INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.26.2016 / 4:24 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Connor McDavid is down with the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors on conditioning loan from the Oilers during the NHL All-Star Break. While McDavid will not play any games for the Condors, he is getting more practice time in as he works his way back from the broken clavicle that has kept him away from the game since November 3.

McDavid has been cleared for full contact and that’s part of the reason he’s skating down with the Condors as he tries to expose himself to that side of the game more.

“Just take a couple of hits I think,” McDavid said. “I’m not sure how hard they’re going to be because it’s practice, but just take some bumps and get some contact and kind of test it out. I’ve been doing that for a little bit, but as you get closer you just want to feel confident in it.”

It’s a bit of an odd situation to be participating in the Oilers Skills Competition one minute, talking to the media in Edmonton the next and then packing your gear for a trip to Bakersfield the next, just for a week of practices. But that’s what McDavid is doing now, and in addition to getting extra reps on the ice with the Condors, McDavid is happy to see some familiar faces.

“I’ve been doing that a little bit, traveling with the team and practicing,” he said. “It’s a little of a different situation here, to travel so far just to get a couple practices in, but it’s good. I really like the guys down here. I know them very well just from development camp and all that. It’s good to see some of those guys again.”

McDavid is familiar with several faces on the Condors from the Oilers rookie camp and pre-season.

“I like these guys a lot. I’ve gotten to know them pretty good and to see some familiar faces I haven’t seen in a while is good.”

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.24.2016 / 2:34 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Condorstown becomes Connortown this week with the Oilers 2015 first-overall pick heading to Bakersfield, CA to skate with the Condors during the NHL All-Star Break. McDavid will not play any games this week for the Condors, but instead will skate with them and take more contact as he tries to come back from the broken clavicle that has kept him out of games since November 3.

“Management and I kind of came together and agreed that I’ll go to Bakersfield and go down there and skate and keep practicing. It’s a long break between now and then,” said McDavid.

The rookie centre has been cleared for full contact and hopes that with another week of intense practices he will be ready to play on February 2, when the Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place.

“It will be good to be in Bakersfield and to skate with those guys and have some high-intensity battles and some good battles and stuff like that.”

The Condors play Tuesday, Friday and Saturday this week. They are at home until Saturday, giving McDavid plenty of ice time in Bakersfield.

“The practices are a little bit more intense, with a lot of battling and stuff like that,” said McDavid. “It will be good to be involved in that and hopefully come back feeling good and ready to go for the 2nd. Obviously, with this long break, it’s not ideal to go and sit around for eight days and try to come back and feel good. I think it’s a good opportunity for me to feel good and be ready to go when I come back.”

McDavid has already been training with some contact, but that turns up a notch this week.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.24.2016 / 2:33 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Connor McDavid was one of a few players who got to take in their first Oilers Skills Competition presented by Rogers. The rookie participated in the 3-on-3 game, the shootout and accuracy challenges. He went 4-for-6 in the accuracy shooting, and saw a wicked shootout move fall short, in which he tried to bat the puck in out of midair.

“Obviously, it’s a great event,” said McDavid. “The fans were great out there. It’s fun to do these kinds of events for the fans. I think the guys enjoyed it as well.”

Skating at Rexall Place in front of a sold-out crowd was a nice change of pace for McDavid, who has been recovering from a broken clavicle since November 3.

“I couldn’t be more excited to come back and today was a little bit of a tease almost,” said McDavid. “It was dressed up like a game, the fans were there, everyone is acting like it’s a game, so it was almost like a tease. It’s exciting to be back on the ice with the guys and the fans, and I’m excited about it.”

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POSTED ON Sunday, 01.24.2016 / 11:04 AM MT

The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have assigned defenceman Brad Hunt and Griffin Reinhart, as well as winger Zack Kassian to the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.

Hunt, 27, has registered 23 points (6G, 17A) and eight penalty minutes in 26 games with the Condors this season.

The Maple Ridge, British Columbia native has appeared in seven games with the Oilers, posting two penalty minutes.

Reinhart, 21, has appeared in 14 games with Bakersfield this season, registering five points (1G, 4A) and 12 penalty minutes.

The North Vancouver, British Columbia native has posted one assist and eight penalty minutes in 13 games with the Oilers this season.

Kassian, 25, has appeared in four games with Bakersfield this season, recording one goal and six penalty minutes.

The Windsor, Ontario native has two points (1G, 1A) and 18 penalty minutes in six games with the Oilers this season.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.23.2016 / 11:27 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan is like any bench boss around the league. He hates seeing his team lose. Edmonton has dropped three straight, and sits at 19-26-5 this season, following a 4-1 loss to Nashville on Saturday night.

McLellan was asked his thoughts on the team at the break and the first-year Oilers coach was very honest about the positives of coaching this group, while recognizing they need to continue to improve.

“I enjoy this group, and I know I can speak for the rest of the staff. It’s fun to come to work. It’s not fun losing,” said McLellan. “It gets frustrating. I feel like the fans, I feel like the players do too, but this is a fun group. They come to the rink prepared to get better. They want to get better. They’re tired of wallowing and losing. There’s not many nights I’ve had to run in there and yell and scream and swing and kick things around because their intent or effort isn’t there. They’ve been strong that way.

