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:
The stat sheet doesn’t record “energy level” but by watching Oilers winger Nail Yakupov, it was clear that he was trying to make things happen on the ice. Head Coach Dallas Eakins was pleased with the things Yakupov brought to the game tonight.
“I thought that line was one pass away from making something happen,” Eakins said. “Pucks were bobbling on him, there were some that went into his feet but I thought he was skating, I thought he was trying. He was energetic on the bench so I thought he had a good game.”
The Oilers top line started as Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle centred by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. But as the game wore on, Head Coach Dallas Eakins tinkered with the lineup, and third-line winger Curtis Hamilton got bumped to the top with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.
Hamilton, a second-round pick in 2010, showed he’s a hard worker and played well in his promotion. After battling adversity with knee injuries, Hamilton deserved the opportunity.
“He needs it,” Eakins said. “You cheer for kids like that because he’s been hurt a lot, he comes in, he’s worked hard over the summer and that’s another one where it’s like, ‘alright, let’s throw him up there with two very good NHL players and see how he responds.’”
“When we shook (the lineup), I felt like everybody started to respond a little bit and I’m sure that’s exciting for Curtis to be able to play with those two guys.”