Niimelainen interacts with physical play

Edmonton — Game 1 of the preseason and some things we’ve learned about the preseason opener over the years.

First, we are only looking at one team. If what you’re looking for is a take on the Winnipeg He Jets, read our excellent Jets his scribe Ken He Weave.

next? The ice is full of young players aiming for juniors and the American Hockey League. If he’s the real NHL player you’re playing in this game, he should look like that.

Stuart Skinner, Warren Fogel, Ryan MacLeod, Brett Clack, Evan Bouchard, Jason Demers – they all looked like they did in Sunday night’s 4-0 win over the Jets. Demers settled in nicely after a long time between games, and veteran Ryan Murray was steady as well.

Indeed, the bright light did not end there. But in a game where Jake Virtanen needed to show that he was one of the better players, here he used PTO to try and impress, and he just barely did OK.

Here are some highlights from the game that will be forgotten by Friday, let alone April and May.


I really like defenseman Markus Niimelainen, who played at 15:25 and had 6 hits and 1 goal.

In an era where hard, physical players are becoming scarce, he should have some currency. Remember when Niklas Kronwall and Bryan Marchment played and everyone was spinning their heads?

Well, none of the Oilers hit like a 6-foot-6 Finn. It should be worth something, right?

“He’s a unique defender. He’s almost a throwback in that he has an element of physical prowess,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “He creeps on people. Did.”

Niimelainen, 24, played with Demers on Sunday.

“When I started my career[in San Jose]I was playing with Doug Murray. He gives me that shade,” Demers said after the game. “This year, just being in the room with Jay, it’s been very emphasized that they really want us to stand up, put pressure on ourselves, and be more aggressive in a pinch. I think that’s his game.

“When you’re forward and you look up and see a body coming toward you, people hesitate.”

Niimelainen has only played 55 games in the AHL and 20 in the NHL, but he’s a sleeper. Keep an eye on him in this camp.


Just like when he attended the Rookie Tournament in Penticton, British Columbia, Dylan Holloway was as conspicuous a player as he was in the classic blue-and-orange dark suit that Edmonton sported again on Sunday. was.

He dove past Logan Stanley into the net, drew a penalty, and faced both special teams, beating the Jets 3-2 with a great backtrack.

We know the level of competition will increase. But so far Holloway looks a lot like his NHL left winger.

“I got a little taste of it in the playoffs, and I was able to be with the team and stay hungry all summer,” he said. .”

He moves the net with authority and has the speed to take on NHL defensemen. He could break into the Oilers’ top nine this season.

“It’s definitely part of my game,” he said as he brought the puck to the net. , that’s how I like to play.”

He has fans in Woodcroft.

“I thought he was really good. A strong stride in his ability to separate from his checks and I thought he was physical. That’s a big reason why the penalty kill was successful,” the coach said. “Dylan certainly did well in the first preseason game.”


Some loose thoughts:

• Skinner was very methodical, stopping all 19 shots he faced. His glove hands were particularly clean, with no puck hanging around the crease. Calvin Picard stopped 10 shots in a total shutout.

• In a notable match, Jesse Puljujarvi was not. His linemates Forgele and McLeod were very good, but Purjujärvi had zero shots and recorded his second assist. more please

• I like the work of Dmitry Samorkov. I don’t see a scenario for him to make this team, but this could be one for him if he doesn’t know if the kid will be able to play until next time he goes to his NHL organization.

• Picard was good. He will likely split duties at Bakersfield with Olivier Rodrigue and has the upper hand in the race to be the man to be called out if either Jack Campbell or Skinner get hurt. Ryan Fanti could start his professional career with ECHL.

• Another player I hate is hard working center James Hamblin. He’s small at 5ft 9 in height, but he’ll do just about anything. He’ll be in his NHL game someday, somewhere.

Niimelainen interacts with physical play

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