Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Lisa McRitchie on 09/14/11 at 03:30 AM ET
The Edmonton Oilers in a word, dominated the Vancouver Canucks prospects Sunday night, but that was to be expected. With the season finishes the Oilers have had through the past few years they have had the opportunity to accumulate a number of high quality draft picks and fortunately, those draft picks look good.
Had the Oilers struggled against the prospects of the Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets, Oilers fans may have had ample cause for concern. Instead, for the first time in 15 years I can tell you that the Oilers have been the Winnipeg Jets, even if it is at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton B.C.
Mark Scheifele selected 7th overall was the Winnipeg Jet’s first pick in 15 years. Photo by Lisa McRitchie all rights reserved.
Of note for this game were of course several Oilers’ prospects, but also several Winnipeg Jets’ prospects including Mark Scheifele who some believe was selected too soon, while others believe was selected right where he should be. Although Scheifele didn’t exactly stand out at the Team Canada camp in Edmonton last month, he has been at this tournament.
For the Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was in as was Tyler Pitlick, but Anton Lander was out and Tyler Bunz was in net; this was not the same Oilers’ prospect team that fans had seen previously. However, with the number of invites and prospects at this tournament for the Oilers, they had to rotate through some players. It was a treat to see the Medicine Hat Tylers back together, perhaps for the last time, or perhaps just for a couple of years.
The Oilers’ prospects came out with all guns blazing and before the period was halfway done, the Oilers’ prospects had a 2-0 lead. Tyler Bunz appears to have improved his rebound control, swallowing up loose pucks and catching shots in the air. That would be the only scoring through the night with goals from Chase Schaber (unassisted) and Ryan Lowery with assists from Kristians Pelss and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The lack of scoring was not due to lack of effort in the case of either team, but rather the spectacular play of Tyler Bunz, and the the Winnipeg Jets tightening up their defense.
The second period saw Pitlick starting on the wing. Perhaps this is so that Oklahoma City Barons head coach Todd Nelson can have better look at Pitlick’s versatility was my first thought, but then it became known that Ryan Martindale was not on the bench. Even wth Pitlick’s injury concerns last season, I am quite confident that Pitlick is ready to advance to the AHL this season. The lines continued to be shuffled throughout the game due in part to Martindale’s hip flexor issue.
There were of course some fights in this match; these are players fighting for roster spots. In the second period Brett Ferguson of the Edmonton Oilers fought Jordan Depape and both players skated off the ice on their own steam, with all of the discussion on fighting this week, the lack of apparent injuries was a good thing. The final fight of the game took place in the third between Cody Sol and the Edmonton Oilers’ Wes Vannieuwenhuizen, whose name is harder to type than to try to pronounce I’m sure.
Through 60 minutes, Bunz stole the show. Bunz uses his size well; he always seems to be square to the shooter and challenges. This may have been Bunz’s only start this tournament, and maybe that was a driving force behind his play, but Bunz did all he could and more to earn that shutout. Going forward, Bunz will be the man to beat in many Oiler fans’ minds as goalie prospect of interest. With the talk behind Samu Perhonen, things will be interesting in another year or two.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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