After getting banged up in Saturday’s Young Stars tournament game against Calgary, Greg Chase was a late scratch on Monday against Winnipeg. One game remains for the Oilers Rookies and that is tomorrow night against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Chase, like many of the prospects, most looks forward to this game.
“I think for us, the last couple of years I’ve played, it’s definitely been the hardest game that we’ve played out of the four rookie tournament games,” said Chase. “They’re the best team in the country for however many years and they’re a fun team to play against. It’s always a fun environment. They’re a well-structured team, it’s a good test for us every year and it’s always a fun one to be a part of.”
A good sign for Chase to play tomorrow is that he skated and participated fully today as the team practiced at Royal Glenora.
Chase wouldn’t commit to a yes-or-no answer when asked if he’d play tomorrow.
“We’ll just reevaluate in the morning,” said Chase. “I felt good out there and we’ll see what they want to do.”
- IN FOCUS | Oilers vs. Jets Pre-Game
- RAW | Peter Chiarelli
- RAW | Connor McDavid
- RAW | Gerry Fleming
- RAW | Ethan Bear
- THE PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
Marco Roy isn’t dwelling on the past.
He’s not worried about prior injuries, which served as an obstacle to his junior production. He’s not worried about not getting an NHL contract at the end of his junior career. The former second-round pick of the Oilers in 2013 is just focused on what he can control and that is the present.
“I think I’m here to have fun, play hard and compete every shift,” said the 20-year-old centre, who is skating for the Oilers in the 2015 Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. “In the end, I’m here to be a better player and add more experience in hockey. I’m just here to win and compete.”
Roy played just 39 games in 2013-14 for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL. A change of scenery was supposed to help him put the injuries in the past and gain valuable experience. He was moved to the 2015 Memorial Cup host team, Quebec.
Roy posted 50 points, including 26 goals, in 59 games for the Remparts in the regular season. He added 11 points in 14 playoff games and five points (1-4-5) in five games during the Memorial Cup tournament.
“I had a lot of injuries and stuff,” Roy said of his final junior season. “I think I finished strong at the Memorial Cup and I’m happy to have played in this tournament. It’s good for me. I had a lot of fun in that tournament.”
But Roy brushes all last year aside. His focus is clear.
“I think I’m ready to play in the pros.”
The Oilers did not sign Roy to an entry level contract and he re-entered the draft. After he wasn’t selected, the centre was brought back to the Oilers system, but this time with a professional contract. Roy signed an AHL deal with the Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers primary development team.
The Condors look forward to seeing if Roy can live up to his second-round potential.
“Marco is a skilled guy, a goal scorer, so he’s got to go out there and let his skills take over, dominate the game and have confidence with the puck and make plays,” said Condors Head Coach Gerry Fleming. “He’s a playmaker and that’s what we expect from him.”
Roy is suiting up for the Oilers here in Penticton with the hopes of leaving an impression on the Oilers and the Condors. He wants to prove he can be a professional hockey player and can be successful.
In order to be successful in that endeavour, Roy is putting all of his injuries and past obstacles to rest.
“Right now I’m feeling 100 percent and I had a really good summer of training, like three months of training. I added weight, so I’m stronger,” said Roy. “I think mentally I am ready. Everything I had in the past is behind me. Right now, I am focusing on playing in the NHL one day and proving to everybody that I can play there.”
Oilers rookies reported to Rexall Place for fitness testing as Rookie Camp got underway in Edmonton prior to the team's departure for Penticton and the Young Stars Tournament. Edmontonoilers.com and Oilers TV were there to provide the coverage:VIDEO:
- ROOKIE CAMP | Young Stars Get Going
- RAW | Connor McDavid
- RAW | Darnell Nurse
- RAW | Kyle Platzer
- RAW | Greg Chase
- RAW | Leon Draisaitl
- COMING SOON - TICKET DELIVERY | Yakupov & Talbot
- Photo Gallery from Day 1 of Rookie Camp
- Nail Yakupov and Cam Talbot deliver tickets to Season Seat Holders
On Wednesday, Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli was announced as a manager of Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Together with Chicago’s Stan Bowman, Chiarelli will build a roster of under-23 players from both Canada and the United States.
One of those players eligible to be selected is 2015 first-overall pick and Oilers centre Connor McDavid.
“That would be a tremendous honour,” said the 18-year-old rookie. “It would be a great experience to play in that and play against the world’s best.”
The World Cup of Hockey will feature eight teams competing for an international championship. Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America will compete in the tournament put together by the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF. Two groups of four will compete in three tournament games in a round-robin format. The top two finishers in each group will advance to a single semifinal and then the two surviving teams will play a best-of-three final series.
