Oilers get a first-hand look at their future

taylorhall3.jpgA lot of teams are holding their development camps to get a look at the prospects they’ve been harvesting through the draft the last few years. One place that is getting a lot of attention from its own fans is Edmonton and with good reason. With this year’s top pick Taylor Hall, Canadian junior hockey star Jordan Eberle and Swedish phenom Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson there’s a lot of reason to have hope for the not-so distant future of a once proud franchise and the fans and media in Edmonton know it as David Staples of the Edmonton Journal shares.

As fellow fan, Bruce McCurdy of Copper & Blue, who watched over the drills with me, put it, “I’ve been following these names as lines on a screen for a long time. I wanted to see them. This is the nucleus of the new Oilers. I’m not sure that the 20 guys out there on the ice aren’t more important for the future of the team than the 20 guys who finished the season with the Oilers. This is a turning of the page.”

It’s hard not to get excited about seeing the fruits of past drafts all coming together and all with the distinct possibility of starting next season in the NHL. Hall most certainly will be in Edmonton, and with Paajarvi and Eberle both showing their abilities on the ice at the World Junior Championships and IIHF World Championships this past year, there’s not a lot more for them to prove to show that they’re NHL-ready. As for Tom Renney, the new coach of the Oilers and the guy with the task of managing (or mismanaging) three potential stars, he’s perhaps more excited than the fans are although he’s being sensible with his approach.

“What I’m OK with is putting the best team on the ice we can,” Renney said when asked if all three could make the team this season. “Whoever those spots go to, so be it. We might have more than three guys for that matter. Who’s to say? I don’t know.

“We can project until we’re blue in the face as to who might be here, but there’s a process involved. The beauty of it is nobody knows that better than those three kids.”

Hope is a fun, yet perilous, thing when you’re a fan of a team that’s missed the playoffs four years straight and managed to be, by far, the worst team in the NHL last year. The amount of talent in those three players is astounding but there’s even a handful more of guys who could turn out to be NHL players as well. Whether Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi turn out in Edmonton this year could be a big draw for the Oilers but getting them to the NHL when they’re most ready to be there and big players is more important. That said, the Oilers talent ranks have thinned out enough so that having all three start in the NHL might actually be the best thing to happen to the franchise.

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    Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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    Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

    As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

    Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

    Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

    PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

    Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

    Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

    Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

    In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

    Gaborik’s first goal:

    And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

    Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

    With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

    Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


    When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

    With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

    As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

    Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.