On Friday night the hockey season begins. The Edmonton Oilers will take to the ice and battle the Calgary Flames at 4:00 pm MT. Well….kind of. Friday marks the opening of the annual Young Stars Classic in Penticton that will see the Oilers play three games in four nights against Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
On Tuesday, just two days before players arrive for physicals, the Oilers revealed their roster for the four game slate that includes an exhibition against the MacEwan-NAIT All-Star team on September 13th in Edmonton. Some of the names will be famous to Oiler fans, while others you’ll be seeing for the first (and possibly last) time.
Joe Gambardella: He won’t make the big club out of camp, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see him this season. Gambardella plays a game that fits well with the Oilers and he looked quite good in a short AHL stint last season. He should be a beast in a tournament like this where he’s one of the older, more experienced players.
Kailer Yamamoto: If one player from this group makes the opening night roster, it will be Yamamoto. He’s one of the more skilled Oiler prospects in recent memory and he’s already torn up the WHL over his three year career there. He should be one of the best players in this event and I think he could really ramp up the hype here.
Kirill Maksimov: Outside of Yamamoto, this is the player I’m most excited about seeing. Maksimov’s scouting report excites me and people smarter than I talk highly of this player. I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings here. A good weekend could earn him a look in the split-squad games.
Ostap Safin: This power-forward is another unknown from this past June’s draft. How will his game translate to North America? I’d temper expectations for the weekend as Safin is still adjusting to life on this side of the pond.
Tyler Benson: Benson isn’t playing this weekend and I’m quite concerned. This is the second year in a row that injury has impacted his camp. Eventually, we need to have a talk about Benson and his future.
Evan Polei: An AHL contract, Polei has enough skill to shoot up the organizational depth chart this season thanks to a lack of prospects. I expect some urgency from him this weekend.
Chad Butcher: Same as Polei, I expect urgency from this young man this weekend. There are forward spots to be had in Bakersfield this winter, and a solid Young Stars Classic could put Butcher on the map.
Ethan Bear: One of the more famous prospects in the organization, I expect a calm and mature game from Bear in this type of environment. Would be nice to see him start strong as he begins his pro journey.
Caleb Jones: I’m very excited to see how Jones kicks off his first ever professional camp. He’s got the talent and the wheels to be a real difference maker down the road, but he should be a difference maker in this event.
Dmitri Samorukov: More of a shut-down defender than anything, Samorukov had a strong second half last season in the OHL. Is he that player, or is he the guy that struggled big time early on? I’ll be watching to see how he handles his first taste with the Oilers.
William Lagesson: Shut-down defender who turns pro this season, but I’m surprised to see him here. Lagesson has been loaned to Sweden for the upcoming season.
Ryan Mantha: A similar skill-set to Bear, Mantha has age and experience to his advantage. Skating is an issue here though, and he’ll need to establish himself early. He should do quite well in this setting.
Ziyat Paigin: Our first true look at the big man. If he can move the puck adequately, he may have a shot at playing some NHL games during the course of the season.
Dylan Wells: Dominated the OHL last season and got his ELC this summer. Another strong year would establish Wells as a legit prospect. Will be interesting to see how he plays now that he has some confidence built up.
Stuart Skinner: We don’t know much about him, but the Oilers love him. He’ll be back in the WHL this season, so this is probably our only chance to view him this year.
Shane Starrett: Rookie pro who dominated at Air Force in the NCAA. He’s likely slated to start in the ECHL, but a good weekend and camp could result in him fighting for an AHL job. The resume is very strong here.
Davis Koch: 70 points in 72 games last season, could be a free agent option down the line. He’ll likely head right back to the Oil Kings after this camp.
Trey Fix-Wolansky: 54 points last season for the Oil Kings, he’s in the same boat as Koch.
Lane Bauer: Bauer is 21 now and likely looking to build a case to get some sort of professional contract soon. He’s been on the Oilers’ radar before, so this could be a tryout for an ECHL or AHL look soon.
Grayson Pawlenchuk: 9 points in 19 WHL games a year ago, young forward will head back to the WHL immediately after the tournament. Could be another guy the Oilers look at down the line.
Brandon Saigeon: 49 points for Hamilton (OHL) last season and has size. The big center plays for former Oiler Steve Staios, Hamilton’s President, so he likely got a good recommendation from him.
Steven Owre: 68 points last season with Medicine Hat, the small but skilled center could make a name for himself this weekend. With the Oilers lacking skill in the system, he could do himself some favors with a strong weekend.
Austin Glover: 6’2” forward who shoots right, he’s something that the Oilers have historically lacked. Only posted 58 points last season in the WHL, but could be looking for a minor league gig in short order.
Ethan Szypula: Another small and skilled forward who posted 47 points last season in the OHL. Likely a player you won’t hear from moving forward.
Luke Coleman: Big winger who posted 28 points in the WHL last season. He’s a younger player that will go back to junior next season, but is another potential target to watch down the road.
Austin Strand: 6’2” defender who posted 32 points in the WHL last season and shoots right, Strand is a player who could be of interest to the Oilers when it is time to turn pro. A good weekend could go a long way for him.
Liam Schioler: Shut-down defender that Regina apparently likes quite a bit. Won’t flash in an event like this, but the Oilers like this player type.
Sahvan Khaira: Jujhar’s brother, he brings a physical edge and plays a defensive style. Not much offense here, and if that doesn’t change he likely won’t have a pro career.