The 22-year-old Taylor Hall is coming off his best season offensively, with 80 points (27-53-80). Hall says his main focus going into camp this year is his defensive play. Should he become even more of a complete player, that’s scary for opponents.
When asked if he is ahead of where he was defensively to start the season last year, Hall didn’t know. However, he says it is on his radar to improve in that category.
“I haven’t played any games yet so I think time will tell, but that’s definitely been a bigger focus of mine this year coming into camp,” he said. “Maybe in past years I’ve been looking forward to getting points and stuff. I want to round out my game as best I can so that from the start of the year I don’t have any glaring deficiencies and I’m helping out my team the best I can.”
Nail Yakupov is one of the players the Oilers will want to take his play to the next level if they want to have a successful season. After some adversity last season, Yakupov is ready to turn the page and put the past in the past.
The Oilers winger brought up the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and how they put the past behind them and just focus on the year ahead. Yakupov wants the Oilers to do the same.
“You’ve got to be positive this year, because if you’re going to think about all of the negative from last year I don’t think that’s good,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you did not make the playoffs or if you won the Stanley Cup like Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure they forgot about last season and they forgot that they want to win the Stanley Cup. They just want to improve on things and try to win another one. As an Oiler, as a team and as our teammates I am pretty sure we want to be in the playoffs first and then fight for a Stanley Cup. We have to stay positive and not think about last year and what place we were. Let’s start from a new page.”
The Oilers added Teddy Purcell this off-season, along with Niktita Nikitin, Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot and Keith Aulie. Purcell says he expects that group to come in and help the Oilers be more competitive, though they alone are not there to save the day.
“We’re not going to come in and save the day but I think we’re going to add some good depth,” Purcell said. “Everyone knows this is a very tough conference and our opponents are all big-bodied guys that I think wear teams down pretty well. We have the skill to compete with those guys, where I think if we add the depth that we did and a bit of size that it will help us in the long run.”
Purcell says he senses that the young, talented players in the locker room are hungry and ready to stop losing and start winning. Purcell hopes the new faces in the locker room can help with that.
“Those top guys have been in the league a little bit. I think they’re becoming hungrier and they’re ready to prove that they’re the guys to take this team to the next level. I think with some fresh faces around the room it brings in some energy and everyone comes into camp refreshed, especially after a long summer that these guys had. The mood around the room is good and hopefully we can keep that going forward heading into camp.”
“That’s not really my problem to worry about how people want to label us,” Scrivens said. “Whether we are a tandem that switches back and forth or one of us takes the reins and runs with it, that’s going to be a decision for the coaching staff. But I don’t think the team is going to care who is in as long as we are giving the team a chance to win. That’s the biggest thing, not being a liability when either one of us is in net. However it shakes out that it happens we need to give this team good goaltending.”
Oilers David Perron is listed as the right winger on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Leon Draisaitl to start camp. Perron was asked about switching over to the right side and he says it is something he is familiar with, and he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him to contribute.
“I’ve always kind of preferred the left side but I’ve had success both sides,” Perron said. “I think one of my strengths, and what Dallas liked about me last year, was I could move from the first to second to third line and try to contribute and that’s what I’m going to be looking to do again this year.”
Perron gets an opportunity to skate with the third-overall pick in this year’s draft. He says he is not too familiar with Draisaitl but knows the big centre’s playmaking potential.
“I haven’t really seen him. All I’ve heard is about his playmaking skills obviously and how big he is. It looks like I will be starting with him for camp and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to do. I’ve heard that he’s a hard worker and as long as he’s doing that, I’m sure he’s going to be fine.”
Jordan Eberle is an offensive weapon for the Oilers. The winger is coming off of a 65-point season (28-37-65) but he sees room for improvement.
The Oilers are hoping for Eberle to take it to the next level and he not only understands that but he respects it. Eberle says as if the team is going to be more competitive, players like himself need to take the next step.
“We touched on it at the end of the year last year,” Eberle said. “I’ve definitely shown I can be a dominant player in this league. I think with the team we have now, with the talent and depth-wise, I think that’s only going to help individually. That being said, I think I still have another level to reach.
“I’m still a young player, I’ve shown I can do it but it’s just doing it on a consistent basis. I think I made strides in becoming a better player last year especially. Obviously, they need more out of me production-wise and defensively if this team is going to do well. I think for this team to take the next step, obviously I have to do the same thing.”
