Monday, January 4, 2010

The Glass Half Full - Edmonton Oilers Prospects and the Junior Tournament



Well now that the World Junior tournament is almost over - minus the medal finals and the relegation games - it's time to look at what happened for the sake of the Edmonton Oilers and their prospects.  Not much is really going to change from now till it's over so why not get cracking?

In my opinion, the Oiler kids did great.  Much better than I had anticipated.  I'm thinking glass half full when I say the future looks bright for this hockey club.  Not next year, but I'd say in the next 2-4 years, this team is going to change dramatically and for the better. *fingers crossed*

We seen the dominance/emergence of (F) Jordan Eberle and (F) Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson and that really excited me as an Oiler fan, never mind the other 3 Oiler kids playing in this tournament. 

Before any games are played on Monday, Eberle had registered a point in 16 straight games for Team Canada.  He is also tied for tops on Team Canada with St. Louis Blues prospect (D) Alex Pietrangelo and second in the tournament in points with 11 in total.  In fact, only Derek Stepan has more points in the tournament than Eberle and it's only by one mealy point.  Jordan Eberle has 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points.  Not bad for a kid who only played 5 games and was slated for the 2nd line on Team Canada. 

"He's (Eberle) not afraid of the big situation," Coach Desjardins said. "He wants the puck. Even the shootout moves and things like that, he makes real strong moves."  Watch out Oiler fans, this kid is going to be a damn good player someday for the Oilers.

Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson has also had a great tournament.  He's been a force and a leader on the Swedish team and he's a very talented hockey player.  I still find it surprising that the Oilers were able to select him with the 10th pick in 2009.  This kid is a gamer and I feel fortunate as an Oiler fan that we have him in our system.  He had 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points in 5 games and was a +6.  He was a leader for the Sweden team and I'd expect some of the same here in Edmonton when he does finally reach the NHL.  As an 18 year old, he's very impressive and I'm sure, like Eberle and his #14, the Oilers have #21 reserved for Pääjärvi-Svensson.

Also on Team Sweden, is (F) Anton Lander.  He was the Oilers 40th pick in 2009 draft.  He was interesting to keep an eye on because I didn't know much about him before the tournament started.  The first thing I noticed as that he must have some sort of leadership skills as he wore the "A" on his jersey.  That's a good sign.  He is also pretty good at faceoffs as he went 35W 25L for 58.33% and 13th overall in the tournament.  Not exactly a high percentage, but at least it's a starting point and has room to grow.  If he improves on this, then that might be an intangible that he brings to the Oilers and solidifies a spot for himself on the team.  Lord knows the Oilers need better faceoff people. 

After 5 games Lander has scored 4 goals and had 2 assists for 6 points.  Not bad.  He is also sitting at +3 before the Bronze (I wish it was for Gold) medal game.  Again, not bad. 

So far it's looking good for the Oilers don't you think?

Now onto Team Finland.  The Oilers have two players there and they also looked pretty good throughout this tournament.  (F) Tony Rajala and (F) Teemu Hartikainen play on a weaker team than the other Oiler prospects, do but both still had a good tournament. 

Rajala scored 1 goal and had 2 assists for 3 points after 5 games.  He is currently sitting at -1 after those 5 games.  Only scoring once is a little shocking considering it came on the PP and he fired 22 shots in those 5 games.  Is he another Patrick O'Sullivan?  See... that doesn't excite me either.  The bright side here?  He didn't have a single penalty all tournament. Glass half full.

Teemu Hartikainen was a little better than Rajala by scoring 3 goals (same as MPS) and 1 assist for 4 points after 5 games.  He also fired the puck a lot like Rajala did by blasting a team high 27 shots. In comparison, Eberle took 20 shots so far in the tournament and has 6 goals while MPS took 24 shots and had 3 goals.  If anything impressed me it was that Hartikainen did so well in goal scoring department.  I didn't expect him to be in top 20 and he is at 16th place right now.  He just may mature into a better goal scorer then he is now. I'd say Hartikainen is already on his way.

Overall Goals as of the morning of 1/4/10
1st Jordon Eberle (6 goals)
3rd Taylor Hall (5 goals)
9th Anton Lander (4 goals)
16th Teemu Hartikainen (3 goals)
16th Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (3 goals)
HM Tony Rajala (1 goal)

With the emergence of Eberle and Pääjärvi-Svensson and Lander, I think the Oilers are going to be OK down the road.  I suppose if the two kids from Finland pan out, we can consider it a bonus.  If we show patience, this team will be good once again.  Until then though... it's painful to watch.

Ps. Taylor Hall looked great and needs to be an Oiler.  Don't you think?

-Smokin' Ray-

4 comments:

  1. Good read. I would loooove Taylor Hall. Him in an Oilers jersey would improve this club big time. Good blog.

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  2. I agree with your assessment of these players. I am more leery of Anton Lander than you are. I don't think he will be that good in the long run. But nice write up.

    I found your site because of the Oilers Not Paying The Bill link. Good post on that and I agree 100%. Pay it and go. It doesn't mean that you have to go back. It would have solved a lot of problems. I think it was the globe and mail stating that Iginla was the "friend" that recommended the place. lol. Good friend.

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  3. Both Eberle and MPS have been great this WJHC. It's so nice to see we actually do have something beyond Gagner and Cogliano in the system. I can't wait for these guys. And like you said, if those other guys do pan out, it's a total bonus. Why did we keep Reddox?

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  4. I have to say as a non Oiler fan, you guys are lucky. At least you have a future.

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