BLOGS
POSTED ON Friday, 27.06.2014 / 8:47 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

It was expected that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in Leon Draisaitl. The day before the draft, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke of the team’s need of a centre and how size was also a factor. Draisaitl fits that description and the Oilers made him the third overall pick in this year’s draft.

Draisaitl didn’t know for sure if he would hear his name called when the Oilers took the stage in Philadelphia, but he had an idea that they liked him.

“I think this year was really unpredictable," Draisaitl said. "No one really knew what was going on from the players’ perspective. I had really good meetings with them and knew they were interested but you didn’t know what was going on with the trades and all that stuff but right now, wearing that jersey is phenomenal.”
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POSTED ON Friday, 27.06.2014 / 6:51 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers will have a decision to make when it’s their turn to submit their selection with the third overall pick in tonight’s draft. A question that has come up in the scouting meetings has been whether or not the Oilers rank immediate help above future impact or vice versa.

“That’s an interesting question and something we’ve been throwing around a lot over the last year,” Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said. “Positional need, a desire to have a player that can make an impact today or who will be the best player in five years.”

MacGregor says the scouts always lean towards future projections over the short-term value of a player.

“Obviously longterm for a scout, you’re projecting five years ahead,” he said. “Management may look at things a little realistically on a shorter term basis. We do need to make some strides. Hopefully those strides forward will come from the group that’s already there and a coaching staff that’s solidified in working with that group and a comfort that the players believe in the direction we’re going on the team. Adding something that can help immediately would be a great benefit but it’s like anything, you’re judged longterm and what type of success you’ll have. One good year may buy you a few more years of employment but if you can get through those development years, probably five great years on an on-going basis probably buys you 15-20 years of employment. It’s an interesting process but scouts project longterm.”

The Oilers are in position to take one of the draft’s top four prospects: Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart or Leon Draisaitl. MacGregor said he thinks all four of them have the ability to make the jump to the NHL right away.

“I really believe all four have an excellent chance. I don’t think there is any varying degree of difference in their opportunity. Opportunity will have to present itself with the team that they’re with and their development plan and there’s a lot of factors that come with that. But I would expect that all four of them have an outstanding chance to play.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 26.06.2014 / 2:28 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

PHILADELPHIA - Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko is above the rest in many minds. He is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American goalie and will possibly be the first of his position off the board when the draft gets underway in Philadelphia.

Demko says it is his love of the game and his will to win that separates him from the pack of draft-eligible netminders.

“I think just my will to win,” Demko said. “I work really hard off the ice to make sure I’m getting myself prepared to play. Definitely in the off-season too, I am making sure that I’m getting better for next year so when I do get back to the next season I will be ready to go. I think I just love the game more than most guys do and I want to be in the NHL.”

Demko, 18, is a native of San Diego, CA. He finished his freshman year at Boston College with a 2.24 goals against average and .919 save percentage.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 26.06.2014 / 2:27 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

PHILADELPHIA - There is no denying the potential of Peterborough Petes forward Nick Ritchie. With size on his side, Ritchie hopes to one day become one of the better power forwards in the NHL. He looks up to players like Boston’s Milan Lucic and Dallas’ Jamie Benn.

For him to become like one of those two, Ritchie will have to “bring it every night.”

“I think those two guys are pretty good players in the NHL,” Ritchie said. “They’re big and they bring it every night. I think for me, if I bring it every night, I can be one of those guys.”

Consistency is reportedly an issue with Ritchie. But the power forward who scored 74 points (39-35-74) this season believes that will get better with maturity.

“I think as I get older and more mature that will come. I will just keep working hard in the gym. I think once I get it I will be alright.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 26.06.2014 / 12:23 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Some of the top draft prospects gathered at Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia this morning for the Top Prospects Clinic. They skated with local youth hockey players and participated in drills with the children.

MULTIMEDIA

“It’s awesome,” Prince Albert centre Leon Draisaitl said. “Seeing those kids enjoy themselves and play hockey. That’s the best thing in the world. They love being out there. They obviously have a passion for it and that’s the ultimate and that’s awesome.”

Now that the pre-draft process is winding down and the days have turned to hours in anticipation of tomorrow night’s draft, the prospects’ nerves are building. Being able to lace up the skates and leave it all off the ice was a welcomed break for the players.

“A lot of the focus is on tomorrow and obviously that’s still up in the air for all of us right now,” Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle said. “But being able to skate with these kids has been a great experience and what they’ve got going on here is awesome.”

“It was awesome,” Kingston’s Sam Bennett said. “Anytime I can lace on the skates it’s going to be a good day. I’ve had so much fun out here with these kids and I think it’s great for these kids to get out here. I’m having fun, I can see the smiles on these kids and it looks like they’re have a great time.”