The Edmonton Oilers will skate in three different groups when they open on-ice training camp tomorrow morning.
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford
When Bogdan Yakimov came to Edmonton from Russia, all he could think about was training camp and competing for a spot with the Oilers. That day has finally come as the team reports to camp tomorrow and takes the ice Friday.
“I can’t wait. I’ve waited three months, I’ve practiced three months and all summer. It was such a hard time for me. Just a couple more days and camp starts. I’m so excited,” he said.
The Oilers third round pick (83rd overall) in 2013, had three goals in all three games he played this week with the Oilers Rookies. He scored against the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames prospects at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. He added a goal tonight against the Golden Bears.
“Three goals is good? Three goals is good yes, but I need to keep going up and I hope I can keep scoring every game,” Yakimov said.
Oilers Rookies Head Coach Todd Nelson was impressed with Yakimov’s skill level. Match that with his size (6-foot-5, 232 pounds) and he makes for an intriguing centre prospect to watch.
“I think he’s going to have a good training camp,” Nelson said. “I think it’s really interesting for everybody to see how he does against against NHL players. What he showed me over these games that he played was that he’s more skilled than I expected. I knew he had skill but I never saw it at Orientation Camp this past summer in Jasper and also the year before. But I saw it these last two games and it is nice to see a big guy who has some skill to him.”
Yakimov is also ready to see how he matches up with NHL players. He seemed to match up well against the competition he’s already faced.
“I want to see (what it’s like to play against) NHL players,” he said. “The speed, the strength, the smarts. These are the best players in the world. I want to feel the NHL game.”
The Oilers drafted Kellen Jones in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Both he and his twin brother Connor are signed to Standard Player Contracts.
Kellen got a goal tonight for the Oilers Rookies against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. His brother Connor chipped in in his own way by blocking shots, without his stick, on a penalty kill in the third period.
“Both of those guys are hard not to like, sacrificing their bodies in an exhibition games shows how much heart they have and that they’re tremendous workers,” Oilers Rookies Head Coach Todd Nelson said. “They never quit and for Connor to put himself on the line, he’s an unselfish guy and his brother is the same way. They’re very likeable because of how they work so hard and how they sacrifice.”
Connor say he and his brother do what it takes to win and tonight, that meant one of the brothers taking a couple of pucks to the body to prevent a goal.
“I’ve only got one gear. I play to win, I work hard every shift and that’s one thing me and Kellen try to do in every practice and every game,” Connor Jones said. “I just wanted to win. If blocking shots is what it took to win tonight, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win the game and it just so happened I got hit by those pucks tonight.”
Oilers Owner Daryl Katz was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Wednesday and discussed various topics including Rogers Place Arena construction and the state of the Oilers.
As not only the owner, but as a fan of the team, Katz offered his thoughts on the franchise and the direction they’re headed.
“I’m like any other fan Bob, I live and die by the team,” Katz said. “I’m really pleased with our management team with Kevin Lowe, Bob Nicholson and of course, Craig MacTavish. I can see the makings of progress. You could see from this tournament we were in with our prospects the last few days that anyone who watched the games can see the potential out there on the ice. I’m optimistic that we will be improved over last year. Other than that, I’ll leave it to MacTavish and his management team.”
Katz understands the frustrations pertaining to the team’s lack of on-ice success in the last several years. He had good things to say about the fans and their patience and understanding of the rebuild process.
“Without our fans we wouldn’t be in business and nobody would have jobs,” he said. “I’m one of those fans and the past years have been as tough on me as on anybody. But I have to say that when we decided that we wanted to rebuild the organization and do it right, I said many times that a lot of markets wouldn’t support a rebuild and we’re fortunate enough to be in a market where our fans are sophisticated and understood what we wanted to do.”
Katz continued, “Now, every fan as their own opinion and could take exception relative to some of the decisions that were made. Some will turn out to be good decisions and some have turned out to be bad decisions. But from the outset, we had a plan and we had an objective and the objective was you had to rebuild this team in the spirit of trying to create a team that could compete year-in and year-out and win championships. That’s still our objective and I know everybody from top to bottom of our organization is pursuing that objective. I like the way the team is shaping up and I love to hear fan opinions on (Oilers Now) as to what’s happening with the team and I’ve never been more excited about a season. Hopefully we’ll be able to make everybody proud about being Oilers fans.”