Jets/Oilers Post-Game Thoughts

The Oilers’ prospects played their second game of the pre-preseason earlier this evening, lining up against the Jets’ rookies. After the jump, random scattered thoughts on the game and the players.

It was a sloppy game, for the most part – exactly the sort of contest one expects from two prospect teams still finding their feet. There were the obligatory tussles, a series of defensive breakdowns, soft goals, and in the midst of all of that chaos some exceptional plays by talented young players.

The best player for either side was Oilers goaltender Tyler Bunz, who made a series of highlight reel saves in both the second and third periods. Aside from one waved-off goal (the puck was batted in by Carl Klingberg from way over the net), nothing got past him despite defensive breakdowns and a plethora of chances in close.

Bunz wasn’t the only player on the Oilers who impressed. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked to be in a league of his own early in the game before fading from view a little as the contest went on, but he still played well. He showed a willingness to engage physically – he probably led both clubs in hits through the first period – and had some great shifts, particularly on the power play.

Ryan Martindale, whose willingness to compete on a consistent basis has been questioned in virtually every scouting report going back to before his draft day, really stood out early on. He showed offensive acumen – Chase Schaber’s unassisted goal was in large part a result of his efforts – and nailed Shayne Wiebe (more on him in a moment) with a major hit in the first period. Unfortunately he left the game after that first period with a hip flexor injury, and while there is still no official news on the cause it may very well have been connected to the hit on Wiebe.

On the blue-line, Taylor Fedun was the best of an erratic bunch, both offensively and in his own end. Undrafted rearguard Ryan Lowery had some offensive flashes but those were outnumbered by some high profile gaffes – an unacceptable combination for a 23-year old with four years of college experience playing against kids. Lowery’s uncertain play made it difficult to evaluate his partner, the also undrafted Wes Vannieuwenhuizen, who fought (and lost) to the much larger Cody Sol.

Beyond that group, Chase Schraber had his moments, Martin Gernat through a massive hip-check, and Tyler Pitlick had something of a mixed contest.

The Jets didn’t get the same calibre of goaltending from second-year professional Chris Carrozzi. Though last year’s Gwinnett Gladiator improved as the contest went on, the second goal against was a tough one to allow and his rebound control was haphazard at best.

Up front, while prospects like Mark Scheifele and Ivan Telegin are more highly-touted, it was Shayne Wiebe who really stood out. The undersized and undrafted WHL’er scored 44 goals for Brandon last season, and he was flying all night. The big hit from Martindale left him unfazed, and while he generated a lot offensively he was also good in his own end – midway through the second, for example, he snuck behind Nugent-Hopkins, stripping him of the puck and carrying it out of the defensive zone. He was arguably the most impressive forward for either squad over the entirety of the match. On defense, Zach Redmond had a strong game.

And while watching a choppy online feed of players with jersey numbers in the ‘70’s was less than ideal, it was a real pleasure to watch hockey again.

  • Strange how much draft pedigree comes into things. If a guy is drafted FIST overall then they want him in the league as soon as possible. If he isn’t then it’s several more years of Medicine Hat and then some AHL before we see him.

    I’m not saying Bunz should play in the NHL next year, but was his performance against his peers less than that of RNH?

    • O.C.

      There’s a stark difference between a forward and a goaltender though.

      You can shelter a forward in games, avoid matchups, create matchups, etc… A goaltender doesn’t have that luxury.

      • O.C.

        True. well said.
        But you wouldn’t make either’s first start in a must win.

        To be fair, Roy also looked good in a one sided game. He didn’t see a lot of action.

        How many teams can say this?

        They have two goalies who in successive years are backstopping at the Junior World’s? (it isn’t certain, but appears headed that way)…


        …The Oil also drafted the number one rated goalie this year, Samu Perhonen. Suddenly, a wealth of young, real goaltending prospects.

    • Ryan14

      Generally speaking, a 5th rounder is going to be farther behind on the developmental curve, as well as more “raw” than a first Rounder. So Tyler Bunz going back to medicine Hat, and then to the AHL is less about draft pedigree and more where he is as a player in terms of development, potential and understanding, be it through experience or natural ability.

