Thursday, September 11, 2008

Training Camp Roulette, Defense Edition...

This is the 2nd of 3 installments of my Roulette series. This roster battle may not seem as interesting as the battle up front, however there are a number of players that could make a strong push at camp.

Let's look at our defensive depth...

Right Defensemen

Written in ink:
Lubomir Visnovsky
Tom Gilbert
Steve Staios

The Contenders:
Jason Strudwick
Mathieu Roy

Left Defensemen

Written in ink:
Sheldon Souray
Denis Grebeshkov

The Contenders:
Ladislav Smid
Theo Peckham
Josef Hrabal
Taylor Chorney

The Longshots:
LD Bryan Young
RD Sebastien Bisaillon
RD Cody Wild

Outside of our concrete 5 of Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, and Staios, we have guys like Smid and Strudwick that have the inside track and the most NHL experience, then we have guys that are unknowns at the North American pro level. Guys like Chorney and Hrabal. We also have players with AHL and limited NHL experience like Roy, Peckham, Young, and Bisaillon.

Let's look at the top contenders

1) Ladislav Smid:
A large piece of the Pronger trade, and still a very young defender at only 22 years of age, Smid brings size and mobility to the table. However one has to wonder if some time in the AHL to gain confidence in other aspects of his game would make for a better player long term. Unless he is clearly outplayed, he will make the team.

2) Jason Strudwick:
A tough stay at home defenseman with experience. He seems to be an ideal 7th defenseman to have in case of an injury to a player like Steve Staios. Unless he stinks at camp and someone steps up their game, he should also be with the Oilers to start the year.

3) Theo Peckham:
Speaking of toughness, this kid has it in droves. He loves to dish out big hits, and he is ready, willing, and able to drop the gloves and take care of business. He would have to beat out Smid to make the team, as he is too young to be riding shotgun in the PB. Unless anything changes, he is probably the teams top defensive call-up.

4) Josef Hrabal:
The forgotten one, Josef is not unlike Denis Grebeshkov in that he could come in and surprise once he becomes familiar with the North American game. The recently turned 23 year old likely didn't come over with the intention of riding the bus in the AHL. Until we all get to see what he can do at camp, it is just a guessing game in terms of what the future holds for Hrabal.

5) Taylor Chorney:
In the 2005 draft, the Oilers went with an emphasis on speed and skill. They landed Andrew Cogliano in the 1st round, and US WJC team captain Taylor Chorney in the 2nd. While it may seem rather unlikely that Chorney will make the club this year, I refuse to write him off for a few reasons. #1-His speed and passing ability fits beautifully into the new NHL's transition game. And #2-He can play on either side, this gives him an advantage over most of the competition.

The Rest...

1) Mathieu Roy:
With Strudwick's addition, Roy became expendable. Expect him to be dealt or assigned to Springfield this year. He may or may not get claimed, for the Oilers young d-men on the farm's sake, let's hope so.

2) Bryan Young:
Young made solid strides to end the year last year, but as long as Peckham is in the AHL, Young will be the #2 defensive defenseman on the farm.

3) Sebastien Bisaillon:
This hard shooting right handed defenseman suffered a horrific injury last season when the back of his leg was severed with a skate. Prior to that Bisaillon had 12 points in 21 games in his inaugural AHL season. He was also making it a point to use his cannon of a shot, (clocked at 96MPH at last years Oilers camp) he averaged 2 shots a game, and I swear that his shot was even faster than 96MPH in game action. If we need a point shot, this is our guy

4) Cody Wild:
Wild is a superb puck moving d-man that isn't ashamed of jumping into the rush. However his game will need some fine tuning at the AHL level before he can transfer his game to the big leagues. He could see a few games in the NHL this season.

My Predictions:
Smid should make the team, but he is not a lock, and with a very short time frame left to be able to send him down without potentially losing him on waivers, he is a big camp from someone else and an average or worse camp from himself from seeing 30+ games in the AHL this year.



B.C.B. said...

We are all assuming Roy is getting waived. Does anyone (Branbryoil) think he'll get claimed or will he be in springfield for the season? I think if the oilers waive him and recall him he'll be gone: by then someone will have an injury, his price take will be around a 1/4 mil, and he is big (if concussion prone).

Bryanbryoil said...

There wa a rumour last year that Roy wasn't happy about being demoted and didn't report to the Falcons for awhile. I could even see him sent to the ECHL with the Falcons depth and the fact that they'll want guys like Peckham and Chorney gettinga ton of minutes. I would hope for his sake that he'd get claimed. However it's too early to tell if anyone would give him a shot.

RaoulDuke said...

Smid for me. I love seeing that Euro punch Flames in the mouth in front of the net. Seems so unexpected every time. Always good for a laugh.

Bryanbryoil said...

Smid has the size and mean streak to play the role, now he needs to learn how to put guys on their wallets at all times, not just after the whistle blows. This is a BIG year for him in terms of what kind of d-man he projects to be.