The final 2015 NHL Central Scouting rankings have been released and it is no surprise to see who is at the top of the list. Erie’s Connor McDavid and Boston University’s Jack Eichel take the top two spots.
McDavid is regarded as the top NHL Draft prospect since Sidney Crosby was taken by the Penguins, first overall in 2005. Eichel is the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and Tournament MVP. He is one of the top three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.
6-foot-3, 203-pound Boston College defenceman Noah Hannifan is third on the list. Erie’s Dylan Strome and Kingston’s Lawson Crouse swapped places from the midterm rankings to round out the top five.
London Knights centre Mitchell Marner came in sixth in the final rankings, jumping from seventh in the midterm.
Click here for the full rankings.
It has been an emotional week for Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman, who left the team to mourn the loss of his brother. Upon his return, Bachman made 25 saves in a 4-2 win over Los Angeles, his third-straight victory.
“What do you say? Everyone has lost a family member. It’s not easy, and how he came in here, was professional about everything and showed up to the rink, you can’t say enough about the guy and his performance today,” said Oilers winger Matt Fraser, who scored twice in the win. “Obviously, you take your time to mourn or whatever, but he wanted to be back here and we’re glad to have him back.”
“Absolutely,” said winger Tyler Pitlick on if he thought the team was playing for Bachman. “Everyone knows how tough it has been for him. To come back like that so quick, we just wanted to play hard for him. I think it was huge for him to have that good game.”
Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson says that Luke Gazdic gave the goaltender the game puck following the victory.
“I was proud of the way the guys played, the way they helped me out tonight. It was nice,” said Bachman. “Especially, with not playing in a week and having pretty much one practice before doing that. So I was super proud of the guys and their effort. I thought they did a great job of matching the physicality of a big LA team. I thought it was great.”
But those youthful blueliners did just fine against the physical Kings, helping the Oilers skate to a 4-2 victory. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said he thought they played, “outstanding.”
“I liked the battle,” said Nelson. “I liked the way that the big guys back there battled hard. Musil was strong. Everyone of them. Justin Schultz was battling, and it was a situation where our young D made it very difficult to maybe penetrate the net. We talked about winning battles in the corners and we did a great job. All six guys battled hard tonight.”
The Oilers took on the NHL’s 10th best (coming into the game) faceoff team, without the help of two of their centres. Without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon in the lineup, the Oilers went 65% in the faceoff dot against Los Angeles in a 4-2 win.
“I had my match-ups the way I wanted them for the most part,” said Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “I thought our centremen did a great job. It didn’t matter if it was on the strong side or weak side. Taylor was very good in the faceoff dot, actually everybody was. Maybe it was a little fatigue on Los Angeles’ part.”
Tyler Pitlick’s game-winning goal came after a big Lander faceoff win in the offensive zone.
VIDEO: Monday Practice | RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Derek Roy | RAW: Klinkhammer
AUDIO: Derek Roy | Rob Klinkhammer | Todd Nelson
The Oilers have taken the ice for practice at Rexall Place. Richard Bachman has returned to Edmonton, following an absence due to a death in the family this past week. Mark Fayne (shoulder) and Viktor Fasth (knee) are also skating today. Tyler Pitlick is in non-contact yellow.
Forward lines based on jersey colour:
The Oilers took the ice at Rexall Place for Monday practice with Mark Fayne joining his teammates. The defenceman has missed time since March 25, with a shoulder injury.
“It feels good getting out there in practice. It felt a lot better once it got warm so we’ll see where it goes,” said Fayne.
Fayne couldn’t provide a timeline for his return to game action, but his head coach seems to think it won’t be long.
“He’s really close,” said Oiler Interim Coach Todd Nelson. “He had a good day today. Both him and Viktor (Fasth) fall in the same category, where they had a good day. We’ll see how everything reacts tomorrow and then we’ll move forward from there.”
