READ: First five alumni announced Thursday | WATCH: Farewell Rexall Place Series
In less than two weeks, Oil Country will celebrate the last NHL game in Rexall Place history.
The Wednesday, April 6 game vs. Vancouver and post-game farewell ceremony will feature 100+ Oilers alumni in attendance. Each day leading up to the game, we’ll announce five Oilers alumni who are scheduled to attend.
Fred Brathwaite was an undrafted free agent who earned his first NHL contract with the Oilers in 1993. During his three seasons in the Oilers organization, he split his time between Edmonton and AHL Cape Breton appearing in 40 games at the NHL level before moving on to the IHL’s Manitoba Moose. Brathwaite enjoyed a successful pro career, playing 254 career NHL games over a span of nine seasons with Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis and Columbus.
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Acquired by the Oilers in the Wayne Gretzky trade only months after being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, Martin Gelinas' time with the club would be known for much more than his involvement in the historic trade after helping lead the Oilers to their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years in 1990. In his rookie campaign, Gelinas was a member of the “Kid Line” as a 19 year old alongside Joe Murphy and Adam Graves. Gelinas would go on to play 1273 NHL games with 309 goals and 660 points over 18 seasons.
From Stettler, Alberta, defenceman Bob Falkenberg was a member of the original 1972-73 Alberta Oilers. It was a homecoming of sorts for Falkenberg, who played with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the early 1960s. Falkenberg played two seasons with the Oilers plus two additional games in 1977-78 at the end of his career. Over his time with the WHA Oilers, Falkenberg had five goals and 46 points in 158 games.
Marty McSorley joined the Oilers in 1985 after being acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In three seasons with the Oilers, McSorley had 22 goals and 55 points in 160 games plus 647 penalty minutes before being moved to Los Angeles in the Gretzky trade. McSorley returned to Edmonton for one more season in 1998-99 and had two goals and five points plus 101 penalty minutes in 46 games. In his NHL career, McSorley had 108 goals and 359 points in 961 games. His 3381 career penalty minutes ranks fourth all-time in NHL history.
“The Magic Man” Kent Nilsson was a trade deadline acquisition for the Oilers from the Minnesota North Stars in 1987 and had an immediate impact in helping the Oilers win their third Stanley Cup. He had five goals and 17 points in 17 regular season games to finish the 1986-87 regular season and then added six goals and 19 points in 21 playoff games. After a stint in Europe, Nilsson returned to the Oilers during the 1994-95 season for six games at the end of his career, scoring one goal. After his playing career, Nilsson also worked as a European scout for the Oilers.
Korpikoski-RNH-Yak, Maroon-Draisaitl-Eberle, Hall-MCDavid-Kassian, Cracknell-Letestu-Pak, Sekera-Fayne, Reinhart-Clendening, Pardy-Oesterle— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) March 12, 2016
Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse has been suspended three games for his incident late in the game on Tuesday against San Jose versus Sharks defenceman Roman Polak.
Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse suspended 3 games under Rule 46.2 Aggressor of an altercation with San Jose’s Roman Polak. https://t.co/bdqX4tDHLr— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 10, 2016
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media at 6:30 PM MST to talk about the three trades the team made on Saturday. The press conference was streamed live right here on edmontonoilers.com. Watch the archive here:
The Oilers made a couple of related moves on Saturday morning, dealing goaltender Anders Nilsson to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2016 fifth-round pick as well as Niklas Lundstrom.
The Oilers also recalled goaltender Laurent Brossoit from the AHL's Bakersfield Condors.
Brossoit is 15-9-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .919 save percentage on the year in addition to being named to the AHL All-Star Game. In his two career NHL games he has a 1.45 GAA and .945 SPCT.
Lundstrom's played 13 games with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals this season (8-3-0, 2.92 GAA, .929 SPCT). He's also suited up four times with the AHL's Chicago Wolves.
Forward lines are:
Oilers forward Zack Kassian makes his return to Montreal for the first time since being traded in late December in exchange for Ben Scrivens. Kassian describes his time in Montreal as a turning point in his career despite never having suited up in a regular season game for the team.
“I never really sat down and thought about repercussions, what I was doing or who I was affecting or how it was affecting my career,” he said after practice at the Bell Centre on Friday. “That accident really was an eyeopener for me. At the time obviously it was very tough to handle. I embarrassed my family, my friends and the organization. But when something like that happens you really have to look at yourself in the mirror.”
The accident Kassian speaks of was an early-morning vehicle accident where he was a passenger in which he broke his nose and foot. He entered Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA shortly afterwards.
“I felt like that was my rock bottom. Sometimes they talk about that, you have to hit a rock bottom to really grasp the concept of what you’re doing. I felt like that was my rock bottom and I didn’t want to go back there.”
Kassian has used that feeling of rock bottom to help guide himself and make the right choices but hasn't let it change who he is.
“I’m still the same person. I know what’s at stake and I know what I have and I have to stay on top of it. But I’m still the same guy in the room, the same guy on the ice. It’s just me growing up.”
Oilers forward Matt Hendricks has been shifted to the middle between Lauri Korpikoski and Iiro Pakarinen. So far, the trio has enjoyed some success particularly last game in Ottawa when they combined for four points.
Hendricks was asked about his on-ice success with the two Finns.
“First off, I’m playing with two great guys in Lauri and Iiro. They’re both very defence-orientated where they can help protect me in the middle a bit. I’m still getting my feet wet, getting used to playing a new position I haven’t played in awhile. They’re protecting me and helping me with net-front coverage in the defensive zone.”
The three players have been a force both offensively and defensively. Even when not putting up points on the scoresheet, they've pinned the opposition deep in their own end for lengthy periods of time which naturally has positive effects.
“They’re both skilled. They both like to make plays, they both like to shoot the puck. And they’re hard to play against down low in the offensive zone. Team defenders have a hard time staying on them and staying with them.”
Hendricks was asked if he's been brushing up on his Finnish now that he's playing with the two players from Finland.
“I look at them and ask, ‘what are you guys talking about? I’m not that bad, am I?’ and they start laughing. It’s all good. We’re having a good time together right now.”
Korpikoski laughed when asked about the foreign language speak between himself and Pakarinen.
“It’s better that me and Iiro talk finish and keep him on the outside. He doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s better that way,” Korpikoski remarked.
Forward lines today are:
Lander rotating in down the middle.
The defence pairings have changed:
The Oilers are on the ice for an optional morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
Forwards on the ice are: Hall, Draisiatl, McDavid, Eberle, Yakupov, Pakarinen and Lander
Not on the ice: Pouliot, Hendricks, Kassian, Letestu, Korpikoski
Defencemen on the ice: Fayne, Gryba, Clendening, Davidson, Schultz, Reinhart and Nurse
Defencemen not on the ice: Sekera
Cam Talbot will start tonight in goal.