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Here's some of the thoughts I have of the Oilers Training camp so far.
* Darnell Nurse is impressing after a disappointing training camp. He is looking NHL ready and could work his way onto the Oilers roster for the first 9 games of the season but is still likely gonna be sent down as the Oilers have a logjam of defenders and Nurse is still young and could use some more time to develop in the OHL.
* Jesse Joensuu is ripping up camp. The former Islander was a UFA signing this past spring and could work his way onto the top 9 this year the way he's playing right now. He could turn out to be the steal of the summer.
* Bachman's impressing everybody trying to earn the backup position. He's out-playing LaBarbara thus far and could steal the backup job from him if he doesn't pick up his game.
* Gordan and Jones are showing good chemistry. They lit up the split squad game and look like they have been playing together for years! Eakins has lots of 3rd line combinations he could try to start the season.
* Philip Larsen isn't screwing around. He's out there for a permanent job and he's not giving up. He came into training camp with most people predicting he'll be in the AHL, but he's outplaying everybody and management will have a hard time overlooking him.
* Grebeshkov is playing terrible. I don't know what they do in the KHL but it's not working. He's getting outplayed by everybody and will be lucky if he's not waived if he doesn't pick his game up soon. It's a shame too. He used to be pretty good.
* Omark has some dangles left in him. He is playing pretty good and looks like he could still be top 6 talent if his attitude doesn't get in the way.
* Nuge looks like he'll be ready to start the season. That's good news and he can go out and show that he deserves his new contract.
* Hemsky sucks. I just thought I would say that.
* Acton is outplaying Lander for the 4th line center position but Smyth has new life and could take the job from both of them. That's if he can keep it up for the whole year our if he tires out again.
* And lastly, Eager is in the best form of his life and is looking to take one of the 4th line winger positions, and he has a pretty good chance at a comeback.
So what does all this mean? If Nuge is ready to start the season that means the top 6 is set. Hall - Nuge - Eberle and Perron - Gagner - Yakupov are set in stone. But the bottom 6 is wide open. The only player set in stone is Gordan. Looking at the play of players during training camp I would give Jones the RW position and Omark the LW position. They are both impressing during camp and Gordan and Jones are showing great chemistry.
Joensuu is impressing but there isn't any room for him on the 3rd line. So that leaves him on the 4th line. He and Eager I think will be the wingers. Eager looks great in camp and is in the best physical shape of his life. He and Joensuu would be one of the best 4th lines in the league. As for the center I think Smyth actually gets the job. I hate Smyth but he's showing he still has some gas left and he could be a great shutdown guy for the 4th line this year. Lander and Acton are under performing so Smyth could easily beat them both out for the spot. Oh yah. They should waive Hemsky. His time is done in Edmonton and he's being outplayed by everybody.
That's the offense. Now for the defense. Ference - J. Schultz, Smid - Petry and N. Schultz are set. But that leaves one spot left. There is 2 people in my opinion fighting for that spot, Belov and Larsen. Larsen is impressing and is pushing his way into the conversation but Belov was one of the best defensemen in the KHL last year and is doing good in camp. I think this decision will go down right to the wire and you could see these two fighting back and forth for the first month of the season until Eakins choses one of them. It's a tight race.
So after this my predictions for the lines for the home opener are.....
Hall - Nuge - Eberle
Perron - Gagner - Yakupov
Omark - Gordan - Jones
Joensuu - Smyth - Eager
ex. Brown/ Waive: Hemsky
Ference - J. Schultz
Smid - Petry
N. Schultz - Belov/ Larsen
ex. Grebeshkov/ Waive: Potter
What do you think the lines will look like on opening night?