Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli has overhauled the franchise’s goalie depth. Both of the netminders, Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson, who are playing for the Oilers currently were brought in by Chiarelli. Eetu Laurikainen down in the AHL was also brought in after Chiarelli signed on this past April.
“We’re slowly pecking away at it,” Chiarelli said of the club’s depth at the goalie position.
With Talbot playing well and signing a three-year extension on Sunday, Nilsson performing well during a stretch earlier this season and Laurent Brossoit having an All-Star season in the AHL, things are looking up at that position for the Oilers.
“I feel better about it by having Cam under contract,” said Chiarelli. “For a stretch there, Anders was carrying the mail for us. Laurent has had a terrific year in the American League, he’s in the All-Star Game. Laurikainen has been back and forth between Europe and here and he’s got to get his game going, but I feel better about it. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel better about it by having Cam under contract.”
BLOGS & FEATURES
- FUTURE WATCH: Kassian Recalled and Ready
- BLOG: Oilers hit the ice in San Jose
- BLOG: Kassian Recalled
- BLOG: Kassian Welcomed with Open Arms
- BLOG: Kassian is fit, but needs reps
- BLOG: Kassian could bring what Oilers are looking for
- BLOG: Yak is Back
- OILERS TODAY | Return Factor
- THE PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
- MINORS MINUTE | Eetu Makes it Reign
- PRACTICE RAW | Zack Kassian
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
Nail Yakupov is expected to make his return from an ankle injury tomorrow against San Jose. The Oilers winger has missed 21 games, sitting out since November 27.
“I expect him to play,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “That could certainly change when he comes off the ice or if things havent gone well medically, but all indications are he’s real close to playing.”
Zack Kassian probably wasn’t too worried about meeting his new teammates when he received word the Oilers had recalled him from the Condors. Already, down in Bakersfield, Kassian felt welcomed and was excited to contribute.
“It was a great group of guys down there, great coaching staff and really nice facilities,” said Kassian. “I was more than excited to get the opportunity to go down there and start playing again. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
Now that he’s up with Edmonton, Kassian says the big club has welcomed him in the same way.
“The whole team came up to me and welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “That’s the way the hockey community is. It’s tough to find a bad guy in the league. Everyone knows what people go through with trades. Every team I’ve been on has been very supportive and very open.”
Kassian was acquired from Montreal in a trade in December.
As a part of the whole process in getting back to the NHL, Zack Kassian has kept himself in good shape. He passed the fitness testing and is four games into his season, having played down in the AHL with Bakersfield.
“I feel good,” said Kassian. “Obviously, with the hands, I’ve only played four games. All-in-all, I feel really good. I did some fitness testing and did well in that. I’m just excited to get into games.”
Kassian’s excitement will almost certainly provide a boost tomorrow against San Jose, but that can only take a player so far. He may need some time to get back up to NHL game speed. However, Kassian’s familiarity with the conference and the league could help him feel it out quicker.
“He’s got NHL experience in all these buildings,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He played out in the Western Conference a lot, he understands his opponent. He’s mature. He knows enough to know what to expect and he’s in tremendous condition. Now, is his timing and awareness at the NHL level elite yet? He’s got to play to get that.”
Always looking for ways to improve, the Oilers recalled Zack Kassian. Head Coach Todd McLellan was asked if the team’s three straight losses accelerated the call-up schedule for Kassian, who has played just four games down in Bakersfield. The coach said he’s not sure about that, but knows Kassian can bring characteristics the club wants.
“We’re always trying to get better,” said McLellan. “Do we do it if we’d won five or six in a row? I don’t know. With the situation we’re in, we’re trying to get better and we think he has size, strength and some abrasiveness to his game, but he also has puck skills. Those are things we’re looking for as a team right now and perhaps he can provide that earlier than we thought he might.”
The Oilers have hit the ice at the SAP Center in San Jose. Zack Kassian is among the forwards skating, wearing white.
Early in @EdmontonOilers practice but Zack Kassian skating with Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov.— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) January 13, 2016
Stay tuned for more from San Jose.
The Oilers have recalled forward Zack Kassian from the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors.
Kassian was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade on December 28. The forward has played in 198 NHL games since being taken 13th overall in 2009. He has played for the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks.
Down in Bakersfield, Kassian has one goal on nine shots and six penalty minutes in four games.
The level of physicality in Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers may have surprised some. The number of hits, fights, and tough physical play was high. Head Coach Todd McLellan was pleased with how the Oilers answered after the opening frame.
“It wasn’t very hard in the first period, and then we finally decided we were going to at least engage a little bit. Then the game became hard, which was good for us to play in,” said McLellan.
Eric Gryba landed two big hits on Corban Knight, the first of which resulted in a fight with Nick Bjugstad. Matt Hendricks levelled Aaron Ekblad behind the net, which didn’t draw a penalty, but drew anger from the Panthers. Hendricks fought Logan Shaw after that, his second scrap of the game after an earlier bout with Alex Petrovic.
“I thought that’s as good a response to physicality I’ve seen from our team this year and probably in my seven years in San Jose when we played Edmonton,” said McLellan.
Taylor Hall was checked hard at centre by Erik Gudbranson. While that hit didn’t spark certain fireworks, McLellan approved of the response.
“I thought it was excellent,” said the coach. “I thought we went and played physical after that. I thought it was great. If you think we’re going to jump off the bench and run after him and jump him, it’s not happening. That’s not the way the game is played anymore. After that, I thought we were physical.”
All in all, the Oilers managed to limit the Panthers shots on net and keep up physically with a team that is hot right now. Unfortunately, the Oilers dropped the 2-1 decision.
“I thought we were aggressive. We kept the team that has 12 wins (in a row) now, I think we gave up 14 shots at the end of the night. Lost the game, not happy about it. We attempted 68 at their net. I thought we answered the physical bell.”
The Oilers seemed to be coming back. They outshot the Panthers 14-2 in the second period, after falling behind 2-1 in the first.
They were hitting and playing physical and logging zone time. Unfortunately, that fizzled away toward the end of the game as Florida sat back in protection mode.
“I thought we were attacking until about seven minutes or six minutes left in the game,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “They went to a real good, solid, five guys back, stack up the red line. We had trouble coming through it. There was a sense of frustration that seeped into our game. They’ve won 12 because they have the ability to do that. They do a good job of it.”
The Oilers and Panthers tied for seven shots a piece in the third. Florida blocked 23 shots for the game.