    • positivebrontefan

      Impossible to compare because the positions a too different. He had a very impressive game however and not just his goaltending ability but he handles the puck really well and seemed to be skilled at passing the puck out of his own end. I think he should be just ahead/behind Danis which ever way you want to look at it. I think if there was a tender injury Danis would get called up just because he has experience but you never know.

  • O.C.

    Bunz is for real. Still a lot to learn but poised and smart.

    Fedun was the only D man I saw playing D…

    At this level, you better stand out if you hope for a real shot at the show. 3 did. A few more may get there.

  • striker777

    Didnt really watch a whole lot of this game as I was watching Canada Rugby team play but (great win by the way for all you non rugby watchers haha) but I hope this puts Bunz ahead of Olivier Roy in the depth chart. Played swell and looked in posistion all night long.

    Defence: Fedun played very well again. Gernat still looks better than a 5th round pick, still very raw but you can see the potential he posses. Weirenshuser or whatever is last name is played pretty well for a camp invite. Good to see him take on a much bigger player (didnt really do anything but the gumption was there). Blaine looks like he has a little offensive stride in his game. More consistency with forwards and he would have a good breakout pass.

    Forwards: Nugget looked killer on the powerplay and was throwing more hits than I expected from the munchkin, still dont think he will last longer than the 9 game mark. Martindale looked good from what I saw. To bad he got hurt, but good job on him for laying the hit and using his big body. Showed great skill and control with speed on the first goal. If he could round into a more defensive forward his scoring ability will be great and a 3rd line center wouldnt be to bad (I know im going out on a strech with that statement). Pelss deffinately needs more seasoning in the WHL. I was disapointed with Rajala really thought he could have ripped up this tournament. Whats the deal with him? is he under contract and if not after this year and not being signed does he re-enter the draft? Pitlick looks rusty from the injury but still looked dangerous and has a good shot. Tyvarinen looks like he has deffinately played a step up from junior level. His speed with the puck is very good and he hits well (why they signed him). He is fun to watch and hopefully the Oilers can keep him in the mix before people make decisions on him to fast. Still needs a few seasons in the A to hone his skill I believe.

    Well if anyone read that whole thing congrats cause I know personally I tend to skip over the novel length posts.

    • EasyOil

      Rajala is under contract (they signed him almost straight after he was drafted in ’09). He does seem to be a bit of an enigma after we all originally thought him to be a bit of a steal for a while. As he’s under contract the Oilers may as well bring him over and see what he does in the pro leagues, whether it’s ECHL or AHL, and let him grow. You never know.

      As for the rugby, I caught the end of that game as I was leaving for work this morning (I’m a Brit, so all the games for us are ridiculously early in the morning). Always rooted for Canada in rugby (massive rugby fan) and in general any underdog country. There was an article on the BBC website the other day saying how rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the USA; hope it’s doing the same in Canada. Wonderful sport, how it’s not quite as popular as football (soccer as y’all call it) I’ll never know.

      Rugby: a thug’s game played by gentlemen. Football: a gentleman’s game played by thugs.

      Rugby players earn their respect for the most part, much like hockey players. Football (soccer) players seem to think they have some God-given right to it, in the UK at least.

  • O.C.

    From the bits of the game that I saw, I could see the Oilers’ third line in 2-3 years consists of Pitlick down the middle with Hamilton and Harski on the wings. Pitlick really stood out with his puck control down low (drew a couple of penalties) and cycling – the only thing he lacked was some finish. Hamilton is a better skater than I was expecting, and he looked huge on the wing. Add in Harski on the right side and it could be a 3rd line that has size, decent skating (Pitlick is the fastest from the looks of things) and enough skill to wear down the opponent and contribute a lot offensively. The Oilers have not had that type of a 3rd line for a while now.

  • Talbot17

    played NHL 12 be a pro and put my guy in the WHL to start..played against RNH and Red Deer…he lit my team up for 3 goals in the first 15 minutes…damn kid better be that good sooner than later in real life IMO 🙂

  • striker777

    It was great to see so many Oiler fans show up. Let’s have even more fans next year!

    RNH looks super smooth and he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He is a gamer. Him and Hall will make PERFECT combination, because RNH is a setter-upper and Hall is a finisher.

    Our defencemen rookies give me a lot of hope for the future. Musil looks like a Ford F-150 truck. Excellent combination of size and skill. The two Slovakian D-men Marincin and Gernat are like the twin towers: long reach and like to jump into play. Wow !