Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An excerpt from the Edmonton Oilers website as written by Dan Rosen from 


Last season: 25-45-12, 62 points (5th place Northwest, 15th place Western)
Additions: Eric Belanger, C; Ryan Smyth, LW; Ben Eager, LW; Darcy Hordichuk, LW; Cam Barker, D; Andy Sutton, D; Yann Danis, G
Subtractions: Andrew Cogliano, C; Kurtis Foster, D; Colin Fraser, C; Zack Stortini, RW; Jason Strudwick, D; Steve MacIntyre, LW; Jim Vandermeer, D; Jean-Francois Jacques, LW
Up-and-comers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C; Jeff Petry, D; Linus Omark, LW; Teemu Hartikainen, LW; Alex Plante, D; Colton Teubert, D

Despite being the No. 1 pick, Nugent-Hopkins is not guaranteed a roster spot on this Oilers team mainly because general manager Steve Tambellini has provided the club depth at the center position with Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Belanger and Gilbert Brule. If Nugent-Hopkins doesn't make the club, it'll be the first time in 20 years that a forward drafted No. 1 didn't jump straight to the NHL.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Getty Images)
To make playing Nugent-Hopkins worthwhile, Oilers coach Tom Renney would have to play him on the first or second line. That means he'd have to knock either Gagner or Horcoff out of the top six. It's not impossible, and Tambellini even opened a roster spot for Nugent-Hopkins by trading Cogliano to Anaheim.

The Oilers have obviously had issues up and down their lineup for two seasons, and Tambellini feels he addressed some by bringing Smyth back and adding Eager to the fourth line as well as Sutton and Barker to the blue line. Sutton or Barker will likely be a second-pair defenseman along with Ladislav Smid, who re-upped for two more seasons this summer.

No matter what the veterans do, the success or failure of Edmonton's 2011-12 season will be measured in the development of its young core. Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle and Omark are all coming off promising rookie seasons. If Nugent-Hopkins can effectively join in that core at the NHL level this season, the Oilers will be a step closer to becoming a contender again.

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Author: Dan Rosen | Senior Writer

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