Oilers prospect and Seattle Thunderbirds defenceman Ethan Bear is moving on in the WHL Playoffs.
Seattle beat Everett 3-2 in Game 5 to take the series 4-1. The Thunderbirds will now head to the Western Conference Final to face either Kelowna or Victoria. Kelowna leads that series 3-2.
8. WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP BOUND pic.twitter.com/ObDIQLQwgL— Seattle Thunderbirds (@SeattleTbirds) April 17, 2016
Bear finished Game 5 +2 with no points. He has three goals and six assists for nine points in nine games this post-season.
The defenceman was selected in the fifth round, 124th overall, by the Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Bear was named third star of the game Friday as the Thunderbirds beat the Silvertips in Game 4 of their WHL Playoffs second-round series.
The defenceman finished the game +1 with one assist. He recorded the second assist on the game’s opening goal.
Bear has nine points (3-6-9) in eight playoff games this post-season. He has one goal and four assists in four games this series.
He was selected in the fifth round, 124th overall, by the Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Seattle has won three straight games since dropping the series opener and looks to eliminate Everett tonight.
Meanwhile, Bouchard and his Wildcats also picked up a win Friday. The goaltender made 24 saves on 28 shots in a 6-4 win over the Olympiques.
Moncton was spurred to victory by a five-goal third period. In that third, Bouchard allowed just one goal in the final 20 minutes as Moncton trailed 3-1 heading into the frame.
Bouchard and the Wildcats lead the series 3-2 and look to close it out Monday on the road.
The goalie was taken 183rd overall in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr was a guest of Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now Thursday and talked about Central Scouting’s final draft rankings and some of the top prospects in the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft.
Marr gave his insights on the top three skaters, ranked one, two and three atop the European skaters list: Auston Matthews (Zurich), Patrik Laine (Tappara) and Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat).
“They’ve been frontrunners right from the get-go, and I would say all of them have exceeded the projections that were in place for them,” said Marr.
All three have their individual positive traits, but Matthews is considered the cream of the crop.
“Auston Mathews is clear-cut, the best prospect available for this 2016 Draft,” said Marr. “Laine and Puljujarvi, they’ve each made individual cases for themselves to be part of the discussion but they’re just not going to supplant Auston Matthews right now. The teams picking in the top five or six of the draft are going to come away with a future star for their team down the road.”
Laine and Puljujarvi are different from Matthews and each other. Laine exhibits dynamic offensive ability in contrast to the power-forward game of Puljujarvi.
“It’s like a Brett Hull release, and you’re always wondering because you know Brett Hull has the shot, why is he open on the play? Laine can deliver that,” said Marr.
“(Puljujarvi) can rely on his physical attritbutes a little bit more. Not the same skill set, but we’re talking really minuscule differences between these players here. I just think Laine right now has a little bit more dynamic game he brings to the table. Puljujarvi might have what you’d call the more up-and-down game.”
All three of these players could make an immediate impact at the NHL level, given the right situation.
“All three are capable to go to a team and make the team out of training camp,” said Marr. “Whether they’re in a position to play in the National Hockey League during the season is up to the players and the teams.”
A pair of Oilers prospects had big nights in their respective junior playoffs series on Wednesday.
Oilers defensive prospect Ethan Bear and the Seattle Thunderbirds have edged ahead of the Everett Silvertips in their WHL Playoffs series.
Seattle is now up 2-1 in the series, following a 5-0 blanking of the Tips in Game 3 on Wednesday. Bear was named the game’s First Star after scoring a goal, adding an assist and finishing +3 on the night.
Bear’s goal, a snipe from the high slot, at 9:14 of the second period put Seattle up 2-0. Bear also assisted on the game’s opening goal, which served as the game winner.
The series stays in Everett for Game 4 on Friday, as Seattle looks to push their opponent to the brink of elimination.
Bear was taken 124th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Oilers draft pick Keven Bouchard is among the top goalie performers in the QMJHL playoffs. The Moncton goaltender is 6-3 in the playoffs and has a .919 save percentage.
Bouchard was named the first star of the game Wednesday night as he made 31 saves in a 2-1 overtime win over Gatineau. Their quarter final series is tied 2-2, and continues Friday in Moncton.
Bouchard was selected by the Oilers in the seventh round, 183rd overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.
The NHL has released their final rankings for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held in Buffalo, NY June 24-25. NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final ballot of draft-eligible skaters, and forward Auston Matthews tops that list.
Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr says Matthews is “an extraordinary prospect with NHL size, speed and smarts combined with an exceptional work ethic and a relentless compete level.”
Matthews, a Scottsdale, AZ native, skated for Zurich in Switzerland this past season, leading his team in goals with 24 (24-22-46). Matthews ranks at the top of the European skaters list, followed by Finnish wingers Patrik Laine (Tappara) and Jesse Puljujarvi (Karpat).
Laine is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger who scored 17 goals and had 33 points in 46 games for Tappara in Finland. He was a part of the Finland team that won gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship.
Puljujarvi was also on that Finnish team. The 6-foot-3, 201-pound right winger had 28 points (13-15-28) in 50 games for Karpat.
