What a summer!

Jason Gregor
September 11 2009 10:48AM

Just when you thought nothing was going on this summer, once again the Nation proved us all wrong:

Sure there was the Coyote saga, but that has been as annoying to follow as when you see your buddy continue to get back together with a flaky ex-girlfriend.

Ch-ch-ch-changes... for the Oilers, that is

Training camp will be much different this year. For the past few seasons the players scrimmaged on day one, two and three and then went into pre-season games. Pat Quinn and his coaching staff will be focusing on getting the players comfortable with the new system on the first few days of camp, so there will be more technical elements and less scrimmage time.

With the addition of Comrie, the Oilers have 19 forwards in camp who have played in the NHL. Hemsky, Horcoff, Penner, Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, Comrie, O’Sullivan, Moreau, Pisani, Pouliot, Stortini, Brule, Jacques, MacIntyre, Stone, Potulny, Schremp and Reddox. If you toss in Jordan Eberle, who looked great last night in the rookie game, that is 20 guys battling for 14 spots.

Potulny, Stone, and Schremp are out for sure, and I think Eberle is a long shot. I still think Pouliot is going to the odd guy out and probably Reddox, but we will see what transpires.

The big question is who will play where?

Will Pat Quinn have three scoring lines and a checking/energy line? After a conversation with some Oiler brass in Leduc last night, I don’t think it's cut and dry that they'll go with two scoring lines, a checking one and an energy line. Quinn might look for three balanced lines and then an energy/checking line.

Would these line combinations work?

Comrie — Horcoff — Hemsky

Comrie has skill, and Hemsky might have more confidence dishing the puck to him than some of the other guys he has played with in the past. Horcoff can be the defensive conscience on this line.

Nilsson — Gagner — O’Sullivan

Not a big line, but there isn’t much size to go around amongst the skilled players. Nilsson had his best stretch with Gagner, and O’Sullivan is the sleeper heading into camp. He won’t be nearly as bad as he was since coming over from LA, and he sounds ready to make a statement with the Oilers this year.

Penner — Cogliano — Pisani

I know Cogliano sucks in the dot, but he should improve strictly because he’s stronger this year. If he struggles again, Penner can take the draws.

Penner is more comfortable when he isn’t on the supposed top-line, so he could flourish here.

**I saw him yesterday for the first time this year, and he looks in decent shape. Maybe around 240, which for him is a good weight**.

Pisani has a great shot, and he might be the smartest positional player on the team, so his defensive awareness could allow Cogliano to take a few risks with his speed, and try to get the jump on some loose pucks.

Moreau — Brule — Stortini

Moreau and Brule can get minutes by killing penalties. Stortini is great at creating havoc on the forecheck — maybe the best on the team — and all three can crash and bang. Of course these lines will vary due to injury and such, but Quinn will try lots of different combinations starting Tuesday in Calgary.

Extra forwards are Jacques and MacIntyre. (I’m not a Pouliot fan, and while it makes more sense to have one of the extra forwards be a guy who can play wing or centre, I’m still not keeping him.) MacIntyre will be needed for a few games against the super heavyweights, and Jacques will push players to be consistent.

I don’t see any battles on the blueline or in goal.

Souray, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov, Gilbert, Smid, Staios and Strudwick will be the seven, while the younger fossil and JDD will tend the twine.

Quinn wants this team to push the pace and be aggressive on the forecheck, which means more skating and using more energy. He might want a better distribution of minutes amongst more forwards, rather than have his fourth line play eight minutes of less.

The only player I see with a chance shock some people and crack the lineup is Eberle, and if he does then I can’t see anyway that Nilsson sticks around.

Questions that need answers

What makes this training camp and pre-season more entertaining than the past eight I’ve covered is that we really don’t know where players will play and who they will play with.

  • Horcoff is probably the best fit for a traditional third line centre, and if the Rangers paid Bobby Holik $9 million to be a checker, can’t the Oilers pay Horcoff to do the same?
  • Can Comrie return to his 30-goal form or are his best days behind him?
  • Is Cogliano ready to become a top-six forward?
  • Can Gagner get off to a good start for once?
  • Will Hemsky become a point-a-game player?
  • Will Wanye continue to break stories? Hell will he write more than one a month?
  • Can Quinn use his old man strength and wisdom and convince Penner to show up most nights? (Ditto for Nilsson.)
  • Has JF Jacques realized what he needs to do to become a regular NHLer?
  • Which poster will Brownlee carve first?
  • Will the Oilers have a 30-goal scorer?
  • Will Stortini fight more than 25 times?
  • Can Tom Renney get their special teams in the top half of the league?
  • How many games will Bulin Wall play before he tweaks a groin?
  • Will girls make out on the smooch cam and get banned for six months? I sure as hell hope they don’t get banned.
  • Will beers cost $8.50 this year? They sure as $&*#& better not!
  • Will the Oilers suck the big ones on Tuesday home games again?
  • Will scalpers get more for Ovechkin or Crosby games?
  • Will the Oilers win more than 23 games at home?
  • Who will be the Nation's whipping boy this year?

