The Edmonton Oilers selected Leon Draisaitl with the third overall pick in this year’s draft and just a month later he is already a local celebrity. Attending the Oilers Hockey School session in St. Albert on Wednesday morning, Draisaitl was met with the greetings of young adoring fans. It’s not the first time he’s been recognized around town either.
“It’s a pretty big city compared to where I’ve been the last few years that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a big market. People recognize you, they come and talk to you and it’s awesome. I’ve had an amazing time so far.”
Draisaitl and fellow Oilers first round pick Darnell Nurse (7th overall in 2013) were swarmed by fans during a visit to a local shopping centre earlier this summer. It’s a scene that’s becoming quite frequent to the Oilers newest young star in the making.
“Actually quite a bit to be honest. At the mall it was pretty crazy. I went there with Darnell Nurse and people just looked at us, stopped us and tried to talk to us. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The Edmonton Oilers used the third overall pick in this year’s draft to land big, skilled centre Leon Draisaitl and the 18-year-old is hoping to give a return on investment as soon as possible. That’s why he chose to stay in Edmonton this summer to train with the Oilers staff and prepare himself for the grind of his first NHL training camp.
Draisaitl wakes up at 7:30 a.m. everyday and hits the gym, skating on Mondays and Wednesdays as well. He says he works out about three hours every day. The demands of an NHL training program are a new concept to Draisaitl, who has spent the last two seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL.
“It’s really different,” Draisaitl said. “Now that I know where I am it is more about focusing on playing in the NHL one day. They are NHL trainers and that’s why they’re here. They train an NHL team and they get guys ready for the season. I think I’m in really good hands.”
Draisaitl's main focus is on building strength for the upcoming season, particularly in his legs.
“I’ve been working on my weaknesses a lot. I think my skating and my lower body strength is something I really need to work on and that’s something I’ve been doing a lot these last few weeks. It’s been good and I feel comfortable and I like the training a lot.”
The Edmonton Oilers have announced that Jean-Francois Houle has been named the sixth head coach in Bakersfield Condors history. The Condors are the ECHL affiliate of the Oilers.
Houle replaces Troy Mann, who accepted the position of head coach with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears this month.
"We are thrilled to name Jean-François Houle as the head coach of the Bakersfield Condors," Oilers Assistant General Manager Bill Scott said in a press release. "After an exhaustive interview process we identified JF as the candidate we felt was best fit to lead the Condors and Oilers prospects into the future. He has an incredible knowledge of the game, strong work ethic and has the discipline to teach and mentor our players. JF has a bright future ahead of him and we are excited to have him join our organization.”
Houle has spent the last four-plus seasons coaching for Lewiston and Blainville-Boisbriand in the QMJHL. He has coached his teams to four consecutive 40-win seasons.
Click here for the full press release.
- Aulie sets sights on making positive impact
- Fayne eager to distribute the puck to Oilers playmakers
- Pouliot can add to veteran leadership
- Pouliot embracing Canadian market
On January 15, 2008 Purcell played his first career NHL game as a member of the Los Angeles Kings against the Oilers at Rexall Place.
“I was called up from Manchester (AHL) and was in the airport all day, got delayed and got in probably at 1 a.m. the night before,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to play the next day. Then I remember getting a 2-on-1 with Rob Blake on my first shift and I still don’t know how I remember it. It was still a blur and I’m still nervous thinking about it.”
How did that 2-on-1 rush pan out for the young Purcell?
“I tried to pass it to him. I probably should have shot it but I tried to pass it to him and it went off his skate and back the other way.”
It’s a lesson Purcell now knows all too well- shoot the puck. It’s something he may get the opportunity to do more of here in Edmonton now that he returns to the place where it all began for the 28-year-old.
“I used to get yelled at a lot and still do sometimes for not shooting the puck enough but there are a lot of guys here who can make plays. I’m going to be in a position to shoot a lot more this year and hopefully it will work out.”
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.”