The Edmonton Oilers prospects have had their own beds to come home to at night during their stay in Jasper at Orientation Camp. But tonight that will change as the young prospects are headed into the woods with Oilers Captain Andrew Ference for a night of camping in the elements.
Ference’s friend and U.S. Army Ranger Lucas Carr will accompany the group of players into the wilderness and they will be tested mentally and physically.
“Working under conditions that are irrelevant in a regular civilian setting by taking away sleep and food,” Carr said. “By taking away the sleep and the food you are adding in the duress off extreme conditions with unfortunate results that will hopefully transpire onto the ice when some of the players get the food, they get the sleep and they have the talent at the point when there is 20 seconds in the game and they are down by one goal, to score that one goal. By having this in their background, right in their back pocket, they are going to look at a situation like that and they are going to say, “this is easy. Let’s just be ourselves.”
Carr continued, “You do make the best plays when you are in a situation like that, when you are not thinking about doing everything, when you are not thinking what you should have done. Be yourself, stay composed, do the little things that are going to get the job done, do the little things that are going to score the goal, do the little things that are going to pass the mental aptitude and tests, use your intestinal fortitude to carry on to the next objective and win the game.”
Ference was asked by Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish to come in and speak with the prospects but having been through development camps of his own, the captain wanted to make more of an impression on the young players.
“I wasn’t too keen on just having a chat and talking with the kids. I’ve gone through stuff like that before. I figured it would be more effective to do something real and fun and just different. So tonight we are taking the guys on a little adventure with our friends.”
The prospects will be given the essentials, including rations of food and water, and they will be in the company of trained professionals like Carr.
“It’s basically just being thrown to the lions in a general sense,” Carr said. “You haven’t been in a situation like that, now is a great opportunity for you to show a leadership capability that you can use throughout your career in the NHL. Or if it’s just going into civilian world with a regular job and using that saying, “Wow, I did this when I was at Edmonton Oilers Prospect Camp. I can use what I learned here at some point in my life and be evaluated on how I was a leader then.”
- Andrew Ference Interview
- Lakeside with Darnell Nurse
- Prospects take the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper
- RAW - Director of Player Development Rick Carriere
- RAW - Marco Roy
|Jordan Oesterle (photo from WMU)
JASPER, AB - Oilers Director of Player Development Rick Carriere talked about this year's Orientation Camp in Jasper and how it differs from past years when it would be held in Sherwood Park.
“When you walk around our accommodations at the Pine Bungalows here and you talk to the players and how much energy and enthusiasm they have in the evenings, it’s different from last year,” Carriere said. “Our focus before was to try and get as much as we could into seven days. Sometimes, I think that really took away from the excitement and enthusiasm after they got a little bit tired. So now, they’re fresh, they’re excited, they’re working hard. That’s exactly what we wanted.”
The end goal for Carriere and the Oilers is to create a competitive environment here at Orientation Camp, but also at Rookie Camp in Penticton in September and ultimately at main Oilers Training Camp.
“With the right amount of patience, our guys have the attitude, work ethic and compete to make it more competitive to make the Oilers one day for everybody. We’re trying to create that pressure from underneath.
“We want guys battling for jobs. Our goal and focus is to create that in our prospects.”
Carriere talked about the progress he has seen already from a handful of key prospects.
“Just from what I’ve seen from some of the guys at the end of the year in Oklahoma City to what I see now. Darnell Nurse, Jujhar Khaira, Greg Chase. Jordan Oesterle has been a really pleasant surprise. They bring a lot to the mix and they’re going to make it really competitive for some of these guys.”
“I had a tough start, in the beginning,” he began. “I grew up as a player, too. I had a chance to work on my strength, put some weight on and get ready for the next season.”
Roy was injured at the start of the season and again later in the year, limiting him to only 39 games played. He had 14 goals and 35 points during that span.
“My first time I was injured during a season. It was hard, I’ll say but it’s in the past right now so I’ll look forward for my future.”
