With rookie camp having opened earlier in the week, the unofficial start of the preseason started last night with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers meeting for their first of two prospect games. The Flames went up the QE2 with a roster comprised of a number of recent first round picks and other top organizational prospects.
Edmonton ending up winning the game 4-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, but I wanted to talk about some individual players and how they fared last night.
Pospisil - Zary - Zavgorodniy Line Was Solid
All three of the above mentioned players had a very good game last night with each making impacts on the game with their skillsets. Pospisil was very effective at using his frame to move the puck around, and finished in front on the powerplay by potting a rebound goal. After his 2020-21 season was cut short with injury, there should be high hopes for the 2019 4th round pick this year. Connor Zary was his ever dominant self, consistently rushing the puck and creating plays with his hands. Some particularly fine boardwork resulted in Jakob Pelletier finding Walker Duehr in front for the opening goal. Zavgorodniy was buzzing as he usually has in past preseason/rookie games.
Pelletier and Duehr Played Well Together
This isn’t taking anything away from Ryan Francis either who had a goal in the game, but I thought Pelletier and Duehr played particularly well up front. Pelletier used his speed to generate chances. Duehr on the other hand used his size and frame, throwing some big hits and finishing the night with a goal and an assist. At 23 years old, he is a somewhat unknown commodity, signing late last year, but the early impressions of his first training camp game will definitely lead to some intrigue. Anybody with his dimensions (6’3’’ 211 lbs) will automatically get a bit more consideration under the Sutter system.
Johannes Kinnvall and PP1
While I didn’t particularly notice a ton from Kinnvall at even strength, he was quite reliable at moving the puck during powerplay sequences. Tasked with being the lone defender on the man advantage, Kinnvall did a very good job of helping the top unit generate chances. As a whole the fivesome of Pelletier, Zary, Pospisil, Kinnvall, and Zavgorodniy will be an intriguing group to watch in Stockton this year as other vets like Glenn Gawdin or Matthew Phillips may get sprinkled in.
Jeremie Poirier’s Offensive Upside Continues To Impress
Once again yesterday we saw the mixed bag you get with Jeremie Poirier. While there were some defensive lapses and turnovers, we also saw him go nearly end to end (plus a quick give and go) before setting up a play to Duehr that led to the 2-0 goal for Ryan Francis. He is such a tantalizing prospect going forward as it feels that if he can even just become a semi-decent defender, that his offensive upside could flourish.
Dustin Wolf was Pretty Good
Four goals against doesn’t look particularly good on a stat line, but overall I thought Wolf made the majority of saves that he needed to make, including a number of very good ones. The first two Edmonton goals were powerplay tallies were a player was left alone in front and buried with little chance for Wolf to react. The third was a one in a million deflection right into the top of net from a sharp angle. The fourth goal was a goal line shot he probably should’ve had, but for the first taste of game action this year, I thought he fared well. Wolf will probably be the starter again on Monday (6:00 PM) when the two teams go at it again, and he may get some pre-season action as well.