For the Edmonton Oilers, it was a big accomplishment that the Oklahoma City Barons snuck into the playoffs this season. The developmental benefits gained by having some of the organization’s young prospects play professional playoff hockey are numerous.
Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson spoke to that this morning.
“I think it’s tremendous for them to get the playoff atmosphere,” Nelson said. “That was our goal. We have a young team, we wanted them to experience it, I think it’s part of their growth and development and now they’re going to see the intensity of pro hockey and how it is in the playoffs. A lot of these players have went through junior playoffs and that’s very intense but the higher the level, the intensity ramps up. For them to experience that, I think it helps them out for the future with their development.”
With young players like Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Gernat, David Musil and Travis Ewanyk on the roster, the Oilers are grateful for the extra development time the playoffs present.
Todd Nelson has worked hand-in-hand with general manager Bill Scott in Oklahoma City over the last four years to help the Edmonton Oilers build a solid development program in the American Hockey League. This week, Scott was named the Oilers new assistant general manager. Todd Nelson talked about Scott taking the next step in his career.
“We’re all happy for him,” the head coach of the OKC Barons said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for him and I think he’s going to go up there and do a great job. It’s one of those things where it’s not just players wanting to move up and advance their careers, it’s management and staff as well. We’re very happy for him and I’m sure he’s going to do an outstanding job up there.”
Edmonton Oilers goalie prospect Laurent Brossoit stopped all 26 shots in a 1-0 shutout of Utah in game one of Bakersfield’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series. The Bakersfield Condors took a 1-0 series lead courtesy of Brossoit’s performance, in his first professional playoff game.
Brossoit, 21, had a stellar first professional season, finishing with a record of 26-9-2 in 38 games and posting a 2.01 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.
The Oklahoma City Barons clinched the final spot in the 2014 American Hockey League playoffs by earning a point in their overtime win against the Iowa Wild. With losses by Charlotte and Rockford, the Barons needed only one point to secure the 16th and final spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs and did so with a 4-3 overtime victory tonight.
Dealing with over 150 roster transactions, numerous injuries and having 55 players play for the team this season, including eight goalies, the Oilers’ affiliate earned points in 24 of their final 31 games to finish 8th in the Western Conference.
The Barons, under Head Coach Todd Nelson, have made the playoffs each of his four seasons at the helm. They lost in the first round in 2011 followed by losses in back-to-back Western Conference Finals in each of the last two seasons.
The Barons will close out the regular season with a game against the Wild tomorrow night.
Oklahoma City will face the top-seeded Texas Stars in the first round.
Following the draft lottery, TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button released his mock draft. Button had Barrie Colts defenceman going number one overall to Florida and Sam Reinhart of Kootenay going to Buffalo at two.
For Button, there is no way Florida passes up on Ekblad.
“I don’t see a way,” Button said to Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now today. “Every organization can say they have defencemen. I even heard (Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations) Scott Howson talk about some of the players in the Edmonton Oilers system. They don’t have an Aaron Ekblad. Don’t tell me you’ve got defencemen and you’ve got left wingers and you’ve got centres. You don’t have an Aaron Ekblad and nor do the Florida Panthers. The key thing here is you get a player that can be a pillar defenceman and to me there is no way they should even be thinking about not drafting Aaron Ekblad.”
Button says Ekblad is the kind of defenceman that you can build your team around.
“I think Ekblad is a pillar defenceman. I think he’s that guy that can play in your top two, can play in your top pair and I think the top-three defencemen… When I call guys a pillar defenceman, that’s a one, two or a three. One and a two can anchor a pair and a number three can anchor a pair and that’s what Ekblad is. He’s got too much going for him, he’s smart, he’s cagey, he’s competitive and there’s not an area of the game that he doesn’t excel in.”
In the third spot, Button says Prince Albert Raiders centre Leon Draisaitl is the pick.
Leon Draisaitl is listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. That’s a good size for a centre prospect coming out in this year’s draft. He is projected to go in the top five in this year’s draft and could be at play for the Oilers who pick at three.
Oilers Now’s Bob Stauffer spoke with Draisaitl’s junior head coach on his radio show Thursday and asked if the 18-year-old centre is really that size.
