Justin Schultz has the potential to be a high-end offensive weapon on the blueline for the Oilers.
He flashed that potential playing in the American Hockey League during the 2012-13 season when he had 48 points (18-30-48) in 34 games. He then put up 27 points in 48 games during his lockout-shortened NHL rookie season.
But after three seasons in the professional ranks, one area of Schultz’s game he wants to work on is his strength to help with his battles and defensive game.
“It’s something that’s what I’ve always had to do in the off-season: get stronger and more explosive,” Schultz said on Oilers Now. “Definitely one of the things (the Oilers) communicated to me was getting more powerful in that aspect of my game. I think I’ve been working on that pretty good right now. I’ve still got a couple months here left but it’s been going well and I’m excited to get back to Edmonton and get going.”
Schultz has been hitting the gym in Kelowna this off-season and says he feels more powerful and more explosive. He also says he’s noticed more muscle when he steps on the scale.
The Oilers blueliner told Bob Stauffer that he wants to play with an edge like Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. That pushback starts this season, according to Schultz.
“It’s something I’m always trying to improve on and there’s no better time than this year to start showing that,” said Schultz. “I need to play with an edge. It helps to be a better player and helps with every part of your game so it’s something I’m going to try to do this year.”
Adding strength, playing with more of an edge and developing more consistency in his game are on Schultz’s wish list for the 2015-16 season. Schultz and the Oilers agreed to terms on a one-year contract on Wednesday. The 25-year-old has played 203 NHL games in his career, scoring 25 goals and adding 66 assists.
The Oilers agreed to terms with defenceman Justin Schultz on a one-year deal on Wednesday. The length of the contract gives Schultz the 2015-16 season to prove he can be the player he was expected to be coming out of college at the University of Wisconsin.
“I think the one-year deal makes sense,” Schultz said on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer. “It gives me another year to prove what I’ve got. If I have a good year then hopefully I can get a longer term deal and be in Edmonton for a long time. I know exciting things are coming here and it’s just the start of it. Hopefully it’s a big year here.”
Consistency is something Schultz wants to have more of heading into his fourth pro season.
“Obviously, I can play better,” said Schultz. “I was very inconsistent last year and even the year before. It’s about bringing my best game every night and playing like the player I’ve played like in the past, that I know I can play like. It’s going to be a big year for me. I’m excited.”
Justin Schultz and the Oilers agreed to terms on a one-year contract on Wednesday. For Schultz, the 2015-16 season will be his fourth in the professional ranks. He has yet to play in the playoffs as a pro.
“It’s been a long couple years,” Schultz told Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now. “It’s not fun losing, that’s for sure.”
This off-season has a much different feel to it, considering the volume of changes to the organization. It started with Bob Nicholson taking over as CEO and the Oilers winning the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery. Peter Chiarelli was named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager, then he hired Todd McLellan as Head Coach. The Oilers used that lottery pick to take Connor McDavid and the changes continued.
“We all want to get better, we all want to win and I think it’s close here with these changes. It’s going to be good for us,” said Schultz.
A new coaching staff, new players brought in via draft, trade and free agency and a new leader as GM all have Schultz ready to hit the ice for the upcoming season.
“It’s exciting to say the least,” said Schultz. “It kind of gives guys like me a fresh start and a clean slate to show what I’ve got, to show these guys. I’m looking forward to working with Todd and obviously getting Connor is unbelievable. A lot of excitement around Edmonton right now. It’s good times to be there.”
Yesterday, Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot attended the CCM Goalie Summit in Montreal. Talbot was helping CCM unveil their new look for the CCM Premier pads.
Talbot took part in some filming and photo shoots, while wearing Oilers and CCM gear. He also unveiled a new Oilers-themed mask. The mask is Oilers orange and blue with the team’s logo on the sides.
Talbot was acquired in a trade at the 2015 NHL Draft. The Oilers gave the New York Rangers a second, a third and a seventh-round pick, in exchange for the goalie and a seventh.
The netminder is expected to come in and right away push for the number one job in Edmonton, after serving as the backup behind Henrik Lundqvist. In 57 career NHL games, the 28-year-old has a record of 33-15-5 with eight shutouts and a 2.00 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
The Oilers announced jersey numbers for their new players acquired via trade and free agency this off-season.
• Andrej Sekera - 2
• Griffin Reinhart - 8
• Eric Gryba - 62
• Lauri Korpikoski - TBD
• Mark Letestu - 55
• Cam Talbot - 33
• Anders Nilsson - TBD
In addition to these new numbers, Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom will change his number from 84 to 77 for the upcoming season.
The Oilers executed a trade early this evening, acquiring goaltender Anders Nilsson from the Chicago Blackhawks, in exchange for prospect forward Liam Coughlin.
Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli spoke to the media after the Billy Moores Cup at Rexall Place and says the move was to bring in some competition.
“He’s a big goalie,” said Chiarelli. “He might not have been dealt the greatest cards when he came over (to North America). He had a strong year in the KHL. He had an average World Championships. I saw him in one game when I went over there. He’s still young for a goalie. He was excited to hear that he has a new start. The bottom line is there is going to be competition. There is going to be competition amongst the goalies and that’s why. We want that. It gives us insurance and it gives us competition.”
Nilsson, 25, had an impressive KHL season for Kazan Ak-Bars. The 6-foot-5 goalie posted a record of 20-9-8 with a .936 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average. In 23 NHL games, Nilsson has a record of 9-9-2 and a save percentage of .898 and 3.05 GAA.
Darnell Nurse was no doubt impressive at Oilers Orientation Camp this past week. He’s also coming off an impressive season. The seventh-overall pick in 2013 is expected to come in and compete for a spot on the team out of training camp. However, the recent additions of Griffin Reinhart, Eric Gryba and Andrej Sekera have crowded a once thin Oilers blueline.
The message to Nurse coming out of this week is to keep his head up and work hard to earn that spot.
“What we told Darnell in our exit meetings is don’t be disheartened by the number of one-way contracts or NHL defencemen,” said Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli. “We’re going to have a competition so don’t be disheartened by it. He’s a big, strong kid who can skate and defend and he’s up the ice a lot… He’s strong, he defends, he’s a good pupil and he’s young so he’s got a lot of good things going for him.”
The Edmonton Oilers have acquired goaltender Anders Nilsson from the Chicago Blackhawks, in exchange for forward Liam Coughlin.
Nilsson, 25, posted a 20-9-8 record, .936 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average in 38 regular-season games for Kazan Ak-Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Nilsson also totaled a 13-7 record, .935 save percentage and 1.54 GAA in 20 postseason games.
The Lulea, Sweden, native previously totaled a 9-9-0 record, .898 save percentage and 3.05 GAA over 23 career NHL games with the New York Islanders (2011-12 and 2013-14). Nilsson was selected by the Islanders in the third round (62nd overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. He was acquired by Chicago via trade with the Islanders on Oct. 4, 2014.
Coughlin, 20, tallied 60 points (20G, 40A) in 54 games for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League last season. He went on to record 10 points (3G, 7A) in 11 playoff games.
The South Boston, Mass., native has 105 points (38G, 67A) over 107 games with Vernon, dating back to the 2013-14 season. Coughlin was selected by Edmonton in the fifth round (130th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.
UPDATE: The Oilers and Nilsson have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
McDavid 1-on-1 | Story: LaLeggia & Betker | RAW: Joey LaLeggia | Ben Betker | Tyler Vesel
Oilers defenceman prospect Joey LaLeggia is attending his fourth Orientation Camp with the Oilers but with one huge difference this year: he will be playing professional hockey this upcoming season after four years at the University of Denver.
“It’s great to come in here and meet the staff and meet the guys that you hope to one day be suiting up with,” he began.
“It’s a great experience for all of us and great to meet everybody and get comfortable. I feel that every time I come here I get more comfortable and also get more confident.”
LaLeggia, a native of Burnaby, B.C., accumulated 132 points (49-83-132) in 156 games, over four seasons with the University of Denver Pioneers. He helped his team reach the NCAA Regional Finals this season.
“I was a player who needed to go to college. When I was 16 or 17 I think I was only 140 or 150 pounds. College really did a lot for me. The person I stepped onto campus as a 19-year old and the person I left as a 23-year old are two completely different people. I feel a lot more mature and I feel those are life experiences I’ll take with me forever. It prepared me to come to pro hockey and gave me an opportunity to go to Oklahoma City after the season.”
LaLeggia's game translated well to the pro level despite him having a bit of an adjustment period.
“That was a huge learning experience for me, just seeing the level that my game had to go to in order to be successful.”
He played five regular season games, netting a goal and an assist for two points and also suited up for two playoff contests. LaLeggia looks to play a much bigger role next season on the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.
“It was a pretty crucial time in the season when I got there,” said LaLeggia. “I think I got there with about five games before the playoffs started. It was a completely different style from what I was used to. I found it was a lot more structured and a lot more controlled. Guys knew exactly where to be and when to be there. As colleges I felt it was a lot more run-and-gun and we only played two games a week. Guys are super jacked-up to play come Friday and Saturday whereas (in pro) they do it every day. They know exactly where to be. They’re always prepared and that was the biggest thing for me, just learning how to be a pro.”
Ben Betker is a massive presence on the blueline here at Oilers Orientation Camp at Rexall Place. The 6-foot-6 defenceman has packed on even more muscle, saying he’s gained seven pounds this summer after playing at around 220 this season in Everett.
It was a good season for Betker, who made strides in his third WHL campaign. The hulking rearguard posted 31 points (6-25-31) in 64 games for the Silvertips, adding 63 penalty minutes.
For Betker to make the jump to the professional ranks in 2015-16 and become an impact player for the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League, he says he wants to work on a few things. Betker wants to continue to add muscle and strength, while getting quicker.
One other area of his game Betker wants to address is being mean. More importantly, being mean consistently. He wants to play a hard game all the time.
“I have that. I think I need to do it more consistently,” said Betker. “I think that’s the thing, especially being physical. You look at guys like (Nashville Predators Captain) Shea Weber or (Hall of Famer) Chris Pronger back in the day, he played here. The tenacity that they play with was always in their game every night. Something like that, consistently, is what I need to bring and that will really help me out in the long run.”