Sometimes, in order to move on, you’ve got to reset. For Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens, this off-season was just as much about a mental reboot as it was getting physically ready for a new season.
“It was a good summer for me,” said Scrivens. “Mentally, it was probably the best thing for me to refresh. I’m coming in and I feel really good right now. My confidence is up. I’ve had a great summer off the ice and on the ice. It was just a matter of analyzing the season a little bit, both personally with what I did well and didn’t do well and seeing what I could change. Obviously, there were tough lessons that I learned last year. I’ve talked about it earlier, just trying to do too much, which comes when you care about the results. Sometimes, it leads you down the wrong path where now you’re worried about things that are out of your control. It was good to mentally re-focus and get back to a similar training plan I’ve had for the better part of my pro career.”
Scrivens finished last season with a .890 save percentage and 3.16 goals-against average in 57 games for the Oilers. He’s hoping to soon get back to his form from his time with the Los Angeles Kings in 2013-14, in which he posted a .931 save percentage and 1.97 GAA.
On the ice this summer, Scrivens went back to work as he does every off-season.
“A lot of goalie sessions when I could, skating well and skating as often as I could and obviously, a lot of time in the gym getting lean and getting stronger,” he said.
Leon Draisaitl finished tied for the tournament lead in points (five) at the 2015 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C. He followed up those three games with a four-point night (1-3-4) against the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Wednesday at Rexall Place.
The third-overall pick in 2014 shouldn’t be a surprising name to spot high up on the stat sheet. His high-end scoring and playmaking ability make him a top prospect in the Oilers system. This Rookie Camp allowed him to show the Oilers brass a glimpse of his offensive talents.
“I think it’s always important,” Draisaitl said of putting up points. “I think every player has his role. I would consider myself as an offensive guy so I expect myself to produce offensively and I think (Wednesday night) the whole team did a great job of that.”
Draisaitl will battle for a spot on the Oilers roster out of training camp, starting Friday. Oilers Rookies Head Coach Gerry Fleming might not be expecting the big, German centre to spend much time down in the American Hockey League with Bakersfield if he continues anything close to his scoring pace in pre-season.
“Leon had a good Rookie Camp here,” said Fleming. “He did the things that we expected him to do. Hopefully he can just take that and keep adding to what he has to do at the big camp to stay.”
Overall, Draisaitl seemed pleased with his performance with the prospects. Nine points in four games will probably put a smile on your face.
“It’s been pretty good I think so far,” said Draisaitl. “Obviously, the first couple games are always a little tough. It takes a little while for you to get your feet wet and get your legs under you. But so far, it’s been pretty good. I think the most important thing is it’s getting better from game to game.”
If Oilers Rookie Camp taught us anything it’s that the organization has great top-level prospects in Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. It also taught us that the depth, particularly among AHL-bound players, packs a scoring punch.
Josh Winquist finished the 2015 Young Stars Classic with the tournament lead in points (five) and goals (four). He added another goal on Wednesday night against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Perhaps Winquist can carry this momentum down to Bakersfield. He did have a 93-point season in the WHL back in 2013-14.
Fellow AHL contracted teammates Braden Christoffer and Alexis Loiseau also put up points for the Oilers Rookies. Christoffer scored three goals in as many games in Penticton and added an assist. Christoffer had two helpers against the Bears. Loiseau recorded two goals and two assists in two Young Stars games. He added a goal on Wednesday night.
Add turning-pro prospect Kyle Platzer amongst names to watch who had strong camps. Bakersfield Condors Head Coach Gerry Fleming, who also led the Oilers Rookies, says it makes him excited to see the players perform well and even surprise.
“It sure does,” said Fleming on Wednesday morning. “You’ve got to understand too that they’re going against junior (and college) guys and it will be a different set of competition when they get to the American Hockey League, with bigger and more-experienced guys. But for them to play the way they have in this (camp), I’d rather see that than them not perform to the way they’re supposed to. We expected it from them and they responded the way they should have.”
The Oilers Rookies are on the ice for morning skate at Rexall Place. Here is their projected lineup for tonight’s game against the University of Alberta Golden Bears based on this morning’s line combinations.
McDavid will centre Sanford and Slepyshev.— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) September 16, 2015
Roy and Soy are skating, but not expected to play.
Other lines: Bukarts-Loiseau-Linaker Rankin-Platzer-Chase Roy and Soy skating, not expected to play. Moroz injured.— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) September 16, 2015
- PRACTICE | Tuesday at Royal Glenora
- PRACTICE RAW | Connor McDavid
- PRACTICE RAW | Greg Chase
- PRACTICE RAW | Gerry Fleming
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.”
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.