The Oilers have finished their portion of the YoungStars tournament in BC winning two out of their three games.
After the jump, I’ll tell you what I saw.
The Future of the Oilers was on display this past week in Penticton, and yes, Taylor Hall took his first shift in Oiler garb. And while that’s all very much exciting, it was our first chance to see guys like Tyler Pitlick, Teemu Hartikainen, Martin Marincin, and we got a look at three goalies in the system.
This was my first chance to see many of the team’s prospects (albeit through a webcast) for the first time in anything that wasn’t either a YouTube highlight reel or junior championship. And, after seeing these three games, I’d feel comfortable in saying that the inaugural season in Oklahoma City will be a spectacular one.
AND, I realize that this is THE YoungStars tournament. These guys are playing a couple of friendlies against other players that are or about the same age as they are.
So without any further ado, here’s a little bit from what I saw over the past few days.
Olivier Roy was in net for game 1. Roy had a total of two moments where I think he looked out of his element. The goal he allowed in the 4-1 victory over the Canucks YoungStars was…bad. There’s no other way to slice it. With that being said, I think the rest of his game was solid. Had several saves that were of the NHL-level variety. Was very pleased with Olivier Roy.
2010 late round draft pick Tyler Bunz was between the pipes in Game 2, and was serviceable in a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames YoungStars. Didn’t impress as much as Roy, but at this level, his performance was at least adequate.
Game 3 starred Bryon Pitton between the pipes for Edmonton, and he didn’t have nearly the success that Roy or Bunz had in nights prior. Pitton allowed two (three) softies throughout the game against an overpowering Sharks team. Pitton will want to forget this outing.
I doubt very much I’ll tire of seeing Magnus Paajarvi on the ice. Out of all the Oiler prospects, he (not surprisingly) impressed me the most. Guy’s ready for the bigs. Seems to have six gears on the ice, he just glides near effortlessly around the competition. Had a two goal game one, and was making it look easy through both games he played in. We’ll be seeing a lot of Magnus this season coming up.
What people said about Taylor Hall before he was drafted – something along the lines of how he plays with ‘reckless abandon’ – is very true. Hall has a tendency to burl up the ice while chasing the puck. Has excellent puck handling skills, but in the two games I saw him, he had a tendency to hold onto the puck longer he’d probably like, and he had a tendency to involve Jordan Eberle a lot. Hall had a goal in the third game, and an excellent assist in game one. Hopefully, he’ll find a way to live up to the hype. It’ll be good to see him in NHL preseason action in about a week.
Teemu Hartikainen was worth the price of admission to this series. Hartikainen is a speedy guy in the vein of Paajarvi, but Hartikainen’s physical play is what kept my attention. Will be a valuable addition to 2010′s OKC squad, wouldn’t be shocked to see him in Edmonton come September 2011.
Tyler Pitlick is another guy whose name I scribbled down. Pitlick had a goal (EN) and an assist on the Paajarvi goal in Edmonton’s 4-1 victory over Vancouver. He’s a big forward who (at age 18) looks quite comfortable with the puck.
Alex Plante is a big defenceman who we saw in spot-duty last season with the Oilers. An elder statesman at 21, Plante (who wore an A) will begin his second season in the AHL in October, and like Hartikainen, it would come as no surprise to see him in Edmonton on a full time basis in September, 2011.
Second round pick Martin Marincin was another defender who caught my attention. Marincin is a fluid-skating Slovakian defender who may also anchor the blue in Oklahoma this year. He assisted on the first Paajarvi goal in game 1.
Entering this tournament, I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course, you really wanted to see the Big Three that everyone was talking about, who really impressed me in this YoungStars tournament. The usual suspects sparkled, some of the lesser mentioned guys stepped up (I noticed that Chris Vande Velde is decent in the faceoff circle) and most importantly, there’s always room for improvement.
Next year though, I’ve got to get a better feed.