Sunday, September 10, 2006


Excuse Me, Do You Sell #8 Jerseys Yet?

Cosh, Avi and I ventured out to Leduc this morning, in order to check out Day 1 of the Oilers rookie camp. None of us had ever attended the camp before, and we all had a great time. There were probably about 300-500 people at the rink, including media and the requisite slew of Oilers staff. Sparky was outside having a smoke when we arrived, which I have to admit made me like him even more. Rod Phillips was mingling with people, and Gene Principe and Ryan Rishaug were setting up for segments. We sat about three rows in front of Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Charlie Huddy, Craig Simpson, Kevin Prendegast, Scott Howson, Frank Musil, and people I am assuming were other scouts. Billy Moores ran the practice, with assistance from Pete Peters, Kelly Buchberger, and a guy who had to be Steve Serdachny, the Skating and Skills coach. Dave Semenko was nowhere to be seen, which I was actually thankful for. He's usually at the Bears/Rookies game, and he scares me. As Cosh noted, he still has the crazy in his eyes, even after all these years.

I'm going to check out the practice again tomorrow, and I will also be attending the Bears/Rookie game on Tuesday, but here are some initial thoughts and impressions:

• No Smid, Pouliot, or Cogliano.

• The four largest players on the ice were Devan Dubnyk, Troy Brodie, David Schulz, and Alexei Mikhnov. Tom Gilbert is listed as being 6'3" and 210 pounds, but I didn't see it. Schulz, Dubnyk and Mikhnov looked positively gigantic. Buchberger took Mikhnov's stick at one point, and put it beside him. It was as tall as Bucky.

• Let's just get this out of the way: I have a HUGE man-crush on Traktor boy. I couldn't stop staring at him. I love him. Sure, he's four or five years older than everyone else at camp, but he just owned the place. His buried his first shot, over TOP of Devan Dubnyk. On a corner keep-away drill, he was positively Thornton-esque. The defender couldn't get the puck away from him. He just shouldered his way to the net, like he was Magic Johnson posting up on Spudd Webb. When he faced Schulz on the same drill, he just undressed him with a move through the legs, and put the puck on net. His speed wasn't noticeable, but he wasn't losing any races to the smaller, faster players, either. Plus, he looked to be dogging it a bit. In fact, all the high-ranked prospects did. The hardest working guys were all guys I've never even heard of. I haven't seen Mikhnov play against other rookies, and obviously playing against pros is a whole new ballgame, but sign me up as a believer. I talked about him so much, I made Cosh uncomfortable.

• Drills that involved passing were sketchy. I don't know if it was the ice, but these kids couldn't make consistently crisp passes to save their lives.

• On the defensive end, I was most impressed with David Schulz and Theo Peckham. Both handled themselves well, athough Peckham was huffing and puffing after every drill. I barely even noticed Tom Gilbert.

• I didn't notice Slava Trukhno either. I'll have to watch him tomorrow.

• There was one white team, one blue team, and three guys in red sweaters. I have no idea why. Tyler Spurgeon was one of them. There has to be a reason, though. The sweater colours always mean something. Lowetide?

• Patrick Thoresen also looked good. He scored the goal that got the loudest "oooh" from the crowd. During one drill, he, Mikhnov and Robbie Schremp made up a line. I had an erection for all of it.

• Defenceman Sebastien Bisaillon had on Craig Ludwig's shinpads. Unfortunately, he also skated like my mother. He'll never make it in the NHL skating like that. People were actually laughing at his clumsiness. I don't know how he's made it this far skating that poorly. Liam Reddox, in contrast, looked like Katarina Witt out there. His grace had me tearing up.

• Schremp looked like he always does: impatient, petulant, and greedy. He can lose the petulance, but I'll take the rest.

• There was no scrimmage, which was unfortunate. Hopefully, they'll be one tomorrow. If not, I guess I can watch them get murdered by the Bears on Tuesday. I'm eager to see how Mikhnov handles the physical contact, and how Schulz doles it out.

I think that is about it. Here is a list of the rookie camp roster. There are pictures, and audio clips, on the Oilers main page. And Cosh has pictures up on his Flickr site. He'll be adding more as the day goes by. I don't know if he or Avi are going to post their thoughts in the commenst here, or on SportsMatters and Make sure to check them both out, just in case.

***Monday Update*** I chose to play Madden 07 late into the night last night, rather than get up and go to camp today. I'm kind of kicking myself for it now, but I was having way too much fun with Reggie Bush last night to stop. I will be at the game tomorrow, though, come hell or high water, and will report on that.


I think you covered just about everything, up to and including your own unrelenting, catastrophically inappropriate comments about Mikhnov.

In the one-on-one drill that should henceforth be called "the Tractor", Patrick Thoresen (who dat?) actually got the only applause of the day with a backhand no-look top-shelfer off Pitton. And the Kelowna Rockets' Tyler Spurgeon looked to me like the fastest man on the ice. More photos uploading now and as Flickr's crappo network permits...

Thanks for the update.

I caught a few of the workouts at the U of A over the last two weeks and Mikhnov (who looked great in 1-on-1 situations there, too) seemed like he was dogging it then as well. At the time I chalked it up to being unsure about the smaller rink and not knowing where to position himself; I hope it doesn't turn into a pattern with him.

Andy, I'm surprised you didn't take your shirt off and paint a number 8 on your chest.

