There were a few notable points from the second game for the Oilers rookies at the Young Stars Tournament, but most important of all is this: Gene Principe should not be calling these games. If you want background information or interesting tidbits about certain players, Gene is your man. If you want a pun that will make you simultaneously cringe and chuckle, look no further than the guy pictured above. But if you're a casual fan that's interested in what is happening on the ice, Gene's play-by-play is, well...
It's not necessarily Gene's fault that he isn't right for this job, because it's not his area of expertise. But for a tournament that is characterized by a load of mostly unknown players, a veteran play-by-play announcer should be used. The average fan has no idea what number Toni Rajala or Wes Vannieuwenhuizen are wearing on a given night, and therefore little chance to judge the prospects they are watching unless someone good is calling the game. After all, that is the whole point. That, and finally watching Oilers hockey - any Oilers hockey.
- It was a shame to see Ryan Martindale leave the game after his massive hip to hip check in the first period. He was all over the ice, creating scoring opportunities, backchecking effectively, and of course throwing his body around. Perhaps the main reason that Martindale didn't go higher than 61st overall in 2010 was because of the questions some had about his commitment level. He answered those questions with 83 points in 65 games for the Ottawa 67's, and his showing at the YS Tourney has been anything but a player that's not committed to giving his all.
|If that thing was a rifle, he'd be holding it backwards|
Speaking of throwing weight around, Nugent-Hopkins seemed perfectly willing to throw the odd hit when the opportunity arose. It's encouraging to see him comfortable with the physical nature of the game, which is probably the reason he's engaging in it. Most of these rookies are hoping to leave an impression that will stick in the minds of their respective General Managers a few years down the road. For Nugent-Hopkins, the pre-season has begun. Each of these games is another opportunity to show that he is ready for the NHL now.
His skating doesn't seem to have been adversely affected the weight that he put on in the off season, but it was a fairly quiet night for him overall. Then again, none of the Oilers' young forwards were especially impressive after the first. Aside from a second assist, a good wrap around chance and a few other good plays, Nugent-Hopkins wasn't noticeably dominant. Such was the case in Red Deer some of the time as well, and yet he still managed to have 3 and 4 point nights. Is Nugent-Hopkins simply so good that he lulls you into not noticing him?
- Finally, Taylor Fedun was perhaps the best defenseman on either team tonight. He'll make $67,500 to play for OKC this year, but in the NHL Fedun's contract is worth $825,000. It's plenty of motivation to try to crack the Oilers if he can, although he'll have a tough time doing that out of camp. Of course, he should be good in a rookie tournament, considering that some of the kids he's playing against are 18 while he is 23, but if he continues to shine in Oklahoma City he could earn a call-up.
Calgary should have their hands full tomorrow.