The newcomers stole the show as the Edmonton Oilers opened their preseason schedule with a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday (Sept. 26).
Xavier Bourgault and Derek Ryan each had a goal and an assist, Colton Sceviour recorded two assists, and Brendan Perlini scored a goal for the Oilers. Ryan and Perlini both joined Edmonton as free-agent offseason, Sceviour recently agreed to a professional tryout agreement (PTO) with the Oilers, and Bourgault was Edmonton’s first-round pick, 22nd overall, in July’s NHL Draft.
James Hamblin, who is signed to an American Hockey League contract with the Bakersfield Condors, also scored for Edmonton. Netminders Stuart Skinner and Ilya Konovalov combined to shut out Calgary.
While the Oilers were dominant, outshooting Calgary 49-15, it would be foolhardy to make anything out of the result of the first night of the preseason. The Oilers dressed no forwards from their first and second lines, only one of their projected top-six blueliners, and neither goalie expected to start the season in Edmonton. The game was about players auditioning for positioning and gaining cohesiveness with their new teammates, and in those respects, Sunday’s victory was a runaway success.
Here’s a look at some of the players who stood out for the Oilers, what they showed, and where they could fit in Edmonton.
Stuart Skinner and Ilya Konovolov
Oilers coach Dave Tippett might have almost might have wished the ice wasn’t so tilted in this game, because his two young netminders didn’t get to do much. But they can only stop the puck when it’s fired on them, and both did that, with Skinner making eight saves and Konovalov blocking seven shots. The latter had Edmonton’s highlight save of the night, extended his leg to get a pad on a redirection off the rush by Flames forward Matthew Phillips.
The 2018 first-round pick is expected to finally get a regular place on Edmonton’s blueline this season, and against Calgary, he showed the offensive ability that has long had Oilers fans salivating. Bouchard had a game-high six shots on goal, including a couple of absolute howitzers. He played over 22 minutes and was plus-2 on the night.
Filip Berglund and Philip Broberg
Tippett paired Berglund (age 24, third-round pick in 2016) with Broberg (20, first round in 2019), and the Swedish blueliners played more than anyone else on the team, 23:07 and 22:19, respectively. The duo were previously teammates on Skellefteå AIK in the Swedish Hockey League and looked comfortable in their new NHL-sized surroundings. Berglund is the picture of poise, and Broberg particularly impressed with his speed.
The scorer’s touch that made Perlini the 12th overall pick in 2014 was on display Sunday when the winger had five shots and a goal off the rush after he stripped the puck from Erik Grudbanson in the Oilers zone. With spots in Edmonton’s top six spoken for, he’ll need to show more of that two-way ability, especially considering he’s on a two-way contract.
Sceviour made a huge statement as he looks to earn a contract with the Oilers. His two assists were almost like a bonus. More significantly, he was strong on the forecheck and along the boards, elements the Oilers will need the 32-year-old forward to provide if he’s going to take Josh Archibald’s spot.
Tyler Benson and Kyle Turris
While these two forwards are at different ends of their career – 23-year-old Benson trying to break into the NHL, 13-season-veteran Turris trying to stay in it – they are fueled by that same hunger, and both earned rave reviews for their offseason work. That manifested in their engaged play Sunday, as each had four shots, playing around 17 minutes.
The veteran center is hoping to give the Oilers a much-needed go-to-guy on faceoffs, and he brought that against his former team, taking a team-high 15 draws, and winning 10 of them. Ryan, 34, wore an “A” Sunday and his interactions with the young Oilers were that of a good-natured leader.
This was just the first of eight preseason games for the Oilers. Up next is their first home game and first-ever meeting with the expansion Seattle Kraken, Tuesday (Sept. 28) at Rogers Place.
Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.