Cosh has tagged his photos -- if you check-out other public photos with the rookie tag you'll also find shots of the Penguins rookie camp, which included the usual preposterous looking flexibility moves.

Tractor was a given. Impressive. As he should be for his age. But I was stunned by Liam Reddox. His skating skills were at the top end of the guys out there. He aced drills that had other guys tripping and falling flat on their face.

Reddox has very similar numbers to The Schremp in 04/05 and 05/06:

2003-04: 28-41-69
2004-05: 41-49-90

2003-04: 31-33-64
2004-05: 36-46-82

Their paths diverged last year, when Schremp went 57-88-145 and Reddox generated 19-45-64.

HF blames Reddox's scoring drop on a role change, but still rates him just a 7F.

But he's just 20 years old, he's got 210 points in 208 games at the OHL level, and was assistant captain when the Petes won the championship. He showed a lot of promise today.

Did you catch MacT's comments on the Schremp: "I don't think there've been too many young guys that've come into this organization with as much notoriety as he. But I've been very happy with the way he's conducted himself; he's handled himself extremely professionally which we demand of our young players. They're pros now and they have to conduct themselves accordingly, and that's the way they handle themselves away from the game and how they conduct themselves in terms of their preparation and physical conditioning."

Lowe on the topic of the Schremp buzz: "I think it's a little bit unfair for him and the other players...we want him to go at his own pace and not feel that he has to entertain people."

My guess on the redshirts is that those are the guys who aren't going to scrimmage tomorrow. Spurgeon played in Chilliwack late in the week (WED/THU or some such) so may not have arrived in time to be counted on today.

Great stuff on Mikhnov, there are many slack jawed real men in these parts somewhat in awe of Tractor Boy. We've waited for so long for him it's kind of strange to know he's here, the interview on the Oilers site is both fascinating and worthless (kind of like if Ryan Smyth were Russian).

the interview on the Oilers site is both fascinating and worthless (kind of like if Ryan Smyth were Russian).

Fucking hilarious. Because it's so true.

Are redshirts maybe hurt guys? Didn't Spurgeon miss a bunch of time last season? Could also mean they won't scrimmage tomorrow, and that's why.

Huh, Patrick Thoresen's there. Norwegian kid, whose father was a longtime international player for Norway and coaches the world junior and senior championship teams. Patrick's been in the Swedish Elite League the past two years, but he played in the QMJHL prior to that and lit up scoresheets there.

He's one of those guys who would fare better under the so-called 'new' NHL.

The passing was almost definitely because of the ice--as I recall, Leduc had one of the worst ice surfaces in our terrible little Junior C league, and that's in comparison to places like Redwater and Tofield, among others (Tofield, as I recall, actually uses a tractor with a zamboni-like attachment on the back to resurface their ice, to give you an idea of small-town Alberta rinks).

Also, you really think the Bears will beat the Oiler rookies with Mihknov and Schremp? Care to make that interesting?

Also, you really think the Bears will beat the Oiler rookies with Mihknov and Schremp? Care to make that interesting?

Certainly. They had Schremp last year, and I've seen them beat up on Hemsky, Stoll and others. I'll take that bet. We could bet for fantasy league players, perhaps?

(Tofield, as I recall, actually uses a tractor with a zamboni-like attachment on the back to resurface their ice, to give you an idea of small-town Alberta rinks)

I see what you're saying here--your point being, I guess, that the resurfacing unit was attached by a trailer hitch--but technically a "tractor with a Zamboni-like attachment" is more usually called "a Zamboni." A machine like the Fanboni isn't really any less a modified tractor just because Todd Macfarlane painted over the John Deere logo.

As far as the Black Gold Arena goes, it's true that the building was surprisingly warm and almost no one was hitting the tape with passes, but I would advise against judging an ice surface by what it looks like after 23 guys have torn it up doing stop-and-start drills...

Incidentally, after I counted the number of guys wearing red I came up with the same theory as MikeP. Red is worn by lightly injured players in football training camps as a "do not tackle" signal--I'm thinking it's pretty much the same deal here.

The injury things makes the most sense, I agree. Kinda weird that it turned out to be a forward unit of three, though.

Tuesday just can't come fast enough. No #8 Oilers jersey, but I'll be there in my Novisibirsk jersey good and early, so I can get a good seat.

This may be the unusual year the Oilers pull it off. It took OT last year, the Bears have had some excellent players graduate after last year, and the Oilers have Mikhnov, and several returnees who've shown progress since last year.

Not that it really matters. It's always a good show either way.

Terrific stuff Andy. It's easy to get excited about Mikhnov, the combination of size and skill has a pretty strong appeal.

As you say, we haven't seen him play against good NHLers yet, I'm sure that Ethan Moreau would look like Mario out there today if he were in the party.

And to think, all the prospect junkies were fretting over the fact that the Oilers didn't manage to get the big guy over to North America to be developed under their own watchful eye. Hmmm, maybe the Oilers should loan Schremp and Smid to an RSL team this season.

Good reporting guys...

oh and I agree about the red jersies they typically mean "don't hit me, I'm hurt"

Betting players in the pool seems far too complex. I was thinking the price of admission. Possibly a haiku in the winner's honour.

Possibly a haiku in the winner's honour.


Great write-up.

So, three red jerseys, all of 'em forwards...and Matheson in today's Journal:
With only 23 players in camp, all but three of the forwards will dress for the game.

Course lowtide had it figured out Sunday...

- Rod

I'm waiting on my haiku, Grabby.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?