Edmonton Oilers Pontus Aberg, left, and Calgary Flames’ Kerby Rychel coil during preseason NHL hockey activity in Calgary, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Jeff McIntosh / CP
Edmonton Oilers drillmaster Todd McLellan consistently cautions inquiring minds not to apprehend too abundant into convenance groups in training camp, but it was adamantine to discount Pontus Aberg who was skating with evidently the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday, not the capital NHL group.
Aberg came from Nashville in a barter for Mark Letestu aftermost February with a apple-pie slate, but it got decrepit back he absent an off-day convenance in Florida two and-a-half weeks later. He did get eight credibility in his 16 Oiler amateur (two goals) but it consistently seemed an afraid accord with the coaches afterwards that aboriginal misstep, and they couldn’t bulk out area to comedy him back they did comedy him.
Aberg became a playoff angel in Nashville run to the Cup final in 2017 with the champ adjoin Anaheim in Bold 5 of the Western Final and two assists in the absolute sixth d his two goals and bristles points.
That’s why the Oilers were absorbed to barter for him. But his comedy actuality aftermost year was so-so, and while 99 per cent of the active Oilers NHL assiduously got the night off adjoin basically an AHL band in Monday’s d in Calgary, Aberg was in that travelling calendar with jailbait Kailer Yamamoto, while Ty Rattie, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tobias Rieder and Zack Kassian on bourgeois backward home. He did account but Yamamoto was the star.
Aberg didn’t comedy in Vancouver while Yamamoto, Rattie, Puljujarvi and Kassian dressed and was with the B accumulation Wednesday morning practising while attack right-winger Alex Chiasson was with the NHLers, and Rieder skated with German associate Leon Draisaitl on the No. 2 line.
Now maybe we’re demography this a few accomplish too far, but …
There are no guarantees Aberg, alike with his skill-set, has a atom on the Oilers’ 23-man agenda aloof because he has a contract, a one-way, $650,000 for one season. His botheration absolutely is this: he’s not the role-player blazon if he’s a 13th or 14th forward. He’s not a penalty-killer like, say, attack left-winger Scottie Upshall. Or the auditioning Chiasson, who’s played 381 NHL amateur and played able-bodied on a fourth band in Washington aftermost season. Aberg, who turns 25 Sunday, has has 25 and 31-goal seasons in the minors, so there’s absolutely adeptness there, additionally fast anxiety to go with his AHL hands.
But in 31 NHL games, he has three goals.
The Predators aboriginal aces (37th overall) in the 2012 draft, has top-nine NHL abeyant off his abhorrent chops in the AHL, but it’s not adopted to anticipate Aberg could be on waivers afore the division if he doesn’t acquisition some basement with the coaches, and he has 10 canicule afore the Oilers arch to Europe. If they adjudge to backpack eight D with first-round abstract Evan Bouchard actual abundant in the mix, and alone a 13th forward, maybe Aberg is in trouble.
There’s Yamamoto, Upshall and Chiasson in the picture, too.
“Pontus is a actual accomplished amateur with a amazing bulk of skill,” said McLellan. “The beating on Pontus is bringing it every night and arty that (skill) every night. That’s what we appetite to see.”
Aberg isn’t deafened to what McLellan says.
“I’ve consistently been told about my consistency,” he said.
“Two years ago (Milwaukee, 31 goals), I had a absolutely acceptable year and aggregate went right. Aftermost year, I struggled from the alpha in Nashville and it was appealing abundant the accomplished year.
“I’ve consistently been told to comedy my best and produce, shoot and account added I guess.”
“In Nashville it was boxy actuality in and out of the lineup, arena acutely every third d in Nashville. I played added and bigger actuality alike admitting I was aching a few games. I accept to comedy the d I had in Milwaukee,” he said.
Does every amateur accept to win the assurance of the coaches?
“I anticipate anybody has to acquire their atom on the team, abnormally me, new to here. They haven’t absolutely apparent me abundant so I accept to appearance them I can comedy at this level, not aloof the American League. I accept to appearance that in the pre-season,” he said.
“It’s not complete but anticipate we apperceive abundant about Pontus. Starting a division is consistently easier than advancing in during a year,” said McLellan.
Aberg says he knows the guys bigger now than he did back jumping to a new aggregation with alone bristles weeks larboard in aftermost season’s schedule.
“I feel bigger and I had a best summer to adapt (for camp) than the division afore (Nashville, playoff run),” said Aberg.
“The appropriate ancillary of our calendar is one of the catechism marks. There is a abundant befalling for Ty Rattie, Puljujarvi, Aberg and not all of those guys are activity to be there. Alone so abounding can comedy on our team,” said McLellan. “They charge to alpha to bulk it out, arty their will now.”
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On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty
Host Craig Ellingson talks to hockey writers Jim Matheson and Derek Van Diest all about the Oilers’ defence and the challenges the players face as they adapt for the accessible season; how Darnell Nurse’s acknowledgment afterwards signing a new arrangement changes the lineup; how newcomers Jakub Jerabek and Kevin Gravel assume to be applicable in aboriginal in camp; what affairs Bear, Jones and Bouchard accept shown; what to apprehend from the abiding veterans; and about Andrej Sekera and what will acceptable be a continued alley to accretion for the defenceman who tore his Achilles bond in the summer.
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