With the start of the season quickly approaching and the Edmonton Oilers defence in shambles, the trade rumours are starting to make their rounds. The newest batch consist of centre Sam Gagner finding his way to Toronto, with the Oilers receiving one of the Maple Leafs defencemen in return.
The Edmonton Oilers can not be accused of easing rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into his first NHL season. Pegged to start the season as the teams second line centre, the first overall selection of this summers entry draft, has been propelled to first line duty because of a high ankle sprain to one Sam Gagner. Unless something changes leading up to opening night, it appears he will kickoff his NHL career, playing on a line with Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky.
With the young Swede making the club out of camp, you could say that Anton Lander has exceeded expectations that the Edmoonton Oillers had for him heading into the 2011-2012 season. The organization will never admit it publicly but the plan was to have Lander head to Oklahoma City to start the season and have him get used to the "North American" style of game. While that still may happen once Sam Gagner returns from injury, I have a feeling the talented centre will do his best to ensure the Oilers simply can't send him down to the AHL.
Not manywould debate the fact that Ladislav Smid has the ability to become a quality top four NHL defenceman. Unfortunately for the Czech defender, he seems incapable of staying healthy long enough for him to take that next step in his development. Still only 25 years old, he is entering his sixth season but is about to find himself back on the IR list with a shoulder injury..Edmonton signed Smid to a two year extension during the off season but the time has come for the organization to take a serious look at where the defenceman fits into their long term plans.
With the season just around the corner, I would say it is time to take a look at the Edmonton Oilers special teams and see if we can determine who will be placed in what role and what is fair as far as expectations go for each player. Lets start off looking at the penalty kill and what potential forward pairings the Oilers may plan on using when shorthanded.
The Edmonton Oilers made it official yesterday afternoon, stating the obvious, that young Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had indeed made the cut and would start the season with the big club. Unless you live under a rock or do not follow the Oilers, the "news of the day" was not news at all. Anyone with two eyes in their head could see the kid belongs in the NHL and to not allow him to play, after clearly earning a spot, would have been the biggest mistake this organization could have made.