, obviously, the only unit not at or near the top of the league. But Shea Weber‘s play has certainly made the PP more formidable — two goals and an assist with the man advantage thus far — and the group has found the back of the net in five of the last six games.

    Speaking of the power play, let’s discuss the Lightning for a moment.

    Tampa Bay has been annihilating opponents with the man advantage lately. The league’s third-best PP — clicking at a 30 percent success rate — has scored four times in the last two games. Jonathan Drouin is the leading power play scorer, with three points, but all the usual suspects are chipping in as well: Steve Stamkos, Alex Killorn Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman.

    The Lightning are neck-and-neck with the Habs in the standings as well. They’re 5-1-0 to start the year, and are coming off consecutive wins over the Senators and Leafs.

    So yeah. Tonight’s game should be a good one.

    With Lindholm signed, Ducks GM hopes to keep team together

    LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 24:  Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks speaks after being named NHL General Manager of the Year during the 2014 NHL Awards at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas on June 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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    Just because they got Hampus Lindholm signed doesn’t mean the Anaheim Ducks need to make a trade right away.

    First of all, the 22-year-old defenseman won’t be able to play until he gets a work visa, and that could take a week or two.

    Secondly, even when he’s back in the lineup, Simon Despres (who’s got a suspected concussion, which is a “very sensitive issue”) and Nate Thompson (who ruptured his Achilles and may not be back before the trade deadline) will not be.

    And with Despres and Thompson on LTIR, GM Bob Murray has some wiggle room, at least for now.

    “I wanted to give this group another shot, and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it that way,” Murray told reporters on a conference call, adding that he was thankful for owners who’ve allowed him to spend to the cap.

    Which brings us to Cam Fowler. Here’s what the O.C. Register had to say about him:

    Cam Fowler has long been seen as a potential cap casualty once Lindholm signed, but the Ducks do not want to trade him, given Fowler’s ability and meaning to the team. Fowler, who’s off to a hot start with three goals and four assists in eight games, has two years left on his deal at $4 million per season.

    The Ducks have gone 3-0-1 since dropping their first four to start the season. Their next game is Friday at home to Columbus.

    Related: Fowler surprised he wasn’t traded at draft

    Goalie nods: Reimer returns to Toronto, but he won’t start and the Leafs (reportedly) won’t recognize him

    Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer reacts during a break in the first period of Toronto's NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

    James Reimer was drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2006, made his NHL debut four years later and, all told, spent six seasons wearing the blue-and-white, playing in over 200 games.

    And tonight, he might get the spotlight on him for a couple seconds.

    Reimer will back up Roberto Luongo when the Panthers visit Toronto, and it sounds like he’ll do so with minimal fanfare.

    Per the Sun, the Leafs are “unlikely to officially recognize Remier” during the game, opting instead to “put the in-house camera on him for a few moments.”

    (Now feels like a good time to mention Edmonton had a video tribute for Nail Yakupov.)

    Reimer — dealt to San Jose at the deadline before joining the Panthers this offseason — has only played twice this year, making 25 saves in a shootout loss to Tampa in his debut, then allowing three goals on 22 shots in a loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

    And while he’s likely to receive little attention this evening, Reimer did play to a large media contingent on Wednesday, and had a pretty good quip about Auston Matthews taking his old No. 34 (“that’s brutal… I can’t believe he did that.”)

    His former teammates, meanwhile, recalled a guy that battled hard and provided some good memories — specifically, backstopping the Leafs to the playoffs in 2013.

    That, of course, led to a not-so-good memory:

    For the Leafs, Frederik Andersen starts in goal.


    Devan Dubnyk starts again as the Wild visit Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Anders Nilsson, who continues to play with Robin Lehner (illness) sidelined.

    Louis Domingue, who was called out by his head coach recently, goes back in goal for the Coyotes after Justin Peters started last game. He’ll go up against Steve Mason, who starts for Philly.

    Jaroslav Halak returns to the Isles net after Thomas Greiss started the last two games. Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to go for the Pens.

    — Tantalizing matchup in Montreal as Ben Bishop at the Bolts take on Carey Price and the Canadiens.

    Petr Mrazek and the red-hot Red Wings — winners of five straight — look for No. 6 in St. Louis. Jake Allen is the likely starter for the Blues.

    — It’s Antti Niemi versus Connor Hellebuyck as the Stars and Jets play in the second of a home-and-home series.

    — Nashville used both Pekka Rinne and Marek Mazanec in last night’s 6-1 blowout loss to Anaheim, so no word yet on who goes tonight in Los Angeles. The Kings will continue to ride Peter Budaj.

    Sergei Bobrovsky, he of the .929 save percentage, gets the start for Columbus. He’ll be up against Martin Jones in the Sharks goal.

    Vigneault explains decision to put McIlrath on waivers

    New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault runs a practice at NHL hockey training camp Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Greenburgh N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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    The New York Rangers took a gamble today, placing defenseman Dylan McIlrath on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to the AHL.

    While it wouldn’t be a surprise if McIlrath gets claimed, for GM Jeff Gorton and head coach Alain Vigneault, it was a decision that couldn’t be put off any longer.

    “Gorts and I and our staff had a long talk last night after the game, and we just felt that at this time, Dylan needed to play,” Vigneault said this morning. “We all appreciate him as a person, he’s done everything that has been expected of him, and more. But on our team right now, he’s our eighth defenseman, and keeping him here and not having him play and the money going against the cap…”

    Vigneault added that Gorton “looked around” in search of a trade, but obviously no deal was made.

    “Selfishly, I hope he clears waivers and goes to Hartford and plays,” said Vigneault. “But if somebody would pick him up and give him an opportunity, I’d be very happy for him.”

    McIlrath, meanwhile, held himself accountable for the situation. The big blue-liner has appeared in just one game this season, and he only logged 9:14 in it.

    “I’m never going to blame this on the coaches,” he said, per Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post. “This was all about my play and not earning a spot in the lineup.”