Draisaitl added, “It’s always nice to be on the ice. There is no better feeling than being on the ice. The nerves are coming and I’m already a little bit nervous to be honest but it’s not too bad. I think tomorrow will be pretty nerve-racking for sure.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 4:53 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

When Sam Bennett failed to complete a pull up at the NHL Scouting Combine, he didn’t know that it would be a huge deal. NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater then had to read about it and watch reports on it on television in the following days.

What helped Bennett deal with the media and fan scrutiny was a phone call from an established NHL player. Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza sought out Bennett’s number and delivered some career advice.

“Jason Spezza gave me a call right after he saw it,” Bennett said. “He said he saw the articles in the paper and he was like, wow I’ve got to call this kid. He got my number, he gave me a call and I had a really good talk with him. He just talked about how you’re going to go through bad publicity throughout your entire hockey career. He’s been through it and he just really helped me deal with that and it was a great learning experience.”

It doesn’t appear as though Bennett’s lack of a pull up at the Combine will affect his draft stock. He is expected to be a top-four pick.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 4:52 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Top draft prospect Sam Bennett took a visit to Edmonton not too long ago to visit with the Oilers organization. They had dinner and Bennett was given a tour of the rink and the offices.

“Edmonton is cool,” Bennett said. “I went there and saw the Oilers offices and then I went to Rexall Place and saw the dressing room, saw the rink and I had a great time in Edmonton. I met a bunch of great people. The management there is awesome so it was very cool to go there and meet those guys.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:40 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

With all of the pre-draft speculation and rumours swirling around, Aaron Ekblad’s head must be spinning. But the top-rated defenceman has developed a great way of dealing with all of the talk.

“With how much rumours that have been going around about what Florida is going to do, what is everyone going to do, it’s easy to get caught up in it but it’s a lot easier to take a step back and not worry about it,” Ekblad said. “It’s out of your control. You just have to wait and rely on how well you’ve shown yourself this year. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m excited and I’m anxious about it but I don’t want to worry about it too much.”

The Oilers are sitting at third overall in the first round of the draft. It is not expected that Ekblad will be around when they make their selection. But they’ve done their homework on the superb prospect and after meeting with the organization, Ekblad is sold that the Oilers would be a fit.

“I love the rink that they have right now, I love that there is going to be a new one, the dressing room and some of the players that they have. It’s all great,” he said. “They have a great organization, a great owner and a great coaching staff. I met just about every one of the Oilers staff members, even away from the rink. If I end up there then that’s awesome and I’d make the best of it. I think I’d fit in to their defensive core pretty well. Whatever happens happens and I’m excited to go anywhere and I’m ready to play anywhere.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:03 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers currently hold the third overall pick in the draft. Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson told Oilers Now’s Bob Stauffer on Wednesday that the team is comfortable remaining in that spot, but wouldn’t rule out movement.

“I think we’re pretty comfortable with where we’re at,” Howson said. “Obviously you never close the door on anything. Getting up to the one position would be beneficial but our needs are really defence and centre is just as important as defence. We were just talking today about how hard it is to get centres now. Once they become established in the NHL they don’t become available. We’re comfortable with where we’re at. I think this is a good draft, we’re in a good spot and no matter what happens on Friday we are going to get a good player.”

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 25.06.2014 / 1:01 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers acquired the rights to defenceman Nikita Nikitin from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The acquisition gives them a “quality NHL defenceman” in the words of Oilers Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations Scott Howson.

Howson told Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer on Wednesday that the team won’t stop with Nikitin. They want to help bridge the gap as the Oilers have several very talented youngsters on the blue line that could use some more time to develop. Now that Nikitin is in the mix, Howson says the team will look to add one more.

“We figured we had four legitimate NHL defencemen going into camp in Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin,” Howson said. “Martin still has a little bit to prove because he only did it for half a season and we’ve seen lots of players have initial success and take a fall back. There’s no doubt he’s going to be an NHL player, whether he’s ready to continue what he accomplished last year remains to be seen and we’ll see that in camp. We’re going to try to get another NHL defenceman. Nikita gives us five, if you include Marincin, and we’ll try to get another one, that’s six. Then if the kids are ready, that’s the great thing about the NHL. If a young player is ready to play and he shows he is ready to play then teams make room for him. That’s just the way the league works.”

As for what the Oilers are looking for in their next addition, Howson says they’re looking at all of the options.

“I think we’re open to anything. We want a good player and Nikita is a good player. We’re targeting three or four other good players. Some are more defensive oriented, some are sort of all around guys so there is no specific criteria they have to meet, we just want a good NHL player.”

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