As Oilers Hockey School presented by Rogers wraps up its final week of the year, there was one last visit from a current Oilers player on the schedule as d-man Brandon Davidson stopped by to work with the kids in Leduc today.
It may seem like a long time since Oilers fans have seen a healthy Davidson hit the ice after a lower-body injury suffered during a game in March cut his 2015-16 campaign short but Davidson says a solid off-season of recovery and training has him feeling prepared and optimistic for the start of the 2016-17 NHL season.
“I’m feeling 100%. It was definitely a longer road (to recovery) than I expected. But there’s no aches and pains, everything has healed up,” Davidson said of the leg injury.
“My training has gone really well this summer. I’ve made improvements in a lot of areas I wasn’t able to work on before. It sucked ending the way I did last season, but at the same time, it’s a lot of motivation and gives me a lot of drive for this year.”
Bouncing back from a season-ending injury isn’t the only thing motivating the 6-foot-2 blueliner, who has spent most of his off-season south of Edmonton in his hometown of Lethbridge.
After quietly putting together a breakout campaign with the Oilers last season, one that saw him become a mainstay on the team’s back end, Davidson was rewarded with a two-year contract extension in February, something he sees as another shot to further solidify his future with the club.
“I feel like this (extension) is just another test. I have two years to prove myself again. This where I want to be. I want to keep improving, making the right strides and impressing the right people so I can be here for a long time.”
Davidson scored four goals and seven assists with a +7 rating in 51 games last season.
There’s been no shortage of change for the Oilers this off-season as they welcomed a couple key roster additions in defenceman Adam Larsson and forward Milan Lucic—additions they hope will make an immediate impact.
“It’s great that we were able to acquire Larsson and get him in here. I think that’s going to help us out a lot on defence,” said Oilers d-man Brandon Davidson, during his break from some on-ice sessions at Oilers Hockey School in Leduc.
“It’s just the adjustments (management has made) that seem to be fine-tuning our lineup and making sure we are ready to go and competing come game one.”
In addition to some off-season player shuffling, the team is also looking forward to a change in scenery as they get set for their inaugural season at Rogers Place, an experience Davidson thinks will give the new-look roster a fresh space to start the next chapter on the right foot.
“The buzz around the building is the biggest thing. I think when I finally get in there, it will take (my) breath away. I’m really excited. It’s a new atmosphere for us and a new beginning where we need to start off on the right track.”
The Oilers officially launch the inaugural season at Rogers Place with their home opener against the Calgary Flames on October 12, 2016.
As fans celebrated the alumni rosters that were announced for both the Oilers and Winnipeg Jets at the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic press conference, Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot said that he’s just as excited for the chance to play in the NHL scheduled game that will follow.
“It’s special, I mean it’s a lot of fun. Obviously, you can tell how exciting this kind of event is, not only for the fans but for the players too,” he said.
Prior to the trade that saw the Oilers acquire Talbot, then the New York Rangers backup goaltender, before the 2015-16 season, the 6-foot-3 netminder participated in the NHL Stadium Series with the Rangers
“I was lucky to be a part of two of them in New York but never got a chance to play in one so I’m really looking forward to that,” he said.
The Heritage Classic will mark the Jets’ first appearance in an outdoor game and the Oilers’ first appearance since hosting the first-ever NHL regular-season game played outdoors at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003 when they hosted the Montreal Canadiens.
The rosters for the outdoor alumni game taking place on Saturday, October 22, were also revealed today.
“That will be fun getting to watch too,” said Talbot. “I think a lot of people are going to be more interested in that game than our game, but it’s a lot of big names and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
A big turnout at the press conference in Winnipeg gave a sample of the the fan excitement that is highly anticipating the upcoming 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in October.
“The rivalry between the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers represents a significant part of our team’s rich hockey history,” said Mark Chipman, Chairman of True North Sports + Entertainment, in a press release. “Unveiling the NHL Heritage Classic jersey and announcing the alumni rosters for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic today is the first step in what will no doubt be an exciting journey for hockey fans of all ages.”
Coffey, Kurri, MacDonald, MacTavish, McSorley, Fuhr, Ranford, Roloson, Simpson, Smyth, Tikkanen. Ron Low & Glen Sather behind the bench!— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) August 5, 2016
Among the alumni roster announcements, the Oilers will feature Mark Messier, Dave Semenko, Craig MacTavish and Oilers alumni Captain Wayne Gretzky, while the Jets will welcome back the likes of Teemu Selanne, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Kris King and more.
The jerseys unveiled have been specially designed, paying tribute to the history of both teams by revisiting their World Hockey Association (WHA) days.
The two-day festival event will run from October 22-23, with the Heritage Classic alumni game taking place on October 22 and NHL game played on October 23.
It’s been a busy summer for the Oilers as they prepare to enter a new season, establishing their roots in the new Rogers Place barn.
“I’m excited for those guys to get into town, meet ‘em, maybe help them settle in, show them around — probably as excited for them to come as they are to come here,” said Oilers forward Mark Letestu while taking a break from his on-ice sessions at the Oilers Hockey School in St. Albert.
