EDMONTON OILERS: DAY 1 Camp and the Stories Behind the Stories | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

EDMONTON OILERS: DAY 1 Camp and the Stories Behind the Stories

Day one of Edmonton Oilers training camp got underway Friday with a lot of familiar faces, some new faces and a few missing faces. Coach Todd McLellan was back with the team after his North America squad was mathematically eliminated from the World Cup of Hockey and he took over camp, giving fans and media plenty to speculate about.

The Line Combination Story

The first thing most people focused in on was camp line combinations. Some of Friday's groups were a clear sign that prospects were placeholders for missing faces — both still resting or yet to return from the World Cup — but as McLellan freely admitted, we're also free to look at some of his groupings and draw logical conclusions.

The forwards lines were:
Lucic - Caggiula - Eberle
Pouliot - Letestu - Puljujarvi
Maroon - Lander - Yakupov
Benik - Hendricks - Kassian
Pitlick - Vesce - Versteeg
Beck - Khaira - Pakarinen
Christoffer - Sallinen - Slepyshev
Hamilton/Moroz - Platzer - Russell

The Story Behind Line Combinations: Drake Caggiula

Caggiula is getting a chance to show what he can do at center in the place of Connor McDavid. With McDavid resting, this clearly speaks volumes in terms of the opportunity about to be provided to Caggiula — the young college free agent signing, who also had a strong showing at this year's Oilers Young Stars and Rookie Camp.

Caggiula is a potential long-shot to make the Oilers out of camp, but there's some buzz that Edmonton thinks highly enough of his abilities that they're going to give him a chance to show whether or not he deserves consideration against real NHL talent.

The Story Behind Line Combinations: Patrick Maroon

Maroon is out to prove the end of last season was no fluke. No, it's not expected that he'll score at the 14 points in 16 games pace he did to end 2015-16, but he approached this year's camp as though people had been writing him off (which I think is a mistake).

He lost 25 pounds over the summer, is back at a much slimmer weight and looks ready be a lot faster on the ice. He was grouped today with Nail Yakupov and Anton Lander. Lander is likely holding a spot for Leon Draisaitl, but it's a nice sign to see Yakupov get some minutes with another skilled forward in Maroon. It's possible Yak gets an opportunity between Draisaitl and Maroon to start the season.

Perhaps the idea here is that a speedier, but still gritty Patrick Maroon can help guys like Yakupov rebound from a poor 2015-16 season and be the complimentary piece on a third scoring line.

The Defense Pairings Story

Klefbom - Larsson
Nurse - Davidson
Simpson - Fayne
Reinhart - Gryba
Oesterle - Benning
Laleggia - Musil
Fraser - Bear
Jones - Niemalainen - Becker

The Story Behind the Obvious Defense Pairings

Klefbom and Larsson make sense together and should see most of this year working as a pair.  Nurse jumps up a spot in the absence of Andrej Sekera, but it will be interesting to see if Brandon Davidson stays on the off side or moves over once Sekera returns, leaving Sekera to play right defense.

The Story Behind the Not-so-Obvious Defense Pairings

Mark Fayne is on the right-side but where will he slot once the entire roster is at camp? Is he a third-pairing guy? Is he a second-pairing defenseman? Where does that leave Eric Gryba who is at camp on a PTO? Gryba will have to earn his spot, but he may be the seventh defenseman on this Oilers blue line when it's healthy and in tact.

Why was Dillon Simpson the choice to play up in the absence of Sekera? Clearly, Reinhart, Oesterle and Benning have better chances out of camp to make the team. So why not move them up?

This is only day one, but the Oilers are not shy on storylines to write about. It is expected the Oilers may go with multiple looks in the absence of their top three centers, but upon their return, there should be a much clearer picture of what Edmonton plans to do to start the season. Some early signs are already pointing in some obvious directions.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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1 Response to "EDMONTON OILERS: DAY 1 Camp and the Stories Behind the Stories"

  1. It seems they think Simpson is this yeats Davidson. Benning needs a year to season and they know it, and Oosterle, while good offensively just has too many holes in his game. I also have a gut feeling nurse gets packaged and moved for a pp qb before season starts.