BLOGS
POSTED ON Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:28 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Top 2015 NHL Draft prospect Connor McDavid is passionate about being the best he can be. It’s in his DNA.

“I think it was just the way I was raised,” said McDavid. “I was raised in a normal family. My dad worked long hours, my mom worked long hours as well. They just instilled in me a hard-working attitude right from the start and that’s something I’ve always kind of taken with me.”

His passion and drive may come from his upbringing but he didn’t get to where he is today on that along. McDavid sets high expectations and goals for himself. But, at the same time, he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself.

“I’m hard on myself,” he said. “I think if you’re going to be good that’s the way it has to be. You have to have high expectations for yourself. I think I do have high expectations for myself. When I don’t meet them it’s upsetting, but there is a lot of pressure coming at me from the outside. I try not to put too much internal pressure on myself just because there is already enough of that out there.”

There is pressure. McDavid is touted as a generational talent, perhaps the best to come out of the draft in years. That’s out of his control. But don’t expect all the hype to get into his head. McDavid is focused.

“It doesn’t matter how I feel about it. I guess it’s the headline that has been made. There’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is the best that I can and be the best player I can be. Whether that meets expectations or not, that’s not up for me to decide.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:22 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
Connors Road in Edmonton

Connor McDavid is the consensus first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, which opens tomorrow night at BB&T Center.

Oilers fans are no doubt excited about the potential of welcoming the young centre from the Erie Otters. So excited, in fact, that some Edmontonians changed the Connors Road sign in the city to read “Connor McDavid”.

“A couple of people have showed me it and sent me it. It’s very flattering,” said McDavid. “If it is Edmonton I appreciate it very much; the support and the welcoming. It’s still 24 hours away from the pick and we’ll see who it is.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called the prank “totally inappropriate” saying it causes a traffic safety challenge. He then added, “but that’s cute.”

The first round of the draft begins at 5 p.m. MDT.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 06.24.2015 / 3:05 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

MIAMI, FL - A handful of the top prospects for this year’s NHL Draft attended a batting practice at Marlins Park in Miami, FL on Wednesday.



Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner and Lawson Crouse all took some swings at the plate. Crouse and Hanifin had the upper hand, as the two played baseball when they were younger. One underdog was Marner, who apparently didn’t have the faith of his peers.

“I know Stromer was saying he thought I wasn’t going to get it out of the infield,” said Marner. “He thought I was only going to be able to get it to the bases and that’s about it. I know a couple of guys were going against him on that one. Nothing too serious, just joking around with each other.”

The top prospects pose for the cameras at Marlins Park.

Marner and Strome are good friends and have known each other for a while.

“That was a bet, but he was pretty good actually,” said Strome. “I don’t think he was the worst one. Maybe he’s not the biggest guy but he really is a tremendous player. He did pretty well out there.”

As the smallest prospect there, Marner did pretty well.

“I wasn’t too good but I think I out-did at least one of the guys, hopefully. I guess we’ll see. We’re giving it to each other about who did better. At the end it’s all fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Marner.

Another wager was who might be able to hit the ball out of the park. The big power forward Crouse was the lone player to hit a home run.

“Eichel had a bet going with that,” said Hanifin. “I think he got one out of the outfield. That was about it. We did have a bet who was going to hit one out. I think Lawson won that one.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 06.22.2015 / 3:55 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

On Monday, the Oilers announced another shake-up to their hockey operations department. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor and Head Pro Scout Morey Gare have been relieved of their duties. Also, amateur scouts Brad Davis and Kent Hawley, pro scout Dave Semenko and Director of Coaching and Special Projects Billy Moores were relieved of their duties.

“These are difficult decisions,” Chiarelli told the media on Monday. “I’m someone who has been on the job for two months and we’re relieving some really good people and people who have been here for a long time. These decisions aren’t taken lightly. In my time here I’ve gotten to know these guys in question and they’re all good people. I wanted to lean out the staff a bit. I wanted to reposition some people in duties. These are hard decisions that we have to make, that I had to make. It was difficult. It was a tough weekend.”

Chiarelli answered a question of whether or not it was differences in philosophies. Chiarelli said it had more to do with the process of improving the Oilers as a whole.

“I think what it is is imparting a certain way of doing business, imparting a certain philosophy. It’s not really a reflection of them,” said Chiarelli. “At the end of the day, we have to get better at evaluating players and developing players. Unfortunately, some people have to lose their jobs. We all have different philosophies of how to develop players. There’s nothing really magical about it. We just have to get these things done and be successful at it. That’s one of the reasons I was brought in here.”

Chiarelli says there will be more shuffling of roles and responsibilities and he may add someone else to the department soon. However, more changes are not likely until after the draft this week.

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POSTED ON Monday, 06.22.2015 / 3:52 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers hold two picks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft: the first-overall selection and another pick at 16. With 10 total picks in the draft, the Oilers have assets to move. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli says almost everything is on the table.

“I’m open to all types of offers except for the first pick overall,” said Chiarelli.

That 16th pick is very valuable, considering how deep and talented this draft is touted to be. That also means it is valuable to other teams in a possible trade. But if Chiarelli had his choice, he may want to keep that pick considering the type of prospect they could acquire.

“There’s going to be a really good player with that pick,” said Chiarelli. “Instinctively, you want to keep the pick. Especially as the draft approaches, you get a little more pumped about that pick and that player. Those picks are valuable on a number of levels. The other level is it could get you a pretty good player. Instinctively, yes. I’d like to keep it.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 06.6.2015 / 1:44 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

BUFFALO, NY - It is clear that Dylan Strome holds his Erie Otters teammate, Connor McDavid, in high regard. McDavid, the top-ranked prospect in the 2015 NHL Draft has had a lot of success so far in his hockey career and Strome has been witness to the type of player he is.

Strome was asked what Edmonton fans might see from McDavid, should he go first overall in the draft as expected.

“Be ready is all I can say,” Strome said. “He’s going to do some things to get the whole arena going ‘ooh’ or ‘ahh’ and doing something like that. They’ll see it and it’s pretty spectacular to watch. If anyone can get into a practice, that might be even more impressive. What he does out there to some of his teammates and some guys on the team. It’s fun, he’s fun to watch and he’s pretty special so they’ll get to love him.”

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POSTED ON Saturday, 06.6.2015 / 1:11 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

BUFFALO, NY - Here are some of the available results for top draft prospect Connor McDavid’s fitness testing at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine.

  • Agility & Balance: Pro Agility Left - 4.43
  • Agility & Balance: Pro Agility Right - 4.53
  • Anaerobic Fitness:  Wingate or Peak Power Output (watts/kg) - 17.5
  • Force Plate: Vertical Jump (inches) - 19.488
  • Musculoskeletal: Bench Press 70-80% of Body Weight  (# of Reps) - 9
  • Musculoskeletal: Left Hand Grip (lb) - 165
  • Musculoskeletal: Pull-Ups Consecutive (max #) - 6
  • Musculoskeletal: Right Hand Grip (lb) - 156
  • Musculoskeletal: Standing Long Jump (in) - 97.3
You can see the top results from the Combine by clicking HERE.
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POSTED ON Friday, 06.5.2015 / 5:14 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

BUFFALO, NY – Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel have been ranked by NHL Central Scouting as the number one and number two North American skaters, respectively. They’ve also been touted as generational talents and have each lived up to the hype.

A sea of reporters surrounded McDavid and Eichel at today’s media availability in Buffalo at the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine. Following remarkable years for both players, this is just another step until they are drafted at the end of the month.

When you rewind to the beginning when scouts first started doing homework on these two, it’s amazing how much the players lived up to the hype.

“Nobody was surprised, everybody was impressed,” said Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr. “We didn’t spend an overabundance of time and we weren’t going to go watch to see if they would do something in a negative sense or not develop their game or grow. We just were comfortable following their play. You still go check in every once in a while and say, ‘yeah, it’s the real deal.’”

McDavid finished this season with 120 points (44-76-120) in just 47 games for the Erie Otters. He set fire to the OHL playoffs with 49 points (21-28-49) in 20 games as the Otters fell short to Oshawa in the final. It was a season in which McDavid showed everyone what he is made of.

“It’s just the way he processes the game,” said Marr. “He’s got exceptionally quick wits about him and he’s got anticipation. It’s the way he can execute plays really without even looking. I think his linemates know to just go to the net, have your stick on the ice and he’ll deliver the puck to them. He’s got some slick moves about him. When you get that type of player that just has that kind of hockey IQ… and he’s got those quick wits about him there, he ends up being a difference maker in more cases than not. What we like about him is almost every time you watch him play he can show you something new. We think the best is really yet to come.”

Jack Eichel also had a season to remember. As a freshman at Boston University, he recorded 71 points (26-45-71) in 40 games and took home the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in the NCAA.

“I think if anyone had predicted that, they’d be telling you a fib,” Marr said of Eichel’s freshman year. “He not only lived up to that projection, he exceeded it to come in and do what he did. He was given an opportunity and he seized that opportunity. He’s going to do the same thing next year. He’s going to be given an opportunity, he’s going to seize it and nobody should be surprised of what either of these two are going to accomplish.”

The 2015 NHL Draft will take place June 26-27, at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

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POSTED ON Friday, 06.5.2015 / 5:13 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

BUFFALO, NY – It’s no surprise the Oilers brass will come away from this weekend’s NHL Scouting Combine impressed by the maturity of top draft prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Both have been in the spotlight all season and touted as “generational” talents, but both have handled it well.

“Not much else can be said about him that hasn’t already been said,” Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green said of McDavid. “We interviewed him this week and it was a great interview, as we expected. He’s a very polished, well-spoken young man. He’s very mature beyond his years. He has a good understanding of what’s ahead of him and it was just nice to get a chance to talk to him a little bit.”

Eichel left a very similar impression.

“Well-spoken, very polished and mature,” said Green. “These guys have been through the pressure, the expectations for a few years now and they handle all the attention and everything very well. It was fun to talk to both guys.”

The Oilers interviewed 88 prospects this week, according to Green.

“If you’re here you might as well be talking to kids rather than sitting around waiting,” he said. “I think it’s important to talk to as many kids as you can. You don’t know. You’ve got a lot of picks and there are a lot of kids available. The more you can uncover, the better off you’re going to be.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 06.5.2015 / 5:07 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

BUFFALO, NY – There is a thought process when drafting that you make your board and you stick to it. It is obviously ideal to just keep taking the best player available on your list, no matter what round it is.

“You always want to take the best player available,” said Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green. “When you get to later on in the draft, you’re going to reach a point where it’s splitting hairs between two players. If they’re different positions, maybe you go with need as the tiebreaker. Then as you go a little further in the draft the chances are a little tougher for these kids to make it so there are other things you look at. But first and foremost, you look for the best player available.”

For a team like the Oilers, with 10 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, sometimes need starts to creep into the decision-making process. It’s something you can consider but not let it overrule the pure talent aspect of your evaluation of a player.

“We talked the other day about need and that you’ve got to be careful about looking at what you need as opposed to best player available,” said Green. “If you’re trying to decide between two players and one is a forward and one is a defenceman and everything remains equal, then certainly you can look at need. It’s always in the back of your mind.”

Green says that at this point there are really only small movements of players up and down the Oilers draft board based on the combine interviews and fitness testing. Edmonton currently has seven picks in the first four rounds.

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