Little Maddox not having a bad day either. pic.twitter.com/t6xl8DPGGC— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) August 4, 2016
Lucic, former Los Angeles Kings forward, was signed with the organization as a free agent on July 1 while Larsson, former New Jersey Devils defenceman, was acquired in a trade for former Oilers forward Taylor Hall.
“The changes [management] made — we’re trying to get better,” said Letestu. “We didn’t play well enough last year and when you don’t play well, changes are expected to be made. We lost a real good player in Taylor, a good locker room guy, a friend, it’s always tough to see people go but we want to win hockey games and we’ve made changes in order to do that more often.”
The anticipation of a new season is right around the corner as the Oilers prepare to welcome their new teammates and Letestu feels the addition of new teammates is just the beginning.
“I’m sure that they’ll help us, and hopefully we’ll get off on the right foot this year.”
Another week has come and gone for Oilers Hockey School (OHS).
Today, OHS welcomed Oilers forward Mark Letestu, who joined in among the ranks of youth hockey players to have some fun, get in on the drills and really tear it up on the ice.
Although it was his first time attending the hockey school, Letestu said it certainly measured up to the expectations he had coming into the day.
“A lot of kids were excited to come out here and play hockey, and then for me to go on the ice and see the reaction you get, it’s what I expected because at one time I was [one of] those kids,” he said.
“I was out there, stick-handling around and wanting to be around NHL players, so just to see their reaction kind of takes me back to what I would have been like and it’s fun to be out here and hopefully make their day.”
OHS provides young hockey players with the opportunity to continue their skill development in a positive, fun-filled environment. Letestu said it’s easy to see understand why it’s so important to have Oilers players get involved.
“I know what it meant to me and what it would mean to me to have an NHL player come and say hi or sign a jersey,” he said. “Maybe the kind of motivation it would give me, kind of the inner confidence just to have someone come talk to me like that. For me to possibly do that for one of these kids...something they can take from this little hockey camp that will make them really happy, that’s something I’d love to be a part of.”
For all of our hockey fiends that can’t wait to tune into the 2016-17 NHL season, the World Cup of Hockey will be the first event to deliver the beloved game before the start of the much anticipated hockey season.
Before the September 17 tournament kick-off date, ESPN will be airing 12 pre-tournament games in seven days, starting Thursday, September 8.
Date, Time (ET), Telecast, Location, Network
Sep 8, 12 p.m., Sweden vs. Finland, Helsinki, Finland, ESPN3
Sep 8, 12:30 p.m., Czech Republic vs. Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia, ESPN3
Sep 8, 8 p.m., North America vs. Europe, Quebec City, Quebec, ESPN2
Sep 9, 7 p.m., Canada vs. USA, Columbus, OH, ESPNU
Sep 10, 10:30 a.m., Russia vs. Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic, ESPN3
Sep 10, 12 p.m., Finland vs. Sweden, Gothenburg, Sweden, ESPN3
Sep 10, 7 p.m., USA vs. Canada, Ottawa, Canada, ESPN3
Sep 11, 6 p.m., Europe vs. North America, Montreal, Canada, ESPN3
Sep 13, 7 p.m., Finland vs. USA, Washington, DC, ESPN
Sep 14, 3:30 p.m., Czech Republic vs. North America, Pittsburgh, PA, ESPN3
Sep 14, 7 p.m., Sweden vs. Europe, Washington, DC, ESPN3
Sep 14, 7:30 p.m., Russia vs. Canada, Pittsburgh, PA, ESPN2
The two-week World Cup of Hockey tournament begins Saturday, Sept. 17, with a week of group play followed by the semifinals and a best-of-three finals beginning September 27.
The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenceman David Musil to a one-year contract.
Musil, 23, appeared in 67 games with the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors last season, posting 14 points (3G, 11A) and 39 penalty minutes.
The 6’4”, 203-pound blueliner has appeared in 193 career AHL games, accumulating 37 points (7G, 30A) and 128 penalty minutes.
Musil has also played in four career NHL games with Edmonton, registering two assists and two penalty minutes.
The Delta, British Columbia native was selected by the Oilers in the second round, 31st overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.
The Oilers have loaned forward Bogdan Yakimov to Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik of the KHL.
The 21-year old was taken 83rd overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has played one NHL game in his career. He played 36 AHL games for the Bakersfield Condors last season, scoring five goals and adding 10 assists for 15 points.
The Oilers went through the 2015-16 season without a player wearing the “C” on their chest. They instead elected to go with multiple alternate captains, including Andrew Ference, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Matt Hendricks was among a few other players to don the “A” at various points of the season.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan confirmed with the media on Wednesday at the Mark Spector Golf Classic that the club will have a captain on opening night, when the team hosts Calgary on October 12.
“Will we have a captain? Yeah, we will,” said McLellan.
When pressed on who it might be, McLellan simply repeated himself.
“We will have a captain.”