MacT coming to your house

Former Oiler bench boss Craig MacTavish will be coaching Canada’s team in the Spengler Cup, but you’ll see him much sooner than that.

He has agreed to be an analyst on TSN.

You might not have liked his coaching style, but MacT was great behind the mic. Hopefully he’ll bring that same quick wit and dry sense of humour to the camera.

I’ll take him over another goalie any day, and I suspect he’ll be very good at that gig.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 charlieangels
September 11 2009, 02:13PM
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line combo's look good. What if Oil took a flyer on Mike Danton. Get him in playing shape, get his Visa in order and then we got someone who can skate and fight to back up Zack.

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#52 jeff
September 11 2009, 02:15PM
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@ charlieangels: Why do we want him. He was a boderline NHLer before he went to jail.

Jacques is a way better option and he isn't a headcase.

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#53 Jeff
September 11 2009, 02:31PM
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Comrie-Horc-Hemmer Penner-Gags-POS Schremp-Cogs-Pies Moreau-Brule-Storts

Extra Big Mac and Jaques/Nilsson

Pouliot is done with this team and Nilsson based on last year shouldn't be on this team. I put Schremp on the third line because for some reason I think he's going to do well this training camp. Jaques is abysmal but he sounded motivated during the pre-preseason interviews.

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#54 Ender the Dragon
September 11 2009, 02:31PM
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@ Jon: I'm not saying it wouldn't work, but Quinn would have a lot of people riding him for icing the most expensive 4th-liner in Oilers history.

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#55 jeff
September 11 2009, 02:43PM
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I find it funny how many people are writing of Pouilot in favour of Brule.

Brule has yet to prove anything and at this point I don't see why he gets the pass onto the 4th line.

Fact is Pouilot was one of the better faceoff men last year and his +1 isn't too shabby. He doesn't hurt us when he is on the ice either.

Now I really don't know who is the better player and I don't really favour either guy, but I think Pouilot deserves a little more credit then he gets.

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#56 FS
September 11 2009, 02:58PM
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How about these lines?

1 Comrie O'Sulli Hemsky 2 Cogs Gagner Nilsson 3 Penner Horcoff Pisani 4 Moreau Brule Stortini

Extra fowards Pouliot, Jacques

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#57 smytty777
September 11 2009, 03:29PM
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@ FS: Switch Gagner and O Sully and that would be the lines I would like to see.

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#58 lea
September 11 2009, 03:48PM
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Hearing rumours regarding Kessel..whats going on??????

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#59 Travis Dakin
September 11 2009, 03:56PM
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lea wrote:

Hearing rumours regarding Kessel..whats going on??????

and what might these rumours be?

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#60 charlieangels
September 11 2009, 03:59PM
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Forget it, Kessel will never come to Edmonton. He is a pure goal scorer. Boston will keep him.

O Sully in tough to make this squad. He needs to shine this pre season.

Tambo on right track. Funny how the local media all interviewed KLowe before they interviewed Tambo on the Comrie signing.

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#61 Asciutto
September 11 2009, 04:01PM
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10 17 27 -15 or 8 12 20 +1

Which is the first line winger?

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#62 Asciutto
September 11 2009, 04:15PM
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O’Sullivan Horcoff Pisani - PvP line

Cogliano Gagner Hemsky - The Pray-Gagner-has-Gotten-Better line

Penner Comrie Nilsson - The Doghouse line

Moreau Pouliot Stortini - thecaptainethanmoreau can keep his beady eye on that slug Pouliot line

Potulny , Jacques 38 goals on tap, plus muscle

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#63 willy fisterbotom
September 11 2009, 04:16PM
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Asciutto wrote:

10 17 27 -15 or 8 12 20 +1 Which is the first line winger?

this might be the most confusing post EVER

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#64 Jimmy
September 11 2009, 04:21PM
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@ willy fisterbotom:

It's a skill-testing question you have to answer before he'll tell you what he thinks about the article.

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#65 Asciutto
September 11 2009, 04:23PM
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"most confusing post EVER"

Its a comment, not a post, prompted by suggestions that Comrie is a first-liner and suggestions that Pouliot is a bum

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#66 iceman852
September 11 2009, 04:57PM
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@ Asciutto: Did you happen to POST that comment?

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#67 Jimmy
September 11 2009, 05:00PM
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iceman852 wrote:

@ Asciutto: Did you happen to POST that comment?

Stop trying to trap him. Comments are commented, posts are posted.

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#68 Harlie
September 11 2009, 05:09PM
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the Oiler's are the Roloff family of the NHL.

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#69 olderthendirt
September 11 2009, 05:28PM
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The day Schremp makes the Oilers is the day I admitt Calgary fans know something about hockey, neither will ever happen, get over it.

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#70 Happy birthday, to the newest Oiler - OilersNation.com
September 11 2009, 05:31PM
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[...] while Gregor waxes intellectual about line combinations, Willis tweets about how the Oilers are not, in fact, over the cap, [...]

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#71 Joey Moss
September 11 2009, 05:35PM
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that is a brutal third line if it is going to be used in a traditional third line way...

