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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 4:50 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Tonight will be Todd Nelson’s first game as interim coach without Craig MacTavish on the bench. The Oilers GM says it was the right time to step back and let Nelson take the reins.

“I just feel like the transition is the right time now,” MacTavish said. “Coaching is not a place for two captains and I think Todd has directed the team and changed the lines the last couple of games. I offer to support him as best I can but it’s time for him and I’m comfortable now that he’s got a familiarization with the personnel and I think it’s time for him to put his mark on what he can do with this hockey club.”

Nelson said the transition period helped him feel more comfortable with the personnel but he’s ready to take the next step.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 4:44 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish stepped in front of the media on Tuesday to recap yesterday’s moves, which included claiming Matt Fraser off waivers from Boston. MacTavish hinted that the club has had interest in the winger for quite some time, and their familiarity with his production in the minors sealed the decision to snag him.

“Our guys have had a lot of interest in Matt over the years,” MacTavish said. “He’s had some success against Todd that’s been well-documented over the last 16 hours or so. I remember when I was coaching in the American Hockey League and he was playing in Texas, he had success against us too. He gives us an element that we don’t have in abundance and that’s a shot. We’ll see if he can get some traction here.”

Fraser will play tonight on a line with David Perron and Leon Draisaitl.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 30.12.2014 / 12:41 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers are on the ice for Tuesday's morning skate. The line combinations are as follows:

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Roy-Purcell
Perron-Draisaitl-Fraser
Hendricks-Gordon-Pitlick

The defensive pairings:

Klefbom-Fayne
Nikitin-Schultz
Ference-Petry

Leon Draisaitl, who missed yesterday's practice due to illness, is on the ice.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 9:01 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers newest centre, Derek Roy, will wear number 8 for the Oilers.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:21 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:20 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Matt Fraser was excited when he was informed that the Oilers were claiming him off waivers on Monday morning. It’s a chance for a fresh start with a team the Red Deer, Alberta native is very familiar with.

“It’s exciting. It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours. Being from Red Deer, you grow up watching the Oilers and Flames. You’re almost immersed in that battle of Alberta. To be able to go there and be a part of it is certainly exciting,” Fraser said.

Fraser is also familiar with some faces in the Oilers locker room, having played with Luke Gazdic and against Todd Nelson in the minors.

“It’s certainly nice. It’s nice to come in and have that familiarity and know the familiar face there again,” Fraser said by phone on Monday. “It’s nice to be back in the Western Conference and be close to home. Having played against Todd Nelson and some of those guys, it certainly helps to know you’re not walking in all alone. It gives you a little bit more confidence.”

Familiar faces or not, Fraser is just happy to be joining a team who wanted him.

“First and foremost, it was just nice to have the opportunity to be claimed by someone,” he said. “To be put on waivers is not a great feeling and no one likes that feeling. But, at the end of the day, the Oilers took a chance with me and I’m certainly excited about it and excited about the opportunity.”

Fraser says Gazdic was his mentor when he first came into the AHL.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 5:20 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Matt Fraser’s shot is almost always the first thing people associate with the winger.

“He’s a guy that can shoot the puck,” said Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson, who coached against Fraser in the American Hockey League. “I’ve seen it first hand when we used to play against Texas and he’s scored his fair share of goals against us.”

Luke Gazdic, who was Fraser’s teammate with the Texas Stars, says his shot is a lethal weapon.

“He’s got a heck of a shot,” Gazdic said. “I think that’s the tool that has helped him the most. He scored 40 goals in the minors one of the years I played with him. He can score from anywhere, he’s lethal. He does it all, he finishes his checks, he’s not afraid to mix it up and he does a lot of things that can be useful for any team, especially ours.”

Fraser scored 37 goals for the Texas Stars in 2011-12. He scored 33 the next season as well.

“He’s a natural goal scorer, he can do it from anywhere,” Gazdic said. “He’s a good teammate, he’ll do anything to help the team win and that’s what we’re looking for in our lineup right now.”

So far, that kind of goal production has not transferred to the NHL for Fraser. However, the winger is just 24 and is constantly working on his shot.

“It’s something that I’ve always practiced on, it’s something that I take pride in,” Fraser said. “In this league nowadays there is not just one thing that gets you this far. You can’t be just a one dimensional player, but you definitely have to play to your strengths. I think shooting the puck is one of my strengths and something I do work on. It’s something I take pride in and when the puck is on my stick, I’m looking to get it off as fast as I can and as hard as I can.”

Fraser was claimed off waivers by the Oilers on Monday morning. He is expected to play against Los Angeles on Tuesday.

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 3:54 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers claimed Matt Fraser off of waivers from Boston on Monday morning. Oilers winger Luke Gazdic is very familiar with Fraser, having played with him in the American Hockey League for Dallas’ farm club.

“We were next door neighbours there for a bit so we have a good relationship. He’s a good kid and an even better hockey player,” Gazdic said.

Gazdic thinks Frazer is a player the Oilers will surely welcome to the roster.

“He’s got a heck of a shot,” Gazdic said. “I think that’s the tool that has helped him the most. He scored 40 goals in the minors one of the years I played with him. He can score from anywhere, he’s lethal. He does it all, he finishes his checks, he’s not afraid to mix it up and he does a lot of things that can be useful for any team, especially ours.”

Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson had the challenge of coaching against Fraser in the AHL. Fraser scored 11 goals in 19 regular season games against the Oklahoma City Barons.

“He’s a guy that can shoot the puck,” Nelson said. “I’ve seen it first hand when we used to play against Texas and he’s scored his fair share of goals against us. I’ve seen it up close. Plus, I think I worked with him at the All Star Game one year. He’s a hardworking guy that can find the back of the net. That was based on my experience a couple of years ago when we played against Texas, but he always had good games against us.”

Gazdic added, “Nelly is pretty familiar with both of us. We had some good battles with OKC down there and I’m sure he’s glad to have Fraser on his side of the bench now rather than have to play against him because he’s a lethal scorer. He can put the puck in from anywhere and he torched OKC down there a couple of times.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 29.12.2014 / 1:21 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers have taken to the ice for practice at Rexall Place. Leon Draisaitl is absent, nursing an illness.

Line combinations:

Hall-RNH-Eberle

Perron-Gordon-Purcell

Yakupov-Arcobello-Pitlick

Gazdic-Hendricks

Defensive Pairings:

Ference-Petry

Nikitin-Schultz

Klefbom-Fayne

Aulie-Hunt

Benoit Pouliot skated with the team for a couple of drills before coming off.

Matt Fraser will wear #28 with the Oilers.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 28.12.2014 / 7:37 PM
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG