When the Edmonton Oilers signed hulking 6-foot-6 defenceman Keith Aulie in free agency he was excited to get an opportunity to show he belongs in the NHL and that he can bounce back from some injury issues last season. For Aulie, it’s all about coming in and making a positive impact on an already young and talented roster.
“It’s a young group that desperately wants to win,” Aulie said. “Just from playing against them in the past, they’re hard working. It’s going to be exciting. It’s an exciting team. I think there’s a lot of work to be done. Obviously, there’s nowhere to go but up. As young guys, myself and these other guys here with me, we just want to come in and make a positive impact and just help this team out because it’s exciting to be part of a team that’s on an upswing. We understand how much pride this city has in the team and we just can’t wait to make a positive impact.”
Being the bigger, more physically imposing type of defenceman, Aulie feels like he can mesh with the current crop of blueliners on the Oilers roster.
“I’m a shutdown style defenceman. I play from my own end out and try to be aggressive, try to be physical, try to be hard on their forwards, play a safe and solid game and try to kill penalties. I think I compliment our other defencemen pretty well. They’ve laid it out to me what they expect of me and I can’t wait to get going.”
When you look at the top of the Edmonton Oilers forward depth chart there is some real offensive talent there with the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron and Nail Yakupov. Getting the puck to those playmakers is where a guy like Oilers free agent signee Mark Fayne comes in. While the defenceman doesn’t pretend to boast incredible offensive talent himself, where he does excel is getting the puck to those who do.
“I’ve never been known to be a flashy offensive guy,” Fayne said. “I definitely plan on just trying to get them the puck and if there is an option for me to do it I will try.”
That’s what Fayne is looking to bring to his new team in Edmonton: consistency and distribution of the puck.
“Just bringing consistency to the backend. The team has such fire power up front that my job is just to get them the puck and let them do their job.”
The Edmonton Oilers are largely described as a young team. It takes a good leadership core to help a young team take the next step, and in this case that is making the playoffs. Oilers free agent signee Benoit Pouliot was a part of last year’s Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers team. He knows what it takes to create a winning culture and he feels like he can bring some of that knowledge to Edmonton.
“I’ll try my hardest,” Pouliot said. “Some people don’t know how hard it is to get up there. It’s a tough mountain to climb. Once you get going, once you get that feeling that you can do this, you can go far, that’s what happened in New York. It was a good playoff run. It was fun and everyone enjoyed it. You get closer as a team at the same time. Hopefully I can do that here. I know (Oilers Captain) Andrew Ference a little bit. He’s been through it in Boston and he’s one of the best leaders you can have. If guys can follow his lead and I can jump in and help in that department then it’s going to be fun.”
For Pouliot, the key to getting the Oilers going on a successful run is just working the plan that head coach Dallas Eakins and his staff places in front of them.
“The coach puts something out there and you’ve just got to do it. I think Dallas is good for that. He knows the game and he knows how to do it. It’s up to us to be prepared mentally and just do the job we’re supposed to do. Everyone has a different role and is a different type of player. Once you get going, once the guys feel good, the game plan is intact and everyone is following it you can go really far with just that.”
When choosing a destination for himself on day one of free agency, Benoit Pouliot went with Edmonton and all of the pressures that come with playing for a Canadian team. In a Canadian market, the fans are fierce, loyal and passionate about their team and Pouliot embraces that. It’s something he is familiar with.
“I played in Montreal for two years and it was awesome,” Pouliot said. “The way the fans see the game and the way they know the game more and they are always loyal to you. You go around town, they know who you are and they talk to you about hockey. It’s fun. It pumps you up every night even more and you want to play in front of those kind of fans.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced Tuesday that they have agreed to terms with Tyler Pitlick on a one-year contract extension. Pitlick was the 31st overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
Last season was quite the learning experience for Pitlick who got his first taste of NHL hockey. The forward played 10 games with the Oilers and scored his first NHL goal. The ups and downs of the season, including his knee injuries, helped Pitlick learn more about himself.
The 22-year-old says he is working to stick in the NHL and that means hitting the gym.
“I’m just trying to get myself bigger and stronger so I can hang in the corners a little bit better with the bigger guys and push guys around,” Pitlick told Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now. “I’ve worked on my skating and skills and I’ll just come in ready to have a good camp like last year.”
For Pitlick, the biggest difference between the American Hockey League, where he has spent the last three seasons, and the NHL is the size and strength of the opponents.
“They are definitely bigger guys. They’re stronger. I think in the AHL I can, with no problems, keep guys off me in the corners and circle off guys. But the guys in the NHL are bigger and stronger and they’ll push you over if you’re not ready for it. I’m just working on balance and being stronger for this season.”
Getting bigger and stronger fall in line with what Oilers management told Pitlick they wanted from him moving forward. He also says he’d like to add “a little more of a mean streak” to his game while being consistently physical and staying healthy.
The Edmonton Oilers announced Tuesday that they have agreed to terms with Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton on one-year contract extensions. Both players were second round picks in the 2010 NHL Draft and both players are heading into make-or-break seasons.
Hamilton joined Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now and acknowledged the pressure on himself heading into this year.
“It’s kind of now or never for guys like myself,” Hamilton said. “This is my fourth year now with the organization. I need to take the next step.”
