With rookies, there’s a decision to be made at the nine-game mark, whether or not to send them to the minors or keep them in the NHL. With Connor McDavid, there’s no conversation and no decision to be made.
The 2015 first-overall pick has earned the right to stay in the NHL and isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s made,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan joked about the team’s decision regarding McDavid and the nine-game window. “We can clarify that. It’s made.”
McDavid, in his nine games, has nine points. He has scored five goals and added four assists. The rookie is riding a five game point streak and has points in six of his last seven games. McLellan talked about McDavid’s first nine NHL games, following the team’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles.
“The young man has experienced a lot already in his career,” said McLellan. “If you look at it in a nine-game perspective, you start on the road in some tough buildings, the team plays well enough to be in games but doesn’t win. He feels a lot of pressure on himself because he hasn’t scored. Finally, he gets one and gives himself permission, I believe, to really get going. He’s been a dynamic player ever since. He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice. I think he’s getting much wiser to the pace and what he can and can’t get away with. It’s fun to watch him. He energizes a lot of our players right now.”
McDavid assisted on the Oilers first goal against LA and nearly potted the game winner with 3.8 seconds left. McDavid is tied for the lead in rookie scoring with Arizona’s Max Domi (3-6-9 in eight games).
He’s scored five goals in four wins with the Los Angeles Kings, but Tyler Toffoli says the team is still looking to find their groove.
“We’re finding our game slowly. It’s early in the season so we know what we have to do, we have to keep working hard, dig it in here and find some more wins,” said the Kings centre.
Keeping a level head, the Kings, who are 4-3-0, are gearing up to play the Oilers tonight.
“I’m just trying to do my best, help the team win games and whatever that means. Just trying to do the best on the ice and go from there,” said Toffoli.
“I think the same time last year I did the same thing, had a good start and kind of, my game trailed off, so I’ve got to find a way to keep it going and find ways to win games here.”
It’s a long season ahead, and Toffoli says the team has kept their cool by not overreacting when rebounding from their three losses to gain four wins.
They’re taking one game at a time and are analyzing what they have to do to come out with a win over the Oilers.
“They’re really skilled, they’ve got a good team. We’ve got to be ready to go right from the drop of the puck. Take away their speed and their skill and play our game,” said Toffoli.
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Anton Lander had, by all accounts, a very good training camp and pre-season. He led the Oilers in scoring with five goals and six total points. However, so far through eight games, Lander has been held scoreless in the regular season.
Head Coach Todd McLellan says you have to look past the boxscore to evaluate Landers performance.
“You have to watch Anton fairly close to understand his contributions. A good camp for him is three goals in one game and all that type of stuff. I don’t think he’s that type of player consistently so we don’t evaluate him that way. You have to look at faceoffs, you have to look at his ability to penalty kill, be responsible on the ice. You’re not going to drive home at night and get all excited about Anton and the plays and the smoothness in his game but if you go back and watch it again you’ll appreciate the details he has defending, doing some of the little things, taking and giving direction on the ice. He’s one of the few guys that actually is fairly vocal all the time, which is nice. He does do some things there.”
Lander played 19:54 against Washington on Friday night. He was even for the game with four shots on goal in the 7-4 loss.
Rob Klinkhammer has been given the opportunity to play with two highly skilled players in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He made the most of it on Friday night by scoring his first goal of the season, tipping in a centring feed from Hall.
What made the goal sweeter for Klinkhammer is that it was his chance for a little redemption.
“I felt it hit me. It hit my stick pretty hard. It’s kind of why I had that celebration,” said Klinkhammer. “I was pretty happy after it because that got me back to even on the night. That first PK goal was 100% my fault. It was a breakdown by me so it felt good to get back to even on the night.”
Klinkhammer is enjoying providing some size and heaviness to the top line.
“It’s great, obviously. Those two players are unbelievable,” he said. “They’re very creative, very high-skilled, two of the best players in the league. I’ve just got to keep up with them. I can’t slow those guys down. Get them the puck and get to the front of the net, kind of like last week.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place. The forward lines remain the same, except for one small tweak. Iiro Pakarinen is on the right on the fourth line with Anton Slepyshev rotating in.
Iiro Pakarinen on the right side with Letestu and Gazdic this morning. Still no Griffin Reinhart.— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) October 24, 2015
Griffin Reinhart is not participating.
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- THE PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
- PRACTICE | Special Teams Improvement
- PRACTICE RAW | Mark Fayne
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- PRACTICE RAW | Mark Letestu
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have recalled winger Iiro Pakarinen from the American Hockey League's (AHL) Bakersfield Condors.
Pakarinen, 24, has appeared in four games this season, posting three points (1G, 2A) and four penalty minutes.
The Loviisa, Finland native posted three points (1G, 2A) in 17 games with the Oilers last season. He scored his first career National Hockey League goal on November 7 against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Oilers also announced they have assigned winger Andrew Miller to the Bakersfield Condors.
Oilers winger Nail Yakupov has been given an opportunity to play in the top six and he has run with it. Yakupov has points in four of the last five games and three straight. In that span, the 22-year-old has posted two goals and four assists for six points.
“He’s starting to figure out what will make him successful,” said Yakupov’s linemate Benoit Pouliot. “He’s going to the right spot, he’s doing the right things and you can see the success he’s having now. He’s getting much better at being more consistent, and following the game plan. I think it helps us. It helps me and (Connor) McDavid a lot.”
Yakupov didn’t start camp or the regular season in the role he has now, but he moved up the ranks due to injury and circumstance. He has earned more of an opportunity with good play along the way. His setup of Mark Letestu in last night’s win over Detroit was a nice play and a smart decision in his own end led to McDavid’s highlight-reel goal later in the game.
“I think he’s earned it. It’s not me rewarding him. It’s him rewarding himself for some really good play and the ability to create on that line,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “That line has been very reliable, it’s been dynamic, it’s been good offensively and, more importantly, it’s been fairly good defensively. He should feel good about himself, he should feel good about his linemates, and they should want to keep this alive. That’s their goal now, to keep this line alive, to keep it energized and productive. I believe that Yak’s offence right now is coming from good defensive positioning by his linemates and by him, taking care of responsibilities away from the puck and thus creating opportunities offensively.”
Following their 3-1 win last night over Detroit, the Oilers have hit the ice for Thursday's practice.
Davidson rotating in, while Reinhart is absent.