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#72 Cory Dakin
September 11 2009, 05:36PM
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@ Asciutto: You would put Pisani ahead of Hemsky?

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#73 Cory Dakin
September 11 2009, 05:42PM
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Am I the only one who thinks Penner is going to have a break-out year? I'm thinking the near-miss on the trade and the new coaching staff will be his wake up call... 30 goals this year for him.. Book it!

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#74 David S
September 11 2009, 06:46PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Starting next week, I will upload them to my website…

*fistpump!*

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#75 RossCreek
September 11 2009, 07:05PM
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charlieangels wrote:

O Sully in tough to make this squad.

LOL......... yeeeeeaah........... riiiiiiiiiight. ~khabibulin might not make the team either~

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#76 RossCreek
September 11 2009, 08:00PM
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olderthendirt wrote:

The day Schremp makes the Oilers is the day I admitt Calgary fans know something about hockey, neither will ever happen, get over it.

Its olderTHANdirt buddy. Not surprising coming from "your kind" though.

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#77 Biowolf
September 11 2009, 11:45PM
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And what would be the reason for Hemsky to dish off more confidently to comrie after his third circle around the net ? These lines suck. The only player with upside is Cogs and he will be traded .Oilers in the basement by Haloween

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#78 Racki
September 11 2009, 11:55PM
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Gregor: Like your line combos, but I'd switch up someone on line 2 with Penner, just to give that line a bit of size. Actually, I'd almost prefer something like this:

Comrie Horcoff Hemsky Penner Gagner Cogliano Nilsson O'Sullivan Pisani Moreau Brule Stortini

Been mentioning a Moreau Brule Stortini line for a bit, myself. I really would love to see that. I'd also really like to see Gagner and Cogliano reunited again and this time with Penner on the wing. He's got the one thing those two kids are lacking - size. And while he doesn't use it as often as we'd like, I think that all 3 of them would benefit from playing on the same line together.

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#79 Racki
September 12 2009, 12:03AM
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charlieangels wrote:

Forget it, Kessel will never come to Edmonton. He is a pure goal scorer. Boston will keep him. O Sully in tough to make this squad. He needs to shine this pre season. Tambo on right track. Funny how the local media all interviewed KLowe before they interviewed Tambo on the Comrie signing.

Boston would love to keep him, but they won't be able to. And I've been away for 4 days, but I wonder if the Leafs are trying to push the Bruins into trading him (obviously to the Leafs, though).

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#80 ronaldo
September 12 2009, 07:03AM
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@ RossCreek Then/ Than is to/ too confusing and is a very common mistake that effects/ affects many otherwise intelligent people and Flames fans.

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#81 The Menace
September 12 2009, 09:28AM
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Biowolf wrote:

And what would be the reason for Hemsky to dish off more confidently to comrie after his third circle around the net ? These lines suck. The only player with upside is Cogs and he will be traded .Oilers in the basement by Haloween

WTF?!? This is the one time of the year we can be optimistic dude! Save this kind of talk for the Olympic break (if required).

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#82 Jason Gregor
September 12 2009, 09:47AM
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charlieangels wrote:

Tambo on right track. Funny how the local media all interviewed KLowe before they interviewed Tambo on the Comrie signing.

Actually Tambellini addressed the media first outside the Leduc arena...Lowe talked to us about an hour and half after Tambellini.

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#83 Archaeologuy
September 12 2009, 10:34AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

If Eberle looks too good for the WHL but not necessarily a lock to make the team do you think the Oilers would put a guy like Nilsson in the Minors or trade him and give Eberle a chance to feel his way into the NHL like they did with Gagner? Very limited ice time against weaker opposition, on the power play, 13th forward type stuff.

Or are the Oilers prepared to keep Eberle in the WHL even if his development level is in an intermediate state (ie AHL level but not NHL level, even though he cant actually play in the AHL)?

Does anyone else get the impression that any rule preventing an 18 yr old from playing in the AHL seems like it's an unfair business practice to the 18yr old legitimately seeking employment? I have never had a good explanation why some kid hasnt sued for the right to play in the AHL, besides the obvious not wanting to be blackballed by his prospective team.

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#84 Archaeologuy
September 12 2009, 10:43AM
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Oh, Eklund just said Zherdev to Western Canada and possibly the Oilers. ~Ordering my Zherdev jersey now!~

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#85 jake
September 12 2009, 11:13AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Didn't Zherdeve sign in KHL?

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#86 David S
September 12 2009, 11:43AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Oh, Eklund just said Zherdev to Western Canada and possibly the Oilers.

Unless Brownlee or Gretz are confirming, it ain't happening.

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#87 Dave
September 12 2009, 11:55AM
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MacT will be great on TSN.

Jaques starts the season with the Oilers.

Brownlees's irritant segment doesn't see Christmas.

Cell phone posers? When all is said and done or at the end of the day, IMO Robin came across as jaded and bitter. I thoroughly enjoy reading his work.

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#88 c33
September 14 2009, 10:04PM
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MacT on TV - will the others beable to keep up with his wit? I can hardly wait for the dry humour and sarcasm...will be extremely entertaining....bring on the season....

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