Atop the final rankings for North American skaters is Cape Breton left winger Pierre-Luc Dubois. The next two are London’s Matthew Tkachuk and Alexander Nylander.
Dubois scored 42 goals and finished his season with 99 points and 112 penalty minutes for the QMJHL’s Screaming Eagles. He is a big left-shot winger at 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds.
Tkachuk played for the OHL’s Knights, potting 30 goals and adding 77 assists for 107 points in 57 games this season. He comes from a hockey family, as the son of long-time NHL winger Keith Tkachuk and the brother of 2018 draft-eligible Brady Tkachuk.
Nylander, a winger, played 2015-16 with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League. The son of long-time NHL player Michael Nylander and brother of Toronto prospect William Nylander finished the year with 75 points (28-47-75) in 57 games.
The final rankings feature the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders from the U.S. and Canada, as well as the top 150 skaters and 15 goaltenders from Europe.
The 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on April 30.
Hockey Canada announced today their first 18 players and the Oilers will be well-represented at the IIHF World Championships next month. Forwards Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall will be joined by goaltender Cam Talbot on Team Canada.
The Oilers have also confirmed over the last two days that forwards Patrick Maroon and Matt Hendricks will skate for Team USA, while defenceman Andrej Sekera will represent Slovakia and centre Leon Draisaitl will play for Germany.
Todd McLellan echoed his players’ comments from yesterday when he spoke to the media wrapping up the 2015-16 season. Almost every player interviewed applauded the leadership of rookie centre Connor McDavid at locker room clean-out day at Rexall Place.
When the Oilers head coach took to the podium, he too spoke highly of young McDavid’s ability to lead. McLellan was asked if McDavid is ready to be a captain at the NHL level and he said he’s close.
“Connor was a tremendous leader this year in his short time with us,” said McLellan. “His presence alone when he walks into the room, and he knows it, he exudes confidence, he carries himself properly. I think leaders attract people. You want to be in his corner, you want to be around him, and when leaders attract people they care about people too and Connor has that going. He’s still 19 years old. I think he’s close to being the guy and ready for it. We’ll talk more over the summer with that. He’ll need a very good supporting crew around him, and we’ll see what our team looks like in the fall to determine whether or not that’s the right thing for our group.”
The Oilers had 360-plus man games lost due to injury this season, many of them to major role players on the team. Oscar Klefbom missed 52 games, Connor McDavid’s outstanding rookie season was cut short by 37 games. Eric Gryba, Brandon Davidson and Benoit Pouliot all got hurt down the stretch, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was also plagued by injuries.
The injury bug made it difficult on the Oilers coaching staff when it came to evaluating their roster. Injuries and health of the roster is something the Oilers will look at moving forward.
“One of the disappointing things, amongst others, was the fact that we just couldn’t get or stay healthy and we have to look at that as well. We have to look at why. Did we rest enough? Were we over-aggressive in some practice situations, did nutrition or our work off the ice, did any of that cause injuries?” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
“We never really had our group together and got it to roll a little bit, but I think we saw snippets enough to know individuals and how they react and respond in certain situations.”
Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom saw his season cut very short due to two separate injuries. A knuckle ailment, which was expected to need a quick recovery, turned into an infection and the blueliner missed 52 games.
Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli provided a fairly in-depth update on Klefbom, who could be back skating soon.
“It was a frustrating thing, and it was almost like the perfect storm as far as kind of two successive infections and really, a cut on his knuckle resulted in an infection in his ankle and there have been some players going through the same thing right now,” said Chiarelli.
“Timeline, I think if we were in the playoffs he would have been available. I basically just shut him down. I said, ‘Klef, enough. You’re probably trying too hard to come back,” and it was aggravating it a little bit. He’s going to get the proper equipment. We’ve been looking at getting the proper skate, customized, and the silver lining is he’s in terrific shape. I would anticipate him back skating in a month’s time.”
Chiarelli confirmed there is no tendon or ligament damage, so Klefbom should be hitting the off-season hard in a few weeks’ time.
Connor McDavid came to the Edmonton Oilers with big outside expectations, and even bigger internal ones. The rookie first-overall pick posted 48 points in an injury-shortened 45-game season. He impressed his teammates, even the veteran ones, with how he carried himself through his first NHL season.
“Great person,” said Matt Hendricks. “You couldn’t ask any more of him in that regard, for sure, and I don’t know if you could ask any more of him as a player either. He came into our group this year, into a struggling group, as a young player with a lot of expectations and overwhelmed a lot of us. He’s a heck of a player and a heck of a player to be around and I’m real fortunate to be able to play and enjoy his rookie season with him.”
The players have consistently voiced their pleasure and surprise about his leadership in the room as well. Taylor Hall a week ago said although McDavid is the youngest player in the room, a lot of players look up to him. When asked if McDavid could be a captain some day, Hendricks had no hesitations.
“Absolutely. Absolutely, he could be.”
“That’s not a question for me, but you’ve seen players at his age wear the ‘C’ after their first year or so, but I have no doubt in my mind he’d excel at it,” Hendricks said.