When Taylor Hall was asked to play centre for the Oilers this summer, he figured it would be four or five games at most down the middle before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was ready to re-assume his role as the team's number one pivot. However, now that Sam Gagner is also out for the first month of the season it looks like his playing time at centre will increase.
"It's a good thing I've been playing there for the last week or so. I'm going to keep playing centre and I'm fine with that," said Hall. "We're not going to make it a bigger problem than it is. We're going to fill the void and keep going out and doing our job."
Hall has played three games so far this pre-season. In his first game, against Calgary, he was an impressive 65% in the dot. In his second game at Vancouver, he was 53%. Last night, he struggled a bit more at 45%. Overall in the pre-season, Hall has been 29-for-54 for a success rate of 53.7% which is very good.
However, despite Hall's proficiency down the middle so far he realizes what a big loss Gagner is to the club.
"It's a really tough loss. It's not something we want to hear, especially with a guy like Gags coming off such a strong year."
And the defence pairings:
The only two goaltenders remaining in camp are Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera.
The Oilers announced on Sunday that they have reduced their training camp roster by eight. Heading to Oklahoma City is Brad Hunt (D), Oscar Klefbom (D), Martin Marincin (D), Ryan Martindale (D), Andrew Miller (C) and Ty Rimmer (G).
The Oilers announced on Sunday that forward Sam Gagner will be out indefinitely with a broken jaw suffered last night against Vancouver.
Gagner collided on the side boards with Zack Kassian and Kassian got his stick up, knocking out some of Gagner's teeth before receiving a four-minute penalty.
Coach Eakins did mention that they were going to take an X-Ray on Gagner's jaw and as it turns out, the worst fears were realized.
“Kassian took his teeth out with his stick. We’re trying to find some and put some back in. I think he’ll get an x-ray on his jaw as well,” Eakins said last night.
Oilers forward David Perron played 16:59 of ice time and had a two-point night (a goal and an assist) which included a short-handed goal.
Perron has been impressing the Oilers ever since they traded for him in the off-season and he projects to be a major asset to the team moving into the future.
“Boy, I think we got a lot,” said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. “We got a guy who can score, he competes hard, he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty and we’ve let him loose on the penalty kill a little bit as well. I think we’ve got a very well-round player and another guy that’s excited to play hockey and a guy that really likes to play the game. That’s important.”
Sam Gagner left tonight’s game late in the second period after Vancouver’s Zack Kassian hit the Oilers forward in the face with a high-stick. He did not return.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an update on Gagner:
“Kassian took his teeth out with his stick. We’re trying to find some and put some back in. I think he’ll get an x-ray on his jaw as well.”
Kassian earned a double minor for high-sticking on the play.
Oilers fans know that forward Nail Yakupov is an impressive player.
After a solid performance against the Vancouver Canucks in which he scored a goal, posted a team-high five shots and played an electrified 19:37 of game time, he had his head coach dishing the out the compliments.
“The kid is so much fun to watch play,” said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. “When he gets the puck, it’s like everybody leans forward in their seat. What’s he going to do?
“He was juking and jiving in the offensive zone with that puck and I was glad to see him score because he had a lot of chances from that other side. I thought he handled playing the point on the power play fine tonight which was good and we’re going to keep on the journey with him.”
Goaltender Ty Rimmer is trying to make an impression on anyone that will watch. He is currently on a professional tryout with the Oilers and saw his first NHL game action tonight.
In relief of Jason LaBarbera, the 21 year-old netminder finished with a .909 save percentage, stopping 10 of 11 shots faced which included some highlight reel stops.
“It was awesome,” said the Edmonton native. “It was a great opportunity obviously and to play in front of a hometown crowd like that, it was something special and something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Rimmer says there were some nerves he had to overcome but it all settled down in the end.
“That first minute… the heart rate is going pretty good but after you feel a couple of shots and you start to settle down and get into a groove a little bit and I felt pretty good.”
The Oilers skated at Rexall Place on Friday with two separate sessions ahead of Saturday night's game against the Canucks.
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Defenceman Taylor Fedun will continue to be evaluated by the Edmonton Oilers brass here in training camp as he tries to earn a roster spot on an increasingly crowded blue line. He is scheduled to see action in his second game of this pre-season tomorrow night against Vancouver.
After a solid showing in Calgary, where he notched two assists, Fedun feels like he's had a strong camp thus far.
"I've felt really good so far," said Fedun. "I've felt like there's been a lot of jump and good compete out there especially during practices. Obviously, I've only been in one game so far and I think that was a good first step here in camp. I'm just trying to keep moving forward here."