Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry is one of the first 15 players announced to the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team, which will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus.
The blueliner played in 80 games this season for the Oilers, scoring 17 points (7-10-17). He averaged the second-most time on ice per game this season for the team, playing an average of 21:35 per game. He led all Oilers in hits with 181 and blocked shots with 132.
Petry is one of six defencemen chosen thus far to represent the U.S.
- RAW | Craig MacTavish Press Conference
- ANALYSIS | Tom Gazzola & Chris Wescott Speak Following Press Conference
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish spoke to the media at length on Tuesday. He opened with about five or six minutes worth of opening remarks:
"My assessment of the year was, the season started with high expectations. We had, internally, high expectations for our group at the start and right from the start of the year things didn’t go well. We didn’t live up to the expectations we had internally nor the expectations of our fans in terms of our performance level.
"We didn’t function well. With all the change, we struggled mightily early in the year and played catch-up ever since. It was exactly the start we didn’t want and we tried to overcome all year long."
MacTavish reiterated that the team's goal is not to simply build a playoff team, but one that is able to regularly challenge for championships.
"We’re building a team that’s going to be capable of winning a Stanley Cup. That’s what we’re doing," the GM continued. "I think I’ve got a pretty good idea on the pulse of our fans and what our fans want. It’s been a painful process for them as well as us. Every decision I make starts with that first question, that’s the vision for our group."
MacTavish talked further about the type of player he wants to add to the organization -- and the type of players he has added over his 12-month tenure as general manager.
"We want character. When I took the job over, my mandate was to bring in leadership. We want hard working people, we want competitive people. The strategy is really a simple one. The sophistication is in the execution of that strategy," he said. "I want players on our bench, when that puck goes in our net to feel as bad as the coach."
As he has done throughout the season, even in trying times, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish emphatically got behind his head coach on Tuesday.
"I’m more confident in my decision to hire Dallas Eakins than the day I hired him. I’m more convinced that this is the right coach to lead us into much more successful times. Time will prove, in my mind, that this coach was a very good hire for our organization. I really feel like he’s the guy to add the culture element that are necessary to build the quality team that we’re trying to build."
MacTavish felt that Eakins handled what was a season with a lot of adversity extremely well.
"The thing I like about Dallas is he’s relentless. In spite of the ups and downs, the messaging has all stayed the same," he said. "It’s quite clear to me in watching the development of our group over the last 30 games or so that the players are buying into the leadership of the head coach."
The GM was also asked about the assistant coaches, which he noted are the hires of Eakins and that it is the bench boss's call on whether they come back next season.
"I will sit down with Dallas at the end of the year, after a week or so, to let emotions subside for a bit. My sense is that we have the right people. We have the right coaches in place and it’s my responsibility to support those coaches in any way I can."
MacTavish did say that he felt the assistant coaches have a lot to offer.
"The head coach should decide what his staff is. It’s important that he has the absolute right mixes of coaches for him. We explored other coaches, we brought in Keith Acton as an associate coach last year," he began.
"Kelly Buchberger has a lot of great traits in my mind and he adds to this hockey club. But ultimately, it’s the head coach's decision," MacTavish also praised Steve Smith, adding "I really feel like this staff started to function well together at the end of the year."
One thing Oilers GM Craig MacTavish stressed in his end-of-season press conference was that if he adds a defenceman, he wants it to be of the high-end variety.
"I want to add a very high-end defenceman. To me, I don't want be adding anything in the middle. If I can get something that can move the dial on the back end of our team (I'll do it)," MacTavish began, adding that the move has to make sense for him to do it.
"If we get something that makes sense, we’ll make that change. I’ve got some specific personnel pieces and objectives in mind. I won’t be adding anything middle of the road to this defence core."
Last season, the team added a handful of depth defencemen such as Anton Belov, Denis Grebeshkov, Philip Larsen and others but MacTavish now feels that the young blueliners are ready to step in, hence the need for someone at the upper end of the spectrum.
