Forecasting how opening night may look for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans: 9 Things

Forecasting how opening night may look for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans: 9 Things

Author of the article:

Kurt Leavins

Publishing date:

Sep 12, 2021  •  2 days ago  •  5 minute read  •  7 Comments

The Oilers Entertainment Group will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours at all Rogers Place events starting with the Oilers first pre-season game Sept. 28.
The Oilers Entertainment Group will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours at all Rogers Place events starting with the Oilers first pre-season game Sept. 28. Photo by Postmedia, File /Postmedia

We’re now close enough to the start of the Edmonton Oilers season that we can start to think about how Rogers Place will look filled to the brim again with loyal fans. Can hardly wait.


Details on that and the players who may or may not be performing in front of them in this edition of…

9 Things

9. An interesting tidbit from Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal: The Oilers may well have offered pending UFA Adam Larsson a 5th year on their contract offer to him, yet Larsson still opted for the change in scenery in Seattle.

8. Speaking of D-men, the Oilers were interested in Michael Stone as an AHL/NHL depth guy in the 7-8 slot. No real surprise that he instead signed on with his old club in Calgary for the league minimum, where he’s likely to make the big club. Edmonton will look elsewhere for a veteran RHS to fill the role.

7. Many thoughts on Saturday for the friends and family of Garnet “Ace” Bailey who tragically perished 20 years ago on 9/11. The Lloydminster-born Baily started his career as a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings in 1966-67 and returned to Edmonton’s WHA franchise in 1978-79, his last as a player in major pro.

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6. Don’t be surprised if Oilers prospect D Dmitri Samorukov has a late start to on-ice activities at camp. He is still rehabbing from a February shoulder injury that kept him out of both the balance of the KHL season and the Condors’ year once play resumed. Likely ticketed for Bakersfield to start the year anyway, I would suggest that the current status of Samorukov’s health now almost guarantees that.

5. One player on the roster who I think will start in the Bottom-6 but could easily end up in the Top-6 it’s winger Warren Foegele. If he catches fire early then Dave Tippett could then have the option of running Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at Center, at least for stretches. Given his history with both players, it’s logical to assume that Oilers scout Brad Holland played a significant role in bringing both Foegele and Zack Hyman to Edmonton. If so, that factor surely wouldn’t hurt Foegele’s cause.

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4. Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer remained the most listened to sports radio show in Edmonton over the Summer. According to Numeris (R3/21, 2+) Stauffer and his deep Rolodex averaged over 30,000 listeners per show. Jason Gregor’s Show on TSN pulled into 2nd spot with a very solid showing of over 23,000. Important context that should be considered for this and all summer “books”: Most of the regular hosts, including the 2 men mentioned here, took substantial time off during July and/or August.

3. Pending RFA C-RW Cooper Marody has inked a 1-year, 2-way contract with the Edmonton Oilers. The dough is at the league minimum of $750k, $150k in the minors. He earned his performance with an impressive, bounce-back performance in Bakersfield last season. But barring injury, I think Marody will be hard-pressed to crack the NHL roster out of camp this year. Marody is no longer waiver exempt. So, can I see him being claimed by a lower echelon team that lacks depth scoring at forward? Yes. But I’d say its less than a 50/50 chance.

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2. With Marody now officially back in the fold, Kailer Yamamoto is now the lone player left unsigned. With every day that goes by Yamamoto falls a little bit further behind the rest of pack. The other 3 right wingers he will be competing with for spots are already back in Edmonton and skating together. You don’t think that is significant? Well, remember the difficult start Ethan Bear had to last year after missing out on the Captain’s Skates. Bear never really did catch up. Partly because of that (and later, a concussion) he never did turn in a consistent level of play. That same situation wouldn’t help the club or Yamamoto’s next negotiation. Time to get it done.

1.As the season nears, ticket holders of all stripes will be wondering what the status of Rogers Place will be for fans, especially given the ragged situation the Province is in at this moment with respect to the pandemic. Stu Ballantyne, President & C.E.O. of Rogers Place, appeared on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this past week. His appearance was illuminating. As this article went to the presses the standard for access to the building will be either Proof of Vaccination or an approved, negative COVID test 48 hours prior to entering. The Oilers, however, are the only Canadian team still open to the test option. Will that last? Can it?

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What happens if COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are still this high come September 28th, the very first pre-season game against Seattle? Ballantyne said, “Our anticipation is we will be welcoming fans back, 100% of our fans back on the 28th”. But Ballantyne admitted that is a bit of a moving target. Provincial regulations will be a major factor. Meanwhile, all staff and fans will have to wear masks except when consuming food. Both municipal and provincial statutes govern that, by the way and not the club. There will also be no fans for the Rookie game as arena staff gets ready for the start of the year.

My sense is that the Edmonton Oilers are exploring all options in order to safely accommodate as many fans into the building as possible. For that, they need to be congratulated. It’s a big damn job with countless complications (most of them well beyond their control) that require more than just a little behind-the-scenes stick-handling.

We all hope that the trend of the pandemic goes in a better direction to the point where these hoops are no longer required (or, at least, fewer of them). But in the meantime, let’s remember that this is the same organization that pulled off “the bubble” in impressive fashion.

So, in the face of this latest adversity, let’s not count them out.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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