Eight campers sent packing

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Eight was enough for the Edmonton Oilers.

While there were some expectations that the Oil might trim their training camp roster by a dozen or more yesterday, only eight players were sent packing and none of them would be considered among the club's most promising prospects.

The next round of cuts will be considerably more daunting as some of the Oil's best farmhands from last year and top young candidates will be on the block. The roster currently stands at 37 players.

"Nobody's making it easy and that's the way we want it," said Kevin Prendergast, the Oilers' vice-president of hockey operations. "Every game from here on in, they're going to have to be better and it's going to be another measuring stick ... The door isn't open that wide and it's getting tighter every game."

More names could have been on yesterday's hit list but head coach Craig MacTavish wanted another look-see at some players over the course of three exhibition tilts with the Calgary Flames.

"We haven't made our mind up yet on a lot of players," said MacTavish. "We're starting to see some combinations on how our top three lines will look going into the regular season. But there are still a lot of different scenarios that could play out with the fourth line and who the 13th forward will be."

Marc-Antoine Pouliot knows that despite his recent impressive efforts he's still got some work ahead of him to crack the squad.

"There's still some battles for spots and the next couple of games are going to be very important to me," said Pouliot.

VIRTUALLY GUARANTEED

One name who had virtually guaranteed himself a free pass from the first-round of cuts was defenceman Danny Syvret, who has earned strong reviews from MacTavish for his intelligent play.

"I think I've come in and turned some heads and I think I've opened up some spots for the future if I do get sent out," said Syvret, who captained the London Knights to the 2005 Memorial Cup title.

The biggest name among the axed was defenceman Jordan Little, the Making the Cut selection who was assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Little, a junior with the University of Manitoba Bisons last season, was stymied by an injury to a joint in his lower back late in the rookie camp and tweaked it again yesterday. With only seven spots in Hamilton reserved for Oiler hopefuls, the six-foot-four, 217-pounder will likely be redirected to Greenville once his back is up to par.

Shipped out to the AHL's Iowa Stars was journeyman centre Toby Petersen, rugged Dan Baum and defencemen Jason Platt and Kenny Smith. Three of the four are American so they'll have no hang-ups with the visa situation.

EMERGENCE OF YOUNG GUNS

Petersen saw his opportunity disappear with the emergence of young guns in the forward ranks and an unspectacular showing against Vancouver Wednesday night.

Nate DiCasmirro, who had 25 points in 77 games with the Edmonton Road Runners last season, was farmed out to the Grand Rapid Griffins, the top affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

Griffins coach Greg Ireland put in the initial vibe of interest in landing DiCasmirro and the Oilers jumped at the chance, considering their limited openings in the minors.

"It's a good team and Nate is going to be a good player for them," said Prendergast.

In the other moves, left-winger Troy Bodie was sent back to junior with the WHL champion Kelowna Rockets and local product Mike Gabinet, a defenceman who spent last year in Finland, was given his outright release. Gabinet could wind up in the AHL with either Manitoba or San Antonio or head back to Europe.

ICE CHIPS: Former Oiler and Road Runner Mike Bishai was sent down in the first big wave of cuts by the Phoenix Coyotes, but he'll head to San Antonio with some positive thoughts in the back of his mind.

"I got some good feedback from Wayne Gretzky," said Bishai, who signed with the Desert Dogs just before training camp. "He told me to just go down there and work hard and that they'll be watching for the chance to (make call-ups)."


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