"Everybody had a pretty good idea of Oscar Klefbom’s ability at the end of this year. He was outstanding, as was Justin Schultz, Martin Marincin, Jeff Petry — for some of the criticism he took at times, had a career year."
MacTavish added that Darnell Nurse is also performing well right now in Oklahoma City and isn't too far off.
"There’s a lot of optimism internally. If we have to go young, we go young."
One big offseason priority for the team is to add some secondary scoring for the club. MacTavish talked about going either the signing route or trading route to make that happen.
"That’s an area we’ve identified that we’d like to improve in. We’ll be trying to do all those things to try and get a more productive second line," MacT began. "If Hall, Eberle, RNH are going to continue to play together we need a more productive second line. We’d (also) like to get more secondary scoring out of the third line."
The GM was confident that he could bring in free agents if it came to that.
"I haven’t lost the passion for selling our situation. I was never great in sales but when you’re passionate about something and believe in something, you can sell it," he said. "It has a lot to do with resources. Outside of the city of Edmonton, there’s a lot of optimism out there."
He added that the types of players that he wants to acquire are those which enjoy and thrive in playing in a passionate hockey market like Edmonton.
"Players that we’d like to acquire will find that extremely fulfilling and rewarding professionally."
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish will be speaking to the media at 11:00 a.m. MDT.
Click here to listen live via 630 CHED's website.
You can also listen to the press conference live directly in the Oilers Mobile App by clicking on the "Radio" tab in the top left or by going to the menu and choosing "LIVE RADIO".
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish will address the media at the Oilers Head Office on Tuesday in his usual end-of-season media availability. Stay tuned to edmontonoilers.com for full coverage.
#Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish will host a media availability tomorrow at 11am. We'll be live-tweeting the GM's comments.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 15, 2014
The Bakersfield Condors, the Edmonton Oilers ECHL affiliate, have signed winger Mitch Holmberg for the purposes of adding him to their playoff roster. Holmberg, 21, was on an amateur try-out with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.
The Sherwood Park, AB native won the Western Hockey League’s Bobby Clarke Trophy, given to the top scorer in the league. He finished the season with 62 goals and 56 assists for 118 points in 72 games.
Holmberg is just one of three players to score 60+ goals in a single WHL season since 2000-01.
The Oilers are holding their year-end media availability at Rexall Place this morning where a large portion of the leadership group, including head coach Dallas Eakins are expected to address the media. Stay tuned for regular updates throughout the day.
- YEAR-END RAW | Andrew Ference
- YEAR-END RAW | Justin Schultz
- YEAR-END RAW | Taylor Hall
- YEAR-END RAW | Jordan Eberle
- YEAR-END RAW | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- YEAR-END RAW | David Perron
- YEAR-END RAW | Ryan Smyth
- YEAR-END RAW | Dallas Eakins
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was asked about Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin, two young defencemen who made a lot of strides this season in their first NHL seasons. He was asked if he could see both starting next season with the Oilers.
“I think both those young men came in and got their foot in the door. A lot can happen,” said Eakins. “Both messages were the same to them. You’ve got your foot in the door, you got some great experience, you both look like you’re going to be good NHL players. You’ll make the decision at camp.”
Eakins added that if they did make it, that could influence whether another young blueliner like Darnell Nurse or any potential 2014 draft choices might make it.
“I can’t remember a team ever having that many young defencemen,” Eakins said.
The coach was also asked about plans for the duo this offseason. Klefbom was sent to the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons this morning but Marincin was not.
“(Marincin) needed to be on their roster at the deadline. We made the decision then not to send him. We had D down there that were playing. We thought Marty had done enough to play at this level,” Eakins stated. “We wanted him to get on with his strength and the World Championships were in the mix at the time, we were thinking about it.”
Marincin, who participated in the Olympics, will play for Slovakia at the World Championships.