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POSTED ON Sunday, 04.01.2015 / 2:57 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Nail Yakupov has nine points (4-5-9) in 39 games this season. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson talked about where Yakupov, 21, is at in his development right now and where the forward needs to show improvement in his game.

It involves shooting the puck more and having closer puck support.

“I think he’s working hard,” Nelson said. “He’s trying to execute the things we think he needs to work on. Once again, we want to get him in a position where he can shoot the puck but it comes down to playing with decent structure and also, in the offensive zone, once again we want to see more shots going to the net. I think we’re passing up shots as a team but Nail too wants to pass the puck when he has it. I’d rather see him shoot the puck at the net and be hungry for rebounds. One thing we’re trying to work on with him is just having closer support with guys in the corner with the one-on-one battle, to go there and help out. Right now, he’s kind of playing off a bit and waiting for that pass. I think with close puck support he’ll get the puck more. But I think from the time that I’ve been here he’s been trying these things and I think it’s improving. I think his game is improving and it’s still a work in progress.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 02.01.2015 / 12:28 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers announced today that they have traded David Perron to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in exchange for a first-round pick in 2015 and 6-foot-3, 214-pound forward Rob Klinkhammer.

Klinkhammer, 28, has played in 139 NHL games with Chicago, Ottawa, Arizona and Pittsburgh. He’s scored 39 points (20-19-39) and recorded 35 penalty minutes.

He has three points (1-2-3) in 10 games for the Penguins this season.

Perron played 116 games for the Oilers in two seasons, scoring 33 goals and finishing with 76 points (33-43-76).

More information to follow.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 4:51 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Since Craig MacTavish and Todd Nelson took over the Oilers bench, Justin Schultz has recorded four points in his last five games. The offensive side of his game appears to be coming around and that’s what MacTavish says is most noticeable.

“My assessment of Justin is he’s doing what he does well much better now than he has,” the Oilers general manager said. “There are still deficiencies in his game. There are plenty of examples of that. But I’m pleased with the way he’s jumping up to open ice and his contributions offensively. There was a period this year where he was ineffective offensively and ineffective defensively and that’s a bad combination, but he’s playing with much more urgency in his game offensively, which is the strength of his game.”

Schultz has played 35 games this season, recording 15 points (3-12-15) and four penalty minutes.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 4:50 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Tonight will be Todd Nelson’s first game as interim coach without Craig MacTavish on the bench. The Oilers GM says it was the right time to step back and let Nelson take the reins.

“I just feel like the transition is the right time now,” MacTavish said. “Coaching is not a place for two captains and I think Todd has directed the team and changed the lines the last couple of games. I offer to support him as best I can but it’s time for him and I’m comfortable now that he’s got a familiarization with the personnel and I think it’s time for him to put his mark on what he can do with this hockey club.”

Nelson said the transition period helped him feel more comfortable with the personnel but he’s ready to take the next step.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 4:44 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish stepped in front of the media on Tuesday to recap yesterday’s moves, which included claiming Matt Fraser off waivers from Boston. MacTavish hinted that the club has had interest in the winger for quite some time, and their familiarity with his production in the minors sealed the decision to snag him.

“Our guys have had a lot of interest in Matt over the years,” MacTavish said. “He’s had some success against Todd that’s been well-documented over the last 16 hours or so. I remember when I was coaching in the American Hockey League and he was playing in Texas, he had success against us too. He gives us an element that we don’t have in abundance and that’s a shot. We’ll see if he can get some traction here.”

Fraser will play tonight on a line with David Perron and Leon Draisaitl.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 12:41 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers are on the ice for Tuesday's morning skate. The line combinations are as follows:

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Roy-Purcell
Perron-Draisaitl-Fraser
Hendricks-Gordon-Pitlick

The defensive pairings:

Klefbom-Fayne
Nikitin-Schultz
Ference-Petry

Leon Draisaitl, who missed yesterday's practice due to illness, is on the ice.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 9:01 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers newest centre, Derek Roy, will wear number 8 for the Oilers.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:21 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:20 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Matt Fraser was excited when he was informed that the Oilers were claiming him off waivers on Monday morning. It’s a chance for a fresh start with a team the Red Deer, Alberta native is very familiar with.

“It’s exciting. It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours. Being from Red Deer, you grow up watching the Oilers and Flames. You’re almost immersed in that battle of Alberta. To be able to go there and be a part of it is certainly exciting,” Fraser said.

Fraser is also familiar with some faces in the Oilers locker room, having played with Luke Gazdic and against Todd Nelson in the minors.

“It’s certainly nice. It’s nice to come in and have that familiarity and know the familiar face there again,” Fraser said by phone on Monday. “It’s nice to be back in the Western Conference and be close to home. Having played against Todd Nelson and some of those guys, it certainly helps to know you’re not walking in all alone. It gives you a little bit more confidence.”

Familiar faces or not, Fraser is just happy to be joining a team who wanted him.

“First and foremost, it was just nice to have the opportunity to be claimed by someone,” he said. “To be put on waivers is not a great feeling and no one likes that feeling. But, at the end of the day, the Oilers took a chance with me and I’m certainly excited about it and excited about the opportunity.”

Fraser says Gazdic was his mentor when he first came into the AHL.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:20 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Matt Fraser’s shot is almost always the first thing people associate with the winger.

“He’s a guy that can shoot the puck,” said Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson, who coached against Fraser in the American Hockey League. “I’ve seen it first hand when we used to play against Texas and he’s scored his fair share of goals against us.”

Luke Gazdic, who was Fraser’s teammate with the Texas Stars, says his shot is a lethal weapon.

“He’s got a heck of a shot,” Gazdic said. “I think that’s the tool that has helped him the most. He scored 40 goals in the minors one of the years I played with him. He can score from anywhere, he’s lethal. He does it all, he finishes his checks, he’s not afraid to mix it up and he does a lot of things that can be useful for any team, especially ours.”

Fraser scored 37 goals for the Texas Stars in 2011-12. He scored 33 the next season as well.

“He’s a natural goal scorer, he can do it from anywhere,” Gazdic said. “He’s a good teammate, he’ll do anything to help the team win and that’s what we’re looking for in our lineup right now.”

So far, that kind of goal production has not transferred to the NHL for Fraser. However, the winger is just 24 and is constantly working on his shot.

“It’s something that I’ve always practiced on, it’s something that I take pride in,” Fraser said. “In this league nowadays there is not just one thing that gets you this far. You can’t be just a one dimensional player, but you definitely have to play to your strengths. I think shooting the puck is one of my strengths and something I do work on. It’s something I take pride in and when the puck is on my stick, I’m looking to get it off as fast as I can and as hard as I can.”

Fraser was claimed off waivers by the Oilers on Monday morning. He is expected to play against Los Angeles on Tuesday.

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