In No Particular Order: McDavid Skates, Rookie Camp, D Pairings, Brodziak
A number of different stories exist around the Edmonton Oilers but no one in particular merits a full blog unto itself. When that happens it's time to bring out another segment of In No Particular Order.
The fact that the Oilers organization wasn't shouting from the rooftops that McDavid was feeling back to 100% and would easily return for the beginning of the season filled the hearts of fans with unease and dread. Most of that evaporated a couple of days ago when McDavid returned to the ice with Draisaitl and others for an informal skate. Connor danced around defenders and did McDavid things to the joy of the fanbase.
Afterwords Connor spoke to the media and said he was feeling good and was not concerned with any limitations from the injury he sustained at the end of last season against Calgary. As far as the beginning of the season return McDavid said that was up to his doctors giving him the all clear.
In a perfect world, it would be great for McDavid to get into at least one pre-season game before starting the regular season, but even if Connor misses a game or two at the beginning of the year, it won't be a November return as some were fearing. Not having #97 in the lineup for the first couple games would be unfortunate but I would rather the team err on the side of caution to ensure their franchise centre is at his best.
ROOKIE CAMP EARLY THOUGHTS
Judging prospects at the rookie camp is more meaningless than judging them in pre-season. This is a group of players who haven't played as a team playing in basically a shinny game. There were some stand outs but fans should not be putting anyone on a pedestal or the doghouse from these games.
Evan Bouchard continues to look NHL ready and with the state of the Oilers backend, it is going to be difficult to keep him off the roster come opening night. Alongside him, Dmitri Samurukov had some solid chances and skated well. He remains my player to watch in the AHL this season.
Ryan McLeod has gotten a ton of press early on, with his speed and playmaking ability being heralded. Fans will remember McLeod stuck around much longer than expected through pre-season last year and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do so again. A full year in the AHL will do McLeod good, with a strong chance of seeing him in the lineup in fall of 2020.
Benson and Marody are two players expected to compete for roster spots this fall that both fall into the "meh" category from what we have seen so far. Again, I am putting zero stock into this and expect both to come on in pre-season action.
WHO'S ON FIRST?
Originally it was expected that the Klefbom-Larsson pairing was the only for sure duo the Oilers would have going into regular season, but even that is now up for debate.
Whether you agree with Stauffer or not, he certainly has ties with the team and knows some of the internal discussions going on.
Let's say this is correct, meaning we would likely see Nurse with Larsson, a pairing I like (for reasons that need another blog to go into). This would mean Klefbom would likely be paired with a rookie. It makes much more sense for Klefbom to shoulder that responsibility than Darnell Nurse who's style of play would be difficult for many rookies to adapt to early in their professional career.
My assumption is this is the opening night defense pairings we will see:
If Bouchard is sent down, I would substitute Joel Persson in that spot. The more I look at the options available on the backend, the more I think we see a trade on the backend early on in the season...perhaps even in TC.
A few days ago, it was announced that Kyle Brodziak would miss the entire 2019.2020 season due to back problems. From a numbers perspective, this is good for the Oilers who will free up 1.15 million in cap space when the season starts along with open up a roster spot.
Having said that, my best wishes go out to Kyle and his family. The 7th round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers back in 2003 has gone on to have a successful career that spans over more than a decade. His physical play, strong two way game, and character endured him to this league. If this is the end of the career for Brodziak, he should be remembered for all of the years of successful play he has put his body through, and be remembered fondly for that.