“We have to get deeper in a lot of areas of our game. Tonight was a prime example. As soon as we got one line going and they target (Benoit) Pouliot and (Jordan) Eberle and (Nail Yakupov) immediately, they score early. Then we need to juggle our lines around again. We need to get deeper as an organization. We need to upgrade in a lot of different areas, whether it is strength, size, but also skill level, quarterback on the power play and things like that. We know that, but I’ve enjoyed my time here so far. I know we’re going to get better. I know we are better right now, and I know we’re going to get better.”

An injured Oilers club heads into a long All-Star Break following their annual Skills Competition presented by Rogers tomorrow at Rexall Place.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 01.23.2016 / 11:18 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

On Saturday, Griffin Reinhart played his first game for the Oilers since November 25. The defenceman was playing down in the American Hockey League for the Bakersfield Condors when he was recalled ahead of the Oilers game against the Nashville Predators.

Disappointed as many young players are with his assignment to the AHL, Reinhart worked his way back, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse.

“It was good,” said Reinhart. “I mean, you look at the way Leon and Darnell, when they went down and came up, they had that extra jump in their game. They were frustrated. They wanted to be here, and they proved they can play here. I was down there a little bit longer and that’s what I want to do as well.”

While the Oilers lost 4-1 to the Predators, Reinhart drew praise from Head Coach Todd McLellan. The defenceman finished the game leading his team in hits with five (Eric Gryba also had five) and shots with four. He recorded his first point of the season, with an assist on Draisaitl’s goal.

“I liked Griff’s game tonight,” said the coach. “He defended well, he jumped up into the play, he had some good scoring chances, he was assertive. He played hard, and I was impressed with his game. The good thing about it is there’s always internal competition, and he’s throwing himself back in the mix. There’s going to be other guys. Davy is going to get healthy, then Klef’s going to get healthy on that backend. I like that. I like when we have guys pushing each other, rather than just showing up knowing their going to play.”

Reinhart was unsure as to the next step for him following the game, but he was left hungry for more heading into the NHL All-Star Break.

“I’m not sure what the plan is here, whether I’m going to go down and play some more games in Bakersfield, but whatever they do with me right now I am motivated and I want to play here night in and night out and show what I can do,” Reinhart said.

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.22.2016 / 9:14 AM MT

The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have recalled defenceman Griffin Reinhart from the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.

Reinhart, 21, has appeared in 14 games with Bakersfield this season, registering five points (1G, 4A) and 12 penalty minutes.

The North Vancouver, British Columbia native has appeared in 12 games with the Oilers this season, posting eight penalty minutes. In 20 career NHL games he has recorded one assist and 14 penalty minutes.

The Oilers also announced defenceman Brandon Davidson has been placed on Injured Reserve.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.21.2016 / 9:47 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers announced on Thursday morning that defenceman Andrew Ference will be out for the season after undergoing hip surgery. Ference has been on injured reserve for the majority of the season due to the nagging hip injury.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.20.2016 / 2:25 PM MT
By Ryan Frankson - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Four games into his Oilers career, winger Zack Kassian is settling in with his new squad and starting to produce.

Kassian, acquired from Montreal in exchange for goalie Ben Scrivens on Dec. 28, scored his first points with the Oilers on Tuesday night during their 6-4 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 6-foot-3, 213-pound power forward battled his way to the net and banged home a rebound from a shot by Iiro Pakarinen for Edmonton’s first goal of the game. Kassian then picked up the second assist on Leon Draisaitl’s third-period tally, as he passed the puck to Taylor Hall in the neutral zone before Hall fed Draisaitl on a two-on-one rush.

While Kassian would have rather had his first Oilers points come in a victory, he was pleased to get on the scoresheet.

“It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way, but it feels a lot better when you come back in with a win,” he said post-game. “Personally, it feels good. Obviously, I’ve been through a lot, but my main goal now is to just try to get wins.”

“Been through a lot” was a reference to his rocky start to the season, as he was acquired by the Canadiens from Vancouver in exchange for Brandon Prust on July 1, but never ended up playing for the Habs. Kassian entered the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program after he was involved in a motor vehicle collision in October.

He’s embraced his fresh start with the Oilers, averaging between 14:23 and 16:07 TOI in his four games, accumulating 18 hits and eight SOG.

“I feel good,” Kassian said. “It’s just a matter of making smart plays and continuing to do what I’m doing.”

The Oilers coaches have noticed him getting more comfortable, and they’re quickly seeing his value in their lineup.

“Zack’s a pretty honest player,” Todd McLellan said. “He wants to do things well. He wants to do things right. His ability to power his way through and play physical is important. It was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal… As time goes on here, I can see myself and the coaching staff trusting him more and more.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.19.2016 / 5:18 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers have recalled Rob Klinkhammer from the Bakersfield Condors, and have placed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on IR.

Klinkhammer has one goal in 13 games with the Oilers this season. In three games down in Bakersfield, he has three goals and an assist.

Nugent-Hopkins injured his hand last night in the Oilers 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The centre is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, per Head Coach Todd McLellan.

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INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG