Martin Marincin was a topic of discussion following yesterday’s practice as he has started to move forward in his development after a slow start to the season, which included assignment to Oklahoma City out of training camp.
The book on Marincin is that he can make solid defensive plays and be a reliable blueliner, but needs to work on his battle in the corners and in front of the net. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said yesterday that he showed signs of that in the Oilers last game against Minnesota, even helping his team close out the waning seconds of that one-goal victory.
Marincin has seen growth in this area as well, saying his battle is getting better.
“Yes, it’s great,” Marincin said. “I feel stronger, like I said before the season so for me it is about going to the net and being stronger in front of the net and play simple.”
For players like Marincin, who need to make adjustments to their game along their development path, Nelson thinks communication is key. After spending time in OKC working with young prospects, that’s the process Nelson says he uses to help young players like Marincin adjust to the pros and become better players.
“Besides the work on the ice that we try to get better at, I think we have to have communication and it has to be a two-way street,” Nelson said. “They have to let me know what they need help with. I can identify some things but there are other things they may want to work on so it’s just constant communication with the player and just trying to help them in certain areas. It’s not only the on-ice play, but maybe it’s the off-ice stuff as well, like getting adjusted to North America if you’re a European player. Things like that. I think it’s constant communication.”
The Oilers have taken the ice at Rexall Place for practice.
Pitlick and Nikitin are both wearing non-contact yellow.
The Oilers had a 23-year-old defenceman on the ice in the waning seconds of their 2-1 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. Martin Marincin helped the Oilers run out the clock and preserve the one-goal victory.
Having Marincin on the ice in a crucial moment signifies trust in his game and development in the player. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson says the biggest thing Marincin has improved on lately is his assertiveness when it comes to puck battles in the hard areas. He showed that against Minnesota.
“I think, his battle. That’s one thing we’ve always tried to work on with him,” Nelson said. “Last game in the last minute or 40 seconds or whatever he really competed hard and we saw that trend throughout the game. He has a good, long stick and that’s fine, but when it comes to a battle in front of the net and in corners we liked what we saw and that’s why he was out there.”
Nail Yakupov sat out the game in Minnesota with a groin injury, but was back on the ice today at Rexall Place. The Oilers winger competed in all the drills and participated in the extra conditioning at the end of practice.
“I felt pretty good,” Yakupov said. “I pushed as hard as I can. I went out a little earlier to see how my leg was going. I think everything was fine and then I got lucky with that skate at the end. Should be feeling pretty good. We’ll see tomorrow, but I hope I’ll be back in the lineup soon.”
Yakupov says he didn’t enjoy watching his team compete without him in Minnesota and hopes he’s ready soon.
“That wasn’t a great feeling at all,” Yakupov said. “I don’t like to watch the game from upstairs, but I still was kind of nervous. I wanted my team to get two points and they did, so it was a good feeling.”
He may be back sooner than later, possibly even on Saturday against St. Louis.
“It looks pretty good, based on what I saw today. He practiced well and we’ll see how it reacts tomorrow,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said.
Oilers longtime locker room assistant Joey Moss will be inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in the achievement category. The ceremony will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, AB on Friday, May 29.
Moss, born with Down syndrome, first joined the Oilers in 1984 when he was brought into the organization by Wayne Gretzky.
For years, Moss has served as an inspiration to the citizens of Edmonton and is somewhat of a celebrity. His likeness appears on a mural on 99th street in Edmonton. He has won numerous awards for personal achievement, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and the NHL Alumni Association’s Seventh Man Award.RELATED:
22-year-old defenceman Jordan Oesterle made his NHL debut tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The significance of the moment hit him when he lined up for a faceoff early in the game.
“It was on a faceoff,” Oesterle said. “I looked over and there was Corey Perry just standing next to me and I was just like, ‘wow.’”
Oesterle played 16:34 for the game, paired with Andrew Ference.
“I was really nervous at the beginning but I took a short shift at the beginning and got the nerves out of there. But Ference really helped me by communicating a lot to me and made my game pretty easy,” Oesterle said.
Oesterle may have been nervous, but he made an impression on Interim Coach Todd Nelson, who also coached the blueliner in Oklahoma City.
“He was excellent,” Nelson said. “I thought for a guy coming in for his first hockey game in the National Hockey League he was really good. He moved his feet, he made some really good decisions with the puck, he handled himself fine in the corners. I think for a first game for a young defenceman, that was a nice game for him.”
He’s been touted for his high-end skating abilities and puck-moving prowess, but even Ference was surprised at how much the rookie wanted the puck.
“Really, really good,” Ference said of his defensive partner’s debut. “He had great composure, fantastic skating ability, he was so calm. I still remember my first game when I didn’t want to touch the puck and he’s handling it and skating up the ice real well, making great plays. Very impressive.”
The Oilers will ice a different lineup tonight against the Ducks than they did last night in a 4-0 loss to the Wild.
“I think anytime a player plays their first game, it’s an exciting time,” Nelson said. “We’re facing a very good hockey team and it’s going to be a great challenge for him. But he’s a guy who can skate very well, he moves the puck well and I’m very excited to watch him play tonight.”
The line combinations are expected as follows:
Ben Scrivens will start in net for the Oilers.
The defensive pairings are expected to be:
The Oilers announced a one-year contract extension for Rob Klinkhammer on Friday morning. The 28-year-old winger and Lethbridge, Alberta native has meshed well on a line with Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks. Since being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade on January 2, Klinkhammer has been more than satisfied with his time in Edmonton.
“It’s gone really well here,” Klinkhammer said. “I really enjoy the guys, I like the staff, top to bottom everyone has been great. I like my role here, I think I’ve got good chemistry with my linemates. I like the responsibility that we have so I love it. I signed a one-year extension with them and I’m really happy with the steps the team is taking. I want to be a part of this rebuild and help the team go in the right direction.”
General Manager Craig MacTavish gave his assessment of Klinkhammer on Friday, saying that he gives the Oilers a solid fourth line moving into next season.
“I just think that he came in and played a role that we needed,” MacTavish said. “He meshed well with Matt Hendricks and Boyd Gordon, which gives us a real good fourth line going into next year. He closed gaps very quickly, he finished every check. So the focus will be on Rob to continue to play the game that way and add some impetuous to our forechecking ability, and he did that. So we wanted to bring him back and put him back in that role and give him that opportunity next year.”
Klinkhammer combines surprising speed with his 6-foot-3, 214-pound frame to provide physicality and aggression on the forecheck. In 157 NHL games, Klinkhammer has 41 points (20-21-41).
Jeff Petry is maybe the Oilers most high-profile pending free agent. The 27-year-old defenceman has shown steady growth over the last six weeks or so, and with the trade deadline approaching the Oilers have a decision to make.
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said today that they’re in conversations with Petry’s camp on a new contract.
“I’ll just say this about Jeff, we really challenged him on a one-year contract and he’s clearly met that challenge. His game is at a level I think right now that it hasn’t been at before and I give Jeff a lot of credit for that,” MacTavish said. “As for a contract or what the course of action is going forward, I’ve had many conversations over the last four weeks with Wade Arnott, Jeff’s representative, as you might imagine and they’ve all been constructive conversations but I’m just going to leave it at that and we’ll see what happens going forward.”
Petry also acknowledge the two sides are talking, but gave no further update on progress.
“They’ve had some communication and talks have started and that’s all I can really say at the moment,” Petry said.
“Edmonton has been great to me. Both sides are going to communicate here for the next little bit and see if we can’t find something that works best for both sides.”
Petry was taken in the second round, 46th overall, of the 2006 NHL Draft. He has 294 NHL games under his belt with 17 goals and 74 points. He will not play tonight against the Minnesota Wild as he nurses a rib ailment.
The Oilers acquired Derek Roy in a trade with Nashville on December 29. Since that day, Roy has 12 points (5-7-12) in 23 games for Edmonton, and has made even more of an impact off the stat sheet when it comes to his experience, leadership and positive effect on Nail Yakupov.
The pending 31-year-old unrestricted free agent’s status with the Oilers in the future is unclear, but General Manager Craig MacTavish says they’ll begin conversations with his representation.
“I think with Derek, we’re in the process of reaching out to him to see what his feeling is in terms of getting into a relationship with us going forward,” MacTavish said after morning skate at Rexall Place. “I think that’s something where there will be some things that will impact that relationship going forward. I think as good of a job as Derek has done and as much as he’s fit in well here, that will be something that will be done at the end of the year.”
When it comes to the looming trade deadline on March 2, MacTavish indicated it was unlikely the Oilers would look to move Roy for just any compensation. They value his chemistry with Yakupov and how he’s helped with the young winger’s development, as well as what he brings to the locker room.
“In my mind, we wouldn’t trade Derek for a superficial asset,” MacTavish said. “I think it’s very unlikely that he’ll be moved because of the fact that we have considerable interest in him longer term and he has meshed well with Yak and his development and that’s very important to us and the hockey club going forward.”