Saturday, August 30, 2008

Edmonton's Roster Looks O.K.

OK so yesterday I kind of scribbled together my impressions of how Oil Kings camp has been playing out and made some final rosters suggestions. Well... ignore yesterday's piece. I was out at Day 1 of the tournament in St. Albert, got a chance to pick the brain of several NHL scouts, WHL brass, coaches and others in the kow and had several of my personal predictions blow all to hell.

First and foremost, yesterday I said that Shayne Neigum wouldn't make my team. Well apparently that's why I'm not the GM as I've been assured (not by GM Bob Green mind you) that Neigum is a pretty important part of the line up. While I see him as a pretty one-dimensional player, fesity but lacking defensively and offensively, others hold him in higher regard than I do.

I also predicted that 16-year-old Dylan Wruck was playing well enough to stick. He's been good but apparently the team is planning on sending him back to Beardy's with the hopes that he'll get a bit bigger beofre next year (he's listed at just 5'7 and 138 lbs). Definitely one to keep an eye on down the road, play-by-play voice A.J. Jacubec surprised me but wasn't joking when he said he could forsee Wruck as a 100-point man i the WHL one day. I'd take that seriously, A.J. knows his stuff.

Cam Maclise was having an impressive camp but suffered whiplash during the Ft. Saskatchewan portion. He's sitting out still.

I boldly said my two choices for breakout player of the year were Craig McCallum and Clay Cumiskey. McCallum should be a top 6 player but I've been told to expect Cumiskey to be a 3rd line guy so that might shoot down that theory too.

Prior to tonight's game I was speaking with a bird-dog from NHL Central Scouting and an amateur scout for a NHL club, both of whom expressed concern about Edmonton's goaltending this year. I reassured them that camp had been a pleasant surprise in that department. 15-year-old Laurent Brossoit proceeded to play very well in his first half of the game against Swift Current. However, projected starter Dalyn Flette then entered the game and proceeded to stink the joint out.

Shortly after Flette came into the game a NHL scout tapped me on the shoulder and suggested "Swifty has to be feeling pretty good right about now, they know they can win this one if they just shoot at the net!" The punchline here is that they were down by a goal at the time and sure enough, they went on to win the game.

I get the sense that 19-year-old Harrison May has done his job; he was asked to come to camp in order to make sure that competition for the backup goalie spot (behind Flette) kept everyone focused. It's my impression though that it's a 2-horse race between Cam Lanigan and Patrick Terris.

Wade Epp, the big 6'5 defenceman that Edmotnon had in camp earlier? Well he didn't get cut, he left on his own volition because he apparently wants to keep his NCAA options open. Those I spoke with had no idea what NCAA school he was talking too but at least one person told me that Epp is "getting some bad advice". He wasn't having a great camp but the size and the potential was there and I think the Oil Kings were willing to let him find his way this year and live with some growing pains.

Tomas Vincour (on the right in the picture) will arrive back in Edmonton on Sunday but isn't expected to play in the tournament. That's not by choice though, P.R. man Jordi Wiedman tells me that if it were up to Vincour the winger would go right from the airport to the rink and maybe even suit up in the car on the way. Talk about eager... this should be a great year for him. One NHL scout told me tonight that he expects Vincour to be a "very high draft pick".

One thing I did get right yesterday is that the guy who has really made a name for himself this fall is defenceman Jesse Pearson. 3 fights in camp and got into another one tonight against 20-year-old Dale Weise, a draft pick of the New York Rangers. Weise is listed at 6'3 and 210 lbs... Pearson is 6' and 162 lbs. Needless to say he took a few but believe me, Pearson did more than alright and got in a few of his own. He's quickly becoming a favorite of the staff and the rest of the team.

With all that said... here is my floating projected line up for 2008-09 with the understanding that it could all change again tomorrow. :-)


1) Lee - Dowd - Vincour
2) Breitkreuz - Raedeke - McCallum
3) Neigum - Cumiskey - Soudek

guys like Stephenson, Foster, Burns, Proulx and Balness in the mix to round things out. You'll notice the vets I have not included here are Braeden Adamyk and Brent Henke.

On the backend I think it starts our fairly easy.

Van de Mosselaer, Pysyk, Lockerby, Nichol, Pearson, Hlookof and Tervonen are in but Laroque and Friesen are challenging too. I still personally think Cepek is only around until the team finds a trading partner.

In net, as I said, it's Flette plus one of Lanigan or Terris and while I've seen Lanigan play lights out at camp, I haven't seen all his games and I'm told he wasn't always excellent. I'll still guess that it'll be him.

Until I change my mind again...

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