“It’s really unique,” said McDavid. “It’s a great format and something people aren’t necessarily used to and that’s a good thing. It’s good to mix it up. I know a lot of people are having a tough time understanding the whole this team and that team, the under-23 and that kind of thing. It can be confusing but it’s a great format and should be a great tournament.”
McDavid has already represented his home country Canada in his young career. He won gold at the 2015 World Junior Championship. While Team North America isn’t carrying the banner of one country, international play is a special career achievement. Should Chiarelli select him, McDavid would be honoured to compete with some of the best under-23 players in the game and against the best in hockey.
“Any time you get to play internationally, it’s so special,” said McDavid. “Any time you get to put on the maple leaf, it’s something that you never forget and you’ll do anything you can to get back to that situation. I think if I was chosen and lucky enough to play on (the North American) team, I think everyone and myself included feel the same way, we’d be proud to be the young guns and we certainly want to represent well.”
Chiarelli said yesterday that if eligible Oilers players like McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get selected it will be invaluable experience for the youngsters, but he expects them to remain focused on their NHL seasons for now.
“I mean I think you’d have to ask them but I think their priorities are helping out the Oilers… It’s nice to know that you’re being watched and judged by a terrific team like a World Cup team but first and foremost you help out your NHL team and let the chips fall where they may,” said Chiarelli.
The Oilers centre position isn’t so much a log jam, but spots are limited. With rookie Connor McDavid and fellow first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins likely to man the top two lines, free-agent acquisition Mark Letestu is likely the fourth middle man. That leaves the third-line spot up for grabs, but considering his performance at the NHL level last season, veteran Anton Lander will not give it up lightly. This has led most to believe second-year player Leon Draisaitl’s best path to the roster out of training camp is on the wing.
“I’ve played the wing before. I know what it takes to play on the wing,” said Draisaitl. “I think it shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment for me.”
Draisaitl, 19, says he hasn’t begun practicing on the wing but is ready to make the shift if that’s what it takes to begin the season with the Oilers. That’s his ultimate goal, whatever it takes.
“I think you have to be decent around the boards,” Draisaitl said of the differences between centre and wing. “You have to know what your options are on the breakout or if there’s a scrum on the half-wall or wherever it is. The timing is a little bit different from wing to centre, and obviously in the d-zone, I would say you almost don’t work as much as the centre down low with the defencemen. I think those are the biggest adjustments.”
Draisaitl, taken third overall in the 2014 Draft, saw his offensive confidence skyrocket with Kelowna in the second half of the season. He finished his WHL season with 53 points in 32 games. That came after 37 games with the Oilers to start the year.
When you look at the Oilers Rookie roster for their Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. the first three names that stick out are Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl. All three come with the stardom associated with being a high first-round pick and the potential to be key contributors to the Oilers very soon.
For McDavid, this will be his first Young Stars Tournament, having been taken first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft at the end of June.
“I’ve heard it’s a very fun tournament,” said McDavid. “It’s always a good time, it’s very competitive and, obviously, it’s a nice part of Canada. It will be good to spend some time out there as well.”
As a seasoned Penticton veteran, having played in the tournament in 2013 and 2014, Nurse is looking forward to the increase in tempo from his off-season training.
“It’s always good to get out there,” said Nurse. “Obviously, you don’t play many games in the summer that have high tempos. It will be good to go out there and get my legs under me. I look forward to playing with these guys.”
Draisaitl wasn’t surprised to see his name on the roster this season. After being selected third overall in 2013, the big German centre got a taste of NHL hockey with the Oilers but finished his season in junior. Draisaitl is eager for the experience this tournament gives him and looks to not only compete but to win.
“We all go there to win the tournament,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. Guys want to make the team and guys want to impress, but at the same time we’re still a team. We want to win and we want to win every game. I think we’re all going in with that mindset.”
All three Oilers games in Penticton will be broadcast live on edmontonoilers.com.
INFORMAL SKATE: McDavid moves in | RAWS: McDavid / Gazdic / Letestu
It was a whirlwind morning at the Royal Glenora Club today as the Oilers geared up for their informal skate.
Among a sea of faces, one in particular stood out among the rest: Connor McDavid.
He’s finally here.
Making his way to the rink, McDavid was all smiles while catching up with and meeting his teammates.
“It’s been really good,” he said. “It was fun today being around the guys and getting to meet some new faces and that, so it’s been good.”
After a few skill-set drills, the group split into two and got down to business, scrimmaging for the remainder of their ice-time.
