Oilers' big three rookies provide hope for the future

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for taylorhall3.jpgThe Edmonton Oilers were flat out the worst team in the NHL last season. Of course, these days in the NHL, being the worst means you can get better awfully fast and with the Oilers building off of recent failure, they’re a team that’s really looking up now. The Oilers are banking on a trio of rookies to help set the standard for them this season and fill the net with pucks.

Canadian WJC superstar Jordan Eberle, Swedish sensation Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and 2010 #1 overall pick Taylor Hall help make the Oilers a team worth watching no matter what. With them there’ll be a hype machine unlike we’ll see elsewhere in the league this year, and while playing in small, out of the way Edmonton will help at least keep some of their profile quiet, they all realize that keeping the hype under control as Dave Lozo from NHL.com found out.

“It’s us three, but there’s a lot of other good, young players on this team that are 22, 23, and their careers are going in the right direction,” Hall said. “If we can turn this ship around in the next few years, and the coaches and management make all the right decisions, things are looking up.”

That optimism breeds expectations, and those expectations can lead to pressure. But no one seems worried about any of that.

“We know there will be some situations we know they’re not fully ready for,” [Oilers GM Steve] Tambellini said. “I know expectations will be high for these three kids. They kind of joke about it and say it’s a good thing it’s not just one and they can all kind of do it together.”

“I don’t really feel it just because I don’t live there, but I’m sure once hockey season comes around and you go to the city, it’s going to be there and it’s going to be alive and well,” Hall said. “I know I’ve done well handling pressure. You just have to go out and play your game.”

The amount of young talent in Edmonton is pretty incredible. Not only are those three rookies there but you factor in Sam Gagner, yet-to-be-signed Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule and you’ve got two forward lines of potentially great youth. Add in veterans like Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and a returning from injury Ales Hemsky and the future of the Oilers doesn’t look so bleak. Given the off-season they’ve had in seeing Nikolai Khabibulin run into trouble with the law, not being able to trade Sheldon Souray and the potential for having a complete circus in goal with Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Deslauriers and Martin Gerber, having something to have hope about is a pleasant switch.

The only thing to ask of Oilers fans now is to have patience as having that much youth on the team is going to lead to bouts of growing pains. New head coach Tom Renney will certainly have his hands full keeping everyone in line.

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    Bolts lose ‘minute-munching defenseman’ Garrison for 3-5 weeks

    during Game Two of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 6, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.
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    The Tampa Bay Lightning expect defenseman Jason Garrison to miss 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.

    Garrison was hurt in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Ottawa. The 31-year-old played just 4:10 of that game, missing the final two periods.

    “That’s a tough one too, because he’s a big minute-munching defenseman for us,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “A big body and size.”

    Garrison has just four goals and three assists in 52 games, but he’s third on the Bolts in average ice time (18:23), second in blocked shots (76), and third in hits (69).

    Matt Carle replaced Garrison for Tuesday’s 4-2 loss in Montreal.

    Kadri fined $5K for throat slash gesture at Giordano

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    Nazem Kadri‘s “inappropriate gestures” on Tuesday night have left him lighter in the wallet.

    On Thursday, the NHL announced that Kadri has been fined $5,000 — the maximum allowable under the CBA — for making a throat slash gesture at Mark Giordano during Calgary’s 4-3 win over the Leafs two nights ago.

    The incident occurred after Kadri took exception to a heavy Giordano check. While on the bench, the Leafs forward made the gesture, one the NHL has been cracking down on since 2000.

    Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

    Report: Detroit interested in Columbus d-man Tyutin

    Fedor Tyutin, Ryan White
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    From the Columbus Dispatch:

    The Red Wings had much brass in the building on Tuesday to watch the Blue Jackets play the Islanders in Nationwide.

    GM Ken Holland was there, along with special assistant to the GM Kris Draper, and pro scout Kirk Maltby.

    It’s believed the Red Wings were taking a close look at Fedor Tyutin, who is likely to be dealt by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

    Tyutin, 32, has this and two more years remaining on a six-year, $27 million deal with a $4.5M average annual cap hit. One of the longest-tenured players in Columbus franchise history — he’s spent eight years with the Jackets, and played in both of the teams’ playoff appearances — Tyutin has fallen on hard times this year, and has been made a healthy scratch on a few occasions by head coach John Tortorella.

    Unsurprisingly, Tyutin’s numbers are way down. He’s goalless with just two points through 43 games, and is averaging just 17:47 TOI per night — the lowest total of his career.

    It’s not surprising Detroit’s kicking the tires on Tyutin. D-men Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green are both out of the lineup with knee and groin injuries and, last night versus Ottawa, Danny DeKeyser took a Dion Phaneuf shot to the knee.

     

    All eyes on Schwartz ahead of return to sputtering Blues lineup

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    The St. Louis Blues have not played particularly well since around Christmas.

    It’s a story that hasn’t received much attention league-wide, because the Blues’ goaltending has been good enough to cover up a lot of their problems. Brian Elliott had a .937 save percentage in January. He’s up to .958 in February.

    But there’s a reason the return of Jaden Schwartz, likely Friday in Florida, has the Blues players so excited.

    “He’s a guy that brings a lot of energy to our lineup,” captain David Backes told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s a relentless forechecker who hounds the puck and that’s exactly what we could use right now.”

    Backes has clearly been listening to head coach Ken Hitchcock, who’s been growing increasingly frustrated at his team’s inability to play in the opposition’s end. In their past five games, the Blues have managed shot totals of 25, 23, 27, 24, and 22, which isn’t very many at all.

    “We’ve needed the power play the last two games, thank God, but we just don’t, we don’t compete when we get checked in the scoring areas near as hard as we have to,” Hitchcock told reporters.

    Once Schwartz gets back up to speed, he should help. Last year, he finished second on the team in goals (28) and fourth in shots (184).

    But he won’t solve everything, particularly with Alex Pietrangelo sidelined now.

    In their 20 games since Christmas, the Blues are in the bottom 10 in score-adjusted Corsi (a measure of puck possession), and that isn’t like them at all.

    Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made