Anybody out there?

August. The month when you realize summer is almost over. You know, when you figure out just how much time you’ve pissed away. One of the few things that help get you through? Knowing training camp is right around the corner, of course.

The obvious story line going in for the Oil will be the absense of one Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and who will fill the temporary hole. The Oilers center depth runs something like this

  1. R. Nugent-Hopkins
  2. S. Gagner
  3. B. Gordon
  4. A. Lander
  5. M. Arcobello
  6. A. Miller

So, if Nuge can’t play, Gagner slides up to the first line. That’s fine, he has shown he can play with those guys (if you’re not convinced, we can call Duncan Keith…). The problem is what do you do with Gordon. He has zero offence to speak of, and playing with Perron and Yakupov requires a little skill on the right side of the puck. I believe he will stay on the third line, and one of Lander, Arcobello, and Miller will duke it out for interm second line duty. That creates a hole unless one of the either undersized or under-seasoned call ups light it on fire and burn it down. Given Edmonton’s history at developing useful hockey players, for their own team anyway, I wouldn’t bet on it. You can’t win a playoff spot in October, but you can go a long way in losing one, and the Oiler’s are starting behind the eight ball in one their most important seasons in a long time…

After that, the next biggest story will be the captaincy. Just give it to Hall already. Enough of the bullshit. Everybody knows this is Hall’s team. If they put the C on someone else, even Eberle, the same things will keep happening (locker room troubles). Hall is an alpha, and will not be second to anyone. We all see this. MacTavish played with some of the greatest leaders in the game, and can read a dressing room. Hall is the real deal, age be damned…

Next up, the battle for the top six. I’m not sure anyone would argue the Oilers have no true no1-2 d men. Petry, Smid and Ference can fill 3-4 spots, and then…who knows? Belov is a complete wildcard. The best dman in the KHL doesn’t hold a lot of weight, with me anyway. Fabian Brunnstrom was something else, too, wasn’t he? If he performs like he “could”, we won’t look too bad. If Denis Grebeshkov can regain his previous Oiler form, likewise. A lot of ‘ifs’. If Klefbom makes it, if Potter makes it, if, if, if…

Basically, the Oilers start the year shorthanded up front, with a lot of unproven talent on the back end, and a goalie that still has to make an impression on his GM. All this is a new division, with some of the biggest, most physical teams in the West. People are thinking playoffs? Good luck with that. Challenge for a spot, maybe, but anyone expecting playoff hockey might want to lay off the paint chips. Ahhhh August. Pass me a cold one…..

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