BLOGS
POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.08.2014 / 6:51 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish has executed a roster overhaul in his time at the helm. That turnover has left players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as that expected next wave of leaders in the locker room. In a lot of ways, it’s now their team. But Eberle says it’s been that way for a little while now.

“I’ve felt that way the last few years,” Eberle said at Oilers Hockey School presented by Rogers on Tuesday. “Obviously it hasn’t happened. But more so this year than anything I think we have a lot of expectations on us. I think we did last year too that’s why it was a more disappointing season than ever just because we didn’t perform. This year I will take a lot of pressure on myself and I know those other guys will too just to perform. The city has been very patient and we need to start winning some games.”

Eberle says the pressure felt by the core group of players, not only the three aforementioned, puts the responsibility on them to win above all else.

“Just to take control of the team and win hockey games,” Eberle said of what is expected. “I think more than anything this league is about winning and we obviously haven’t done much of it. I think anytime you have a fresh start and you add some pieces there is a lot of optimism and I am looking forward to training camp to get things going.”
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.08.2014 / 6:51 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Since being drafted 22nd overall in 2008 by the Oilers, Jordan Eberle has seen some turnover at the head coach position. Heading into this season, Eberle is happy to have Dallas Eakins return in that role keeping some consistency on the bench, despite two new assistant coaches.

“I think more than anything this year it’s going to be nice to have some familiarity with the head coach,” Eberle said. “I think for me, and this is my fifth year coming up, I’ve had three new head coaches now. I think it can be a good thing and a bad thing sometimes too. We finally have a guy where we can pick up where we left off and I definitely look forward to that for sure.”

Eberle says that consistency at head coach is huge for the team and not having that turnover means not starting fresh.

“It’s huge. It’s one thing that really hurt us at the start of the year. No knock against Dallas obviously. He was coming in and things change and that’s how it is. I’ve had that a few times. It will be nice to have the same guy come in and we’ll have a lot of familiarity when it comes to practicing, the way he speaks and what he expects so I think that for sure will help.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.08.2014 / 6:50 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers announced Tuesday that they have signed centre Leon Draisaitl to a three-year entry level contract. Draisaitl spoke to the media at Oilers Hockey School presented by Rogers shortly after the news was announced.

“It’s really exciting,” he said at the Leduc Rec Centre. “First of all, I want to thank Daryl Katz, Craig MacTavish and all of the other people who are part of the Oilers organization for giving me the opportunity to make this happen. It’s really exciting for me and my family for sure.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.08.2014 / 1:29 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers appointed Rocky Thompson as an Assistant Coach on July 16. Thompson had previously spent the past four seasons with the Oklahoma City Barons in the same position.

Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said prior to the search for a new assistant that he was looking for a younger coach who would be willing to spend games serving in the eye in the sky role instead of on the bench. It was clear to Eakins when he interviewed Thompson that he was the candidate who best understood and fit those responsibilities.

“I’ll be really honest, I talked to a lot of people about that job,” Eakins said. “The one thing that comes up right away is that person has to be confident enough in their skin to know that they have an equal voice in that dressing room, they’re respected equally by the staff and players but during those games they are going to be upstairs. Some guys have a problem with that and they can’t get their head wrapped around it. Rocky is a really confident guy and he’s hungry. He wants to learn and he’s got a lot of stuff he can provide us. He was totally comfortable with that aspect of it.”

Eakins says that of all of the candidates he spoke with, Thompson clearly made an impression.

“The reality of it is when I sat down with him for the interview he blew my socks off. I knew Rocky a little bit but I didn’t know a ton about his coaching. I had talked to some people inside of our organization that I greatly respect their opinions and guys that are excellent coaches and they spoke so highly of Rocky. I thought he would be good in the interview but he was excellent.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.08.2014 / 1:28 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins chose Rocky Thompson to join his staff as an Assistant Coach. Eakins had a lot of praise for his new assistant, saying that Thompson is the right person for the job.

“I think he’s going to fit in great,” Eakins said. “He’s that bridge between the players’ ages and myself and the rest of our staff. He’s got a hunger to teach, he’s got a passion for the game and he’s got a passion to continue on his career as a coach. I think for him personally, this is a perfect stepping stone. The great thing about Rocky is that he didn’t want to talk about him he just wanted to talk about the team and that’s what Rocky has always been. He’s a guy of high character and the only thing that matters to him is the team. That’s what’s got to be from all of our staff, all of our players, anybody who works for the Edmonton Oilers and any decision that they make, this is about our team first and there can’t be anything else underlying their decisions.”

Thompson will serve as the eye in the sky on game nights, radioing down to the bench information and adjustments. But he will also have a hand in teaching the players in practice and has experience in pre-scouting opponents and developing plans and adjustments for systems.