Roy did bounce back to play 20 games in the postseason as his Blainville squad made it to the third round of the playoffs. He had four goals and 12 points in those contests. This upcoming season he will go even deeper into the postseason guaranteed after being dealt to the Memorial Cup host Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
This being Roy's second camp now with the Oilers, he feels a lot more comfortable in his surroundings having known a lot of the players. He also has a roommate who speaks his language in Oilers 2014 7th rounder, goaltender Keven Bouchard.
“It really helped me. Last year I was really nervous. You don’t know the people and my English was not that good. I’m rooming with (Keven Bouchard) so I can talk French at the end of the day. It’s nice for that.”
The 6'1" 182 pound centre added that he has really enjoyed the Jasper setting this time around as well.
“It’s a beautiful place. Last year was harder. Right now, it’s more fun. We like each other and tonight we go camping so it’s going to be nice,” Roy continued. “The golf was really nice yesterday. We saw bears and deer. It’s beautiful.”
JASPER, AB - Oilers prospect Aidan Muir, drafted in the fourth round, 113th overall in last year's NHL Draft, is coming off an incredible season for his Indiana Ice USHL squad.
“We had an amazing time. Right off the bat, we were a little sketchy, started off 0-3-1 and then we got it together. I think it was mostly due to our coaching. Our players were really resilient. Didn’t take no for an answer.”
The Ice certainly did not take no for an answer, going all the way to the league championship, taking the Clark Cup three games to two over Waterloo.
Muir also felt that he made personal strides in the season, scoring 14 goals and adding 41 points in 54 games.
“I learned a lot about how to use my body, optimize my stride, stick handling abilities,” he said, adding that there are still things he can improve upon. “All aspects of my game need to be faster. Skating, stride needs to be longer, harder shot, stuff like that.”
This upcoming season, Muir will be attending the University of Western Michigan. He expanded on the reasons why he decided to go there after being heavily recruited by a number of colleges.
“I visited and it was amazing. Great dorm. The coaching, Andy Murray, he’s one of the reasons I’m here today and hopefully he can help me get to the next level.”
The 6'4" 200 pound winger is up for the next challenge in his hockey career, particularly under the guidance of Murray, who recommended Muir to the Oilers as he alluded to.
“Older teammates, older people. It’s going to be tough but I’m ready for it.”
- ORIENTATION CAMP | Day 4
- RAW - Todd Nelson
- RAW - Leon Draisaitl
- RAW - Aidan Muir
- RAW - Bogdan Yakimov
JASPER, AB - It’s the right attitude to have for any young prospect heading into training camp. Mitch Moroz is not satisfied with playing his first professional season in the American Hockey League. He would of course prefer to impress the Edmonton Oilers enough to get a shot at the NHL.
“Hopefully in a few weeks starting up with summer training and being able to give myself the best opportunity going into camp and make them have a hard decision,” Moroz said. “Everybody expects you in your first year to go down to Oklahoma but if I can kind of force their hand a bit and make them sweat it a bit then that’s my goal. You want to give yourself the best chance possible.”
With his eyes set on making the Oilers take a hard look at him, the team’s second round selection (32nd overall) in 2012 is devoted to being in shape and improving certain areas of his game.
“You want to come in in your best shape as you can,” he said. “I want to work on my quickness. That’s probably my biggest area of improvement over this summer, getting quicker, a little leaner and just being able to compete against men now. If I can do that and play my game the way I finished off the year and throughout the last season, I know it’s a big jump but some guys have done it and I’m confident in myself. I don’t see why not me.”
Moroz, 20, had the best season of his WHL career. With the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moroz scored 63 points (35-28-63) in 70 regular season games. The Alberta native also registered 156 penalty minutes. He chipped in 19 points (6-13-19) in 21 playoff games as the Oil Kings won the league’s championship title. He helped Edmonton win the Memorial Cup on top of a WHL Championship.
Now his sights are set on the Oilers and he’s been watching closely to what kind of openings there might be. The Oilers could use more big forwards who can chip in offensively. Which is something Moroz can do. He fits that power forward build that may eventually find him a spot on the roster.
“I think the last few years that has kind of been brought up and tossed around,” Moroz said. “Now it is kind of time to turn that corner and make the most of the opportunity. The spot for a big power forward is there so I don’t want to let that slip away. You want to come in and try to play that role.”