“It’s exciting,” said McDavid. “It was a quick summer, went by pretty fast but I couldn’t be happier to get out to Edmonton and get everything going.”
It didn’t take long for the six-foot-one centre to find his groove, flying past his opponents to be the first to score, making a stark reminder to everyone as to why he's here and maybe, in an effort to prove why he's already ranked number 36 on the list of top 50 players in the NHL.
He hasn't played a single NHL game yet and McDavid's already been placed in the spotlight.
Even Steven Stamkos, a fellow competitor, believes McDavid is more skilled than he was at that age.
“That’s obviously one of the nicest compliments but I don’t think that’s really true,” said McDavid. “I skated with him all summer long, but I don’t really think that’s true.”
Connor McDavid was ready to set the pace at the Oilers informal skate at Royal Glenora Club.
Though he was eager to get the puck moving he left a wake of impressions on his teammates.
“I was with him at the BioSteel Camp in Toronto…so I got first glimpse of him there but skating on a line with him in a scrimmage is incredible,” said Oilers teammate Luke Gazdic.
“I found out right from the first shift that if you give him the puck you better get on your horse cause he’ll be 100 feet ahead of you if you don’t catch up. When you give him that puck you better get open cause there’s a good chance he’s going to find you. Obviously everyone knows he’s special talent but he’s also a special kid and just a nice down to earth kid and that translates onto the ice.”
Through an onslaught of skill-testing drills, McDavid moved effortlessly among his teammates, but his time to shine came when the group divided into scrimmage mode.
“He kind of came as advertised,” said Mark Letestu. “You can see his speed right away. Obviously we’re just playing around out here, we’re not quite ramped up to full game speed. But skill-wise, he comes as advertised, it’s pretty special to watch.”
Now in Edmonton, McDavid has had a chance to get his bearings before ramping up again for training camp, having temporarily moved-in with Gazdic and fellow teammate Taylor Hall, until the start of camp.
“[Gazdic]’s an awesome guy,” said McDavid. “I got to know him a little bit better at BioSteel Camp as well [as Hall], you know, just being with him the past day, he’s taking care of me pretty good, last nights dinner was pretty good. He’s a guy everyone likes, I think.”
Gazdic, who’s been playing in the NHL for three years now, but has been playing professionally since he was 19, understands what it’s like to acquire a professional role at such a young age.
“I’d like to be a calming influence and someone that, when we go back to the house, he can kind of turn that hockey world off and just be a regular kid and talk about anything else other than hockey and getting his mind off of it a little bit, because I know he’s going through a lot of stuff right here going into camp,” said Gazdic.
“He’s only been there a couple nights with me but we cooked a little bit last night and I’m sure he’s liking the experience of being on his own. But he’s just a normal kid that people don’t take into account all the time that he’s 18-years-old, he talks way above his age and a lot more mature than he actually is.”
At the start of each new season, the question of who will maintain or assume the status of captain can sometimes be a touchy subject.
Some feel as though that with the dawn of restructure, changes should be made, while others believe loyalty trumps all else.
According to Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, the subject of who can fill, or continue to fill the role, as captain is tricky, especially when you haven’t had the chance to really see how a player acts both on and off the ice.
“It’s virtually impossible for me as an individual to make a call on the leadership group and tactics that are in play here right now because I haven’t experienced the team as a whole,” said McLellan.
In speaking with Oilers radio analyst and host, Bob Stauffer, McLellan tried to shed some light on the incredibly challenging task that will be at hand.
“I haven’t experienced a lot of the individuals and the way they carry themselves, the way they react to certain situations,” said McLellan.
“Are they verbal leaders? Physical leaders? Are they both? How do they react in successful situations? How do they react to failure? How do they interact with their teammates — I can’t answer any of those questions as a coach right now. I’ve been privy to a lot of conversations where we talked about individuals and their ability to do those things but I know myself and the staff wants to see how it evolves.”
Edmonton Oilers current team captain, Andrew Ference, has bolstered a much-loved reputation among his teammates and community, something that McLellan is very aware of.
“Andrew Ference is our captain right now and he’s done a tremendous job of it,” he said. “He is a quality individual, he stands for everything you need to have as a professional. He’s well conditioned, he’s well prepared, he’s got a strong belief system — so those are pretty good qualities right now in that individual.”
Whether a change is made or not, McLellan respects the relationships that are already in place and isn’t looking to make any hasty decisions.
“We need to take it day by day. I sat and talked to Andrew about that situation, I felt that my relationship with him at that time was really strong and you have to have that as a coach-captain situation.”