Fayne has played 74 games for the Oilers this season, scoring two goals and adding six assists. The Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night.
Injuries have hit the Oilers defencemen as of late. Veteran blueliners Andrew Ference (concussion) and Nikita Nikitin are not practicing with the team. With Mark Fayne, 27, skating with the team today at practice, the average age of the seven Oilers defencemen on the ice was 23.4.
Take him out of the lineup, like he was last game with a shoulder injury, and the average age of the remaining six is 22.8.
Youth on the blueline can be an obstacle for NHL clubs. For those players however, it is an opportunity to grow and develop. Trial by fire.
“I think it’s great for those guys, getting experience when they’re that young,” said Fayne. “It’s a tough league for a defenceman to come in right away, every game in the playoff season. I think it’s good that they’re starting to get experience now, playing a lot of different positions and a lot of different match ups. I think, as a team, it might be a little tough of a transition when you have so many but this is the time of year to do it.”
The Oilers have taken the ice for morning skate ahead of tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames.
In their first season in the American Hockey League, the Bakersfield Condors will don a new primary logo on their uniforms. At a press conference on Thursday, in California, the Condors unveiled their logo for the upcoming 2015-16 season.
"This is another step in building the excitement for this historic move to the American Hockey League," said Condors Team President Matthew Riley. "The new logo is dynamic, fierce, and incorporates our new blue and orange color scheme. With this logo we are able to further our established brand of the past 17 years, while uniting us in our new chapter with the Edmonton Oilers, a team with great tradition over the past 35 years."
The logo is a modern, updated version of their previous condor logo. The condor now has orange skin, with royal blue colouring in the feathers, helping build association to the Edmonton Oilers brand.
"The new Condors logo is yet another great step in bringing Bakersfield fully into the Oilers family,” said Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager Bill Scott. “The iconic blue and orange colours, bold and vivid, will strike a strong chord with Condors fans and be a great symbol of the importance of the team and the City to the long-term success of the Oilers.”
The Condors will serve as the primary development team of the Oilers beginning this upcoming season. Click here to read more about the creation of the AHL Pacific Division and the Oilers affiliation with Bakersfield.
Defenceman Joey LaLeggia and the Oilers agreed to terms on Tuesday to a two-year entry level contract. LaLeggia was chosen in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He has spent four years with the University of Denver Pioneers.
LaLeggia spoke for the first time, since the news broke this morning, on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer.
“I’m extremely excited and honoured to be a part of the organization,” said LaLeggia. “I just can’t thank my teammates and coaches from Denver enough for what they’ve done for me over the last four years. It’s just really great to have an opportunity to come down here to the United States to play hockey when maybe the WHL wasn’t exactly suited for me. I can’t thank my teammates and coaches enough.”
LaLeggia has had a much-decorated career with the Pioneers. He is a Hobey Baker finalist and was named NCHC Player of the Year, Defenceman of the Year and Offensive Defenceman of the Year.
He is clearly offensively inclined, having put up 132 points in 156 games during his collegiate career. Where he has been told to improve, from his freshman year to today, is his defensive game.
“There has always been an emphasis on me to get my defensive game to the level it needs to be in order to be successful in professional hockey and that was something that they did talk to me about in the summers and we did work on, on the ice,” said LaLeggia. “There were a lot of 2-on-1 work and things like that. Just little tips that are going to help you become a better pro.”
Jim Montgomery has spent the past two seasons as University of Denver’s head coach. LaLeggia says he has been a big part of him becoming a better overall player.
“I think Jim Montgomery is key to where I am today in my hockey career, especially with the opportunity I got today with the Oilers,” he said. “When he came in two years ago, he knew that there were holes in my game, especially in the defensive side. He’s a very detail-oriented coach and he did a great job spending time preparing me to get ready at the pro level over the last two years.”
LaLeggia told Stauffer that he will eventually play for the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League on an ATO to close out this season. His entry level contract kicks in on July 1.