The Oilers may have a blueline battle brewing. Brad Hunt, 26, was a Second-Team AHL All Star last season. He scored 50 points (11-39-50) in 66 games with the Oklahoma City Barons. He played three games on a call up with the Oilers.
Now Hunt is making an impression on the Edmonton staff.
“You cheer for guys like Hunt,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “He loves playing hockey and he can play, that kid can play. He’s shooting on the power play, he’s ready to tee it up. He’s not deferring to others, he knows when to move the puck, he knows when to jump in the play and he turned out to be an excellent partner for Darnell. I thought Darnell was good, I thought Hunt was excellent.”
Hunt scored nine power play goals last season in OKC. Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson called him the team’s, “top power play guy.”
The power play is just one tool in Hunt’s arsenal, but it’s up to him to keep playing well if he wants to stick.
“That would be in his back pocket for sure. He can do it. He’s going to have to push his way in with 5-on-5 play, but tonight Hunt showed that he can play at this level of play right now.
Pitlick scored a goal, that was eventually disallowed. He played 17:32, including just over six minutes on the power play and some time on the penalty kill. He finished the night with one shot on goal and four hits.
“It was fun to play with him,” Hall said. “It seemed like he was comfortable playing his game and that’s how you want to make guys feel when they come on a line with you. We had a few chances. There was a lot of power play time tonight so it was a bit tough to really shore our game, but for the most part I felt he played well.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins also felt Pitlick played well.
“I thought he played good,” Eakins said. “We talked about it this morning that it was a bit of a reward for him. He was a factor in our last game (against Winnipeg) and he did his job tonight. He went up and down the wing, supported those guys, we got him a little power play time too to see how he could handle it. We thought he had a good game.”
Third-overall pick Leon Draisaitl is one of the possibilities and he’s shown flashes of his playmaking skills in the pre-season so far. 2013 third-round pick Bogdan Yakimov has come in and impressed from the opening face-off in Penticton, BC at the Young Stars Tournament. Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander have NHL experience are locked in that same battle.
So far, it looks like the rookies are pushing to get noticed and when asked on Monday if the Oilers would hesitate in starting the season with two rookies at centre, Head Coach Dallas Eakins says there wouldn’t be any.
“I don’t want to speak for my boss, but we’ve had the talks and I don’t think we’d hesitate at all,” he said. “But we are looking to go with the guys who have earned their spots in camp… You don’t want to play safe all of the time. Safe is okay, he doesn’t need waivers so send him down, keep this guy and see what happens. We want to go with the guys who have earned the spots. Is there a danger with that in waivers? Absolutely. But that’s where the battle is.
Eakins stressed that there is still a battle to be played out here, but whoever has earned a spot will stay with the club.
“There is still lots of time here and I’m not sure that they’ve outplayed those guys, but there are certainly all of these guys in the mix. No one has stepped up way ahead of each other yet. It will be real interesting here over the next few games to see who’s going to step up. My real honest answer, and I will be honest, I don’t think there will be any hesitation. We’ll take the guys who have played well, played the best and who we think are going to help us win our first game.”
Stay tuned for more coverage from Monday’s practice.
Oilers Captain Andrew Ference left tonight’s game with an arm injury and did not return. Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an update on the defenceman after the game.
Ference (injured right arm) will not return to today's #Oilers game.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 28, 2014
“Ference update, he was courageous and blocked shots,” Eakins said. “We need lots of that, more of it. We took him out as a precaution. X-rays are negative, he’ll be fine.”
Oilers Entertainment Group Vice-Chairman Bob Nicholson has been inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to #Oilers Entertainment Group Vice-Chairman Bob Nicholson on his induction into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame tonight!— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 26, 2014
Born and raised in B.C. (Vancouver and Penticton), Nicholson is being elected into the builder category of the hall of fame. Nicholson led the Hockey Canada program since 1998. He oversaw all operations for international competitions that Canada participated in. During his time with Hockey Canada, the nation took home 76 medals in those competitions- 44 of them were gold.
Nicholson was introduced in his new role in June. As Vice-Chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group, Nicholson is a voice for all facets of the organization, from business to hockey operations.
Members of the Oilers organization likened the arrival of Nicholson to the signing of a superstar free agent.
Oilers management, coaches, trainers and players are showing their Edmonton Eskimos pride in advance of their game against Saskatchewan tomorrow. Nearly every Oiler is wearing an Eskimos hat, although there are just a few questionable Roughriders fans.
Eskimos appreciation day at Oilers practice. Todd Nelson, I'm assuming, will be fined for this. pic.twitter.com/TV2BDiEock— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) September 25, 2014
The Oilers are on the ice in Leduc and the first group is as follows: