AUDIO: Craig MacTavish on Oilers Now | Leon Draisaitl on Oilers Now
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish joined Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now to discuss winning the draft lottery and the path ahead for the club. MacTavish was asked to describe the runaway top two prospects in the draft, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
McDavid is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft. He recorded 120 points in just 47 games this season for the Erie Otters of the OHL. He leads the OHL in playoff scoring with 23 points in nine games. He also helped lead Team Canada to gold at the 2015 World Junior Championships.
“I think the most productive player the CHL has had in a number of years, but the most dynamic, the most electrifying,” said MacTavish of McDavid. “He is a guy that he looks like a shark when he’s playing hockey. He’s just looking to pounce at any time and he’s looking to get the puck and be in a position that he can get the puck at full speed. He’s got the most dynamic skill set that I’ve seen in a number of years, in terms of just bringing people out of their seats with open-ice plays.”
Eichel is the top American player, and second-ranked North American Skater by Central Scouting. Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player this season. As a freshman at Boston University, Eichel compiled 71 points in 40 games.
“Jack Eichel, his open-ice game is excellent as well,” said MacTavish. “He maybe doesn’t put himself in as many positions as Connor would, but he’s a big guy that’s got electrifying speed. He’s at full speed in three strides and he shoots the puck like a BB. What he’s done at the NCAA level, in a more mature league, has been quite incredible for a 17-year-old.”
The Oilers will select first overall at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, FL (June 26-27).
“So much work goes into the draft and so forth. When you get lucky enough to win the lottery, in a year when you have franchise players at the top like you have this year, it’s quite incredible,” said MacTavish.
With the “generational” talents at the top of the draft, MacTavish wasn’t even entertaining the thought that the Oilers might trade the pick.
“No. That would be crazy in my mind.”
At his end-of-season press conference, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish declared next season a, “development” year. This, because of all of the youth currently on the roster and the potential of more on its way. After winning the draft lottery and being gifted with the first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Oilers might have altered their timeline just a bit.
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Wednesday afternoon and he said that things “marginally” change now that they have the opportunity to add one of two “generational” talents that sit at the top of the draft.
If the Oilers selected Connor McDavid, MacTavish says it would give them three of the best, if not the best, players in the CHL playoffs. Leon Draisaitl and his Kelowna Rockets advanced to the WHL Western Conference Final. Darnell Nurse and his Sault Ste. Marie team will tango with McDavid’s Erie Otters in the OHL Western Conference Final.
“I think it marginally changes,” said MacTavish. “I said at the end of the year, before we were fortunate enough to win the lottery, it’d be a very important developmental year for us. I still believe that. We arguably have the three best players in the CHL right now and they’re going to be flowing into the program, certainly Leon. All three will. Next year, Leon is done with his junior eligibility, as is Darnell. The player we pick will be on our team next year.”
All that said, there is still work to do for the Oilers, and MacTavish believes it will be, “a very important developmental year.”
“We also talked about some very critical positions that we need improved upon,” said MacTavish. “Without getting into those specific too much, we’re highly motivated to improve our club so we can make the step everybody has been waiting for for quite some time. I think with a few critical adds, it will still be largely determined by the internal growth of our team and the guys that are flowing into the system for next year. We’ve got to make a few key personnel changes and improvements and I think that could ignite it quickly. It’s not as simple, in our minds, as we got the first pick, we’re off and running. We still need to do the things that we talked about at the end of the year.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have assigned centre Greg Chase to the American Hockey Leagues Oklahoma City Barons.
Chase, 20, spent time with the Calgary Hitmen and Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League this season, accumulating 59 points (20G, 39A) and 59 penalty minutes in 61 games. He tied for second on the Royals in assists (39) and ranked fifth on the team in points (59) and goals (20).
The Sherwood Park, Alberta native also notched 11 points (7G, 4A) and six penalty minutes in 10 games during the 2014-15 WHL Playoffs.
The 6’0”, 188-pound centre has posted 221 points (78G, 143A) and 247 penalty minutes in 265 career WHL games. He has also appeared in 38 career playoff games, recording 32 points (15G, 17A) and 43 penalty minutes.
Chase appeared in five games with the Barons in 2013-14, posting one goal, four penalty minutes and a plus one rating.
The Edmonton Oilers selected Chase in the 7th round, 188th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
On Saturday, the Oilers were the winners of the NHL Draft Lottery and will pick first overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. With two “generational” talents at the top of draft boards, the Oilers are in prime position to make a turnaround.
“When this was drawn, I think every fan in this city, every Oilers fan in the country jumped through the roof and we’re so excited. I can tell you, I was sitting at home by myself and all I did was start to smile,” said Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson.
The Oilers haven’t made any definitive announcements on who they will take with the first-overall pick. There are steps left to complete before the draft is held in Sunrise, FL in June.
“In regards to the draft, there are playoff series going on right now and they should be focused on that,” Nicholson said of the top prospects. “We certainly know where we’re going to be picking on draft day, but there’s a process here and we want to live with that process. Saturday was a huge part of the Oilers here in the future. But from where I’m sitting, we have a lot of other things we’re going to look at and we have to make sure we take our time and make sure we get this right.”
On Monday, Oilers Entertainment Group announced that Bob Nicholson has been named Chief Executive Officer of OEG, effective immediately.
“Today I speak as the CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group and firstly, I want to thank to Daryl Katz,” said Nicholson. “Thanks for this honour. It’s a privilege and there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with this. I’m going to step to the plate and do the best job that I can do and I’m going to really trust my instincts.
Nicholson joined the organization as Vice-Chair of OEG in June of 2014. He will now expand his responsibilities and be much more hands on when it comes to every aspect of the organization, including hockey operations.
Nicholson, who retired as President & CEO of Hockey Canada in 2014, has a history of success overseeing the Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Teams. As OEG continues to formulate their plan of attack moving forward, Nicholson says there are some pillars he wants to build around.
“There are a few words I want to throw out right now: loyalty, trust, teamwork, and that’s not with just the players on the ice. We’re going to have that through our whole organization. As we start to define what this organization is going to be we’re going to build around those words,” he said.
Everyone in the organization will now work under Nicholson moving forward.
“Really, the last 10 months, I’ve been Vice Chair really looking over the whole organization,” said Nicholson. “Now everyone in the organization reports directly to myself so I’m going to be rolling up the sleeves and being much more hands on with every part of the organization.”
The Oklahoma City Barons will play the San Antonio Rampage in the first round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs.
The series will be a best of five, with the first two games in Oklahoma City on Thursday, April 23 and Saturday, April 25. The rest of the series will be played in San Antonio.
Game 1: April 23, 2015 - 6 p.m. - San Antonio at Oklahoma City
Game 2: April 25, 2015 - 6 p.m. - San Antonio at Oklahoma City
Game 3: April 29, 2015 - 6 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio
Game 4*: May 1, 2015 - 6:30 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio
Game 5*: May 2, 2015 - 6:05 p.m. - Oklahoma City at San Antonio
* If Necessary all times listed as MDT
The Barons posted a 3-5-2-2 record against San Antonio this season. This will be the second time the Barons have played the Rampage in the post-season. OKC beat San Antonio in five games (4-1) in 2012.
All Barons games will be available, for a cost, at AHLlive.com.
WATCH: MacT Interview | Daly draws | Bill Scott | McDavid Interview | Actual Lottery
Following the Draft Lottery, Connor McDavid took part in a conference call with other top prospects Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin and Dylvan Strome to discuss a variety of topics.
RELATED: Crosby on McDavid; Oilers winning the lottery
One topic that came up right off the hop for McDavid was his thoughts on Edmonton and the potential of being drafted by the Oilers.
“It’s a dream come true. It’s a great city to be in," McDavid began. "They’ve got the fans supporting them through a bit of a tough slide the last couple of years. The support they’ve received is amazing. That speaks volumes to the fan support they get in Edmonton. It’s pretty special.”
McDavid was then asked about what was going through his mind as Bill Daly drew cards 14 through 3, ultimately landing on Edmonton with the gold card.
“It’s been a weird day. At the same time, it’s been exciting. When they pulled the cards it’s the fastest my heart’s ever beaten. It’s sure exciting. If Edmonton selects me it would be a tremendous honour.”
The 18-year-old centre was asked about the top talent on the Oilers and the possibility of playing with them.
“They have younger talent, names like Hall, Eberle, (Nugent) Hopkins and Yakupov. And on D with Schultz. They have such a good group there, it’s hard to pick anyone. That’s going a little too far ahead of ourselves, obviously. The draft hasn’t started. We’ll see what happens.”
Hey @cmcdavid97 left shot black tape left side— Taylor Hall (@hallsy04) April 19, 2015
Pittsburgh Penguins centre Sidney Crosby, himself a first-overall pick in 2005, talked to the media tonight about the Oilers winning the draft lottery, the possibility of Connor McDavid going to Edmonton and why that's a good thing for him.
“The great thing for him is that they have a lot of young guys there already,” Crosby said to Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune. “That's a big thing for him. It's not like he's going to an older team or anything like that. He'll be able to grow with those guys. They have a ton of young talent there already, so it should be a good thing for him to be there.”
Crosby also talked about the potential comparisons to Wayne Gretzky, as he himself had to deal with in Pittsburgh with Mario Lemieux.
“He's definitely going to hear about that, and he'll have to deal with all the comparisons to him. It's to be expected.”
WATCH: MacT Interview | Daly draws | Bill Scott | McDavid Interview | Actual Lottery
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish spoke with us from Switzerland shortly after the announcement that the Oilers had won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. Here is a transcript of the interview:
What were your thoughts when you first saw that the Oilers had won the Draft Lottery?
“We just started yelling. We were all in Switzerland, watching it on the iPad and then started to get nervous after it got by Carolina and got by Toronto. Then the palms started sweating. That was a great pronouncement by Bill Daly for sure.”
How does winning the lottery change any plans you may have had for this upcoming off-season and/or at the draft?
“We’re going to enjoy this for now. It’s a pretty special night for all the Oilers fans. It’s a game-changer for the franchise. I feel great for the players and I feel really good for the fans. We’ll enjoy that for an evening and then figure out how this all works going forward.”
Talk about Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the type of players that they are and what they could potentially bring to the Oilers.
“Both are great, great players. These players have been looked at and sought after for the last three years. It’s been earmarked an epic draft for the last three, four years with these players coming in.
“We’re extremely fortunate to be in this position. We’re going to relax and enjoy it tonight and we’ll let the Oilers fans celebrate and we’ll get onto the business of hockey tomorrow.”
What does it mean to have the ability to land a franchise player of this type with the Oilers in the situation that they’re in: emerging team, new arena being built, etc.
“Any one of the 14 teams would make a great case for being the best spot for this player. In particular, our situation with the new building, I’m not thinking about it so much from a building standpoint but just what it’s going to mean for the hockey club. I’m really happy for the players. Really happy for the fans. It gives the Oilers a real shot in the arm going forward.
“I could stand up there and talk about optimism and a bright future but I think everyone can share in that vision now with us winning the Lottery.
Last question, and only because I have to ask, what are the chances that you would consider trading the pick?
“What's less than zero? ... No chance."