“He’s going to provide that information during games but that won’t be his most important role. His most important role is going to be on a day-to-day basis with prepping and preparing our players to go out there and play. Hopefully the information coming down is not a lot because we have the game under control all of the time.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 08.08.2014 / 1:10 AM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
The seventh overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2013, Darnell Nurse, had an assist in Canada’s 6-3 win over Russia at summer development camp, while Curtis Lazar recorded a hat trick.

The talented Lazar (Edmonton Oil Kings) put Canada on the board first at 6:29 of the first period. Nurse recorded the assist on the shorthanded breakaway.

Nurse also recorded a head contact minor and a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the game.

Fellow Oilers prospect Greg Chase finished the game with two penalty minutes.

Russia tied the game at 1:16 of the second period courtesy of a Nikita Cherepanov power play goal but goals by Buffalo Sabres prospects Nick Baptiste and Sam Reinhart, along with a goal from Calgary’s Sam Bennett gave Canada a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Lazar scored his second of the game at 4:49 of the final frame to make it 5-2. Russia pulled within two at the 16:16 mark of the third period.

Lazar finished off his hat trick at 19:32 of the third period with his second shorthanded goal of the game.

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.08.2014 / 4:32 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Mitch Moroz is hoping to be completely healthy heading into the Edmonton Oilers training camp in September. Following a WHL Championship and Memorial Cup winning season, the Oilers 32nd overall selection in the 2012 draft was a little banged up.

Now Moroz is feeling much better and is getting closer to skating again.

“A lot of people didn’t know that I was pretty banged up by the end of playoffs,” Moroz told Bob Stauffer Friday on Oilers Now. “My knee was blown out and I had a separated shoulder. It took a few weeks to get mentally and physically rested then I was right into rehab and trying to get healthy enough to jump into an off-season program. I’m feeling a lot better now and I’m pretty much taking part in full workouts and I’m able to get a good six weeks in before camp.”

Moroz says he believes he will be ready to compete at the rookie tournament in Penticton, B.C. prior to main camp but the final decision rests with the Oilers.

“I’m confident in where I’m at and how it’s progressed so I don’t think that’s out of the question at all.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 01.08.2014 / 4:29 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

A second-round pick in 2012, Mitch Moroz has now turned his focus to beginning his professional career. Although he is on the mend from a couple of injuries sustained late last season, Moroz feels like he will be ready for training camp in September. Not only does Moroz feel he will be healthy but he also says his focus is on making the NHL roster out of camp.

“I’ve said it before. You want to go in and make the team you are trying out for and that would be the Oilers. Then it’s up to them to make a decision and I want to make it a hard one. It’s up to them at that point to put me wherever they see fit. That’s a long ways down the road but we’ll see,” Moroz said Friday on Oilers Now.

Moroz is coming off of a 63-point season (35-28-63) with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 31.07.2014 / 2:48 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

In his new role in player personnel for the Edmonton Oilers, Kelly Buchberger was in Bakersfield this week to help introduce the Condors new head coach J.F. Houle.

“I think with any coach in any league, if he doesn’t have good leadership skills you are not going to have a winning team,” Buchberger said. “With J.F. and the time that we talked with him and the people we talked to about him he brings those qualities. He can bring it and pass it along to the players and the players can develop a lot quicker than we thought they would.”

Buchberger also talked about the importance of developing players now that the Condors are owned by the Oilers.

“That’s part of the ECHL and the AHL, to develop players for the next level. We want to make sure we send players down here and they are getting the right coaching from J.F. and whoever the assistant will be and the development guys from Edmonton that are coming down here. We feel that J.F. has the right skill to get the most out of the players and develop them as quick as possible so they can maybe raise to the next level. It doesn’t come over night and we know that. He’s willing to put the work in it to make the players better and make the team better.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 29.07.2014 / 5:13 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Nail Yakupov is back in Edmonton and back skating after suffering a foot injury back in February when a big shot from defenceman Justin Schultz caught the 20-year-old in the skate. At first, Yakupov was hesitant to get back on the ice but after testing the foot out a couple of months ago he says he is now all systems go.

“The foot is feeling pretty good,” Yakupov said. “I’ve been skating a lot and actually, my foot is 100%. It’s pretty healthy. I was scared to start the summer and trying to go on the ice. I was a little confused about my foot but I stepped in and I had a really good practice, I skated, I did some drills and my foot feels pretty good. I am ready to go.”

It doesn’t seem like his foot will hold him back at all when the team meets for training camp in September. He has been training in Russia this summer and is now back in Edmonton to continue his Oilers workout program.

“It feels pretty good. I can’t feel it now and I’m just ready to go 100 percent and I can do everything with my foot.”

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