“He’s a good-sized kid,” Prince Albert Head Coach Cory Clouston said. “He might not be quite 210. By the end of the year he might have been 207, 208 but he’s a big kid. He’s got a thick chest, he’s got big legs, a very wide back, he’s a big kid. He’s all of that. I know when sometimes you look at stats you go, there’s no way that that kid is that big but that size is legitimate. He’s for sure that size.”
Oilers Colour Commentator Bob Stauffer spoke with Prince Albert’s Head Coach Cory Clouston today on Oilers Now and asked about one of the draft’s top prospects, Leon Draisaitl.
The centre was a huge part of the Raiders’ improvement on the power play this season.
“He was obviously a big part of that,” Clouston said. “They were last, they were 22nd last year and third overall this year. Huge improvement and a lot of that has to do with Leon. We obviously had a top-end defenceman in Josh Morrisey which definitely helps but Leon up front was very key. He’s got great vision. He’s able to sometimes make plays where you don’t think there’s a play to be made. He’s very poised with the puck. He’s a guy that is very dangerous, not only on the power play but on 5-on-5 as well. He’s a special player and to me, he played his best hockey down the stretch the last while for us. He’s a big reason we got into the playoffs. We had a stretch there in the regular season where we lost him and Morrisey to world juniors, we had a couple more key injuries and a horrible flu bug go through our team at the same time. I think we lost eight or nine of 10 games and that really put us in a tough spot but Leon’s play really helped us get back on track.”
Draisaitl is projected to go in the top five in this year’s draft and could be an option at third overall for the Edmonton Oilers.
Oilers Colour Commentator Bob Stauffer had TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button on his show this afternoon and his guest addressed any rumours surrounding draft prospect Leon Draisaitl’s character.
“The guy came over from Germany to play in Prince Albert,” Button said. “He’s done it for two years. What more do you need to know? He’s a top player, he’s a good kid. What are we talking about? When people want to say ‘good character’, what are they talking about?”
“It’s unfair and I’ll be straight forward with you, I don’t tolerate it because it’s people who don’t know.”
Button has Draisaitl going to the Oilers with the third overall pick in his latest mock draft.
In addition to having Button on his show, Stauffer also spoke with Draisaitl’s coach in Prince Albert, Cory Clouston.
“I have no idea where that would come from,” Clouston said. “I don’t know where that would have started. I don’t sugar coat things. Leon is a great kid, he’s fun to coach, he’s a guy who shows up at the rink, he’s focused, he’s like any other 18 year-old. There’s obviously areas he has to improve on but that’s kind of the fun thing about it. We saw him at the start of the year where he was, I’m not going to say he was one-dimensional but he was not as multi-dimensional as he sure ended up at the end of the season. That to me has a lot to do with his attitude, the guys really liked him, he loves doing extra work after practice and often he’d come in and instead of the coaches going to him, he’d show a lot of initiative coming to us and saying, he brought up the power play, can I look at power play video, can I look at 5-on-5 stuff? We utilized him on the penalty kill so he had quite a bit to learn, a big learning curve on the penalty kill so I would have no idea where those rumours would start and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
Scrivens finished the season playing 21 games for the Oilers, posting a .916 save percentage and 3.01 goals against average.
Perron had career highs in goals (28) and points (57) in 78 games this season with the Oilers.
Perron and Scrivens are among the first group of 20 players announced by Hockey Canada as members of the 2014 team.
“We are excited about the first group of players that have committed to representing Canada at the world championship,” Rob Blake, general manager of Canada’s National Men’s Team said. “We have a good mix of experience and youth at both the professional and international level.”
Former Oiler and current Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Craig Simpson was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Wednesday afternoon and provided an update as to his son Dillon Simpson’s status moving forward. Dillon was selected in the 4th round, 92nd overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and has completed his four-year career with the University of North Dakota.
The 6-foot-2, 200 pound defenceman is reportedly in talks with Edmonton Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson to sign with the Oilers.
“I know that they’re talking anyways and I think Scott Howson and Dillon and his agent are discussing,” Craig said. “The big thing this week for Dillon because they’ve missed so much school, is to check with the academic advisors to make sure that he can get his degree with the couple of courses that he has left to finish. I know that he’s obviously excited about and was when he got drafted, about being a member of the Edmonton Oilers and I’m sure that will come fairly quickly.”