Orientation Camp: Connor McDavid | Darnell Nurse | Leon Draisaitl
Stories & Analysis: The Panel on Free Agency & McDavid | In Focus: Free Agency Day
More Free Agency: Chiarelli | Mark Letestu Interview & Highlights | Letestu Interview on 630 CHED
For the first time, first-overall pick Connor McDavid stepped onto the ice at Rexall Place.
"Today was a lot of fun," said McDavid. "The fitness testing wasn't a whole lot of fun but really cool to throw on the Oilers gear, the gear that I want to play the rest of my life wearing. It was pretty cool to put it on. With all the history, it was a lot of fun."
It was a power skating lesson, which McDavid thought was very good for both himself and the other prospects.
"That circle stuff, one foot, a lot of edges. I thought it was really good," he said. "Skating is so important. You've always got to be working on it so it was good we got a chance to do that."
The centre was asked about how it feels to be in Edmonton and now be part of an NHL organization.
"It's going to take a little while for it to sink in. It still feels surreal. It's hard to picture being part of an NHL organization, never mind the Edmonton Oilers with such a storied background.
"I visited a couple weeks ago and I've only been here a little bit now. It's a great city. It seems really nice. I'm really enjoying it."
At the end of Wednesday's practice, Darnell Nurse selected Connor McDavid as the practice's first star. The 'first star' is a tradition which has carried on from Oklahoma City where the player previously selected first star chooses someone else at the end of practice with all players around the centre ice circle. The chosen one then has to take a lap around the ice.
With no prior first star, with Nurse's OKC experience, Fleming selected him as the one to pass the torch. Nurse, of course, selected McDavid.
"I'm not picking on him, I just let him do a lap," Nurse chuckled. "It was fun out there. It was something we did in OKC when Gerry (Fleming) was on the ice. He asked 'who will do first star?' and I said 'I'll do it for you' and we had a little fun."
McDavid said that he saw the selection coming from a mile away.
"Me and Nurse, we're good buddies. I saw it coming when they said they were doing that. It was a lot of fun," McDavid stated.
Nurse said he's excited to have McDavid as his teammate at the NHL level.
"Thank God I don't have to play against him anymore," he laughed. "He's a special player. Any time you get the opportunity to add a guy like that to your team, it makes the organization a lot better," Nurse noted. "We played against each other and battled against each other for a few years now and had the opportunity to play together at World Juniors. Not only is he a great player, he's a great guy. It's always good to joke around with him and have some fun."
The big defenceman said that the atmosphere around the team has been very positive in camp so far.
"It's really exciting. You can tell everyone is upbeat, looking forward to September and October. I'm looking forward to do what I can to make the team."
As for his own personal goals for next season? Nurse simply wants to make the team.
"My goal is definitely to come in here and earn a job. I just have to go out there and work as hard as I can. I can only control what I do."
"I've known him for about 24 hours now so there's not much I can say," Draisaitl remarked. "All I can say is he seems like a very nice, very humble guy and obviously everybody knows what he's capable of on the ice. He's a special guy and I think the whole organization should be very excited about him."
Draisaitl was also excited about some of the moves the Oilers have made in the past week, bringing in defencemen Eric Gryba, Andrej Sekera and Griffin Reinhart, goaltender Cam Talbot and forwards Lauri Korpikoski and Mark Letestu.
"It's pretty hard to miss those acquisitions and trades we've made. I think it's good. We're doing the right moves and now it's time to get ready for the season."
As for himself, the goal hasn't changed for Draisiatl as he looks to make the team next season. Being his second Orientation Camp, however, he is taking on a bigger role within the group.
"I have to try and take more leadership than I did last year. Obviously, it's my second year but at the same time I'm coming in with the same mindset as I did last year. I want to be here and I want to play on this team. It's going to be the same mindset as last year."
Mark Letestu Interview & Highlights | Mark Letestu Interview on 630 CHED
The Oilers have agreed to terms with free agent centre Mark Letestu on a three-year contract.
Letestu, 30, has played 318 NHL games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Elk Point, AB native has 127 points (58-69-127) in his career and has played 17 playoff games, recording a goal and three assists.
In 2014-15, Letestu posted 13 points (7-6-13) in 54 games for the Blue Jackets. His best NHL season came in 2013-14 when he scored 12 goals and added 22 assists for a career high 34 points.
He was 52.9% on faceoffs this past season.
Letestu played college hockey at Western Michigan University for one season before going pro.
The Oilers have agreed to terms with free agent defenceman Andrej Sekera on a six-year contract.
Sekera, 29, is a 486-game NHL veteran. He has played for the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings since joining the league as a third-round pick (71st overall) in 2004.
Sekera has 159 points (31-128-159) in his NHL career. In 2014-15, Sekera played 57 games for the Hurricanes, scoring two goals and adding 17 assists. He was traded to Los Angeles on February 25, and played 16 games, scoring a goal and adding three assists.
His best NHL production, point-wise, came in 2013-14 when he recorded 44 points (11-33-44) in 74 games for Carolina.
He is a 6-foot-0, 201-pound native of Slovakia. He represented his country at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Oilers have announced they have traded centre Boyd Gordon to the Arizona Coyotes, in exchange for winger Lauri Korpikoski.
Korpikoski, 28, is a left winger from Finland. He was taken 19th overall in the first round of the 2004 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward has played in 469 NHL games over the course of his career and has recorded 68 goals, 91 assists and 112 penalty minutes. He has played 30 NHL playoff games, scoring two goals and adding three assists.