If Moroz does not make the Oilers roster out of training camp, he is expected to possibly be an impact player in Oklahoma City with the Barons.
- ORIENTATION CAMP | Rocky Mountain High
- RAW - Dallas Eakins Interview
- RAW - Jujhar Khaira
- RAW - Greg Chase
- RAW - Mitch Moroz
- RAW - Laurent Brossoit
- Camp Day 2 - Dallas Eakins
- Camp Day 2 - Jujhar Khaira
- Camp Day 2 - Greg Chase
- Camp Day 2 - Mitch Moroz
- Camp Day 2 - Laurent Brossoit
RAW: Dallas Eakins | Camp Day 2 - Dallas Eakins
JASPER, AB - The Edmonton Oilers added a few pieces to their improving roster in free agency. The Oilers bolstered their blue line with the additions of Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne. They gained some size and skill in the forward group with their trade for Teddy Purcell and their signing of Benoit Pouliot in free agency. In the draft, they selected big, skilled centre Leon Draisaitl third overall.
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins is excited about the new additions and how they improve the team.
“We think it has been a good few days getting the free agents in the boat It was important,” Eakins said. “We’ve added size, we’ve added depth and we’ve added some people who can make plays. Those are all things that we need in our lineup, especially in our division.”
Adding good puck possession focused and competitive players was also an important acquisition for the team. Pouliot fits that build of the fast, skilled, highly-competitive player that the Oilers needed to add.
“They are important. We want to continue to up the compete level and Benoit is certainly going to do that. I go back to the fact that we need people who make plays, possess the puck and score goals. We don’t want to be a team who relies on basically four players to put up our points. There has been that perception of our team being an offensive one. It’s the wrong perception and we’re going to try to change that by adding guys like Teddy Purcell and Pouliot.”
The defensive side of things has also improved. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said after day one of free agency that if you look at the team’s defence now, it looks like an NHL defence. Eakins agreed that that area of their roster has been improved.
“You start putting your lineup on the board and these are established NHL players that give you some comfort. There’s not an unknown so much with them. I think in the summer, almost the whole league is excited by the guys they drafted, they’re excited by the guys they got in free agency and you have that optimism again. For us, especially on our back end, I thought our biggest problem last year was breaking the puck out. That led to us spending a lot of time in our own zone. With the additions of those players and then with all of our other guys getting another year of experience, it’s a step in the right direction.”
Overall, there has been much roster turnover for the Oilers and Eakins says that’s a credit to MacTavish’s dedication to turning the fortunes of the franchise around.
“MacT has been busy. He’s extremely passionate about getting us going in the right direction. It seems like every time I call him he is in the office working the phone or scouting a player. It has been non-stop for him. I think that’s why you see such a change over.”
The excitement of retuning to the bench for his second season as an NHL head coach has Eakins chomping at the bit, regardless of last season’s disappointments.
“You want to get back in there and get back in the fight. It’s amazing to go through a season like that, from the coaching staff to the players, and that last game is over and it’s been such a long year and you can’t wait to get home and get a break from it. Then suddenly, a week to 10 days go by and it’s like my wife said, “you’re ready to go back to the rink now,” and I am.”
JASPER, AB - Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins is in Jasper with the team’s prospects for Orientation Camp. His goal for this camp isn’t so much with tutoring the players on the ice as it is to get to know the new and young faces in the organization. He didn’t participate Thursday morning in the on-ice session, as Oklahoma City Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson and Oilers Sr. Director of Player Development Rick Carriere appear to be running the drills.
“I like that we’ve pulled back and they’re not on the ice every day,” Eakins said. “Some of these guys have been off the ice for a long time and it is unfair to judge them on the ice right now because some of them haven’t skated at all. For me, it’s more to come in and start those relationships with these players. Not all of these guys will make the NHL but hopefully a lot of them do. I think it’s important for me to be around and, more or less, it’s about me talking and getting to know them and starting those relationships because hopefully these are going to be very fruitful ones down the road.”