Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome to the NHL, Jonathon Tavares -- Hope You Survive the Experience!

The Edmonton Oilers will welcome 1st overall draft pick Jonathon Tavares to Rexall Place tonight, as he plays in his first ever NHL game.

Alongside Tavares will be Doug Weight, the highest-scoring active former Oiler in the league today, as well as the last Oiler to amass more than 100 points in a season.

Absent from the lineup will be Dwayne Roloson, who signed with the Islanders in the off-season, and will be duking it out with Martin Biron to decide who will play more games behind Rick DiPietro -- and who replace him if (more likely when) he gets hurt.

Richard Park, Andy Sutton and Jon Sim are the other Islanders of note in the lineup. This may allow an Oilers lineup stacked with Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray, Sam Gagner, Robbie Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner, Ladislav Smid and Fernando Pisani to drum up some illusions of dominant grandeur before facing more serious competition later in the pre-season.

Also dressing for the New York Islanders will be Robin Figren. Some may remember Figren as the Edmonton Oil King who dazzled for Sweden at the 2008 World Junior Championships.

But unquestionably all eyes will be on Jonathon Tavares tonight. Big, big things are expected of Tavares in Long Island, as they look to rebuild their franchise around him and try to recapture the heady glories once enjoyed there by Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin (among others).

It will be a long and arduous rebuilding process for the Islanders, who seem to abandon the "Oilers 2.0" theme of the past couple of seasons when they employed Weight, Bill Guerin, Miroslav Satan, Marc-Andre Bergeron and current Oiler Mike Comrie with their team.

Tavares may be the first realistic shot the Islanders have had for a while of developing a superstar all their own, and launching an "Islanders 2.0" program that is sorely long overdue.

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