By this time next week, we will lastly be in the middle of the 2021 Edmonton Oilers season.
There’s lot to talk about, both on the ice in terms who will comprise the roster and off the ice when it comes to who will describe that play.
So, lets start with this week’s edition of …
9. Sports fans in Western Canada will know Warren Woods The Regina-based veteran broadcaster and jack of all trades (I once employed him to do radio play-by-play at The Brier!) contracted COVID-19 in December. He has actually been in Regina General Healthcare facility since. Warren’s a great guy. A GoFundMe page has actually been set up to assist him and his family. https://gofund.me/bbfcafc4
8. The Oilers placed Adam Cracknell and Seth Griffiths on waivers Saturday night. They have actually released Ryan Stanton from his NHL PTO. And the club has actually assigned Stuart Skinner, Cooper Marody and Markus Niemelainen to AHL Bakersfield. Expect all 6 to end up with the Condors. Joe Gambardella, who was not at camp, was also put on waivers previously Saturday.
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7. Jesse Puljujarvi is altering his jersey number from 98 to13 I’m typically the person to say that too much is made of the characters on sweatshirts. However in this case, I ‘d recommend that Puljujarvi is taking a look at this new opportunity as a clean slate. The number swap might be an effort to clean the slate tidy. Puljujarvi’s play in camp and has definitely been motivating. And his body language has been favorable, too.
6. I fully anticipate Evan Bouchard to make the club and start the season in Edmonton. I don’t see him playing ahead of Adam Larsson, Ethan Bear or Tyson Barrie. And none of those 3 nor Bouchard play the LHS. So, disallowing injury, I will not be surprised if Bouchard heads back to Bakersfield in a month once the AHL season resumes play. The door is cracked for Bouchard. Can he press it open larger in the next 3 weeks?
5. Kyle Turris and Josh Archibald have actually so far teamed up as 1 Oilers Penalty Kill forward system, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira another. Coach Dave Tippett has recommended that others might also get cycled in. However those 4 appear to be his go-to people. And why not? The Nuge, Archibald and Khaira were 3-quarters of the NHL’s finest PK forwards from 2019-20 Turris is also on the # 2 PP. If he winds up contributing 18-19 minutes per night of quality work, the veteran Center may end up being a lot more important signing than we believed.
4. Slater Koekkoek has actually looked solid in camp. He was a sharp LHD pickup by Ken Holland Koekkoek’s resume suggests that at worst he stands to be a solid 7D for the club. I would not be amazed if he pushes Kris Russell for some playing time. And while Caleb Jones has actually looked great in camp so far … prospects rarely develop in a straight line. Koekkoek is fantastic insurance coverage if Jones struggles. However expect Kris Russell to be in the lineup on Day 1. He was the Oilers best D-man versus Chicago last Spring and NHL coaches have long memories.
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3. There were different reports that James Neal may have been hurt. I’ve inspected around with a few individuals and I do not believe that to have been the case, or at least not a severe one. Nevertheless, Neal did invest 3 seasons in Nashville and made a great deal of buddies whom I think he still trains with. The Predators are one of various clubs that have had several players declared ‘not fit to play”. Neal’s been around the Edmonton rink, so I question he was (hopefully/thankfully) ever ill. But it there was a close contact or something like that, then he might have simply needed to play it safe for a bit. If so, Neal might begin the season on LTIR till he’s up to NHL speed.
2. Sportsnet has actually revealed a multi-year extension of its Alberta local television rights deal. Sources of mine in multiple NHL cities state this deal is not as long as the last one. To fans, the renewal means consistency in regards to where you find Oilers (and Flames) video games. But due to a COVID earnings crunch common across all sports and the obvious health & safety concerns that exist, might games look and sound a little various? Instead of TV teams travelling would it not make good sense to have each city’s people do the video games for both cities on the ice that night? Fewer travel dollars, no quarantine, etc. More on that in a minute.
1. The radio rights deal for the Edmonton Oilers has actually also been finalized. 630 CHED will continue to be the home of the Oilers for another 3 years. A normal rights deal would be 5 or 6 years. I have no details on negotiations. It stands to factor that in a COVID economy, a much shorter term on an agreement is typical sense, particularly for the club. No financial information have been launched however previous radio rights deals in Alberta have actually ranged anywhere from $1.2-$ 1.5 m. This incorporates play-by-play and pre- and post-game broadcasts, however likewise in the case of the Edmonton market Oilers Now, the Noon-2pm M-F call-in show. There’s a long relationship in between club and radio broadcaster. Continuity makes great sense for great deals of reasons. But they are also entering un-charted waters.
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First: Without any fans in the arena, what will occur to the usually captive in-car audience that Reid Wilkins and Rob Brown amuse on The Faceoff Show and after the games? The pleasant Wilkins is an outstanding traffic police and has remarkable persistence during the post-game call-in segment. And I have actually long believed Rob Brown is a straight and insightful X’s and O’s commentator. So, the quality (according to me, at least) of the program exists. It’s good listening. How much will have COVID changed listening patterns? And will it be long-term? We will simply have to see. I like Reid & Rob and want them well.
The talk program is essential to this deal. Host Bob Stauffer and his roster of routine visitors like Brian Burke, Elliott Friedman and super star cameos from Wayne Gretzky and others are a prime source for fans. The program’s a huge scores winner. Oilers Now has more audience than the radio play-by-play. That surprises some. Remember: While the show is top-notch it also doesn’t have to complete with the game telecasts. Radio audience decreases during the night due to the fact that there are so lots of other home entertainment options. And Stauffer’s rankings indicate income at a time when the sporting world is not exactly flush with cash.
Speaking of which: new agreements are commonly a chance for broadcasters to re-assess their product and balance sheets and (if they feel the requirement to) possibly pivot. The release from Sportsnet did not define who would remain in the booth for games, so it is safe to assume that there will be a couple of brand-new faces in new places … at least for Regional broadcasts. Who should that be?
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To my ears, Jack Michaels and his lift-you-out-of-your-seat play-by-play skills would equate easily and efficiently onto television. And I can’t think of anybody better linked to the club than Stauffer. He understands everybody and is an Oilers encyclopedia. We know they’re both back on radio. May we see more of them on the other medium, especially when they’re already in the rink anyway?
Besides: The Oilers already put their best gamers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the ice more than many anyone else. Why would not they also desire 2 of their greatest broadcasting stars on more?
Discover me on Twitter @KurtLeavins