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Monday, December 31, 2012

8 Questions in Oil Country

While my blogs have been few and far between , not to mention my time on twitter, I have been busy following the CHL, AHL, KHL, Swedish Elite,  Finish Elite and the U20 World Jr Championships. Lots of late nights, lots of PVR'ing and while I may have sounded silent these last couple months, I have been still busy enjoying all the hockey fix I can get. Don't think I have followed so much in depth updates on the 2013 NHL Draft ranking either. I have been behind on some of my usual updates with my draft rankings so will be getting back on top of the updates soon in the new year of 2013 very soon.

As we have done in the past, I am listing some questions that I get from various followers on twitter, facebook and here at Oilers Jambalaya. The following are the 8 Questions and my best response to them;

1) What are your impressions on Tobias Rieder this year? Has he taken a step back or has there been a injury we don't know of that has hindered his scoring ability?

It has been a rough year but not for lack of effort. Actually I would have to say that while production has dropped off Tobias has really improved his defensive side of the game in leaps and bounds and has really become a much stronger player in one on one battles. There are some reasons for his drop in play. His Kitchner team has lost some big time skill as well as his world jr team is very weak for skill. Tobias is the type of a player who produces points better as a complimentary player rather then as the star who carries the game. I don't have any worries at this point. Next season he will likely turn pro and get a chance in OKC to hone his skills. As far as what has caused his big drop in point production? I am puzzled but if you watch him on the ice you will see he is always in the right position, works hard and just seems to be snake-bitten.

2) What did you do during the Christmas break? Watch much Jr hockey?

Actually besides watching lots of hockey with the Jrs, as a family we put together our 2nd Annual Christmas Music Video. What is fast becoming a popular Boxing day past time, we came up with a dandy this year....Check it out! (only thing missing is Santa in a Oilers Jersey...hmmm?)

"I am Santa Claus" by The Renaerts Family

3) What are your thoughts on Hall and Eberle in OKC?

These two are absolutely insane when watching them compete against AHL players. While it is so easy to see them shine as greater talent on the ice, it has also provided them the opportunity to work on their defensive side of the game. They both know this season in OKC is about more then just stats and winning, its about development. It also is making them a big target against any team they face. They receive the best defence every night and in the AHL it is borderline dirty hockey on occasion. Can only make them better right? Only time will tell! The thing I like the best is they get to continue to work on chemistry together and also allows proper time for Hall to return from his surgery.

4) Do you think we will see the Oilers play in 2013?

The best answer I can give is....How can they not play? Too much money is at stake for the players to not take a deal in time to salvage a season. If the owners lose this season it will only be a greater demand from owners to not cave in with a full season of revenue lost. 

5) Is Nail Yakupov looking more like a future problem then a future star?

Granted since Yakupov went to play in the subway series, his play has looked to be more problematic as far as team work. There are some things to consider about this young player. Even in Sarnia scouts have gone on record as saying there were times when Nail would try to do too much on his own. Even with his team in the KHL it has been happening. His few games after the subway series he seemed to be struggling with consistent high end play.

Playing with less skill can cause someone who has those game breaking abilities to take on more then they can chew.  Good news is....when Nail plays for Edmonton, they will coach individual play out of him, it's the NHL. Not to mention he will be playing with world class talent throughout the line-up in the top 9 regardless. RNH even commented that going from Jr to Pro was easier skill wise cause the other skill out there made things easier. It was the work ethic, speed and toughness that was the big jump. I would not be too concerned about Yakupov producing in the NHL this year OR next, whenever the NHL does start up again.

Nail Yakupov 2012 NHL Entry Draft

6) Should RNH not have more production playing against boys in the U20 World Jr, rather then men in the NHL? 

Something needs to be understood about RNH's game. He is a all around forward who is as good defensively as he is with his offence. (Despite critics who feel he is only a offensive player) He will light it up with 3 points or more on occasional nights but his big contribution wherever he goes will be his creative playmaking and his ability to control the puck in all circumstances. What puzzles me is the lack of use on the PK for Team Canada. Nugent-Hopkins is still growing into his body and will only get better as time goes on. Remember he is the same age as his linemates just has more pedigree and experience. Some tend to think RNH is a 22 year old or something. Truth is, take RNH out of Team Canada line-up and Team Canada will likely have no chance to win this tourney. 

(RNH's NHL Quality shot)

7) Should the Oilers play a 48 game season, what are the chances of making the playoffs?

With Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Hemsky, Gagner, Smid, Yakupov, Petrell and Schultz all playing on teams this year the Oilers will have a bit of a step up in on-ice preparation. With Ryan Smyth  and Dubynk getting some playing time in the Spengler Cup it should benefit them as well. I expect the Oilers will come out of the gates flying.

Personally I would rather they get one last chance at another lottery pick but at this point progression is more important. My best guess is they finish in 7th-12th in the Western Conference should we see a shortened year.

8) Based on their play for Team Canada, is Johnathan Drouin not looking like a better chance to get drafted higher then Nathan MacKinnon?

While Drouin has done well and played far above most people's expectations, MacKinnon is more a versatile player who is showing he can play a supportive role for Team Canada. He has the ability to play on Wing, at Center, be a depth player or be a skill player in top 6. Drouin has better top end skill with his stick handling and passes and hockey sense but MacKinnon has such great work ethic, incredible drive and speed that is making players 3 years his elder look slow. Give Nathan a top 6 role like Drouin and he will produce. Thing is Drouin fills that role well and Nathan will fill any spot that is needed on this team.

MacKinnon just recently turned 17

Top end Skill displayed by Drouin 

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