Young Stars G2: Oilers (4) vs Canucks (1)17 Sep 2016
The NHL was in my backyard last night. I count my luck stars every September when the Canucks’ Young Stars tournament approaches. I’ve had early looks at Nurse, Tkachev (sigh), Draisaitl, McDavid, Slepyshev, and now Puljujarvi, not to mention Ehlrs, Bennett, Gaudreau, Hutton, Virtanen, McCann (what a terrible trade), and more. Presumably I’ll add Tkachuk to that list tomorrow.
It didn’t take long for the young Finn to get the many Oilers fan in the South Okangan Events Centre (SOEC) off their feet, but it wasn’t the Finn we expected, it was the towering Markus Neimelainen! The 6’4” D-man from Saginaw via Kuopio flicked a wrister from the point, and it had eyes, floating over Thatcher Demko’s left shoulder near the end of the Canucks’ first powerplay. Not only did young Markus contribute on the scoresheet, he also proved (to me) why he was so highly ranked this spring. Poise, reach and speed. I can’t wait to see him again. Marincin 2.0, with offence?
Wow! Niemelainen with the seeing eye wrister on the PK! #Oilers— Jim Roepcke (@JimRoepckeOilrs) September 17, 2016
And then there was the man of the evening, Jesse Puljujarvi, scoring from what appears to be his favourite spot on the ice, down low on the left side, with a quick and accurate one-timer. I’m going to say it now, this kid is going to be a mainstay on the Oilers powerplay for years to come. Whether or not that starts this year now depends on Kris Versteeg’s medical exam and whether or not Nail Yakupov has found another level.
And then in the 3rd period…
Puljujarvi is the REAL DEAL holy crap. #Oilers— Jim Roepcke (@JimRoepckeOilrs) September 17, 2016
Puljujarvi reminded me of Hemsky on that goal, letting everyone else tie themselves in knots while he finds the open space. #Oilers— Jim Roepcke (@JimRoepckeOilrs) September 17, 2016
As good as Puljujarvi was tonight, and believe me he was as sublime as I hoped, I think the best Oiler player tonight was Nick Ellis, the Oilers’ new goaltender fresh out of Providence College. His positioning was extremely impressive tonight, and I had a great view of him, sitting behind him for two of the three periods. Even when there was chaos in front of the net, Ellis was calm and ready. He made a few hard chances look routine tongiht. The one goal that beat him was a truly excellent effort from start to finish, capped off with a tricky backhand (if memory serves).
If he keeps playing like he did tonight, he’s got a real chance to make the team, pushing Nurse down to 7D. Considering I was expecting Musil and Oesterle to get the 7D/8D spots, that mean there would be some moves to be made during camp there.
Platzer and Christoffer
Future bottom-6 Oilers, the way it’s going right now. Platzer is found money. Christoffer’s more of a long shot but once again he demonstrated the kind of work ethic that can overcome anything.
I really hope he’s good enough to play on Saturday or Monday! If not I’ll have to make a trip up to Kelowna to watch him when the Giants play the Rockets.
Big Up arrows for: #Oilers— Jim Roepcke (@JimRoepckeOilrs) September 17, 2016
Up arrows for:
Down arrows for:
If I had a little more room in that tweet I would have added Chase in the Up Arrows category, simply for not running around like an idiot like he did last year. And he was an effective player too.
The Oilers were very good tonight. The skill level, speed and compete level was much higher than last year’s team (save for McDavid and Draisaitl of course). Ben Betker is an encouraging sign. Last year he looked out of his element in this tournament, but tonight, nothing of the sort, he looked like a veteran.
Go Oilers Go!
Jim Roepcke is a software developer living in Penticton, BC. He was 4 years old when the Oilers joined the NHL, and grew up thinking it was normal for the teams he cheered for to win the Stanley Cup and Grey Cup every year. Sigh.