What Hamilton has going for him is that he believes he is coming off his best year as a professional with the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL.
“Especially late in the year,” he said. “Some guys were hurt and the Oilers had some guys hurt as well so there were some guys called up. Right around Christmas I was starting to play some good hockey and then I was injured unfortunately. When I came back after a couple of weeks of getting back at it, I was a good player for us in the playoffs and contributed quite a bit. I think I just need to start the year off like that again and I’ll be fine.”
Hamilton is 6-foot-2 and over 210 pounds. He feels is size could benefit the Oilers and their system and could help him make another jump in his career this season.
“With the Oilers, everyone talks about how they have smaller forwards. With myself being a bigger forward I think that’s something that is valuable in the organization and something they are looking to add on, even with some of the young guys they’ve brought in. There is a chance for me in this organization to go out and play some good hockey.”
The Bakersfield Condors, ECHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, announced today that they have agreed to terms with forward Chase Schaber and defenceman Nick Pageau for the 2014-15 season.
Schaber, 23, tied for third in scoring on the Condors last season with 44 points (18-26-44) in 64 games. He had 10 points (4-6-10) in 16 playoff games.
"I think the biggest thing is everyone in the organization is treated professionally and everyone is on board which is huge for preparing for the next level," Schaber said in a Condors press release. "It's a great place to play and I grew to like the city more and more, especially the further we went.”
Pageau, 26, played 23 games with Bakersfield, scoring seven points (1-6-7) before suffering a season-ending injury in January.
"I really enjoyed the group we had last year and we should have a good amount of returning players which should make for another good year," Pageau said.
NHL.com’s fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen have pieced together their off-season rankings of the top 200 fantasy hockey players.
Edmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall tops out at 26th on Cubeta’s list. Jordan Eberle is the second Oilers player on that list at 82nd. Other Oilers on Cubeta’s list are David Perron (100), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (115), Nail Yakupov (129), Ben Scrivens (166) and Justin Schultz (181).
Jensen also ranks Hall (31) and Eberle (87) in his top 100. Other Oilers making Jensen’s top 200 are Perron (120), Nugent-Hopkins (123) and Schultz (132).
The Edmonton Oilers announced on Wednesday morning that they have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with goaltender Richard Bachman.
Bachman played the majority of last season with the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League, finishing with a 2.99 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 52 games. He had a record of 26-19-6 and was a workhorse for the Oilers affiliate during a remarkable playoff run. He played in three games with the Oilers last season, with a 3.02 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
The 26-year-old American goaltender saw an opportunity with the Oilers to compete at training camp for a spot in the NHL or return to Oklahoma City, where he and his wife are comfortable and have family support.
“The main goal is to get up with the Oilers and to play in the NHL but being here (in Oklahoma City) is a great fit for me and my wife,” Bachman told Oilers Now’s Bob Stauffer. “I’ve got a twin brother here. He’s in med school here so he’s close by so I have a family connection. It’s also close to Colorado where my family is from so it works out really well for me.”
Bachman has played in 35 career NHL games (Edmonton and Dallas) and has a record of 14-12-2. He feels like he can be a full-time NHL goaltender and that’s why he re-signed with Edmonton instead of testing the market or heading to Europe.
“I think it’s ultimately about playing in the NHL,” he said. “I’ve already had a little bit of taste of it and have some experience. I really feel I can play at that level. Until I feel I can’t do that or it’s not going to be a good fit for me or my family I want to stick it out over here and be with Edmonton. I think it’s a great place to get a good opportunity. For me this is a great fit and I’m happy to be back.”
Bachman made 47 saves in his Oilers debut on October 27, 2013 against Los Angeles. He is currently training in Oklahoma City.
It is no secret that Leon Draisaitl is on a mission to make the Edmonton Oilers roster after the club selected him third overall last month in the NHL Draft. He’ll compete for a spot just like any other Oilers player or prospect and he understands this summer will be key to helping his chances.
“I think everyone wants to make the team,” Draisaitl said on Oilers Now on Wednesday. “When you get drafted I don’t think there is a single player who does not want to make the team. I think it’s a learning process for an 18-year-old kid. We obviously have a lot of work in front of us. I think I can talk for everyone one of the players who just got drafted or went to the camp. I think I have a lot of work to do but that’s what the summer is there for and all I am going to do is what I can control. That’s just work as hard as I can and then try to find a spot on the team.”
This past week at Orientation Camp in Jasper was Draisaitl’s first opportunity to wear the Oilers colours on the ice since being drafted. Draisaitl says that while the camp was more about meeting his fellow prospects and his future coaches and management, he did try and make an impression on the ice.
“There is a lot of work ahead for me. I obviously wanted to do as good as possible. It was the first time being on the ice for me after two months. You’re obviously a little bit rusty the first couple of ice sessions but I think it was okay.”
Heading into the rest of the summer it will be all about adding strength for Draisaitl. If he can do that and build up his defensive game a little, he will put himself in a great position to make the roster.
“I think for me personally it comes down to strength, especially my lower-body strength, and just my game away from the puck. That’s the two biggest things I need to improve over the summer and it’s a great time to do that.”
Draisaitl will spend the summer in Edmonton getting to know the area and training before camp.