In 2014-15, Korpikoski scored six goals and added 15 assists for 21 points in 69 games with Arizona.
Gordon returns to the Coyotes where he played from 2011-2013.
|2002-2003||TPS Turku U18-Fin-U18||21||7||4||11||10|
|2003-2004||TPS Turku U18-Fin-U18|
|2003-2004||TPS Turku Jr.-Fin-Jr.||36||12||8||20||20|
|2004-2005||TPS Turku Jr.-Fin-Jr.||3||3||0||3||0|
|2005-2006||TPS Turku Jr.-Fin-Jr.||1||1||0||1||2|
|2005-2006||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||5||2||1||3||0||0||1||0||0|
|2006-2007||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||78||11||27||38||8||23||3||1||2|
|2007-2008||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||79||23||27||50||20||71||6||2|
|2008-2009||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||4||4||2||6||7||0||1||0||1|
|2003-2004||TPS Turku U18-Fin-U18||4||5||3||8||0||16|
|2003-2004||TPS Turku Jr.-Fin-Jr.||4||0||2||2||0||4||0||0.0|
|2005-2006||TPS Turku Jr.-Fin-Jr.||0||0||0.0|
|2005-2006||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||11||1||0||1||-4||2||1||0||0|
|2006-2007||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||7||0||0||0||-1||0||0||0||0|
|2007-2008||Hartford Wolf Pack-AHL||5||1||1||2||-5||0||0||0|
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today the club has issued qualifying offers to defencemen Brandon Davidson and Justin Schultz, as well as winger Tyler Pitlick.
Schultz, 24, is the most experienced of the three. He has played 203 NHL games, recording 91 points (25-66-91), for the Oilers since the 2012-13 season. In 2014-15, Schultz played 81 games, posting six goals, 25 assists, 12 penalty minutes and a -17 rating.
Davidson, 23, was taken 162nd overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut this past season on December 10, 2014. He scored his first NHL goal on March 30, 2015. Davidson played 55 games this season for the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League, recording 10 points (4-6-10) and 43 penalty minutes and a +10 rating.
Pitlick, 23, played 17 NHL games this season, scoring two goals. He has played 27 NHL games in his career since being taken 31st overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He had nine points (3-6-9) in 14 AHL games this season with the Barons.
Former Oilers defenceman Chris Pronger has been inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Pronger joins Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Phil Housley as the four players in the Class of 2015.
Pronger played just one season for the Oilers in 2005-06, recording 56 points (12-44-56) and 74 penalty minutes. In the Oilers ’06 Cup run, Pronger posted 21 points (5-16-21) in 24 games.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound defenceman has played 1,167 NHL games in his career for the Oilers, the Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers. Pronger won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.
Pronger, 40, won the 1997 World Championship with Canada. He is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and won gold at the 1993 World Junior Championship.
Pronger was a workhorse, averaging more than 30 minutes per game in two seasons with the Blues and more than 25 minutes per game every season from 1998-99 to 2009-10.
The Oilers made Caleb Jones the 117th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Sports run in the family.
His father, Popeye Jones is a retired NBA player. His older brothers play hockey and one of them, Seth, was the fourth overall pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Needless to say, they’re a competitive bunch. Caleb enjoyed the thought of maybe one day playing against Seth. What is the first thing he’d do?
“Ask him to fight probably,” Jones laughed. “No, but it will be good. We’ve always had battles. Even in basketball, 1-on-1, or on the ice when we were just practicing together. Maybe seeing him on the other side of the blue line one day would be pretty fun.”
Caleb compares his style of play to Seth.
“I think I play a bit like my brother,” said the 6-foot-0, 194-pound defenceman. “I think we’re both two-way defencemen. I think I’m more of a physical and aggressive player than he is but I say, in sense of the whole entire game, we’re pretty alike.”
Seth helps his younger brother train in the off-season.
“He’s been really big for me,” said Caleb. “I’ve trained with him the past three summers and he’s really pushed me. He’s consistent with his work ethic every day. It has really taught me what it takes to get to the next level and be a pro.”
Cam Talbot says the Oilers expressed interest in him as soon as the season ended. That interest got real serious on Saturday, with the Oilers eventually trading three draft picks to the New York Rangers to acquire the 27-year-old goaltender.
“I was excited to come to a team that has so much potential and upside right now,” said Talbot. “They’re kind of rebuilding and retooling. It’s going to be an exciting time and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
Talbot has watched the Oilers very closely over the last few months. He watched as they made Bob Nicholson CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group, added Peter Chiarelli as President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, and then when they hired Todd McLellan as their new Head Coach.
“I’ve definitely been paying attention to all those changes because, as soon as our season ended, I knew Edmonton was one of the teams that was interested,” said Talbot. “When you hear that, you start to notice all the changes they’re making and it feels like they’ve made a lot of great changes for the organization. They’re definitely heading in the right direction. I’m definitely excited to be a part of it.”
Talbot has also paid attention to the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. He’s excited to join this year’s number one overall pick.
“I know the hype but I haven’t really had a chance to see him play,” said Talbot. “With all the hype, it’s going to be an exciting time. From what I hear, he’s going to be a generational player. Any time you can get a player like that and throw him into the mix with all the other skilled forwards that are on this team it’s going to be a pretty good combination of skill and talent up front. I’m really excited to be a part of this team and the process moving forward.”