Preview: Jets @ Oilers
JETS (0-0-0) at OILERS (0-0-0)
Season series: The Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers didn't meet during the 2012-13 season because the Jets were still part of the Eastern Conference and there was no cross-conference play in the abbreviated 48-game campaign. Their last matchup dates all the way back to Feb. 27, 2012, when a four-goal third period rallied the Oilers to a 5-3 win at MTS Centre. Taylor Hall had the game-winner.
Big story: The Jets were reborn in Winnipeg two seasons ago, and now they're officially back where they belong in the Western Conference, part of the new Central Division. The Oilers, meanwhile, have shifted over to the Pacific and hope the time is now for an impressive collection of young talent to take the next step toward a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs under first-year coach Dallas Eakins.
Jets: Like its opponent to open the season, Winnipeg is looking to end a postseason drought. The Jets have missed the playoffs each of their first two seasons since relocating from Atlanta, and the franchise as a whole has made it there just once in 13 seasons.
The preseason returns weren't very promising, as the team won once in eight games. However, a couple important pieces in the team's future acquitted themselves well. Rookies Mark Scheifele, a forward who has 11 games of NHL experience over the past two seasons, and Jacob Trouba, a defenseman and the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, are expected to play key roles going forward.
"I have to say that I have liked both," coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press. "They bring some good things to our group and they certainly look like they can play here."
Oilers: Although banged up in some areas, Edmonton made it through the preseason winning five of seven games before getting blanked 4-0 by the Dallas Stars in Friday's finale.
Among the key offseason acquisitions for the Oilers were forward David Perron, who came over from the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Magnus Paajarvi, and defenseman Andrew Ference, signed as a free agent. Ference, a 13-year veteran who won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins, was named the team's new captain on Saturday.
"Andrew is everything you look for in a captain," Eakins said. "You start rattling off words like, compete, honest, commitment, a guy that can communicate. Everything you talk about a leader, that's what this young man is. The biggest thing for me, is his ability to unite this organization. He's the most important person in this organization."
Injury report: Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien left Friday's final preseason game against the Boston Bruins with an apparent leg injury, but is probable. Defenseman Zach Bogosian (undisclosed) is practicing and expected to be in the lineup. … Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) is still recovering from offseason surgery and likely out until November. Forwards Sam Gagner (jaw) and Steve McIntyre (knee) and defenseman Corey Potter (back) are on injured reserve. Perron (illness) and defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (groin) are day-to-day.