The names might not be as catchy as
Starsky & Hutch or as famous as Batman & Robin but Edmonton’s recent
pair of call-ups from the AHL have certainly been worth watching. Peter Sarno and Tony Salmelainen
were both recalled from the Toronto Roadrunners in the past ten days and the
new dynamic duo have been fortunate enough to play and, more importantly,
Salmelainen played his first NHL game against the
Columbus Blue Jackets on October 30th but saw only limited ice
time. The lightning fast winger watched
the next game against Detroit before getting into action against both Montreal
and Ottawa earlier this week.
Statistically, Salmelainen was not leading the Roadrunner at the time of
his NHL invite but it was felt that he was the best option at the time. The
fact that Salmelainen made a positive impact on the coaching staff during
training camp helped and it is now clear that the timing for the Finn was in
“He was their best player down there
(Toronto) from all reports of when we scout their team,” confirmed head coach
Craig MacTavish. “He had a good camp
and all factors are taken into consideration but he got the nod.”
After playing just over four minutes against
Columbus, Salmelainen’s ice time nearly doubled to slightly less than eight
minutes against Montreal and he recorded an assist – his first NHL point. A game and two nights later, Salmelainen
stretched that game time to 13:07 including one shift at a critical point
during the overtime period.
MacTavish likes what Salmelainen brings to the table
for the team on a nightly basis.
Incredible speed, a strong forecheck, better than expected physical play
and also a penchant for puck handling and playmaking.
“I think he’s a guy that has game
breaking speed, he’s not afraid to take the puck to the net, he can shoot well
and we saw a little bit of that even in the first game against Columbus,” said
Peter Sarno’s week began with the Roadrunners finally
making their home debut in the new Ricoh Center in Toronto. After Saturday and Sunday games, Sarno woke
up on Monday with a new “to do” list.
Check! Eat Breakfast? Check!
Get recalled by the Oilers and make NHL debut against the most storied
franchise in the league and score first ever goal? Check!
Sarno played eight minutes on Tuesday against the
Habs and notched his first NHL goal in the middle frame. The goal, the same one that Salmelainen got
his assist on, was the final tally for Edmonton who went on to win the game
4-2. Afterwards, an obviously elated
Sarno couldn’t hide his excitement.
“I can’t really believe it’s come true,” Sarno
was quoted as saying. “I’ve waited my
entire life, ever since I can remember, for this day. I still think I’m in a
little bit of a daze and a dream.”
Sarno, like Salmelainen, played again on Thursday
against Ottawa at the Corel Centre.
Sarno’s thirteen minutes included power play and overtime duty as well,
a sign from the coach that he’s liked what he has seen so far from the 5’11”,
185 lb pivot.
The Toronto native will likely draw in again against
the Maple Leafs on Saturday in front of scores of friends and family.
Both Salmelainen and Sarno could stick with the team
for the foreseeable future as others on the team struggle through injury,
illness and mediocre play. Jarret
Stoll was placed on the injured reserve list due to tonsilitis at the end
of October. Stoll has flown out to
Toronto to hook up with the rest of the team but, at time of writing, was not
The R.P.M. line – The trio of Reasoner,
Pisani and Moreau are all on consecutive games streaks after putting together
two or three solid games in a row.
Dvorak – At the risk of sounding like a broken record… D-Vo is doing everything
out there with the exception of scoring.
You get worried if a scorer is failing because he’s not getting
opportunities but that’s not the case with Dvorak. The chances have been there, the talented Czech has just been
snake-bitten so far.
Torres – 7 points
in 12 games, including 4 goals is a terrific start for a player pegged to be a
fourth liner this year. Now partnered
up with Mike York and Radek Dvorak, the trio has been very good for the past
Isbister – Finally Isbister has been able to string a few good efforts together. After sitting out against Calgary two weeks
ago, he has come back and played pretty well, recording four points over the
last four games.
Horcoff – Has not played well since being moved to the top line alongside Smyth
and Hemsky. In fact, the third period
bench-warming role he played in Ottawa could be a prelude to a press box
posting very soon.
Laraque – Injured his thumb in a slugfest against Calgary’s Krzysztof Oliwa,
sat a game out because of it and then returned to do nothing against
Detroit. Since then he’s been a healthy
scratch for two consecutive games.
Chances are he’ll draw in against the Leafs on Saturday night though.
Chimera – The hustle was there for the first half a dozen games but disappeared
recently… as has Chimmer’s starting role.
line of Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky was a combined –20 as of Friday.
contrast, the RPM line is a combined +24 and the Torres-York-Dvorak trio are
for a possible “battle of the Oiler back ups” game on Monday. The Oilers will visit Madison Square Gardens
to tackle the Rangers. Ty Conklin is
due to get another start soon and wouldn’t the Rangers like to play Jussi Markkanen
against his former team?
