Take a look at the Oilers current line-up, don’t laugh. Not only is the roster filled with relatively unknowns – utility players have taken the roles of big minute players. With that being said, let’s give a warm welcome to Chris Vande Velde & Teemu Hartikainen who played their first games as Oilers last night vs. the Coyotes & Ryan O’Marra who returned to Edmonton looking like a raccoon.
For Vande Velde a product of the University of North Dakota – this has been a long time coming, drafted in 2005 in the 4th round – finally getting his first shot in the big leagues last night. Chris collected 12 goals, 4 assists good for 16 points in 67 games in his first full season in the AHL – playing the role as utility man.
As for Hartikainen, who previously played for KalPa Kuopio in Finland – has broken out as an offensive threat, drafted in the 2008 draft in the 6th round; Teemu has 17 goals, 25 assists, 42 points in 66 games in his first AHL season. While Ryan O’Marra returns for a second go-around with the big club potting 22 points in 53 games for the Barons. O’Marra centers the Oilers third line, while Vande Velde & Hartikainen start out on the fourth line.
Okay now back to business. Andrew Cogliano is slotted in as our first line center while Colin Fraser anchors line 2 – not the ideal set-up. Their time is now, players playing for contracts & players trying to stay in the big leagues and make a name for them. Players are getting a chance to play in higher roles, when otherwise they wouldn’t get the chance to – due to injuries.
All but two Oilers two received time on the power-play last night, which can only mean one thing – learning. The highlight of the night for the Oilers last night was three Scandinavian Oilers hooking up on the lone goal last night – Paajarvi from Omark & Hartikainen. The future looks bright, but the road to get there isn’t paved.