BLOGS
POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 3:17 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

AUDIO: Craig MacTavish on Oilers Now | Leon Draisaitl on Oilers Now

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish joined Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now to discuss winning the draft lottery and the path ahead for the club. MacTavish was asked to describe the runaway top two prospects in the draft, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

McDavid is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft. He recorded 120 points in just 47 games this season for the Erie Otters of the OHL. He leads the OHL in playoff scoring with 23 points in nine games. He also helped lead Team Canada to gold at the 2015 World Junior Championships.

“I think the most productive player the CHL has had in a number of years, but the most dynamic, the most electrifying,” said MacTavish of McDavid. “He is a guy that he looks like a shark when he’s playing hockey. He’s just looking to pounce at any time and he’s looking to get the puck and be in a position that he can get the puck at full speed. He’s got the most dynamic skill set that I’ve seen in a number of years, in terms of just bringing people out of their seats with open-ice plays.”

Eichel is the top American player, and second-ranked North American Skater by Central Scouting. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player this season. As a freshman at Boston University, Eichel compiled 71 points in 40 games.

“Jack Eichel, his open-ice game is excellent as well,” said MacTavish. “He maybe doesn’t put himself in as many positions as Connor would, but he’s a big guy that’s got electrifying speed. He’s at full speed in three strides and he shoots the puck like a BB. What he’s done at the NCAA level, in a more mature league, has been quite incredible for a 17-year-old.”

The Oilers will select first overall at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, FL (June 26-27).

“So much work goes into the draft and so forth. When you get lucky enough to win the lottery, in a year when you have franchise players at the top like you have this year, it’s quite incredible,” said MacTavish.

With the “generational” talents at the top of the draft, MacTavish wasn’t even entertaining the thought that the Oilers might trade the pick.

“No. That would be crazy in my mind.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 2:29 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

At his end-of-season press conference, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish declared next season a, “development” year. This, because of all of the youth currently on the roster and the potential of more on its way. After winning the draft lottery and being gifted with the first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Oilers might have altered their timeline just a bit.

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Wednesday afternoon and he said that things “marginally” change now that they have the opportunity to add one of two “generational” talents that sit at the top of the draft.

If the Oilers selected Connor McDavid, MacTavish says it would give them three of the best, if not the best, players in the CHL playoffs. Leon Draisaitl and his Kelowna Rockets advanced to the WHL Western Conference Final. Darnell Nurse and his Sault Ste. Marie team will tango with McDavid’s Erie Otters in the OHL Western Conference Final.

“I think it marginally changes,” said MacTavish. “I said at the end of the year, before we were fortunate enough to win the lottery, it’d be a very important developmental year for us. I still believe that. We arguably have the three best players in the CHL right now and they’re going to be flowing into the program, certainly Leon. All three will. Next year, Leon is done with his junior eligibility, as is Darnell. The player we pick will be on our team next year.”

All that said, there is still work to do for the Oilers, and MacTavish believes it will be, “a very important developmental year.”

“We also talked about some very critical positions that we need improved upon,” said MacTavish. “Without getting into those specific too much, we’re highly motivated to improve our club so we can make the step everybody has been waiting for for quite some time. I think with a few critical adds, it will still be largely determined by the internal growth of our team and the guys that are flowing into the system for next year. We’ve got to make a few key personnel changes and improvements and I think that could ignite it quickly. It’s not as simple, in our minds, as we got the first pick, we’re off and running. We still need to do the things that we talked about at the end of the year.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.20.2015 / 2:23 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Monday, 04.20.2015 / 2:13 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

On Saturday, the Oilers were the winners of the NHL Draft Lottery and will pick first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. With two “generational” talents at the top of draft boards, the Oilers are in prime position to make a turnaround.

“When this was drawn, I think every fan in this city, every Oilers fan in the country jumped through the roof and we’re so excited. I can tell you, I was sitting at home by myself and all I did was start to smile,” said Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson.

The Oilers haven’t made any definitive announcements on who they will take with the first-overall pick. There are steps left to complete before the draft is held in Sunrise, FL in June.

“In regards to the draft, there are playoff series going on right now and they should be focused on that,” Nicholson said of the top prospects. “We certainly know where we’re going to be picking on draft day, but there’s a process here and we want to live with that process. Saturday was a huge part of the Oilers here in the future. But from where I’m sitting, we have a lot of other things we’re going to look at and we have to make sure we take our time and make sure we get this right.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.20.2015 / 2:11 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

On Monday, Oilers Entertainment Group announced that Bob Nicholson has been named Chief Executive Officer of OEG, effective immediately.

“Today I speak as the CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group and firstly, I want to thank to Daryl Katz,” said Nicholson. “Thanks for this honour. It’s a privilege and there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with this. I’m going to step to the plate and do the best job that I can do and I’m going to really trust my instincts.

Nicholson joined the organization as Vice-Chair of OEG in June of 2014. He will now expand his responsibilities and be much more hands on when it comes to every aspect of the organization, including hockey operations.

Nicholson, who retired as President & CEO of Hockey Canada in 2014, has a history of success overseeing the Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Teams. As OEG continues to formulate their plan of attack moving forward, Nicholson says there are some pillars he wants to build around.

“There are a few words I want to throw out right now: loyalty, trust, teamwork, and that’s not with just the players on the ice. We’re going to have that through our whole organization. As we start to define what this organization is going to be we’re going to build around those words,” he said.

