This is the first good look we’ll get at defensman Anton Belov who had VISA issues and couldn’t get to Edmonton for the start of training camp. The free-agent defenseman who chose the Oilers as his team to sign with is expected to make the roster this season and contribute as a regular blue liner.
Saturday’s action will also feature top prospect Darnell Nurse, many of whom are debating if he should stick around with the big club after training camp. It’s doubtful he’ll be here for the full season but the question is being asked if the Oilers should give him the 9-game tryout at the start of the year before deciding whether or not to send him back to junior. This contest will go a long way in determining his fate. If he can dazzle like he did on Wednesday then the Oilers may be more inclined to keeping him.
Up front, it may be too early to say that the line combinations are taking form, but it’s the third time we’ve seen the line of Smyth-Hall and Hemsky together. Again, having veteran leadership flank Hall as he adjusts to the centre role is important but you have to wonder how long Dallas Eakins will leave Ryan Smyth on the top line. As mentioned on Wednesday’s lineup report, the veteran is getting the ultimate tryout by getting ample opportunity to showcase his worth by playing with some of the top players.
The same could be said for the second line as this could be a preview of what’s to come in October. Seeing Perron along side Gagner is a combination Oilers fans could see a lot of, providing the two can find some chemistry. Having Eberle on the other wing will only help fuel the scoring chances, but in the end I still expect Eberle and Hall to be playing together when the games start counting.
The battle for the final roster spots continue and the line of Jones, Acton and Brown will provide some physical presence on the ice against those pesky Canucks. All three are said to be jockeying for a spot on the roster with Jones all but a lock. Brown and Acton will have to impress tonight with a plethora of other players watching from the stands will surely get their chance next week in the Oilers next pre-season game.
Speaking of the Oilers next action, the Winnipeg Jets will occupy the visitors dressing room at Rexall on Monday. Game time is slated for 7:30 pm.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on CBC, kicking off the first of many Oilers’ games as part of Hockey Night in Canada. Ahhh, that sweet, savory feeling of knowing Saturday night’s will once again be occupied by a double header of hockey action. Bring it on!