It is quite conceivable and probable
that Stoll will play with the Roadrunners for a conditioning stint before he
returns to active duty with the Oilers. After a couple of weeks off skates,
Stoll will need to return to game shape and because he does not have to clear
waivers to go to Toronto, the most logical place for his reconditioning is with
Comrie could bring prospects to team
The Mike Comrie situation has not gotten
any clearer but for the first time there are actual names being attached to
some of the rampant rumors that have been circulating. The list of teams who have expressed at
least some level of interest is long.
Most of the rumors have included a top prospect coming back in return
for Comrie which certainly is not good news for those who were hoping for a
player who could help the Oilers this year.
The list of teams mentioned thus far with
some of the players that are speculated to be involved, or at least talked
about to some degree, are:
Reportedly one of the teams who have actually given Kevin Lowe an
offer. Latest Duck to be mentioned is Joffrey
Lupul, but Stanislav Chistov was the first player mentioned a while ago.
Rumors persist that Atlanta is one of the front-runners and Kevin Lowe’s
presence at a recent Thrashers game supports that theory. Also, Kevin Prendergast took in a Portland
Winterhawks game a couple of weeks ago, presumably to watch Braydon Coburn. Patrik Stefan’s name keeps coming up as
No mention of whom Detroit might be offering but there has been interest
from the Red Wings in the former Michigan Wolverine player. Just to throw one name into the mix, Detroit
Fleischmann who plays alongside Oiler prospect Kyle
Brodziak in Moose Jaw and together the pair has been dynamite this year.
Recently a reporter from Phoenix was on Edmonton radio predicting that
Coyotes centermen Krys Kolanos could be an Oiler by the end of the week. The Comrie family has a personal
relationship with Wayne Gretzky which gives some more credibility to this
San Jose: It was suggested publicly that the Sharks might offer a package
deal involving Marco Sturm to the Oilers.
At one point or another both Brad Stuart and Patrick Marleau’s names
have also surfaced.
Philadelphia: Reportedly another team that has an offer on the table to Kevin
Lowe. Justin Williams, always the
subject of trade rumours, is again the centerpiece of the speculation from
Stephen Weiss has been recalled from the Panther’s farm system
and reportedly he is the player Lowe likes the most if dealing with Florida is
in the future.
Pittsburgh: The presence of Oiler scouts in Pittsburgh recently fuelled
speculation that the Penguins were interested in Comrie. Milan Kraft is on the block in the
With that many teams apparently in the
mix, it could take a long time for Kevin Lowe to finally pull the trigger on a
deal. On the other hand, if there are
so many bidders hoping to acquire Comrie, the return might be better than many
people were previously thinking it could be.
Surely one thing can be determined
already and that’s that the Oilers are continuing to build for life after the
CBA strife that is expected next fall.
If a top prospect is going to come back as the centrepiece to the return
for Comrie, Oiler fans could take it as a sign that this year doesn’t really
matter much in the big picture. A very
young team already, adding a prospect won’t help the cause this year.
Oiler prospects were selected for the QMJHL team that will play the touring
Russian Juniors later this month. Jeff
Deslauriers, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Jean-Francois Jacques
will play against the Russians on November 20th in Halifax and then
again on the 24th in Rimouski.
Going into Friday’s games, Pouliot had totalled 24 points in 16
games, Jacques 10 points in 18 games and Deslauriers’ stats were 3.16 GAA and
.909 save percentage.
Brodziak of the
Moose Jaw Warriors is the lone Oiler prospect in the WHL to be named to that
league’s team to play against the Russians.
The WHL hosts Russia in Calgary on Nov. 26th and in Brandon
on the 27th. Brodziak
currently co-leads the WHL with 29 points in 18 games with his line mate Tomas
Wolverines rookie David Rohlfs is off to a terrific start. The 6’3” 225 lb forward has 4 points,
including 3 goals, in the first eight games of the season.
Radunske also has
4 points for the Michigan State Spartans in their first eight games.
State’s Jake Brenk has 3 assists in 5 games.
Toronto Roadrunners might change their name to the Toronto Road-rundowns. After spending all of October on a nine game
road trip, the Roadies finally got to play a game at home. They tied Rochester 1-1 on Saturday and then
blew a lead against St. John’s the next day.
Now Toronto goes back on the road for four more games. That’s 13 of their first 15 on the road.
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