Everyone in the organization will now work under Nicholson moving forward.

“Really, the last 10 months, I’ve been Vice Chair really looking over the whole organization,” said Nicholson. “Now everyone in the organization reports directly to myself so I’m going to be rolling up the sleeves and being much more hands on with every part of the organization.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.20.2015 / 12:14 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oklahoma City Barons will play the San Antonio Rampage in the first round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs.

The series will be a best of five, with the first two games in Oklahoma City on Thursday, April 23 and Saturday, April 25. The rest of the series will be played in San Antonio.

Game 1: April 23, 2015 - 6 p.m. - San Antonio at Oklahoma City

Game 2: April 25, 2015 - 6 p.m. - San Antonio at Oklahoma City

Game 3: April 29, 2015 - 6 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio

Game 4*: May 1, 2015 - 6:30 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio

Game 5*: May 2, 2015 - 6:05 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio

* If Necessary all times listed as MDT

The Barons posted a 3-5-2-2 record against San Antonio this season. This will be the second time the Barons have played the Rampage in the post-season. OKC beat San Antonio in five games (4-1) in 2012.

All Barons games will be available, for a cost, at AHLlive.com.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 7:35 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

RCMP Const. David Wynn, 42, passed away in January following a gun shot wound suffered in St. Albert. Aux. Const. Derek Bond was also shot during the routine license plate check that led to the confrontation, but survived the attack.

This Saturday, Oilers alumni will faceoff against a team of Mounties in a game to support the families of Wynn and Bond at 7:15pm at Servus Place in St. Albert.

The alumni team will include Ryan Smyth, Jason Strudwick and Fernando Pisani. The goal is to help raise funds in support of the families.

On January 27, there was a moment of silence held ahead of the Oilers game at Rexall Place. Wynn’s three sons performed the ceremonial puck-drop to an emotional display of support by the fans in attendance.

Saturday’s game in St. Albert is free to attend; however, chuck-a-puck and cash donations will be collected on site.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.14.2015 / 3:48 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Seven Oilers players could represent their home countries at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Czech Republic.

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have been invited to join Team Canada.

Hall played 53 games this season for the Oilers, recording 38 points (14-24-38). Eberle led the Oilers in scoring with 63 points (24-39-63) in 81 games. He recorded 34 points in the final 35 games of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins established a new career high in goals with 24. He finished the season with 56 points (24-32-56) in 76 games. The centre will only play for Team Canada if and when he has recovered from a foot injury that caused him to miss the final four games of the regular season.

Nail Yakupov has been invited to Team Russia’s selection camp and will try out for a spot. The 21-year-old winger recorded a new career high in points with 33 (14-19-33) in 81 games. He had 21 points after the All-Star break.

Matt Hendricks will join Team USA. The 33-year-old was a locker room leader for the Oilers. He played 71 games this season, scoring eight goals and adding eight more assists with 76 penalty minutes. He also had 220 hits and 72 blocked shots.

Anton Lander and Oscar Klefbom have been invited to join Sweden. Lander is fresh off the best NHL season of his career. The centre recorded six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 38 games. He had eight points in his previous 94 NHL games coming into this season. Klefbom developed nicely into the Oilers Defenceman of the Year, as voted upon by the Edmonton media. He finished the season with 20 points (2-18-20) in 60 games.

The World Championship is scheduled for May 1-17 in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic. San Jose Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan was named the bench boss for Team Canada for the tournament.

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.13.2015 / 7:52 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Monday, 04.13.2015 / 7:51 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish fielded questions about the team’s coaching search at his season debrief press conference at Rexall Place on Monday. Todd Nelson, who led the team to a 17-22-7 record as interim coach, is certainly in the mix. However, MacTavish and the Oilers are determined to take their time with this decision, and that includes waiting for the dust to settle in the coming weeks and possible candidates to show themselves.

“Before I talk about that, I’d be crazy not to acknowledge the good job I feel that Todd did since he took over,” said MacTavish. “I don’t want to get into too much about specifics about what the next coach will look like, but I’ve been consistent in what I’ve said about coaching. I’ve got to let the emotion die down from the season. We’re going to give a fixed amount of time going forward to see what that landscape looks like and then we’re going to make a decision. It really is my experience that you’re better off buying some time before we get to that conclusion.”

MacTavish emphasized development as a key piece to the team getting better in the coming years. That just so happens to be a strength of Nelson’s coaching. Nelson worked down in the American Hockey League on the Oilers farm team in Oklahoma City from 2010 to this season. Strides were made in the games of Anton Lander, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov and others under Nelson’s watch. That is something that is not lost on MacTavish, although the club will still take its time with the hiring process.

“It’s not a wide net, for sure, and I’m not saying we won’t catch Todd in that net ultimately,” MacTavish said of the net they’ll cast for a new coach. “There is no downside for me to take time to make this decision. I’ve had that dialogue with Todd, I’ve communicated very clearly to Todd that I’ve admired the job and respected the job that he’s done. I’ve seen it, much like you have, there has been an improvement in the on-ice performance. Todd gets the lion’s share of the credit for that. There has been personnel changes, that I think have helped as well that I wasn’t able to do with Dallas (Eakins) here. But Todd is a laid-back guy that his messaging has really resonated with this team. Having said all that, I still want to give myself some time to see exactly what the landscape is going forward.”

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