As we get set for the Edmonton Oilers to wrap up the pre-season it as good as time as any to recap what we’ve seen so far. For the most part, I think we can say it’s been a pretty good camp for the Oilers as a few Holland’s off-season acquisitions have come in and earned jobs while most importantly Connor McDavid has been healthy enough to play a couple of games.
THE GREAT: A Healthy McDavid
Let me once again state that I would have Connor McDavid covered in bubble wrap and hid in a basement somewhere every single pre-season, injury or not, it’s just not worth the risk. NFL teams do this with some of their key players in the pre-season and McDavid is just as important to the Oilers as Aaron Rodgers is to the Green Bay Packers.
The issue here is that McDavid is so damn competitive he would never allow that to happen so instead everyone in the organization, television rights holders, and the entire fan base, will just hold their breath and pray he is good to go for opening night. So far, so good.
The GREAT news here is that McDavid has not only been on the ice but is ahead of schedule. We went from hearing that game one of the regular season was the target for Connor and that, at the most, he would play one pre-season game. McDavid has two games under his belt and by all accounts looks like nothing was ever wrong. The legend grows.
THE GOOD: Penalty Kill Doesn’t Suck
I know it’s just the pre-season and you don’t want to read too much into results but the Oilers penalty kill has been pretty damn efficient so far.
The reason I think you can read something into this is the fact that there is a new coaching staff calling the shots and new players being mixed into the penalty killing units. We break down so many aspects of each and every NHL game but in a major way it really always comes down to special teams and goaltending. If the Oilers can finish top ten in the league on both the power-play and penalty kill they would very likely be a playoff team. The penalty kill seems to be trending in a positive way.
THE BAD: Right Shot D-Man Still Missing
Persson, Bear, Lagesson and Manning fighting for two spots.
— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) September 25, 2019
The bad is that the Oilers once again come into a season with a much talked about right shot offensive d-man. We know it was going to be a difficult task for the Holland to tackle in the off-season but this is something the organization has been looking for since they decided Justin Schultz wasn’t going to be the guy.
With all of that being said, I do understand not giving up a massive asset to fill this need as the organization hopes Evan Bouchard can be the answer by 2020-21, I believe he will. The bad will be if it bites the team in the butt this season.
What this has created though is a significant opportunity for someone to take the bull by horns and jump start an NHL career. Ethan Bear looked excellent against the Jets and I also like what I’ve seen in the brief viewings of Joel Persson. Matt Benning should be worried about his future with this club right now and hopefully, he uses that as motivation to provide solid third-pairing minutes.
THE UGLY: Kailer Yamamoto’s Wrist
The Ugly here isn’t Kailer Yamamoto’s performance in training camp it’s the fact that an injury to his wrist has derailed the beginning of his sophomore season as a pro.
I wasn’t expecting Yamamoto to make the team out of camp but this wrist issue must be extremely frustrating for the young forward. He first had surgery on the wrist back in early May and at the time it was well known he would miss the rest of the AHL playoffs but there really wasn’t much talk at the time, that I recall, about it impacting the beginning of his season.
A full, and healthy, season in the AHL would be best for Yamamoto this season it’s just ugly that he has to begin it like this.
On the bright side if a wrist injury to a prospect that probably wasn’t going to make the team is the biggest buzzkill of camp the team is in a pretty good spot to start the season.